Quite a few phones make their way to my desk.
The list includes all sorts of devices from Samsung, LG, Motorola, Apple, and HTC. But none have garnered as much excitement and interest as Google’s new Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P smartphones.
I received both phones on Friday afternoon, and several of my colleagues began crowding around me almost immediately to take a peek. Others that I don’t work with directly sent me messages, asking if they could see the new Nexus phones.
Even Alex Heath, Tech Insider’s apps reporter who’s also a notorious Apple enthusiast, took my Nexus 5X review unit to try out the latest features in the new version of Android.
Otherwise, he normally wouldn’t care about the phones I test.
As Google officially puts it, the Nexus smartphones are “Google’s take on the total user experience including hardware and software.” They’re the embodiment of Google’s vision for our interaction with mobile devices. And that interaction is pretty substantial for many of us in our daily lives. We spend a lot of time on our smartphones.
Alex’s interest, as well as the others’, is a testament to the importance of priority access to Google’s latest Android operating system updates. It’s something other phones from other companies simply can’t boast because they need to go through an insane amount of effort to make sure their own software layers, or skins, are compatible with Google’s updates. Then, the carrier you bought your non-Nexus Android from needs to approve the update, too.
It’s incredibly inefficient and a tremendous downside to owning non-Nexus Android devices. It means most people are running older versions of Android with older features. That can also put many, if not most, Android users at risk of missing security updates against malicious attacks like Stagefright.
It also means most Android users are missing key features like Google’s Now on Tap, which lets you bring up useful information about something you’re looking at on the screen without searching. Only the latest version of Android has that. And so far, only Google’s new Nexus smartphone come preinstalled with it.
It should be noted, though, that HTC’s One A9 that was announced on Tuesday will come pre-installed with Android 6.0, the latest version, and it will apparently get Android updates from Google within 15 days of their release if you buy the unlocked model.
Also, while Google commissions other companies to make the Nexus phones (LG and Huawei for this year’s line), Google works closely with these companies to make them. Android’s VP at Google told BuzzFeed“We have industrial designers, mechanical engineers, product designers for Google who are working really closely with their manufacturer counterparts.”
It’s the closest thing to the physical manifestation of Android that we’re going to get.
It’s also the closest thing we’re going to get to a direct, pure, raw competitor to Apple’s iPhones. All the other non-Nexus Android phones are posers. The Nexus smartphones are the real deal.
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