New $649 Smartphone Has 5.9-Inch Screen; Google Also Unveils Tablet, Set-Top Box
Google Inc. unveiled three new Nexus-branded devices Wednesday, signaling plans to compete with Apple Inc. for high-end consumers.
Google’s new Nexus 6 smartphone, Nexus 9 tablet and Nexus Player set-top box are priced slightly below, or in line with, competing devices from Apple. That’s a departure for Google, which in the past has priced new models significantly less than Apple products.
Google also said it would introduce a new version of its Android operating system, dubbed Android L, for Lollipop, next month.
Unlike Apple, Google also licenses its operating system to other phone makers. With the new releases, Google is trying both to compete more with Apple at the premium end of the mobile-device market and help partners churn out cheap handsets for developing markets.
“We deeply respect what Apple is doing, but we take a very different approach,” said Sundar Pichai, who runs Google’s Android, Chrome and Apps businesses. “With Android L, we wanted to show the entire spectrum.”
Android powered 85% of smartphones shipped globally in the second quarter, according to Strategy Analytics. But in developed markets, such as the U.S., Apple devices remain popular with wealthier customers. That gives Apple an advantage because its users spend more on applications, encouraging developers to work on its platform first.
Google said all three new devices can be pre-ordered online later this week. The phone will be sold in 27 countries and in stores in November.
At 5.9 inches diagonally, the Nexus 6 is larger than Apple’s new iPhone 6 Plus, which measures 5.5 inches. It will sell for $649, compared with $749 for the iPhone 6 Plus. Last year, Google introduced the Nexus 5 at $349.
The Nexus 6 smartphone is made by Motorola Mobility, the handset manufacturer that Google is selling to China’s Lenovo Group .
The Nexus 9 tablet, made by HTC Corp. , features an 8.9-inch screen. It will be available in 30 countries and in stores next month.
Google hopes the Nexus 9 can substitute for laptops in some work situations. Microsoft Corp. has tried that strategy with its Surface tablet, but it has failed to catch on with lots of consumers. Mr. Pichai said many people already use Android tablets, which should help get the Nexus 9 adopted in the office and on business trips.