‘Nexus Prime’ Rumored for October, Just in Time for the iPhone 5

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Get ready for a big smartphone battle in October, when Google’s Nexus Prime Android phone is rumored to lock horns with Apple’s iPhone 5.

The Nexus Prime will reportedly run Android Ice Cream Sandwich, which will merge Google’s smartphone and tablet operating systems into a single version of software. Like previous “Nexus” phones, we can assume that the Nexus Prime will run a pure version of Android with no custom user interfaces from the phone maker and no bloatware from wireless service providers.

(MORE: Google’s New Android Plan: World Domination)

And the hardware, according to the Korean-language Electronic Times (via Boy Genius Report), will be beastly. Rumored specs include a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and a 4.5-inch display with 1280-by-720 resolution. Samsung is reportedly the manufacturer, although Nexus phones are Google-branded.

Google has suggested that it’ll have a new Nexus phone ready for the holidays, but has otherwise been cagey about its hardware plans and about what Ice Cream Sandwich will look like on smartphones. Google’s tablet version of Android, known as Honeycomb, moved navigation buttons (such as “home” and “back”) into the software, and also added a multitasking button for quick access to recent apps. If phones based on Ice Cream Sandwich are to do the same, it makes sense to have a larger touch screen where those navigation buttons will reside.

Apple, meanwhile, is rumored to launch the iPhone 5 in early to mid-October. The blog 9to5Mac reported that Apple may introduce its next iPhone on September 30, with a release date set for a week or two later.

The iPhone and Nexus Prime won’t be the only high-end smartphones vying for consumers’ attention this holiday season. Samsung is also bringing its Galaxy S II phones stateside, and Motorola will finally launch the Droid Bionic, possibly with the Droid HD to follow. And don’t forget that Microsoft’s Windows Phones are trying to make a comeback. If you’re in the market for a new phone, I suggest you wait a bit longer.

MORE: Ask Techland: Replace a Lost iPhone Now or Wait?

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