This morning, Google quietly introduced a few whales into the wild, namely the new Nexus 6 phablet and Nexus 9 tablet. Rumors have been floating for many months that Google was working with Motorola on one last hurrah before the division is unloaded to Lenovo in the form of a bigger Nexus Android phone code-named "Shamu." That whale of a phone is now an official reality, as is a new 9-inch Nexus tablet made by HTC and an ASUS-made streaming media player running a new platform called "Android TV" that was first mentioned at Google I/O in June.
There was no big media event or on-stage demo of the new products, just a series of blog posts and press releases that hit Wednesday morning.
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The long-awaited Nexus 6 is indeed a whale of a phone, with a 6-inch Quad HD display and a "contoured aluminum frame." As with the Nexus 5, other key specs on this new Google phone are also in line with the top flight phones of the moment, including the Snapdragon 805 quad-core 2.7GHz processor, Adreno 420 GPU, a 13-megapixel camera with HDR+ and optical image stabilization, and dual front-facing stereo speakers that are quickly becoming the new standard for smartphones, particularly devices approaching the phablet size.
According to a blog post from Motorola, the Nexus 6 also has a monster 3,220 mAh battery and will come with an included Motorola turbo charger like the one we first met alongside the new Moto X last month. Plugging in the power pack for just 15 minutes adds 6 hours of battery life. Just in case you weren't sure this was a Moto device, it also gets the trademark ergonomic curve and backside dimple seen on the Moto X.
Google says the Nexus 6 will be available for pre-order through the Play Store in "late October starting at $649." October 29 is being reported as the target pre-order date at the moment with the phone shipping a few weeks later. The new Nexus will come in 32 or 64 GB and in 'Midnight Blue or Cloud White." Carriers will start selling the phone in November and Google says it will land in 28 countries in all.
An "in-between" Nexus tablet
In the spirit of spreading the love, Google partnered with HTC for the new Nexus 9 Android tablet with an 8.9-inch IPS LCD screen, which the company claims " is small enough to easily carry around in one hand, yet big enough to work on." A magnetic keyboard folio that allows the Nexus 9 to rest on your lap at two different angles like a laptop (or Microsoft Surface Pro 3) will also be available. The Nexus 9 also falls right in the sweet spot between the Nexus 10 and the Nexus 7, which seems to have more in common with a smartphone form factor with each passing month.
The Nexus 9 gets an 8 MP camera on the back and 1.6 MP selfie cam, a big 6,700 mAh battery, HTC's front-facing "BoomSound" speakers and a 64-bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor 2.3 GHz processor with a Kepler DX1 GPU to enable more multitasking – a highlight of Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is what you'll find at the core of both the Nexus 6 and 9.
The Nexus 9 comes in 32 and 64 GB versions and will be available before the Nexus 6, with preorders starting October 17th and the device showing up in stores and on doorsteps as soon as November 3. The Wall Street Journal and others report that the Nexus 9 will start at US$399 for 16 GB and the keyboard folio will be another $129.
Streaming into the future
Coming somewhat out of nowhere was the unanticipated Nexus Player, a streaming media player and Android gaming device in one made by ASUS that runs the new Android TV platform sitting on top of Lollipop. Google says the Player will be compatible with Google Cast, seemingly replacing Chromecast in many respects.
The Nexus Player is a small, $99 puck-like settop unit that comes with a voice-activated remote that can be used for casual gaming (more than a little reminiscent of both the Apple TV and Fire TV). A special Nexus gamepad is also sold separately for more serious Android gaming. Nexus Player is also available for pre-order on October 17 and in stores November 3.
For more on Android Lollipop, see our coverage here. Also watch the video playlist below for promotional previews of the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9.