Nexus phones have been a staple of the Android ecosystem for many years now. Oftentimes the handsets, offering an unadulterated version of Google’s OS, have set the tone for what each year’s flagship phones would be like. And though they’re niche devices in the wider general market, Nexus phones are a big deal in the tech scene.
That’s why Huawei’s confirmation that it would be making a new Nexus phone this year raised quite a few eyebrows. The company declared in an interview that it was “doing the Nexus again this year”, despite earlier rumors that HTC would be solely responsible the 2016’s Nexus models.
Of course, many fans of the platform may accept the news with open arms, seeing as Huawei was responsible for last year’s Nexus 6P. That flagship phone was universally praised by reviewers, for its high-quality, unique design and great camera. If Huawei manages to pull off another 6P then fans of the Nexus program will likely be delighted.
That being said, HTC is by no means out of the race either. Strong and credible rumors pegged the company responsible for a couple of Nexus handsets coming out later this year. At the time they were codenamed as the M1 and S1 devices. However, it looks like HTC didn’t get the truly exclusive deal on Nexus devices, as the company had been rumored to have done earlier in the year.
Finally, it’s also worth reminding everyone that Google itself seems to have stepped up its interest in the Nexus program. Until now, the program was a way for OEMs to show off their skills and provide their users with a truly pure Android experience. But this year, Google is set to be taking a much more hands-on approach, even going as far as designing the Nexus handsets and offering up extra Google services on top of pure Android. Google confirmed as much at a recent industry conference.
This would mean that HTC, Huawei and whomever else might be working on the Nexus phones, will only be building the devices but not involved in the design and speccing. This would bring the Nexus line even closer to Google's heart – a showcase of the company’s own hardware, vision and services. And that’s by no means a bad thing.
Hopefully all this interest in the Nexus program leads to better devices for end users and new experiences for those on board with Google’s platform. The new Nexus phones are expected to be unveiled sometime during the summer and come pre-loaded with the latest version of Android 7, also known as Android N.
Update: A new report has come out over on XDA citing a longer quote from Huawei, out of which the bit about a new Nexus was pulled out. The longer quote and context seem to no longer point to a brand new Nexus device from Huawei but rather to refer to the company's market plans in South Africa. The full quote:
The Nexus product is a very niche product… the techies love it but there’s a very small number of people that buy it. Hence Cellucity only brought 300… into the country [ South Africa].…The operators generally don’t take up the Nexus device. That said, the distributors, our open market, do bring in the device, that’s how Cellucity got it… and that will still be the same this year. We’re doing the Nexus again this year, by the way.
That being said there still are some sign that Huawei may indeed create or prepared to create a new Nexus device if Google so desires, signs like the registering of the Huawei 7P trademark. Of course, the company isn't saying anything concretely only giving us the standard PR answer:
We don’t comment on future products, as a matter of policy. Huawei is committed to creating the world’s most compelling and innovative devices, offering an exceptional performance and outstanding user experience.
We are proud to have worked with Google, which is strong in innovation, on the Nexus 6P and will continue to collaborate in the future, such as our support for Daydream, the recently-announced platform for high performance mobile VR
Still, this clarification has definitely put on damper on expectations so don't start saving up for that 2016 Huawei nexus just yet.