Sep 05 AT 12:51 PM Dustin Earley 45 Comments

What are the chances the next Nexus phone is a Sony device?


When Google announced that Android 4.4, KitKat, would be coming soon, a video was posted to the company YouTube showing a Googler photographing the new KitKat statue with an unreleased Nexus device. Since then, the rumor mills have been going wild. Some have speculated that, because of the overall shape and camera placement, it could be a Sony device modeled after the just announced Xperia Z1. So what are the chances that this is true?

WARNING: This post contains a lot of speculation. If you can’t handle a bit of good ol’ fashioned rumor discussing, you may want to back away now.

Most Nexus devices have been exact copies, internally, of already manufactured phones. Google has modeled Nexus devices after already available phones for a reason. It’s price effective and easier to get manufacturer support, among other things. As such, Nexus devices will obviously share a lot of hardware similarities with their manufacturer branded counterparts. Take the Nexus 4 and Optimus G for example.

The Nexus 4 is a repackaged Optimus G. Because of this, they share the same printed circuit board, so camera placement on the two devices is exactly the same. The Nexus S is the exact same way (camera in the same spot as the original Galaxy S), because the two devices are using the same PCB. If Google were to take this approach again, and you compare the LG G2, which the Nexus 5 (what we believe is visible in the video) is supposed to be modeled after with the “leaked” Nexus 5 picture, you’ll see the two devices have to be using two different main PCBs. It also couldn’t be using the same parts as the Moto X or Moto DVX, which is a possible candidate for the next Nexus 4.

The leaked Nexus 5 could, however, be using the same internals as Sony’s newly announced Xperia Z1. That’s not as much as a surprise as you may think. Why? There are other reasons that, when we let our imaginations wander, lead us to believe it’s totally possible:

  • The timing matches up. LG Announced the Optimus G in mid-September 2012; Google announced the Nexus 4 mid-October 2012. Sony just announced the Z1 in early September; Google is rumored to announce the next Nexus sometime this October.
  • Sony has shown interest in making a Nexus device in the past. They’ve been rumored to have landed the honor several times before, with nothing ever making it to market.
  • We’ve been hearing for a long time now that the Nexus 5 would launch with a Snapdragon 800 and 5-inch 1080p display, both of which the Z1 has.
  • The Z1 and leaked Nexus 5 look identical.

We should note that while the timing of the Z1 and Nexus 5 line-up with the timing of the Optimus G and Nexus 4, it’s also totally possible the Nexus 5 is based on the Xperia Z. The camera is in a similar spot on the Z, and it has a 5-inch display, qualifying a Nexus using the same hardware to land the title of Nexus 5. The Xperia Z also uses a Qualcomm APQ8064, which is found inside the 2013 Nexus 7 as well, and Sony has released AOSP builds for the Xperia Z. Pretty convenient, eh?

If we were to stop right there, you might walk away feeling like you should anticipate a Sony manufactured Nexus 5. It makes a lot of sense. But for as many reasons as it’s possible that it is indeed the case, there’s reasons why it could also be manufactured by someone else. Namely, LG.

  • LG has been rumored to be producing the device for a long, long time. How it never leaked that it was Sony instead seems far-fetched at this point.
  • If you look closely at the leaked Nexus 5 picture, it almost, kinda, sorta looks like there is an LG logo near the bottom. More so than a Sony logo.
  • Sure, the Nexus 5 looks like a Sony Z1, but, it also looks like the 2013 Nexus 7. A lot like the 2013 Nexus 7. Which means Google could care enough about the design of the Nexus 5 to pay for different internals to maintain a common look across devices.
  • Samsung got to make two Nexus phones in a row. ASUS got to make two Nexus tablets in a row. It would make sense for LG to get to make two Nexus phones in a row.

There are four good reasons that show Sony could very well be making the Nexus 5, and four reasons that show why it could be LG like the rumors have been saying for a long time now. If you’ve been paying attention, you should have come to the conclusion by now that either scenario is possible. Just because the camera on the Z1 and leaked Nexus 5 are in the same place doesn’t necessarily mean the Nexus 5 is a Sony manufactured device.

Right now, we still don’t know for sure who’s making the next Nexus phone. We’re not putting our money on any manufacturer just yet. Feel free to check out the gallery of images below and make your own speculations in the comments below. We’re interested to know what you think.

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 12.04.11 AM xperiaz1small

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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