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What is a Google Nexus device?

Unless you’re an avid fan of Android or aware of the competition surrounding your favourite Apple product, you may have heard the name ‘Nexus’ and wondered what it was. The name itself is actually defined as a ‘connection’ or ‘the centre of a situation’ and these definitions have never been more apt than with the arrival of the Google Nexus 7 by Asus.

Wall of Nexus

Where does the Nexus name come from?

Google, creator of the popular mobile operating system Android has partnered with a number of companies during the life of their OS thus far. Each year they release a new iteration of Android and with it a new device running a stock (unaltered) version of the user experience on board.

The very first Android device was the T-Mobile G1, made in partnership with HTC. The G1 ran Android version 1.6 Donut. As we explained in our article on Android updates, each iteration of the OS comes with a new sugary treat-related name. Once the G1 brought an early version of Android into the hands of the consumers, it started to gain popularity in the market, from the perspective of both retail and manufacturers.

The reception of the G1 helped direct Google with its progression of Android as an OS and during development of the platform they also established that they needed a strong brand to represent the ‘cutting edge’ nature of their product. The resultant name was Nexus and it has adorned an array of devices since.

A brief history of Nexus devices

Following the G1’s arrival to market, Google needed a fitting successor, designed to show that the platform was fast-growing and competitive to the likes of Apple’s iPhone and BlackBerry’s foothold in the smartphone market.

The Google Nexus One launched in January 2010 and was the first device to bear the Nexus name. It offered users better hardware, was made from more luxurious materials and was the first device to run the newest version of Android at the time; 2.1 Eclair.

The Nexus name then proceeded to grace the next two major smartphone releases of Android, both as a result of a partnership with Samsung in place of HTC. The Samsung Nexus S, was used to debut Android 2.3 Gingerbread which arrived in December 2010 featuring a larger, more advanced 4-inch Super AMOLED display, had better battery life and best of all came with addition new Google features.

The latest Nexus smartphone is the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which was the first handset to sport Android Ice Cream Sandwich, a significant jump in the Android smartphone experience. It also featured a larger, improved display and for the first time, a dual-core processor, making it faster and able to run more demanding applications from Google’s fast-growing Android Market application library.

The newest device in the Nexus family is the aforementioned Google Nexus 7. The company’s first Nexus branded tablet and running the latest iteration of their mobile OS: Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean. The Nexus 7 utilises a quad-core processor, 8/16GB of internal storage, a 7-inch HD display and one of the most competitive price points for a tablet with such hardware.

The advantage of owning a Nexus

If you’re a fan of Android or interested in switching to it as a smartphone/tablet OS, there are a number of unique advantages to buying a Nexus-branded device.

Cutting edge – If you purchase a newly announced Nexus device, you’re guaranteed to be running the latest version of Android, complete with the latest features, apps and services before any other device on the market.

Pure and simple – Other manufacturers of Android devices tend to alter the stock Android experience with their own apps, widgets and custom themes or overlays, with a Nexus device you’ll get the purist experience of Android available, just as Google intended. Stock Android typically runs smoother and is less demanding on battery life during general operation.

Long term support – Not only does a new Nexus device guarantee the fact that you’ll be running the latest iteration of Android, you’ll be able to download the next two releases of Android suitable for your device. For example, the Samsung Nexus S launched on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, was upgraded to 4.0 Android Ice Cream Sandwich ahead of any other device and made the jump to the latest Android 4.1 Jelly Bean along with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.


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