Nexus Prime and Ice Cream Sandwich — Everything We Know

Sumsung's Unpacked event teaser

In the world of technology and gadgets this past week has been eventful to say the least. I have already posted on the sadder side of it, but now I want to talk about the more exciting news surrounding the rumoured Nexus Prime and the next version of Android OS dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich. This is a phone I’ve been waiting for since before it was even rumoured, because when I saw the Nexus S I knew I’ll be waiting for the next Nexus phone. So when first a a photo of the phone was leaked, which was then followed by a video of it in action, then a Samsung’s teaser clip, for their Unpacked event, and finally more leaked screenshots, needless to say I was very excited.

What we knew before

Nexus Prime has been rumoured since probably before we heard of Ice Cream Sandwich, but when, following the release of Honeycomb (Android OS 3.0 aimed at tablets,) we started hearing about the next Android version that will bring together the tablet and smartphone interfaces under one umbrella (that would be the Ice Cream Sandwich), it was clear that this would coincided with a release of the next “Google experience” flagship Nexus phone. A bit later additional rumours hinted at Samsung as the manufacturer of this Nexus Prime, which also did the Nexus S. To be honest I was a bit disappointed by those rumours because I wasn’t crazy about Nexus S and I just prefer HTC’s aesthetics (HTC are the ones who did the original Nexus One). Still, Samsung showed itself capable of producing a true modern smartphone with the Galaxy S and later with the Galaxy S2 so I made peace with that. Later, early in August, there were some screenshots leaked of apparently a very early version of ICS running on Nexus S.

Then in September, Eric Schmidt revealed that ICS will be released in October or November, which meant that that’s when the Nexus Prime will be released as well. (Pretty much everybody in the industry agreed that the two will be coming out together.)

What we know now

So now, with October upon us, early this week on Tuesday, Android Police posted a photo of possibly the Nexus Prime’s screen. (The image on the right.) It was only one photo, of only a section of the phone, but the information visible on the screen actually gives us the numbers for screen’s resolution. Specifically that it is 1184 pixels high and 720 wide, possibly confirming earlier rumours that the Nexus Prime will have a 720p screen. In addition it shows that the pixel density of the screen is 320ppi. Given these three numbers, some math-inclined commenters pointed out that this implies a screen size of about 4.5–4.6 inches. It can also be seen that the phone doesn’t have dedicated buttons (capacitive or otherwise) but rather opts for on-screen controls for things like menu, home and back, much like it is done on Android tablets in Honeycomb.

The next day, Oct. 5, Samsung released a teaser video hinting at a new smartphone to be revealed at their Unpacked event on October 11th. The video, which I attached below, shows a profile of a smartphone with a curved screen, not unlike the Nexus S, and after making a point that sometimes two things go better together, it shows “Google | Samsung” at the end — doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s going on here.

However, following Steve Jobs’s death, Samsung announced that they are postponing the Unpacked event. It’s a shame but completely understandable — at a time like this you need to give people some breathing room. Not to mention that it might be considered in bad taste to announce a product that directly competes with iPhone so soon after Jobs’s death.

In the meantime though, there was more information leaked about the Nexus Prime, or as it now sometimes referred to as the Galaxy Nexus. I’m not sure where that name came from (a leak or just some reporter) but there is no official word on either of the names so far so we’ll wait and see. Personally I don’t like “Galaxy Nexus” and I think it would bad from marketing standpoint. Nexus phones have always been their own brand as it were, and so has the Galaxy phones. I don’t think it’s a good idea to mix the two. In any case, following the Samsung’s teaser the specs for the, now mythical phone have been leaked, and in fact, they were apparently so nice they were leaked twice.

Nexus Prime Specs

Indeed, first BGR reported that their source provided them with the Nexus Prime specs, which include a dual 1.2GHz processor, a 4.65-inch 1280 x 720-pixel Super AMOLED screen, 32GB of storage and 5MP camera. Then later same day GSM Arena reported that their own source provided them with a slightly different, and more potent, list of specs. I have the full list, updated with GSM Arena’s info, below.

  • Samsung’s own chipset, with a dual-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz
  • Dual-core GPU from Imagination, possibly PowerVR SGX543MP2, same as iPad 2
  • 4.65-inch 1280 x 720-pixel Super AMOLED HD with curved glass
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 32GB of built-in storage
  • 8-megapixel, full 1080p HD video-shooting camera with improved sensor
  • 1.3-megapixel in the front
  • 2,050 mAh battery
  • LTE-enabled with a dual-mode GSM/CDMA radio
  • NFC

These are some downright beastly specs. I hope that the 2,050mAh battery means longer battery life and not simply to keep it on par with current generation of smartphones. The 4.65-inch screen is to be honest a bit too big for my taste, on the other hand, with a 1280x720 resolution, which brings it to almost the same level of pixel density as iPhone 4 (320ppi vs 326ppi), I imagine the only way to make it smaller would’ve been to reduce the resolution. So it’s a tradeoff. Incidentally, just stop and consider this for a minute — a 1280 x 720 screen on a smartphone (even if it’s a big one) — there are 15-inch laptops with 1366 x 768 screens, how crazy is that!?

Nexus Prime Video

Then on Friday, Oct. 7, a video of the Nexus Prime in action was leaked to Mobilissimo.ro. The video, which I put below, shows a device that seems to correspond to the leaked specs, at least screen-size-wise as it appears to be fairly large. It also shows an interface that takes a lot of cues from Honeycomb — blue colour theme, thin blue line highlights on tabs, a widget menu screen with widget “screenshots” as oppose to icons (like in Gingerbread) and widget placement animation with a thin outline of where the widget will appear when “dropped”. On top of that we see a new app drawer with a new icon and an unlock screen that allows you to get straight into the camera. Oh and of course the on-screen buttons, instead of the physical/capacitive ones.

Nexus Prime Screenshots, plus Google Music and Google+

As if the video wasn’t enough (actually no it isn’t), later that day we also got a whole bunch of screenshots of ICS, showing the lock screen, home screen, app drawer, running apps dialog and more, check’em out below.

 

Then Android Police got two major exclusives showing off the new Google Music and Google+ apps that come with ICS. Not only that but they got the .apk files that you can go and download right now and start enjoying the new apps (I downloaded the new Google+ app, and other than needing to uninstall the old version, it worked like a charm). You can download the files and see a screen-by-screen comparison of the new Google Music app, as well as the new Google+ app on AP’s website, and you can see the screenshots for both below.

 

GSM version of Nexus Prime

Finally, just this morning, Android Central posted on the GSM version of Nexus Prime. Now, whether the next Nexus phone will be a worldphone like the iPhone 4S or it will simply have two versions released on the same day I don’t care, just as long as I can get it right away and have it work on my network, which is Wind Mobile, that as far as I understand, uses the same frequencies as T-Mobile in the US. Reading that story it seems that that will indeed be the case and so I’m a happy camper.

So there you have it — everything you wanted to know about Nexus Prime but were afraid (or not) to ask. I’ve had the Nexus One for almost a year and a half now, and except for a few niggles I’ve been very happy with it, but it’s starting to show its age. As I stated in the opening paragraph, I was disappointed with the Nexus S and have been waiting for the next Nexus phone ever since. The Nexus Prime is shaping up to be hell of a phone. It probably won’t be perfect, and personally I would’ve liked HTC to design it, but nonetheless it seems like it will truly be a next generation smartphone — large high density screen, a powerful dual-core processor, 1080p camera, and possibly even a GPU. Like they say — good things come to those who wait.

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