In light of LG’s apparent disinterest in taking a fourth slice of the Nexus pie, we are left with the question of who will make the 2016 Nexus (Nexii?) for Google. Assuming that the Android mothership opts to make a successor to the Nexus 5X or the 6P (after all, Google could decide to shock us and make no Nexus at all this year, or they might opt for a “Pixel Phone” for which they completely control every aspect), which manufacturer will they turn to? Which one should Google turn to?
I’ll save the “What’s the difference between a Nexus and a phone completely controlled by Google?” question for another article, except to point out that Google would still have to use an existing manufacturer for the latter unless they’ve built an entire system of assembly lines and component factories we aren’t aware of. Suffice it to say that I hope Google releases some phone this year centered on the Android platform as they intended it to be.
Why Lenovo should make it
In case you missed it, Lenovo had actually been making quality budget Android phones and tablets prior to buying Motorola from Google. Their UIs have been relatively light and many of the custom apps they have throw in are actually useful and not simply bloat. Even as I write this, their Vibe K5 Plus announced at MWC 2016 might make you wish they shipped to North America. If you’re wondering “Why not just let Motorola do it again?” I’ll cover that in the next section, but for now I’ll simply say that their manufacturing apparatus is still (mostly) separate from Motorola’s, and they’re fully capable of producing a quality Nexus phone themselves. Plus, it’d be a new face at the Nexus party, bringing a refreshing new flavor of the Android standard-bearer. Lenovo is even working with Google already on an upcoming Project Tango smartphone, so the partnership would be very easily to create.
Why Lenovo should use Motorola to make it
Motorola has the distinct advantage of still having key facilities located in the same country as its previous owner. Moreover, Motorola already has valuable experience working closely with Google, in fact more closely than other Nexus manufacturers. Finally, even their flagship phones have almost no skin to speak of. Even before merging with Google years ago they had already begun dismantling its old Moto Blur overlay in favor of a more stock version of Android. There would be very few logistic obstacles to Motorola making the Nexus 6R (or whatever Google decides to call its 2016 flagship).
Why Alcatel should make it
Alcatel has made huge gains in the Android world in the last couple of years with its Idol lineup, and Google does seem to like an underdog just starting to elbow its way into the top ranks of Android device manufacturers (think LG’s Nexus 4 in 2012 just as the Optimus G inaugurated their flagship G series). What better way to induct a new member into the Android elite than to reward it with a shiny new Nexus contract? Alcatel also ditches the heavy-handed skin preferred by the likes of HTC, Samsung and LG in favor of a near-stock experience, so making a Nexus should be a familiar experience for them.
Why Huawei should make it
While LG’s Nexus 5X was considered a disappointment by some, Huawei’s Nexus 6P has been almost universally hailed as a success. Huawei’s another newcomer to Android’s flagship elite (though they’ve been a dominant force in the midrange segment for years). They could further tweak the chassis design or add other hardware refinements aside from the usual CPU/spec upgrade with the benefit of a year’s experience making Nexus phones. It would be nice to see at least one more top-flight Huawei phone without its widely-panned Emotion UI.
Why someone else should make it
There are plenty other manufacturers I think would be up to the challenge of making a Nexus phone, both established OEMs and newcomers. Companies like Sony, ZTE, Oppo or even Vivo might be able to bring a compelling Nexus phone to the market.
Who shouldn’t make it
I simply don’t see Google going with a Xiaomi or a OnePlus – I think they’d bring too much controversy and too many headaches that wouldn’t be welcome in Mountain View. Xiaomi is basically an iPhone knockoff manufacturer in my opinion, and OnePlus brings the poisonous combination of too much trash talk and not enough infrastructure.
I also don’t see Samsung having any interest in making another Nexus even if Google wanted them to (and I don’t think Google wants them to). HTC’s downward spiral from its 2010 glory days is almost as embarrassing as it is tragic, and even the brief resurgence in mindshare it gained with the HTC One M7 seems like a distant memory now. Besides, they already got second chance with the Nexus 9 and it failed to live up to expectations.
Do you have any other manufacturer you’d like to nominate? Feel free to let us know in the poll below.