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Why we need Nexus phones more than ever

Derek Walter | Oct. 22, 2015
Android manufacturers can't stop mucking up Android. Here's why we still need Professor Google to give everyone an object lesson in how to make a proper Android phone.

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Credit: Florence Ion

The Nexus 6P and 5X could be the perfect Android phones we’ve been pining after for years. Great build quality, a top-flight camera, rapid updates, all wrapped together with a pure and unsullied version of Android.

It’s especially that last item that phone manufacturers keep fumbling. You can get an excellent camera with a new Galaxy S6 or the LG G4. HTC’s all-metal One series has always been a leader in the looks department. And the Moto X lets you build a device to your liking in a near-stock Android package (Though how often it stays up-to-date is another matter.)

They’re all good phones. But all are susceptible in one form or another to a list of grievances. Slow updates. Pre-installed apps you can’t get eliminate (from the device maker and carrier!). Interface tweaks that merely change, instead of improve, the Android experience.

These continual problems have convinced me that despite what others may say, we desperately need Nexus phones to lead the way. I’m optimistic as ever with what Google produced in the Nexus 6P and 5X. Here’s why Google still needs to school everyone about how it’s supposed to be done.

A Touch of the Wiz

We’ve railed plenty of times here about third-party software. Samsung’s TouchWiz and the custom interfaces from LG and HTC are easy targets. But why is that one of our constant gripes?

Often they don’t really add any value. Most of these custom UIs unnecessarily change the configuration of the settings, home screen, and other features. Yes, Android is all about openness and customization and giving everyone the freedom to do this. But they should actually make things better

To be fair, sometimes they do. Samsung adds some useful tweaks to TouchWiz. For example, there’s a handy checkbox in the drop-down menu to turn on auto-brightness. You can also customize which settings are at the ready from this spot (pictured).


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Samsung’s drop-down settings menu brings some useful tweaks, but it’d be preferable if it didn’t go overboard with.

TouchWiz also lets you uninstall an app from the home screen - something Android finally added with Marshmallow. Phone makers can, and should, add these kinds of things if they make the experience better. But they don’t need to mess with the way buttons and switches look, or turn toggles into checkboxes just because they can. There’s no need to switch up the fonts and colors or copy iPhone features like rounded app icons and a Parallax wallpaper (looking at you, Samsung).

 

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