The history of Nexus and Google

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How Nexus evolved to give us Pixel...
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The history of Nexus and Google

The Nexus family tree

Google’s first standalone smartphones, Pixel and Pixel XL mark the death of a brand that’s been associated with the Silicon Valley firm for six years. Nexus was unique in the way it partnered two companies to create one product, without which, we mightn’t have the flawless Android OS we know today. Let’s look at the legacy…

HTC Google Nexus One

The first Nexus smartphone, co-created with HTC, was released in January 2010 and featured a trackball navigation system, a 5MP camera, and a 3.7-inch touchscreen. It also boasted a voice-guided navigation system and Bluetooth connectivity, considered pretty cutting edge stuff at the time.

Samsung Nexus S

Towards the end of 2010 the Samsung Nexus S was announced. It had a 4-inch Super AMOLED display, featured NFC, and was completely made of plastic. There was a very capable 5MP camera on the back, and it was the first Nexus phone to feature a front-facing lens, albeit VGA.

Android Gingerbread brought with it a few new features including a more streamlined UI, and shortly after an update to Froyo was rolled out. Google went on to sell 24 million units worldwide.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

In 2011, the Samsung-Google operation was still going strong with the release of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. It was at this point that the Nexus smartphone range began to take shape, more closely resembling the smartphones we use today.

It had a 4.65-inch HD display, a 5MP camera capable of filming in 1080p, and twice as much RAM as its predecessor (1GB). Although it featured some strong specs for the time, it wasn’t widely successful with fierce competition from the likes of Apple and HTC.

Nexus 4

Despite that minor hiccup Google pressed on, this time partnering with LG for a November 2012 release. The result was the Nexus 4, a slightly larger smartphone with a 4.7-inch display, 2GB RAM, an 8MP camera, and a quad-core processor.

It also supported wireless charging, which a lot of today’s phones don’t even do. It’s estimated Google sold 3 million Nexus 4s by mid-2013.

Nexus 5

Google continued with LG to produce the Nexus 5, launching on Halloween 2013. It was fronted by a large 4.95-inch Full HD display, 2GB RAM, and first Nexus device with 4G, running Android KitKat.

And despite its range of impressive features, it sold at a very reasonable price on the Google Play Store - around £250 for the larger 32GB model.

Nexus 6

In 2014 we saw the first Google-Motorola Nexus mash up in the form of the giant 6-inch screened Nexus 6. It was one of the first smartphones to boast Quad HD resolution, and also featured a high quality 13MP camera, and a handy, but not that impressive, 2MP front-facing lens.

The quad-core processor coupled with 3GB RAM made it a great phone for streaming films and playing games, providing an all-round smooth and impressive performance.

Nexus 5X and 6P

The Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P were announced at the same time in 2015, but made by separate manufacturers – LG and Huawei respectively. Both debuted with Android Marshmallow, and were the first to upgrade to the current operating system, Android Nougat.

The Nexus 5X’s 5.2-inch display was Full HD, and with a nod to its streamlined design and plastic back, it was a featherweight at just 136g. For reference, the 2010 G1 we mentioned earlier – with its 3.7-inch display - was almost the same weight.

The 5X also had a 12.3MP camera, fingerprint sensor, and was one of the first smartphones to feature a USB Type-C charging port – for quicker data transfer and faster charging.

The 6P on the other hand had a 5.7-inch Quad HD display and a polished metal casing. It was also a total powerhouse with an octa-core processor and 3GB RAM in the driving seat. It too had a 12.3MP camera, but the higher screen resolution really showed off the true detail of photos and videos.

Pixel and Pixel XL

And now of course, Nexus is all over. Replaced by Pixel and Pixel XL - check them both out in our hands on video below:

Got anything to add? Drop us a comment below and join the conversation.

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