New Google Nexus Hardware: Here Comes the Wave?

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Jared Newman / TIME.com

Back in May, the Wall Street Journal reported that multiple Nexus devices from Google and its hardware partners were coming this fall. Now that the leaves are changing color, new rumors suggest that the Nexus invasion might be nearly here.

Google uses the “Nexus” name for devices that run a pure version of Android. Whereas most Android device makers add their own software features to stand out from the herd, Nexus devices run Android exactly as Google intended, free of modifications and bloatware.

(MORE: Nexus 7 Niceties: 15 Best Apps for Google’s New 7-Inch Tablet)

According to the latest scuttlebutt, Google may be working with LG and HTC on new Nexus phones, and with Asus and Samsung on more Nexus tablets. It’s all a bit shaky at the moment, but here’s what the rumor mill has to say about Google’s Nexus phone and tablet plans:

LG’s First Nexus Phone

If LG is truly working with Google on a Nexus smartphone, it’ll be a spec beast, modeled after LG’s Optimus G that’s also due to launch stateside this year. Here are the rumored specs, as reported by to MoDaCo:

  • 4.7-inch, 1280-by-768 resolution display
  • Quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor
  • 2 GB of RAM
  • 8-megapixel camera
  • 8 GB or 16 GB of storage
  • Built-in wireless charging

As for design, some purported images from Baraholka.onliner.by show a curved shape and software navigation buttons similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus, but with a tiled rear panel. Unnamed sources told CNet that the phone will be announced at the end of the month.

HTC’s “Nexus 5″

Rumors of an extra-large smartphone from HTC have been churning for months, but a recent report from GSM Arena claims that a Nexus variant is also in development. According to an unnamed tipster, the so-called Nexus 5 will have a 5-inch, 1080p display, a quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor, a 12-megapixel rear camera and up to 64 GB of built-in storage.

I’m a bit skeptical of this one, mainly because no other sources have reported the same details. Also, there isn’t a huge difference between 4.7-inch and 5-inch screens, so it’d be surprising to see both LG’s and HTC’s phones go the Nexus route at the same time. Still, the niche for phone-tablet hybrids is surprisingly large, so it’s not crazy to think that Google would want in.

Samsung’s High-End Nexus Tablet

Industry analysts tend to be among the least reliable sources for rumors, but Richard Shim from NPD DisplaySearch has a decent track record — he pegged Apple’s mini iPad plans back in July — so let’s hear him out:

Shim told CNet that Samsung and Google are working together on a 10-inch Nexus tablet. Unlike the bargain Nexus 7, this will reportedly be a high-end tablet with a 2560-by-1600 resolution display that beats Apple’s iPad on pixel density. Shim didn’t have any other details, but if this device is real, specs alone won’t sell it. Given that Android’s tablet app selection doesn’t compare to the iPad’s, Google will need better reasons to buy it than a slightly higher-resolution screen.

Asus’ Nexus 7 Redux

We’ve already heard rumblings of a $99 Nexus tablet, and now Richard Shim, again speaking to CNet, says production will begin in December. We still don’t know what Google would have to sacrifice to reach such a low price, but a tablet that cheap would certainly make waves in the budget tablet wars.

Meanwhile, my dreams of a higher-capacity Nexus 7 may come true, following a report that one customer in Japan received a Nexus 7 with 32 GB of built-in storage. Though I wish we had more to go on, a 32 GB Nexus 7 would make sense given that Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook HD both allow for more storage.

Bonus Motorola Nexus Phone and Tablet Rumor

Don’t get too worked up by Android Police’s report that a couple mystery devices were caught browsing the site. Sure, there may be a Nexus phone and tablet from Motorola in the works, based on the nature of the site’s server logs. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t, given that Google now owns the company. But we’re no closer to knowing when these devices might materialize, and what they have to offer.

The Carrier Question

One big question lingers regardless of hardware specifics: How does Google plan to sell its next Nexus phones? With the Galaxy Nexus, Google partnered with Verizon and Sprint on subsidized versions of the phone, but eventually sold unlocked versions of the phone through its own website. This time around, will Google forgo carriers entirely, or will it strike more carrier deals in hopes that the Nexus concept will finally catch on? Either way, the next couple of months should prove interesting for the smartphone and tablet market as Google prepares its next wave of hardware.

MORE: Why Some 7-inch Tablets Will Eventually Be Given Away Free