Nov 12 AT 2:01 AM Taylor Wimberly 150 Comments

Rumor: The first Nexus S was scrapped, new dual-core version already in testing

WARNING: This post contains rumors and speculation from Android Insiders. If you do not want to know why the Samsung Nexus S was delayed then do not read this story and unplug from the Internets. You have been warned — the goods are after the jump.

The Rumor

Everything we reported about the Nexus S or “Nexus Two” was correct, but the phone was scrapped at the last minute when someone decided it needed to feature a dual-core processor in order to compete with the Tegra 2 phones coming out in early January. Samsung has already delivered new Nexus S units to testers with the upgraded  processors, but Android 2.3 was not optimized for dual-core hardware and this is the reason for the delay.

The Source

As with most rumor reports, these sources wish to remain anonymous. I spoke with two people today who have handled the Samsung Nexus phones and provided previous information about it which all turned out to be accurate (minus the launch dates caused by the delay). A third source also confirmed information about the issues Google was having with dual-core hardware running Android 2.3.

One Android Insider’s take on the rumor

There is a lot to digest here, so let’s recap what already occurred today. Best Buy was supposed to launch the Nexus S on November 11th and that is the reason all of the Best Buy leaks occurred at once. Those leaks came from Best Buy employees that were digging through their network and discovered some materials related to the original launch date of November 11th.

The only problem is that the original Nexus S was scrapped and thus a lot of the details about the phone today are no longer correct.

The first Nexus One with no Google branding.

The first Nexus One with no Google branding.

Next we got pictures of the Nexus S from Engadget and the phone we saw is 100% real. Clark noticed that the pics were edited at some point and it turns out he was correct because the first couple batches of these phones did not have the Google logo on them. It was added after the pic was taken to make the phone look real.

Remember the original Nexus Ones from last year that Google gave out to employees which didn’t have any branding on them? That is exactly what happened with this year’s phone that was given to Googlers.

So who would edit a picture of a non-final Nexus S and mock it up so it appeared like it would be the retail version? And why did this person decide to release the pics to Engadget on the same day that the phone was supposed to launch? I’ve heard a lot of different theories, but I believe this was a Samsung orchestrated leak to ensure the buzz kept growing even though they knew the product had been delayed.

Speaking of the delay, this is where the story gets good. The original Nexus S was ready to be announced on November 8th and go on sale November 11th, but someone high up pulled the plug at the last minute after hearing reports that testers were not impressed with the hardware specs.

We reported that the original Nexus S was basically an overclocked Galaxy S and it turns out that as pretty accurate.

Now Samsung has chosen to go with a dual-core processor, which we didn’t really expect to see till January. Testers with access to the Nexus S have reported seeing two versions of the phone which look fairly similar but the old one is single-core and the new one is dual-core.

I would love to tell you which dual-core processor is inside the Nexus S now, but I do not have that information. We only know that NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 is virtually ready, but the other wild card is Samsung’s Orion processor.

When the Orion was announced back in September, Samsung said it would be available to “select customers” in the fourth quarter but we haven’t heard much until today.  The dual-core Orion was spotted at the ARM Technology Conference this week and it is said to be in production, but I’m not totally confident that is what’s inside the Nexus S.

So we don’t know who is supplying the dual-core processor, but that is most definitely the “serious hardware issue” that TechCrunch reported had caused the delay. Android 2.3 and the Nexus S are tied together and were meant to be launched at the same time, but Android 2.3 was not optimized for dual-core hardware.

I know I’m dumbing things down, but Samsung has basically three options:

  1. Release single-core phone with single-core software
  2. Release dual-core phone with single-core software
  3. Release dual-core phone with dual-core software

Option 1 was thrown out the window because Samsung and everyone else knows that dual-core phones will be unveiled on January 5th. It is a tough sell to move a bunch of single-core phones when the tech-savvy customers who might purchase them know that the next generation is just within reach.

Option 2 sounds the most likely at this point and it matches stories I’ve heard about other dual-core smartphones. Samsung could decide to ship the phone with a version of the OS that does not support dual-core so they can still get it out in time for the holidays. After the phone is launched, an over the air software update would “enable” the second core with a new firmware.

Option 3 sounds like the best choice, but timing issues might kill this plan. Google thought they were finished with Android 2.3 and that’s why they broke out the huge Gingerbread man, but now the team is being called back to get everything optimized for dual-core hardware. I believe they could get everything working, but so many potential selling days (or weeks) would be lost that this is unlikely.

Whatever happens, Google wants to ship Android 2.3 this year but they are waiting on Samsung and the Nexus S. I see no way that this phone and Android 2.3 could slip to next year because then it would get in the way of Google’s tablet push in Q1.

I can read your minds so I think I should also say that Honeycomb (Android 3.0) is optimized for dual-core hardware but that version of Android is initially planned for tablets and is not designed to run on the Nexus S. Two different teams were working on Gingerbread and Honeycomb at the same time and that is the reason why they have such close release dates.

In closing, the Nexus S is still real, it has been upgraded to a dual-core processor, and I believe it will ship this year with support for T-Mobile (and possibly more carriers). Since the original version of the Nexus S was scrapped, assume that all of the rumored hardware specs are subject to change and there could be some more surprises coming.

Feedback

I wouldn’t be posting this article unless I believed the information to be accurate. There really is no benefit to a blogger making up or posting false information because it would hurt their credibility and drive readers away from their respected site. The Android blogosphere is a pretty tight-knit group and we try our best to keep each other in check. There are certain people who have been doing this for awhile now, like Rob Jackson of Phandroid or Phil Nickinson of Android Central, and when they break a big story you should assume the information they are reporting is truthful to the best of their knowledge.

I have yet to play with an actual Nexus S, but I trust the information that I was provided is accurate based on my relationships with the sources. A lot of these inside sources are always going to remain anonymous (which I know some of you hate), so you should examine the actual post author and their record.

For example, when Chris Ziegler of Engadget posted the new flagship Samsung phone we believed his post to be truthful and shared it with our readers right away. I saw that some people thought Clark was calling out Chris over the photoshopped Nexus S pics, but that was never his intention. Clark simply noticed the pics had been edited and wanted to know why someone would do that before leaking them to Engadget. It was a good thing Clark asked the question, because one of our sources chimed in and provided the answer.

We are all addicted to gadgets and that’s why we enjoy blogging. I find it extremely entertaining to see how these big companies compete (and the means they take) which is why I’m more excited than ever to be covering Android. I know the Samsung execs read this blog (and many others) and they are always trying to one-up their competition.

Now that Samsung has leaked their dual-core phone, I fully expect to see similar leaks from LG, HTC, and Motorola so you will get excited about their upcoming dual-core stuff and maybe decide to wait. It is all a big game, but that is why Android is winning the mobile wars. Apple will continue to release a new iPhone once a year, but Google has the best tech companies in the world all competing at once to see who can top each other with the next big thing.

If you were expecting that maybe the pace of innovation would slow down, buckle up and enjoy the ride. The Android products coming out in Q1 2011 are going to bring lots of smiles to all the gadget fans out there.

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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