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Google's Next Nexus Phones Are Finally Here

By Jamal Carnette, CFA - Sep 30, 2015 at 12:13PM

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There were a few surprises, but the rumor mill was mostly correct.

Meet Google's midrange Nexus 5X (left) and the high-end Nexus 6P (right). Image source: Google.

Unlike fellow Android mates Xiaomi or Samsung, which used Apple's September event -- and subsequent preorder period -- to draw comparisons with Apple's signature iPhone line, Google ( GOOG 0.28% ) ( GOOGL 0.30% ) has been rather silent about its next Nexus phone. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of Nexus-related leaks came from overseas hardware manufacturers looking to use Big G's name recognition to further validate and elevate their own brands.

As a result of the leaks, however, we've gotten to learn a great deal about Google's new hardware plans. Earlier leaks centered on Google bringing two form factors to market: The newer phablet-sized unit from China's fasting-growing handset maker Huawei will be called the Nexus 6P. In addition, the company appears to be bringing a smaller unit to market as well -- an extended version of the prior-gen Nexus 5 unit manufactured by the same vendor, LG.

During its September 29 event, Google mostly confirmed these device rumors.

Meet the Nexus 6P
In a win for the rumor mill, it appears the majority of rumors in regards to Google's next-gen phablet unit are correct. Per the event, Google is bringing a 5.7-inch Nexus 6P model to market. As a relief to Qualcomm investors, Wired reports the unit will boast the latest and greatest Snapdragon 810 processor, as Google seems to believe the overheating issues some vendors have experienced with the chip have been overblown or corrected in the recent overhaul.

The device will come equipped with 3GB of RAM, a rear 12.3-megapixel/8-megapixel front camera, and storage options of 32, 64, and 128 GB. The price of Google's next-gen unit starts at $500, a $150 drop from its predecessor. Perhaps the most exciting new feature is the fingerprint-scanning functionality on the back of the device called Nexus Imprint. Those holding out for Force Touch (Huawei has the technology) will be disappointed -- Google's unit doesn't have it.

And the Nexus 5X
In perhaps the smartest move for Google, the company decided to bring an extended Nexus 5X to its current-gen offering. While the original Nexus 5 had a strong value proposition as a mid-range unit with high-end specs and processing, the Nexus 6 departed from that strategy as the off-contract cost for the lowest-cost variant increased from $349 to $649. From the presentation, it seems the company will continue to offer this value in the extended version of the unit, with a small price increase to $380 for the initial unit.

Wired reports this device will boast a step down from the Nexus 6P's top-of-the line processor, instead opting for the Snapdragon 808, and it also shifts down to 2GB of RAM, with 12.3- and 5-megapixel rear and front-facing cameras, fingerprint sensor functionality, and a USB C connector. And, in a strong value play, Google also incorporated fingerprint scanning into this mid-range unit.

A sticky road ahead...
For those looking to purchase the unit, it should come equipped with Google's next operating system update, Android 6.0 (Marshmallow). For those with an Android-based phone, it could be a little longer before you receive the new version, as Android updates require collaboration between Google, the vendor, and even the carrier. Generally, and for obvious reasons, Google's Nexus line is among the first in line for new updates.

Google's Nexus line has never made a meaningful impact in the smartphone markets, though, as the company tends to focus on monetizing the industry through its suite of services on Android-based phones. Will this be a game-changer? Probably not, but it's a solid high-end and mid-range unit that should find some success.

If you're interested, they go on preorder today, with shipments expected in October.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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