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Nexus 8 release date, news, specs, rumours and price

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Nexus 8
What can we expect from the Nexus 8?

An in-depth look at Google's potential new tablet

With more and more speculation that Google will launch an 8-inch tablet, the Nexus 8, soon we attempt to make sense of the rumours and questions. What could the the Nexus 8 could look like and where it will sit in Google's Nexus range? We'll update this article regularly with more news and rumours.

On 26th May Google updated it's Google I/O website. A mysterious tablet can been seen in the main image which looks similar in size to the Nexus 7, but takes all the stylistic cues from the Nexus 10. Could this be the Nexus 8? If so we'd be pretty upset. The rounded edges look old-school and the side bezels are chunky in comparison to the Nexus 7. It looks too small to be the Nexus 10, but that's exactly what it is. Rumour quashed.
Nexus 8
Could this be the Nexus 8? No it's actually a slightly altered image of the Nexus 10

But how do we know a Nexus 8 is even on its way? On 12th May 2014 eagle-eyed German tech blogger Carsten Knobloch found references in the Chromium Projects code that hint towards a Nexus 8 and Nexus 6. The Chromium projects include the Chromium and Chromium OS open source projects that power the Chrome browser and the Chrome OS used by Chromebooks. The source code mentioned the Nexus 8 but offered no additional information. It's a tentative case for the Nexus 8 but offers some substance to rumours.  

More recent code has fuelled that speculation. Tech community Myce uncovered Android code refering to project named Volantis and Flounder which has since been removed. Could these be code-names for the Nexus 5? It is certainly possible, particularly since Google was quick to remove all refereces once it noticed.

Does the Nexus 8 mean the end of other Nexus tablets?

Other questions that surround the likelihood of a Nexus 8 release revolve around whether we will also see a new Nexus 10 or Nexus 7 and who will manufacture these devices. Will Google stick with Asus and Samsung to manufacture its next tablets or will it look elsewhere?

There was no Nexus 10 refresh in 2013 although the Nexus 7 did see an updated version get released. It is quite possible that Google has concluded that smaller form-factor tablets are the way to go. There are plenty of rumours and analyst opinions spreading around the internet that the Google Nexus 8 – which could either be an 8-inch or an 8.9-inch tablet – could take over from the Samsung made Nexus 10.

Look at the sales figures and a strong case can be made for Google dropping the Nexus 10 from its tablet line-up. While there is no public data of how many Nexus tablets have been sold industry watcher Benedict Evans has used a complex modelling system to calculate active Android users. He estimates that the Nexus 10 only sold around 10% the amount of the Nexus 7 – or around 680k units. While the 2012 Nexus 10 scored highly in reviews it did not sell anywhere near as well Google hoped it would. Neither did it make a major dent in Apple’s iPad sales. This may be why Google chose not to target the iPad Air with the Nexus 10 2.  

There are a few companies that have made an impact in the less competitive 8-inch market. Amazon has had some success with its well-regarded Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 and so has LG with the LG G Pad 8.3. Samsung has a huge range of tablets that includes two 8-inchers – the Galaxy Note 8.0 and Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4.

Google looks to follow suit, whether it will do so to replace its 7-inch or 10-inch tablet, or as an addition to them, remains to be seen.

Nexus 8 Release Date: When will the Nexus 8 come out?

Nexus 10 release date: November 13, 2012
Nexus 7 2012 release date:  July 13, 2012
Nexus 7 2013 release date: July 26 2013

Google tends to release its 7-inch tablets in July while the Nexus 10 was released in November 2012. When exactly the Nexus 8 release date will be remains unknown.

Some rumours based on leaks from a Google Dublin employee suggest that the Nexus 8 will be released in July 2014, shortly after Google I/O – Google’s annual event that focusses on software rather than hardware.   

A July launch is unlikely, though, unless Google decides not to launch a new Nexus 7, it's hard to imagine it will cease production of its most popular tablet, however. With just a few months to go we would expect to have seen many more rumours to have surfaced by now, including more concrete information on the screen and specs. A Q3 release date, somewhere between September and November, is a more reasonable assumption and ties in with the Christmas rush to buy tablets. Some rumours suggest that production won’t start until July or August which would also support this hypothesis. However, there is still a chance that we will see an anouncement made at Google I/O on June 25th.

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Nexus 8 Specs: Screen, Processor and Android 4.5

The question as to whether the Nexus 8 will come with an 16:10 8-inch or 16:10 8.9-inch screen. Rhoda Alexander from research firm IHS Technology told Cnet that the new Nexus 8 will pack a high-resolution 8.9-inch screen that would at least match the 2560x1600 pixels on the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. That would give it a pixel density of 339PPI, which is a little higher than the 323PPI found on the Nexus 7 2013.

If the Nexus 8 is to replace the Nexus 7, which is unlikely considering its popularity, then an 8-inch screen is possible. If, however, it is set to replace the Nexus 10 then an 8.9-inch screen makes more sense. We think this is the more likely scenario. With the constant growth in Android tablet sales we think there is an opportunity for Google to slot an 8.9-inch Nexus 8 into the range, rather than as a replacement to either of the other tablets.
Nexus 8 dimensions
A scale representation of how an 8.9-inch Nexus 8 could stack up next to its siblings

Alexander also added fuel to the rumours that the Nexus 8 will be made by HTC, makers of the HTC One M8 phone. It might not be as farfetched as it sounds. According to DigiTimes HTC turned down the opportunity to create the first Nexus 7 as it wanted to focus on its smartphone business and had already had its fingers burnt by the unsuccessful HTC Flyer and 10-inch Jetstream. This left the door open to another Taiwanese company, Asus.

It is also probable that Google will choose to partner with a new manufacturer for the Nexus 8, particularly if it sits in between the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. Google has used LG for the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5, Asus for both Nexus 7s and Samsung for the Nexus 10. By spreading the love Google manages to keep manufacturers happy and unthreatened, which is also one of the reasons it sold Motorola to Lenovo earlier this year.

Who will build the Nexus 8 is not the only enigma surrounding it. Another is which brand of chipset it will use.

The Nexus 7 2013 runs the Snapdragon S4Pro, just like the Nexus 4, whereas the Nexus 10 uses a dual-core Samsung Exynos processor.

There are now three schools of thought on which processor the Nexus 8 will run.

The first is that it will use a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, just like the Nexus 4, Nexus 5 and both Nexus 7s. The precedent exists but the question remains would it come with the new Snapdragon 805, the 801 or the 800 found in most flagship Androids or tablets? Google tends to use solid, but last-generation processors in its tablets to keep costs down. If it follows the pattern then the Snapdragon 800 or 600 may well be the SoC of choice.

Vague reports from AndroidPIT suggest that Google will choose an Intel Atom processor instead of a tried and tested Qualcomm one.

Codenamed Moorefield, Intel’s SoC is quad-core and 64-bit. Two versions were announced at MWC 2014 The Intel Atom Z3560, running at up to 1.8GHz and the Intel Atom Z3580 running at 2.33GHz.

It’s the extra graphical grunt both these chips provide that make them exciting prospects for the Nexus 8. Using the same PowerVR G6430 GPU as the iPhone 5S means that the Nexus 8 should perform blisteringly well during intensive 3D gaming.     

Moorefield performance
According to Intel's internal testing the dual-core Z3480 Merrifield with PowerVR G6430 outperforms the Snapdragon 800 and Apple A7

The third, and most recent rumour, suggests that the Nexus 8 could be powered by a Nvidia Tegra 64-bit SoC, perhaps the K1. The fact that Google appears to be racing to get a 64-bit version of its Android operating system up and running adds some credence to this rumour, but it's just too early to know for sure.

We will update the news on which processor the Nexus 8 will run as soon as we find out more.

Nexus 8 Price: It will be more expensive than the Nexus 7

Regardless of the processor used it is fair to assume the Nexus 8 will be more expensive than the Nexus 7. A bigger and higher resolution screen will increase the cost of production and this will be reflected in its price.  Rhoda Alexander of IHS Technology says that she "would not be surprised if it is higher than $299." That’s $70 more than the Nexus 7 2013 retails for but $100 less than the $399 price the Nexus 10 launched at.

We’ll update this article with more news and rumours as they happen.    

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