If you’ve been following Android phones for a while, you might recall Google’s Nexus brand of handsets. It was the ultimate portfolio of devices for fans and developers alike, including both smartphones and tablets. I owned a Google Nexus 5, and after that, just a few more Nexus products were launched before the business switched to the Pixel line. That transformation, though, involved more than simply a name change. Google’s smartphone business was completely re-imagined when it switched from Nexus to Pixel. In light of the Google Pixel 7 series’ impending release and the Pixel series’ anniversary, we felt it would be appropriate to reflect on how much the Pixel series altered Google’s course in the smartphone industry.
From customers to developers
Previously, Nexus smartphones were typically regarded as developer reference devices, providing a very uncluttered starting point for anybody learning Android development. Although aficionados continued to purchase them, there wasn’t really a broad appeal to be obtained. Both marketing these products and offering distinct features were never actually done by Google. The original Pixel smartphone completely altered everything.
For instance, the Nexus 6P (created in collaboration with Huawei) didn’t have anything particularly unique. Although it featured a stylish look and a respectable camera, the software was nothing particularly noteworthy. Later, the Google Pixel was released with the Assistant integrated into the OS (at the time, it was found in Google Allo, of all places), a revamped Pixel Launcher, and the finest camera on a Google smartphone to date.
Since then, Google has invested heavily in marketing, specialised software features, and ambient computation. As part of Nexus, none of what the firm does now with the Pixel line would have ever occurred. Now Playing, a delightful feature that is definitely targeted at the general public, would not have belonged on a development device. Before, every feature that debuted on a Nexus was a standard feature included in AOSP that any manufacturer could use. But with the Pixel, Google transitioned from developing niche products to going up against many of the OEMs to which it offers a software basis.
The Pixel Visual Core, cameras, and establishing the Tensor Framework
The camera is the one aspect of the Pixel range that didn’t make sense on the Nexus series. With the Pixel series, Google made significant advancements in smartphone photography that are more geared toward the general public than anything else. Google’s efforts significantly above anything it had previously done with the Nexus series thanks to increased efforts and the launch of the Pixel Visual Core as well with the Pixel 2. Even now, with Tensor being a joint venture between Samsung and Google, it is obvious that the company’s initial push into custom silicon propelled the Pixel series along the road we are now on.
Regarding Nexus, the treatment it received from Google was wholly irreconcilable with that of its rivals. If Google intended it to be introduced on carriers with a larger customer base, as in the case of the Pixel family, it was never going to function in the current condition. After the Nexus, everything was built from scratch, and the company’s strategy for the Pixel family might as well have been its first entry into smartphones in general.
All of this is to argue that Google’s trajectory with the Pixel series has followed a track that, at least in the form that it was in, could never have existed with the Nexus. Given that its HDR+ algorithm actually made its debut there and not on the Pixel lineup, I think the company initially intended to try to replicate what it did with Pixels in the Nexus series. However, I believe it later realised that its vision for its smartphones was incompatible with the Nexus branding at that time. Given that it was made by Samsung and genuinely released on carriers, the Galaxy Nexus was possibly the final Nexus phone to appeal to the general public.
Could the Nexus be brought back?
It’s difficult to predict if the Nexus brand will ever be revived, but if it does, I believe it won’t ever be seen in smartphones again. For a time, Google was obviously aiming for something new with its smartphone operation, and I believe that the re-release of a Nexus phone would further complicate matters. Could it, though, be used to gadgets geared for developers? Nearly likely. After all, we did receive a Nexus Player with Google TV, which in a sense predates the Chromecast. Nexus was more than simply phones and tablets.
However, switching from Nexus to Pixels completely rewrote Google’s general smartphone strategy. It became a full-fledged competitor in the market rather than merely a software supplier with reference equipment as a result. There is a tiny but increasing group of consumers that use Pixel smartphones as their primary means of transportation who may never have done so with a Nexus, even if it may not be the biggest or greatest OEM available.
But one thing is certain: it was unquestionably better for anyone who wanted to purchase a Google smartphone. Although I adored the Nexus 5, it wasn’t very functional when compared to the rest of the market. It was just an excellent, reliable Android phone at a time when TouchWiz skins ruled the roost. Even when compared to the rest of the competition today, Pixels offer a lot, and Google has been working toward that for years.