Google Has Triplets

Four. Seven. Ten.

The Android army was expecting a major product announcement on Monday from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) . Unfortunately, the official press event was rained out by Hurricane Sandy, and the search giant decided to cancel its event, which was to take place in New York. Instead of a live event, Google has announced its new Nexus lineup via its official blog. Say hello to the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10.

Source: Google.

All three run the newest version of Android, 4.2, which is a slightly "new flavor" of Jelly Bean and not a new major version such as the next alphabetic dessert progression, Key Lime Pie. These were largely expected, but let's check out the official details.

Four
The new flagship Android phone is built by LG and features a quad-core Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM  ) Snapdragon S4 processor and a 4.7-inch display. The display panel will sport a resolution of 1280 x 768 at a pixel density of 320 pixels per inch, or ppi. That's notable because it's right up next to Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPhone and its 326 ppi. The device will also feature wireless charging, unlike the iPhone.

Nexus 4. Source: Google.

Those are worthy specs, but perhaps the most interesting things about this new device are what it doesn't have: contract subsidies (mostly) and 4G LTE. To be sure, these omissions are certainly related, but let's look at pricing first. An 8 GB model, unlocked and off contract, goes for $299 starting in November. An extra $50 will boost internal storage up to 16 GB. T-Mobile will be the only domestic carrier and is offering the upper-end model for $199 on contract (implying approximately a $150 subsidy), but it's clear that Google is primarily going for off-contract, unsubsidized sales abroad, here.

Of course, mobile historians will remember that Apple once tried to shake the boat and disrupt the subsidy model in the smartphone market with the original unsubsidized iPhone. It took only one year for Apple to see the error of its ways and adopt the subsidy model with the subsequent iPhone 3G. The big difference here is that the iPhone started at $499 with a contract, much higher than the $299 Nexus 4 without a contract.

The Nexus 4 is a GSM device that will work with 3G and HSPA+ networks all over the world, so it seems the search giant is positioning this as a world phone, launching in 7 countries. At the same time, it needs to keep costs down so it can reach reasonable unsubsidized prices, essentially killing any hopes of LTE support, which adds substantial engineering costs, technical complexities with frequency compatibilities, and politics of carrier negotiations.

Google was only interested in building one model (unlike the three different iPhone 5 variants) that could reach as many users around the world as possible, while reducing carriers' roles in the process. Sadly, that means no LTE for the Nexus 4.

Seven
The Nexus 7 that was launched this summer is seeing some incremental upgrades as well. Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) one-upped Google in September by offering more storage in its Kindle Fire HD at the same price points. Google is calling that raise and reraising by adding a new 3G mobile data option on the 32 GB model.

Product

Storage

Price

Cellular Connectivity

Nexus 7

16 GB / 32 GB

$199 / $249

3G HSPA+, add $50 (32 GB model only)

Kindle Fire HD 7"

16 GB / 32 GB

$199 / $249

None

iPad mini

16 GB / 32 GB / 64 GB

$329 / $429 / $529

4G LTE, add $130

Source: Google, Amazon, Apple.

Remember that the Kindle Fire HD is also ad-supported, and it takes a $15 fee to remove them, so in a way, the Nexus 7 is slightly cheaper if you compare them without any subsidies.

Ten
Google has tapped Samsung for the Nexus 10, a full-sized tablet aimed at both the iPad and Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) new Surface. The 10-inch tablet is beating the iPad in one of its most important categories: the display. At 2560 x 1600, the tablet has as many pixels as Apple's freshly unveiled 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display packed into a panel only marginally larger than the 9.7-inch iPad.

Nexus 10. Source: Google.

Google is even taking a page out of Apple's superlative marketing playbook, billing it as "the world's highest resolution tablet display." The Nexus 10 also tops the iPad in pixel density. In fact, the tablet also beats Apple in two other areas that Cupertino values highly, being thinner and lighter than the iPad.

Here's how the displays of the top four contenders in the full-sized tablet market stack up.

Product

Display Size

Resolution

Pixel Density

Starting Price

Nexus 10

10.06-inch

2560 x 1600

300 ppi

$399

iPad with Retina display

9.7-inch

2048 x 1536

264 ppi

$499

Kindle Fire HD 8.9"

8.9-inch

1920 x 1200

254 ppi

$299

Surface RT

10.6-inch

1366 x 768

148 ppi

$499

Source: Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft.

Big G is smartly undercutting the iPad by $100, which greatly increases its chances of success when combined with the impressive display.

+3
Overall, this is an impressive lineup that was just announced. The Nexus 4 is the weakest link as its clearly not geared toward the domestic market. It's not supported on the three largest domestic carriers, and it lacks a key feature (LTE) that's become par for the smartphone course. However, the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 are strong offerings at a time when tablets will stuff many a stocking in the immediate future.

Should Apple investors be scared of Google's new Nexus lineup? iPad unit sales fell short of expectations last quarter, and the tablet market is one of the most promising opportunities for the company in the years ahead. The Nexus tablets could be a major threat, so investors should read up all about the iPad opportunity in our new Apple research service. Get started by clicking here.

Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Qualcomm and Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Amazon.com, Google, Microsoft, and Qualcomm. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Amazon.com, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 30, 2012, at 6:13 PM, dukme wrote:

    Pretty cool line lineup Google has. Let the battle begin. I'm going to try out Nexus 4 and 10. Best bang for the buck compare to Apple overpriced products.

  • Report this Comment On October 30, 2012, at 6:15 PM, dukme wrote:

    As for Steve Jobs' dying words all I can say is "what goes around comes around" when he and Apple wronged Xerox. Nothing new here, RIP!

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