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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.

The security situation is also still shaky. A recent study from Cambridge points out that almost 90 percent of Android phones are vulnerable, with the update bottleneck of OEMs and carriers chiefly to blame. This is another case where Google needs to lead the way at shoring up your phone’s defenses. Google has pledged monthly security updates to its Nexus phones, which are sold unlocked without carrier interference. If this model proves successful (many versions of the Nexus 6P are sold out) it could further nudge the industry in the right direction.

A great camera and build quality are a must

Last year’s Nexus 6 was a disappointment for its excessive size and bad camera. That’s a huge pain point for buyers: the camera is usually at the top of the list of wants when I chat with people about smartphones. I have two family members who just switched over to the iPhone for that reason alone. Even though the Galaxy S6 and its siblings have a camera that’s arguably as good or better than the iPhone 6S, it’s the perception of the iPhone’s photographic superiority that resonates with buyers. 

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Credit: Florence Ion

The same goes with fingerprint scanners. When people see Touch ID for the first time, they’re wowed. Fingerprint scanners are on Samsung’s top phones, but we are only finally getting native support in Android Marshmallow. By all account Nexus Imprint is lightning fast, which should serve as a model for how this feature out to be implemented. That’s especially critical with the reboot of Google Wallet to Android Pay.

The only hardware feature Nexus phones are lacking is wireless charging. That’s not on the iPhone yet, so outside of Samsung enthusiasts it’s probably not entered the public consciousness as a must-have. But a great camera is. Fingerprint sensors should be there soon. Nexus phones must be leaders in implementing core hardware components, but quality matters. They have to look and feel good. Pickup trucks are useful, but everyone gets excited about sports cars and performance vehicles.

The right performance for the price

Google really seems to have nailed the price-to-performance ratio this time around. The Nexus 5X is a bargain at $379, especially if it turns out to be as good a phone as the original Nexus 5.

And if the 6P performs as advertised, it should be worth the $499. The Nexus brand needs to get back to what it stood for in the past: good hardware, timely Android updates, and a competitive price. The interface and feature set of stock Android makes it more competitive than ever. Google must show others the way.


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