Google Nexus review: What are Google 'Nexus' Android phone, tablet all about? (Yuhnke Tech Check)

Google's own line of smartphones and tablets

PHOENIX - iPhones and iPads are simple.  Apple only makes a handful of models and that's it, that's that.  The simplicity of their product line is part of the charm.  Android on the other hand is a totally different story. 

There is a long list of manufacturers all making different sizes, speeds, software versions, etc, etc.  There is some beauty to having more options but there is also a lot of confusion. 

Amid it all, there is one line of Android products that stands alone. The Nexus products from Google . Problem is, most people have no idea what "Nexus" is all about.

Nexus, is a line of products sold by Google. Google doesn't actually make the smartphones and tablets.  It's essentially a collaboration between Google engineers and a hardware company.  Think of it as Google's idea of the perfect Android smartphone or tablet.

Here's how it works: the people at Google who create the Android software work hand in hand different hardware companies to design the next Nexus product.  Usually in the world of Android devices, Google makes the software and then a hardware company takes that software and finesses it for their specific hardware.  The Nexus line is a marriage of the two processes.

Nexus provides synergy (man I hate that word).  It provides a connection between Android hardware and software that typically doesn't exist.  It's not always the best hardware out there and you often times miss out on some of the added features that manufacturers tack on to the Android OS.  None the less, you get the Android experience exactly as the creators of the Android operating envisioned. 

What many consumers don't know is that most Android smartphones actually run a very modified version of Google Android.  This means each tablet or smartphone manufacturer will add their own software tweaks to give them the competitive edge.  They're all called "Android" smartphones but the software can look very different on some devices.  In some situations this is a good thing, in other situations it just adds clutter.  Nonetheless, Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola and others have carved out their Android niche because of their added secret sauce.  With a Nexus device, it's Android bare naked.  No tweaks, no add-ons and no skins.  It's Android exactly as the software geniuses at Google dreamed it up. 

The best part about Nexus devices is that you will almost always get the latest updates to the Android software within days of it being released by Google.  Typically, months before normal Android smartphones and tablets get that same update.  If you're a "bleeding edge" kind of techie, this is a big deal.  Otherwise, most consumers won't care or notice the difference.

Right now, Google offers 3 Nexus devices including the Nexus 4 smartphone, the Nexus 7 tablet and the Nexus 10 tablet.  The smartphone is not connected to a cell phone carrier and is only compatible with at&t and T-mobile.  Buy the smartphone, slide in a SIM card from your selected carrier and you're good to go.  No contracts, no commitments. 

Are Nexus devices the best?  Not always.  They offer a great marriage between the Android software and the exact hardware that Google dreams up.  Typically they have some of the best specs to date but not always. 

What you do get is a streamlined Android experience without the added clutter from the manufacturers and cell phone carriers.  You also get updates as soon as they're released.  Best of all, you typically get this at a rock bottom price.  The Nexus 7" tablet starts at $199, the 10" tablet at $399 and the Nexus 4 smartphone at $299 (without any contracts).   These prices are hard to beat for the hardware you get and the "pure" Google Android experience. 

I'm currently testing out the both the Nexus 4 smartphone and the Nexus 10 tablet, look for my reviews in the coming weeks.

Have you tried out a Nexus smartphone or tablet?  I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook .

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