The two new Nexus smartphones announced by Google – the LG Google Nexus 5X and Huawei Google Nexus 6P – are a much needed return to form for Google, and the Nexus line of phones. They were unveiled by Google at an event in San Francisco, along with other devices including the Pixel C tablet and an all-new Chromecast dongle.
The two new phones come with a lot of appealing features, but perhaps the most important thing about them is that they have definitely been priced competitively. The Nexus 5X starts from $379 (or Rs. 31,900 in India) for the 16GB model, and the Nexus 6P starts from $499 (Rs. 39,999 in India) for the 32GB model. This brings the pricing of Nexus phones closer to the LG-made Google Nexus 5, which was launched in 2013 at a starting price of Rs. 28,999 ($349 in the US) for the 16GB model.
It’s a welcome change, after the Motorola-made Google Nexus 6 (Review | Pictures) which waslaunched last year at Rs. 44,000 ($649 in the US) for the 32GB model. That pricing might have been one of the reasons why the Nexus line earnings saw a big slowdown last year.
The Nexus line is meant to act as a reference Android device since the beginning, and Google builds hardware every year to “guide the ecosystem”, according to Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google. The Nexus devices offer the stock Android experience without further customisation, but the Nexus 6 launched last year saw a change in the phone’s positioning, as it was placed alongside flagship smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, the LG G3, and the Sony Xperia Z3. The move didn’t really pay off for the company.
An offer you can’t refuse
With the launch of LG-made Nexus 5X and Huawei-made Nexus 6P, the company is looking to win back the Nexus fans that lost interest in the line last year, and also to bring some new ones on board. The company is also no longer going to be partnering with various OEMs to launch Google Edition devices. This means that the only phones where you’ll get the stock Android experience are Nexus devices, which is another reason why the two new phones might do better in the market than their predecessor.
At the same time, Google has for the first time also introduced free bundled offers with the Nexus smartphones, including a 90-day free subscription to Google Play Music All Access (in select markets) and a $50 Google Play Credit. To further sweeten the deal, Google is offering a new extended warranty scheme that’s valid for two years, and covers mechanical breakdown apart from accidental damage. It is priced at $69 and $89 for the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P respectively, in the US at least. This new extended warranty plan seems to take cues from HTC’s ‘Uh-Oh’ protection plan, offered in the US, which includes free phone replacement in the case of a cracked screen, water damage, or a carrier switch within twelve months from the date of purchase.
Google with its latest Nexus smartphones has also tried to push its Google Store to become a one-stop shop for Nexus devices. Google launched the dedicated online store in March, where only ‘Made with Google’ hardware was sold.
It also appears that the new Nexus smartphones will only be sold through the Google store, and not with other retail partners – at least in select countries. The reason for this might be that Google wants to take more control over the supply chain of its Nexus phones. The company was initially unable to meet demand for the Nexus 6. By centralising the stores where you can purchase the new Nexus phones, Google will get a more timely and accurate picture about demand, and be able to manage supply to match. Of course, the more realistic pricing is only going to help demand, and that makes it all the more important for Google to have a clear idea about the numbers it needs to have ready for customers.
An upgraded Nexus
At the launch, Google stressed features such as improvements to the camera, with 4K video support; a fingerprint scanner (which will now likely become a standard feature on future Android phones); and slow motion video support. But the most important new feature is the promise of doing away with bloatware – something that had been tipped in leaks months before the event. Dave Burke, VP Engineering, Android, announced that the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P will come with fewer Google apps. He explained that over a quarter of the apps on the new Nexus will be “post set up,” which means that they can be uninstalled.
Bloatware has been a major problem on all mobile devices, and the fact that Google is taking steps about this is a very good sign. It shows a clear signal to the other OEMs, but also gives users that additional assurance, that buying a Nexus phone comes with some very clear benefits. That’s part of the reason the Google Nexus 5 made such a huge impact on the market. Perhaps this major course correction means that Google will be able to impress loyalists and new consumers alike.