Google's Nexus 5: What to Expect

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For this reason, I think we should expect a Nexus 5 to arrive a lot earlier than October-November 2013. My money is on May 15.

Issue #2: Hardware

How will the Nexus 5 hardware differ over the Nexus 4? First, let's mention what will NOT change: The size and shape of the device, as well as the screen resolution. Therefore, to the untrained eye it will look just about the same.

One barely visible hardware difference would be to make the construction cheaper. This would entail getting rid of the glass backside and to revert to the cheap but durable plastic of the predecessor device, the Galaxy Nexus.

Inside the Nexus 5, the key words are simplification and cost reduction. Much of this is a de-facto pass-through from Qualcomm. The CPU and radio (cellular data modem) will see further integration, getting one step closer to allowing the OEM (LG, Samsung, HTC, whomever) to produce as few versions of the device as possible, to cover all countries in the world. On the issue of LTE, that will be the subject of a separate article.

In this cost reduction exercise, one can surmise that the "old" computer companies -- and I don't mean Dell (DELL) or HP (HPQ) , but rather Acer, Asus and Lenovo -- would be interested parties. This is their wheelhouse.

Perhaps 2013 will be the year when Acer, Asus, Lenovo -- and perhaps the Chinese, such as Huawei and ZTE -- finally make it to the Tier 1 ranks in the US smartphone market, thanks to Google and Nexus.

Will the Nexus 5 have a removable battery or not? The Nexus 4 got a nonremovable one, for the first time in a Nexus, and the general market trend in the last few years has been to nonremovable batteries. I'm not sure Google cares. They are likely considering both alternatives.

What about a bigger battery, and a (BlackBerry-style) keyboard? Those will be the subject of a separate article.

Issue #3: Software

The only software issues we need to consider here are:

A. Backwards compatibility

B. Google's eyeglasses

C. Miracast, i.e., Google's version of AirPlay

A. Backwards compatibility:

Will the next version of Android, presumably called Key Lime Pie and launched in conjunction with the Nexus 5 on May 15, be compatible with the Nexus 4? With the Galaxy Nexus too? One would think at a bare minimum the Nexus 4.

B. Google's eyeglasses:

Will there be some "secret sauce" in the Nexus 5 that will make it compatible with the Google eyeglasses? Will any of this be backwards compatible with previous Nexus devices? This is totally unknown.

C. Miracast

One of Google's two main black eyes vis-a-vis Apple (AAPL) is its inability to match one of Apple's signature features: AirPlay. More about the details of these things in a subsequent article, but basically this is an area where Google needs to focus. Expect LG and others to show steps in this direction, with Google's blessing, already at CES. How will the Nexus 5 go beyond the Nexus 4 in this area?