Google unveils the Nexus 6, 9 and Player

As has become customary with Google, big announcements usually just… appear. No keynote, no fanfare, nothing of the sort Apple is doing for their iPad event tomorrow. And as was with the case with the Nexus 5, their new devices are just… here.

Nexus  6

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This is Google’s first foray into the largely uncontested phablet market. The king, Samsung’s Note series sits with a sizeable chunk of the phablet pie, but recent offerings such as Xiaomi’s dirt-cheap Redmi Note, Oppo’s Find 7 and to an extent Sony’s Xperia Z Ultra have slowly begun to chip away at Samsung’s market share, but the Note 4 is an extremely robust device that on paper has no shortcomings.

Enter the Nexus 6. To be manufactured by Motorola, it is at first glance, completely uninspiring. It carries on the same design as the Moto X 2014, just with a larger display diagonal of 5.92 inches. Google has gone with a Quad-HD (1440p) AMOLED display (443 ppi) that is powered by a 3220 mAh battery.

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It is driven by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 805, a quad-core SoC clocked at 2.7 GHz and paired with the Adreno 420 for graphics processing. It will have a 13 MP rear camera, with a 2 MP front-facing camera and a dual-ring flash. Don’t expect much from the camera module, however, considering the Moto X 2014 with the same camera had spotty autofocus and oversaturated, not true-to-life colours.

The Nexus 6 will be coming in 32 and 64 GB storage options (no micro-SD card slot) and 3 GB of RAM. It all sounds extremely promising, surely the Nexus 6 will give the Note 4 a run for its money given how cheap Nexus devices — wait.  The Nexus 6 costs just how much? US$649. Yes, US$649, which is S$828 – not that we’re going to see the Nexus 6 in Singapore anytime soon if Google’s track record is looked at.

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The price completely deflates most of the hype that many, myself included, were feeling while we read through the list of features and specifications. To put it in context, the Note 4 – with a removable battery, metal body and a stylus – costs just US$90 more. Even though Samsung’s TouchWiz is far from a great UI, especially when compared to stock Android, it is still pretty darn amazing (if a little laggy at times).

Not the best decision to put it at US$649, eh Google? Pre-orders start October 23 with it arriving in November.

Nexus 9

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The Nexus 9 is, quite simply put, amazing. The whole Android community – highly accurate tipster @evleaks included – were given hope (and saw that hope crushed when @evleaks admitted he’d been fooled) that HTC would be coming up with a rumoured Nexus tablet codenamed “Volantis” way back in July this year. The rumoured specs were then such:

The Volantis will purportedly be packing a 64-bit Tegra K1 chip, 5GB DDR3 RAM, an 8.9″ 2560×1600 screen, 64 GB storage space, and a 5 or 8 MP camera with 1080p recording.

All of this will come packed in a silver aluminum unibody shell.

And lo and behold, the Google Gods have heard our prayers. While the Nexus 9 doesn’t pack the outlandish rumoured 5 GB of RAM, the rest of the details are pretty much spot on.

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It comes with a 2048 x 1536 pixels, 8.9 inch IPS display, 6700 mAh of battery, an 8 MP rear camera (1.6 MP front) and a 2.3 GHz, 64-bit Nvidia Tegra K1 quad-core processor. That is paired with a 192-core Kepler GPU just like what we’ve seen in the Nvidia Shield, and either 16 or 32 GB of storage without any micro-SD card slot. And, wow, does it look fantastic in that metal unibody.

As with the Nexus 6, it will be shipping with Android 5.0 Lollipop, whose Project Volta power management tweaks paired with the 6700 mAh of battery will certainly result in a looong battery life, so much so that we suspect it will give Sony’s Z3 Tablet Compact a strong challenge.

It will be selling at a sane price of US$399 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi version, US$479 for the 32 GB Wi-Fi version, and US$599 for the 32 GB LTE version. No LTE for 16 GB users, sorry.

All in all, it is damn good device, and to be honest, on paper I’d be hard-pressed to immediately make a choice between this and the current best Android tablet – the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. I’d definitely put my money down when pre-orders open on 17 October, and get my grubby hands on one when it goes on sale on 3 November.

Nexus Player

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The Nexus Player is a small yet powerful HTPC-esque device running Android that is primarily an entertainment machine. Google’s first Android TV product, it will be manufactured by Asus and will be hooked up to your TV for watching movies and playing games.

Android TV, announced in June, has a neat interface that allows you to stream music, movies, and TV shows. You can also play Android games on it, and it possess all of Chromecast’s features as well. It is shaped in the form of a disc, with a 4.7 inch diameter. Out of the box, you get a tiny remote but the Nexus gamepad will be sold separately.

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It has 8 GB of internal storage and can stream videos over the latest and greatest 802.11ac WiFi. It will be retailing for US$99, with the gamepad going for an additional US$39, but will only be sold on the Google Play store which unfortunately still does not exist in Singapore. Just like the Nexus 9, pre-orders start October 17, with sales beginning on November 3.

A Nexus for you?

With the introduction of these devices, the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 were discontinued, but they’re outdated devices whose time had really come, so we aren’t complaining. Still, both devices do not fulfill everyone’s needs. For some, the 5.92 inch screen size of the Nexus 6 is too much to handle, and so Google will still continue selling the Nexus 5. However, for those who do want a larger tablet will have to look away from Google, for there is no Nexus 10 any more. Perhaps Sony’s Xperia Z2 Tablet or Samsung’s Note Pro are viable options – albeit expensive.

Still, one can’t take the fact away from these Nexuses (Nexii?) that all three are cracking products and will certainly see a loyal fan-following purchasing at least one of them for their use.

What do you think of Google’s new products? Yay or nay?

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