Google’s been offering a line of Nexus phones and products since 2010. The company picks a hardware partner to build a phone to run the latest version of Google’s Android software and show off just what the platform is capable of.

The Nexus One was one of the first smartphones with a 1 GHz processor. Later models pushed different boundaries by offering high quality hardware at relatively low prices.

Now there are a number of reports suggesting that Google will retire the Nexus program, and instead work with hardware partners to promote a series of high-end Android phones running stock Google software. The new program is reportedly called Android Silver.

Google Nexus logo

The move makes sense. Nexus phones aren’t necessarily the models with the top specs, lowest prices, or even the most innovative features anymore. And Google’s early attempts to sidestep the traditional US smartphone distribution model (where customers buy products from wireless carriers) didn’t have a huge impact… but the growing number of pre-paid and MVNO options in the US now means there are more people paying full price for smartphones up front than there were a few years ago.

So instead of pushing its own hardware or distribution model, Google is reportedly going to work with a handful of different device makers to promote phones running Google’s software. The companies would then sell those phones through traditional retail (and carrier) outlets.

The Silver devices will still sort of be Google’s flagship phones. Google will have more control over the software that ships on those phones than it would on most Android devices — and partners will promise to offer prompt software updates and limit the third-party software loaded on the phones.

In other words, say goodbye to the idea of a next-gen Google Nexus and hello to a LG G3 Silver or Motorola Moto X Silver… or something like that. You know, if this rumor’s true. It might not be. That’s the (un)fun thing about rumors… but this one comes from some pretty reliable folks.

via The Information, The Verge, and Android Police

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13 replies on “Reports: Google to retire Nexus program, promote “Android Silver” phones”

  1. I wonder what the OEMs get out of this deal if it’s true? Seems like most manufacturers are adding their own spin on top of Android(such as TouchWiz) and wouldn’t qualify for this program.

    I could see this working in favor of manufacturers such as LG or Motorola who don’t add much to the UI. Then they can say they are Silver certified(or whatever) and get more streamlined updates.

  2. Reason I only bought Nexus Android devices was for the support. Knowing you would get the latest flavor of Android, guaranteed. And the price points were always always better than anything on the market. Stock unadulterated OS wasn’t bad either.

    But it is pretty clear that leaving software upgrades in the hands of the likes of Samsung or LG isn’t very consumer friendly unless Google has in place a better mechanism for pushing software/OS upgrades.

    One imagines they are working hard on such a thing in consideration of Project Ara, but one wonders how far away they are, especially since there is no mention of such a thing.

  3. I can’t agree with your comments as the Nexus 5 with maybe the exception of the battery and camera was as good as any other flagship phone in the market when it was released at half the price.

    I bought the N5 so I could have a great phone at a great price and not be under the thumb of my wireless provider. The N5 still stands as a great phone even with the release of the SG5 and the new HTC One as it still matches up well with these phones for something that came out last fall.

    If your reports are true it will be a sad day for consumers as we will either have to go back to the days of multi-year contracts at crappy rates or pay $500 to $600 for a flagship phone that costs the handset maker $200 to $250 to manufacture.

    If this becomes truth I just hope either:

    1. The OnePlus One does so well it makes Sammy and HTC have to play at their level and not inflate their phone prices like they currently do.
    2. Or the Chinese catches up and floods the market with cheaper phones with great specs and forces Sammy and HTC to lower their handset prices.
    3. Or this “Silver” project includes Google footing some of the manufacturers costs so that we can still get a great phone at a great price.

    If not next year I’ll be back to getting a used phone of the previous years flagships again.

    1. Yep… But it isn’t really *better* than other phones available at the same time (in terms of hardware).

      The original nexus one pushed the boundaries to show what Google thought a great Android phone could be. More recent models are just some of the many great phones. I wouldn’t be surprised if Google doesn’t feel the need to push boundaries anymore, since other companies are doing that.
      But partnering to load vanilla Android software could continue to showcase the Google experience apps.

      1. IMHO, the fact that Nexus products are used to showcase the latest version of Android makes it better than the rest of the pack. It’s not about the hardware specs alone any more, but a combination of the hardware and the OS.

  4. So by not pushing its own hardware or distribution model it at least implies that we could see a (gasp) card slot in a “silver” phone?

  5. Does this mean they’ll force OEMs to not use removable batteries and other things the Nexus phones tend to not have?

    1. My guess is that the phones will be built however the OEM wants and Google will slap their Silver status on it, similar to how they do the “Google Experience” phones from OEMs. Google will control the OS and the OEMs take care of the hardware.

      At least that’s how I assume it would happen from the comments I have seen.

  6. Everything sounds very much like the Nexus, at least how those phones are sold and marketed overseas.

  7. i’m guessing this doesn’t affect the Nexus tablet line, which are pretty high end for the price.

    1. from what I’ve gathered, the Nexus line will be killed over the next year leaving only GPE type devices, therefore, I don’t think we’ll be seeing inexpensive Nexus devices anymore.

      1. Yes, and this would be sad news indeed. I don’t particularly like the idea of having to spend $600 or so on a decent phone compared to my $399 Nexus 5.

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