May 22 AT 11:19 AM Nick Sarafolean 64 Comments

I’ll miss the Nexus line, but Android Silver sounds even better


Android is one of the most unique operating systems. Created by Google, Android is an open-source operating system that’s free for manufacturers to license and use in their devices. The concept isn’t a new one, but Android is set apart by its popularity. The OS has been picked up by nearly every major phone manufacturer and permeates our lives in ways that we may not even realize. A recessive trait of open source, however, is that there are few examples of what pure Android is.

In 2010, Google created a solution for the problem: the Nexus program. The Nexus One was the first of the new breed of pure, stock Android devices that came directly came from Google. With a few exceptions, the entire Nexus family has been sold off-contract, directly through Google. Such a strategy gives Google control over updates for the devices, allowing them to be pushed in a timely manner. But is the Nexus line perfect?

The answer is a resounding no. A product of its own design, Google has made sure that the Nexus line won’t make it into the hands of a vast number of consumers. The Nexus family comes at a price: carrier backing, manufacturer support and a good distribution channel are all left at the door when a device is branded with the Nexus logo.

Several years in, the rumor mill is pointing towards Google’s plans to remedy the Nexus line and rein in Android. The solution is summed up in two little words.

Android Silver.

Android Silver is Google’s move to both free the Nexus program and regain some control over Android. For those not in the know, Android Silver is Google’s rumored program to replace the Nexus program. Android Silver will include partnerships between Google and manufacturers for top-shelf Android phones that will run a near-stock version of Android with a very limited number of non-Google apps that consumers can uninstall if they desire. The devices will get speedy updates and have a user experience with little differences across devices.

That sounds like a pretty raw deal for manufacturers that are used to having their own way. To repay them, Google will heavily market the Android Silver devices to consumers, even partnering with carriers to have the hardware sold in carrier stores, something that is still a cause of a great many device purchases. In the end, the agreement balances out to provide a fair deal on both sides.

The logical question to ask is what benefits does Android Silver bring over the Nexus program? Several, the first of which is a lack of exclusivity. The Nexus program has always been more exclusive than the cool kids group at the local high school, allowing only one device at a time in each category. Android Silver is the superhero who breaks up the cliques by allowing more manufacturers to create high-end stock Android devices at the same time.

Another reason? Android Silver ditches the niche market of the Nexus program. Rather than targeting the developers and enthusiasts, Android Silver will dive headfirst into the consumer market to bring Google’s devices to the masses. With a strong branding and advertising push, Android Silver could quickly become the next household name to compete with those Galaxy phones.

Still looking for a third reason? Does a defined high-end experience satisfy? The Nexus line has always straddled that gap between mid-range and high-end, never venturing too far into either camp. Android Silver takes a different approach. Android Silver phones may be required to be the highest of the high-end, the flagships to drive Android forward. For many, this would make the phones worth an investment.

It’s clear that Android Silver is the right program to replace the Nexus program and the only downside now is the wait until it arrives. But for something this good, this – in the words of Apple – revolutionary, we can wait. In the end, it’ll all be worth it.

Agree? Disagree? Sound off below.

A nerd at heart, Nick is an average person who has a passion for all things electronic. When not spending his time writing about the latest gadgets, Nick enjoys reading, dabbling in photography, and experimenting with anything and everything coffee. Should you wish to know more about him, you can follow him on Twitter @nsarafolean.

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  • Nigel

    Stuff theory.

    I bought the Nexus for good cheap unlocked. Til we see pricing then can’t judge Silver program.

    • jj14

      ^^^^ That.

      And, whether the bootloader is locked down like HTC/Samsung like to do (needs to be unlockable, without tripping non-resetable flags like KNOX etc)

    • Androidawg

      I really think the price concern is being handled by Motorola now. X, G, E….those are the low price phones these days, and Google is looking to take on the iPhone. Not just be a cheap alternative.

      • James Lindell Threatt

        Actually, I think Google wants to be a game changer. Just making the most profitable an/popular device never interested them. They aims are higher. They want to change the industry (see gmail, Google fiber, project loon, Google docs, Chromebooks, Chromecast, driverless cars, nexus devices.) it’s not about being cheap it’s disruptive. The OEMS MAKE 300% PROFIT, which is their right, but it hurts consumers.

    • masterpfa

      I am hoping that the Silver Program is a World Wide release from the start.
      But primarily the price will be the determining factor, so far the Nexus devices have been competitively priced and one of the attractions to me initially.
      Time will tell

    • Richard Yarrell

      Android Silver won’t mean much to me cause I won’t be buying it serves no purpose to me.

      Nexus devices was a total bore with piss poor battery life and crappy camera year after after

      Thank god the Nexus 6 is over.

      • squiddy?

        where is squiddy?

  • roland

    I’m at nexus lover I hope I am excited for the silver program I think it’s going to be great for all Android users specially the ones that like if your experience

  • Nicholas Vettese

    Absolutely. The Nexus line of phones and tablets were a great price for the technology they put into them. I think that if Google nixes the Nexus line, it would be a huge mistake. If the concern is marketing… They why not market it? Google never likes to market their products too heavily because they are afraid of the other OEs.

    If the “High End” Experience is going to cost me $600, I will turn my back on this program instantaneously. Pound for Pound, the new lineup has to match what Google started with the Nexus lineup. A Dual Core Moto X+1 will not do. A Great phone, yes, but pound for pound, not what the Nexus program was.

    • clocinnorcal

      Could not agree more. As much as I like the flagship devices from all the various OEM’s, I could not justify paying those prices there’s the N4, N5, etc.. right there in the PlayStore for half the cost (at least here in the US); furthermore, I will not be a happy camper if the Silver program focuses on the premium price strategy.

  • Blablabla

    “Android is one of the most unique operating systems. Created by Google [...]”

    Seriously? Do you still think Google created Android and it was created from stratch? Better check your sources before even saying a word.

    • John

      nit pick much?

      Google may have bought Android mid development, but they are the ones who finalized the work and brought it to market. Android didn’t exist before the G1, which was created by Google. Prior to that, it wasn’t even in alpha. In fact, the G1 wasn’t released until 39 months after Google acquired Android Inc.

      It’s totally valid to say Google created Android. They didn’t come up with the idea, but Android never would have made it to market without Google. Android Inc was bankrupt when Google bought it. They were operating on the back of a $10k personal loan as their only current financing.

      • SGB101

        The Android platform pre Google was for a camera to begin with. Google seen something with great potential and shaped it into what they seen as android today.

        So the Android we got in 08 is a Google product no doubt.

        There is very little software out there that doesn’t have repurchased or purchased parts software at its core. It How tech and evolution in general works.

  • Kishan

    I have no problem with Silver as long as, they keep the Nexus Pricing, which is a deal breaker for MANY.

    • Jim

      I am very skeptical about Android Silver. It will have to operate the same way the Nexus line has for me to like it.

      I want phones with:

      No software customization from hardware manufacturers.

      Updates handled by Google with no dependence on carriers or manufacturers.

      High end devices for fair prices. (None of this $500+ bullshit). Top end hardware for $400 max or I’m not interested.

      I have a feeling that manufacturers won’t want to play by the rules of Android Silver and will continue pushing out crap software.

      The claim that the experience will be consistent across devices is reason enough for manufacturers to not take part in Android Silver. They don’t want a consistent experience across all devices. Most of them think that a non-consistent experience is what sets them apart from their competition. Also, providing speedy updates for such a wide range of hardware, each with their own customization is extremely hard. It is the main reason why the iPhone has been so good with updates. The number of devices to release for its much smaller.

  • tmoore4075

    Depends on price, unlocked or locked. Speedy updates is a big thing to me. Do we know when this will be announced? I’m getting close to new phone time and wanna have an idea of where I will be going.

  • Jeff

    How will Android Silver phones be different from Google Play Edition phones?

    • Corey

      Hopefully on price.

    • steve

      I agree, it must just be the average stupid person. To them, android is android, whether it’s got a skin on it or not, they don’t know the difference.

      • Androidawg

        Honest to goodness I heard this. “I don’t like Androids, that’s why I bought a Galaxy.” In other words, they don’t know what they bought. All they know is brand.

  • Ellett

    If Silver pricing is closer to Nexus I will migrate. If Silver pricing is $600-$700 I will ignore the program completely. Developers shouldn’t have to invest that much into a phone since they have to upgrade frequently.

    “bring Google’s devices to the masses”?! Really? As if Android weren’t already the best selling phone OS in the world?

    I have a strong feeling that Motorola “X” line will be the heir apparent to Nexus, not Silver; fairly high spec phone, near native OS with frequent updates, aggressive pricing, and the best Android experience on the market.

    • Forrest Hopkins

      How could a Motorola line succeed a Google line? Google doesn’t own Motorola anymore

      • Chris

        Hopefully Lenovo will Run with the framework Google has laid, because they have done a beautiful thing with Motorola.

  • Nexuslover

    I am also excited about the silver program. But only if the Price stays at the same level.
    I am not interested in a play store edition of the HTC (m8) for like 6-800$ or anything similar.

  • surethom

    I love my nexus 5 but I cannot see the silver range being a competitive price like the nexus range they will more likely be only slightly cheaper than there flagship phones.

    We need more nexus & one+1 phones, high spec & more affordable Sim free price not silly £500 to £600

  • Bart

    Silver: Its a business move, intended to prosper and promote Google and their business partners. The benefit to the consumer has yet to be realized. When the marketing starts, we’ll have a clearer picture. Both Nexus and Silver are status symbols to the tech-savvy consumer (which is a very small segment of the “real” consumer market.)

    Manufacturer OS overlays: I really don’t have a problem with it. But then I’ve never had an Android phone without it. Everyone complains about Samsung’s implementation, I rather like it and would miss it.

    Android Updates: Back in the early days of Android, updates were needed. Currently, in my opinion, the OS is relatively mature. Updates don’t make the user-experience that much richer. In fact, some recent updates have been annoying.

  • N4 owner

    It doesn’t add up. Higher end, more manufacturer control, more advertising, more offerings, more carrier support. How are they going to keep the affordable price point? They won’t, that’s how. OnePlus is the new Nexus, not Google Silver.

    • steve

      And by the way one plus is making it impossible to get, it will definitely be the new nexus

    • Nigel

      We’re dealing with rumours obviously but my weighted guess is that the OnePlus One will get into general availability in July and will be the cheap flagship all the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 owners will move towards, and the only way that Google will then grab back attention is to compete with the OnePlus One on price but use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 which the OnePlus and the LG G3 is out too soon to use. The Nexus 6 / Silver around February is too early for the Snapdragon 808/810 and if you waited even longer then you’ll see months of panning Google.

      Hence, I predict a Nexus 5 price drop, a small Nexus 5 revision (say 64GB storage, 3000mah battery) to hold demand til a 805 based product around end of 2014.


    The problem that most people will have is the price. If the price is $600+ remember that Google won’t be the main sellers of the devices. They will be partnering with the carriers to sell and promote the devices so we will be paying for it in installments (my assumption because this is the direction that the carriers are currently heading). If you have no problems with interest fee payments, i don’t, then you should be good.

    Imagine using your “Jump” or “Next” program to get a new Android Silver device every 6-12 months. I would like that.

    My concern is that it should be fully optimized,not like the Gpe where they just smacked stock on the phone and just sell them.

    Lastly, They still owe us a Nexus phone for November, unless they have the Silver program up and running by then.

  • aiurea

    Android Silver on an international level with affordable devices or dead on arival. Nexus is cheap in too few countries I stll don’t understand why the slow push and neither google’s services even though I live in the EU. If they still focus on and on with US only stuff I will be very dissapointed.

  • Matteo

    Without the $350ish price tag for high end phones, I’m out.

  • SGB101

    Hello oppo +one and cm.

    Tbh I can’t see the silver line lasting long, no more than two years, it will have little take up.

  • Dirty Budha

    A benefit of the Nexus line was that the updates were rolled out ASAP. Google had the drivers for the hardware and could make the update live faster. Other Android devices had to wait for the manufacturers to get the update and adjust it to their hardware. THEN the carriers had to go in and muck it up with their carrier BS and apps, WiFi Calling is still da bomb!

    I’m not sure that Android Silver will change this aspect of the Nexus line. It’s a HUGE part of what makes the Nexus appealing and I fear that they are losing a limb by cutting this part off.

    I’m eager to see what comes about, though.

  • Anon

    “The Nexus line has always straddled that gap between mid-range and high-end”
    Really? Why, because it doesn’t have Samsung’s cheap-feeling chassis or Apple’s marketing machine?

    The Nexus line has consistently put out flagship devices, not mid-range ones.

    • JaylanPHNX

      There’s usually some sacrifice somewhere to keep the price down. Often it’s the camera. But for the most part, you’re correct. The N5 was pretty top end when it was first announced/released and hold it’s own still.

      • tmoore4075

        Exactly. The camera always seems to be lacking. We also miss out on some cool hardware features sometimes too. Still would take a Nexus over anything though.

      • steve

        That’s why the one + is different. It has a 13 mp camera and by the rewiews, the camera is just as good or better than any other flagship on the market. $359 for the 64 gb model, it’s even better than nexus

      • James Lindell Threatt

        There was no sacrifice on camera. The reviews have us confused. The camera had auto focus issues, not picture quality issues, which have been resolved.

  • Tojen1981

    Feb release of the Silver program lines up perfect for my NEXT upgrade. Can’t wait.

    • SGB101

      Thankfully I’m no longer in the ‘update cycle’, thanks to the nexus program and now the very nice cheap moto g. The nexus isn’t really needed in its current form. I can see the nexus program going really cheap bear bones, for sub $100 devices for the untapped emerging markets.

      With the high powered lowed specs avalible a cheap phone is now a good phone.

      We may of now just reached the $100 pc that that company was trying to achieve (one laptop per child program) in the mid naughties.

  • graymoment

    some of the articles that you guys write crack me up. It’s like you’re a PR firm writing fluff rather than journalists. How do you know Android Silver will be “worth it” in the end? The Nexus line was not a cool kids line, it was for people who shop based on preference and performance rather than by who has the largest marketing budget. Just because Google is going to play the same game getting into bed with network providers doesn’t mean it will magically equate to a better customer experience. In fact, historically speaking, that hurts the consumer. While I hope in the end Google gives us something better, I’ll leave the jury out until we see something to support that notion.

  • john

    Why not do both? Nexus for a good,unlocked,and AFFORDABLE phone. Silver for premium reasons.

  • Ted

    Here’s an idea that would actually be better an improvement (more or less) over the current Nexus:
    A whole range of good choices of Android phones at every pricepoint (flagship, midrange, budget) sold in all kinds of retailers that don’t allow the crappy skinned OEM/carrier bloatware– the UX is pure Google. The updates are straight from Google. The pricing is the same as what you’d pay now for a locked phone– you still get your Galaxy S6 or your HTC One II from Verizon for $199 subsidized but now it’s pure Android.
    If you want to buy a reasonably priced unlocked phone, you have something like a Moto X holding down the middle of the market that you can buy unsubsidized for ~ $250 or whatevs.

    OEM skins are sold in the Play store, so if you really want to have MotoBlur, you can pay for it.

    That’s the perfect world I imagine in my head. How reasonable is that? We’ll see…

  • Jt

    It’s all semantic to me. Call it nexus, call it silver, call it gummy bears with evil grin. It’s the same. The majority of the difference is business related and less to do with hardware. To me this is more like audio component makers getting THX certification.

  • Ash Khan

    One of the major thing to remember is that we got some thing that was mid of mid-high end phone for half the price.. Pricing of the Android Silver phones will be skyrocketing as they will be highest of high end phones… what is the difference in buying a stock and manufacturer’s high profile phone ?? seems one major benefit – getting Stock Android, does this justify buying it now or would you rather jump in for a manufacturer’s version as you will get their custom app for camera, battery, sensors etc.. as for updates well they will eventually come

    • James Lindell Threatt

      I don’t think it was mid range in anyway. The nexus line competed with any flagship that came out at the same time as it. It beat the Note 3 and iPhone 5 in speed and picture quality. Don’t let these tech writers mislead you.

  • nexus4wmc

    Google play editions of flagship phones are already filling that space. Android Silver seems more a replacement for that than for Nexus.
    So basically it’s moving the play editions into the Silver program with heavy backing from Google. It doesn’t justify removing the Nexus line.

  • stanley

    All we know is a small fraction of Googles plan.Everything else is upset nexus user’s/lovers voicing upset opinions. Like when CM when public. The overwhelming consensus is that silver will just replace the name and name only. Until I/O 2014 we won’t know.So guess its just a waiting game filled with speculation. I will miss my the next nexus phone if it doesn’t come seeing as it will be my last nexus device.I’ve owned every nexus phone and tablet. Even the Google wireless charger.Something I proud to say.I would consider buying silver branded phones is the max was 450,Off contract with development friendliness in mind.Unlocked bootloader etc ec.I have hopes for this but will be holding onto my N5 and 2013,n7,for sure until all this comes to solid place with all facts made known.
    P.s I love android all skins. Mainly Aosp.Please don’t make me change my mind.. I heard the Apple is planning on bigger screen with 64,bit SOCs… Please don’t make me do it.

  • David

    I love my nexus 5, I will embrace the silver program if stock android is kept and the price is right.

  • Armando Montes De Oca III

    I’m making payments to T-Mobile for a stolen Nexus 4 no damage insurance! Then my Nexus 5 & i pad air. All I want to know about silver is how friendly to custom rom-root user developers is this move going to be. Hell I am not a fruit cake ultra leftist Democrat or any other flavor. I believe in a well organized militia and weapon rights, freedom of action rights, freedom of information rights, and good old God given principles. We need more robust internet convention of neutrality, and innovation in education. Screw the Satan crew in other words.

  • Nigel

    I agree with many others on the price point of the new silver line. I have a nexus4 now and love vanilla Android but main appeal was the price tag. If google puts a premium price on the new silver line of phones I, along with other consumers, will look to other phone like the one plus one flagship phone.

  • the Goat

    Does Android Silver include:
    1. Unlockable boot loader
    2. Phone specific updates in AOSP
    3. Freely downloadable proprietary binary drivers for AOSP

    Those three things are what make a Nexus phone special.

  • James Lindell Threatt

    I’m absolutely confused!!! It seems if you charge six hundred dollars and make 300% profit then your device is considered high end no matter the short comings. I can name a major flaw on every flag ship, but the tech community just calls them dissappointments. If you charge three hundred dollars and make small profits then your flaws are cutting cost. I wish just once someone would show me the money. Exactly where is the nexus device cutting cost and other flagships splurging. Nexus 5 is high end. Apple took the iPad 2 shrunk it down slapped metal on it, charged a buttload, called it mini and no one pointed this out. It was a cheap joke. In the end it comes down to money. Apple products target the high end consumer and thus make money far beyond the initial product sale. They make money for all involved. I think Google will still create “high end” products at great value. They know they have a hit with the nexus 5 and nexus 7. With this they have leverage to rein in Android. They are the one and only don’t be evil company. Android silver will be interesting.

  • Paulo

    Right. What about the price?

    The Silver program is cool and all bit im not seeing Samsung or even LG making afordable top notch phones like the Nexus are.

  • Mike C.

    Google decided not to push the Nexus program much outside the US. This is strange, as in the rest of the world carriers have much less power over devices. In addition, most countries have only one cellular technology deployed allowing devices to function with all carriers in those countries — both legacy carriers and MVNOs. Perfect for the Nexus line.

    The US market it obviously different, but leaving out 500 million potential customers in the rest of the developed world baffles me.

  • Elli Rose

    According to me it is just the change in the name. Nexus 6 will replace by Silver series that’s it. With this new silver series we may expect some revolution in the world of Smartphone. Well, I am using Nexus 5 from last 6 months and could say that it is the best phone I have ever had till date. I like its all specs and the best one is qi enabled back case that means the device can be easily charged by simply placing it on wireless charging pad. I like the Nexus series Smartphones because it comes with a guarantee of being upgraded to new versions of Android before other devices.

  • gmaninvan

    I unfortunately disagree with you. Silver may be a good idea but they should keep the nexus name. The brand has gained a great deal of traction in recent years with sales up. It also represents great hardware at a great price for those who don’t like contracts. If silver breaks the pricing model, they will lose the audience that are such large fans of the nexus program.

  • TheKian

    It better start cheap. If there’s a noticeable increase in price then I am gonna have to ditch it. There will be other companies following Google’s value for money strategies

  • Benovite

    Regardless of Nexus or Silver, I think Android has hit its peak with 4.4. It’s looking like the old Symbian OS to me now, just ready to be replaced with the new OS on the block(Tizen perhaps?).

    • SGB101

      I’m a sucker for an underdog, it’s what made me get the g1 over the iPhone, from my Nokia n95.

      I do love android and what Google have achieved and are still doing but, now it’s dominant and all encompassing, I’d like to move to another platform.

      My trouble is as new and underdeveloped android was it was still and upgrade on symbian and BlackBerry, and because of iTunes and ipads drm, I want going to tough ios, but now to go to fire fox os is a big backwards leap, Tizen isn’t appealing so for now il stick with android

  • kyaligonza moshin

    a very nice day will go to all my fans but i want to send them messages using my account , can i do that?

  • Kunal

    The main reason the Nexus line was popular is because of its low end Price with high end specs. If Android silver keeps the same price as the high end model of its kind then I would rather go for more features provided by the oem

  • Christopher Cade

    The silver program sounds expensive! I love you Nexus 5!