Google unveiled two new Nexus smartphones, both running the latest version of Android called Marshmallow, with Huawei getting the nod for the first time as the manufacturer of a Google flagship device.
The higher end Nexus 6P is manufactured by the Chinese vendor while the more affordable Nexus 5X is the handiwork of previous partner LG. Gaining Google’s endorsement could give Huawei’s brand a boost in the US market.
This is the first time Google has launched two Nexus devices in one go since the programme began in 2010.
The company announced there are now more than 4,000 Android devices in various shapes and sizes in circulation.
Incoming chief executive Sundar Pichai also said Android has added 400 million users since May 2014, bringing its total base to 1.4 billion, with an unsurprising emphasis on emerging markets for new growth.
Both Nexus phones include a fingerprint sensor, Nexus Imprint, on the back of the device, which is designed for quick access to the phone, including for Android Pay, a new payment service recently launched in the US.
The new Nexus devices both run on Marshmallow, the latest version of Android which becomes available next week.
Both also feature the Android Sensor Hub that processes data gathered from users. The low-power sensors are supplied by Robert Bosch and can determine if users are walking, running or riding a bike.
The Huawei-manufactured 6P is the first all-metal-body Nexus phone. The 5.7” phone is built from aluminum, with a USB Type-C port for fast charging, a 64-bit processor, and a 12.3 MP camera sensor with 1.55µm pixels. Google is billing the 6P as having the best camera on a Nexus device to date. Pricing for Nexus 6P starts at $499 for the 16GB model.
“In the US, other Chinese handset makers have had moderate success in some price segments – notably ZTE and Alcatel OneTouch – but Huawei has struggled. Huawei has the potential to raise its visibility in the US market by making a high profile Nexus smartphone,” commented Ian Fogg, IHS Technology’s director of mobile analysis.
Google worked with LG on the Nexus 5X, which boosts a 5.2” screen and the same 12.3 MP camera and Type-C port as the Nexus 6P. Nexus 5X starts at $379 for the 16GB model.
The devices are available for pre-order on the Google Store in a number of countries, including the US, UK, Ireland and Japan, and come with a free 90-day subscription to Google Play Music. In the US, pre-orders include a $50 Play credit to help users stock up music, apps, games and shows.
Both the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X work on Google’s Project Fi, the search giant’s MVNO, and users can request an invite to its early access programme. Up to now, Google Fi has only been available for Nexus 6 users, so this broadens the demographic a little.
In addition to the two smartphones, Google announced the Pixel C, the first Android tablet built end-to-end by the company itself. The Pixel C combines a full-size keyboard with the portability of a tablet, channelling Microsoft’s Surface range.
The Pixel C’s tablet and keyboard attach magnetically, making it easier to switch between typing and using the touch screen. The new tablet also has the same aluminium design, display and USB Type-C port as the Chromebook Pixel. The Pixel C will be available in time for the Christmas holidays on the Google Store.
Finally, Google announced two new Chromecast devices, one designed to be plugged into the TV and the other which enables music to be streamed to speakers. The Chromecast app has also been updated.