21
Jun
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With Android Silver rumors brewing, and LG's Ken Hong indicating that the manufacturer doesn't have a Nexus phone in the cards, the fate of the Nexus line as a whole has been sort of up in the air.

We don't have news about whether a Nexus phone exists, but we do have information related to HTC's Volantis (or Flounder), an 8.9" Nexus tablet. The information provided to us indicates possible specs, features, and pricing, as well as an early look at the form factor, though the images we have don't appear to be final renderings of the device.

This information won't be treated as a rumor, since we feel confident in our information, and we've heard about Volantis from multiple sources as early as Q1 2014. This is one of the rare instances where we will be sharing a source image.

According to our information, the tablet is internally referred to as the Nexus 9, though this name could change before it comes to market. Here's what we've heard so far in the specs department:

  • 8.9" Display at 2048x1440 (281ppi)
  • NVIDIA Logan 64-bit processor (Tegra K1)
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16/32GB internal storage
  • 8MP OIS main camera, 3MP front facing camera
  • Aluminum zero-gap construction
  • Stereo front-facing speakers
  • 8.91"x5.98"x0.31" body (that's 22.63x15.19x0.79cm)
  • 418g (or 427g with LTE) (that's 14.74/15.1 ounces)

For reference, the 2013 Nexus 7 is 0.34" thick, and weighs 290g (or 299g with LTE). Samsung's new Galaxy Tab S 8.4, meanwhile, is a svelte 0.26" thick, weighing in at 298g, making Volantis thicker and heavier, though aluminum construction comes with heft compared to plastic.

For those curious about the Tegra K1's performance, check here, here, here, and here.

Here's a quick look at one source image:

wm_Volantis

For the sake of clarity, I've redrawn the image above as faithfully as possible below, and illuminated the display.

wm_V-Overall

Right off the bat, Volantis looks like the love child of LG's Nexus 5 and ASUS' 2013 Nexus 7 (and maybe the iPad Mini), but the image above obviously doesn't quite correspond with the listed features.

HTC's now signature front-facing stereo speakers are nowhere to be found, and the casing (which resembles the soft touch back of the current Nexus 7) doesn't exactly look like an aluminum zero-gap construction. Additionally, 2048x1440 isn't a 4:3 aspect ratio, though it's possible that the 4:3 specification is accounting for the screen real estate lost to software nav buttons and a status bar.

It is likely that what are listed are approved specs, while the image is an early draft of the hardware's industrial design. From the information available to us, it's clear that matching specs are listed in several places, so we feel fairly confident in their validity compared to the image.

From the information available to us (beyond the above image), we've also learned some possible price points. Right now, the tablet is planned to start at $399 for the 16GB version, with the step up to 32GB costing $499. LTE connectivity would come at an extra cost, possibly in the $600+ range. Of course, pricing is something that can very easily change in the run-up to release.

These prices are quite a bit more than the current Nexus 7, but from the sound of it, Volantis will be packing more premium hardware. Volantis may also launch with a few official accessories (including a keyboard case), but we'll save that discussion for later.

Speaking of release, Volantis is expected to be the launch device for Android's L release, pegged for an unspecified date in Q4 2014. We definitely are not expecting this for Google I/O.

With rumors that the Nexus 6 was canceled in light of the Android Silver program, it's important to be cautious when approaching any information regarding future Nexus devices. That said, a source familiar with Volantis tells us that the hardware already exists, and that the tablet is already being toted around by some at Google. Additionally, the first devices pegged for the Android Silver program aren't expected until 2015, so it would make sense that Google is prepping a Nexus to launch Android L.

Many in the Android community have been yearning for another HTC-built Nexus for some time now, and this tablet's specs - if they end up being true to the information we've seen - read like a wish list. We aren't likely to hear anything official about this tablet until this fall, but it already sounds very promising.

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

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