Codename: Shamu – Killer Nexus Phablet from Motorola?


If rumours reported yesterday turn out to be true then Google’s Nexus program is indeed alive and well.

Back in June Android Police reported on the Volantis, a leaked 8.9 inch QHD tablet from HTC. Now they’ve found evidence of another, smaller device. An anonymous tip and confirmation from another site seem to suggest that this year’s Nexus phone will be a 5.9 inch phablet from Motorola. With a fingerprint sensor.

Nexus Not Dead

A quick refresher: Back in May a tweet from the notoriously accurate @evleaks intimated that Google’s Nexus line of phones and tablets, hugely popular with Android modders like myself, was over and done. A month later this rumour was refuted by a fairly credible source—a Mr. David Burke, head of Android engineering and the Nexus program at Google. TL;DR Google needs reference hardware to build and test new versions of Android, so Nexus isn’t going anywhere. The subsequent Volantis leak, believed to be one and the same with a device codenamed “flounder” found by XDA, would seem to support this.

A Wild Shamu Appears

Credit has to be given to Android Police for discovering evidence of this device in the bug tracker for Android L, a single line at the bottom of this post:

Build Number: aosp_shamu-userdebug L MASTER.M03400 1078 test-keys

The person who posted there is apparently connected to Spirent Communications, a company whose business is error-testing devices. But the actual tip to the existence of Shamu came to Android Police from a source they won’t reveal. Here’s what they were told:

Motorola is working on a device with Google code named Shamu. The device is supposed to be targeted at major US carriers, and unspecified carriers in other parts of the world, which would probably include the markets that currently have access to Nexus devices […] The phone is supposed to carry a sizable 5.9″ display of unknown resolution, and – interestingly – a fingerprint sensor. It will also allegedly be targeted for a November release.

Confirmation By The Information

Later on in the day Android Police posted again on the subject of Shamu. Another site called The Information has confirmed Shamu’s existence from three separate sources. Only problem is, their post sits behind a paywall. The best I can give you is this quote:

After Lenovo agreed to buy Motorola, Google’s Android unit began working with Motorola to develop a co-branded “Nexus” phone that’s considered to be a “phablet,” or phone-tablet, because of its large screen size, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

My Two Cents

As an unabashed flashaholic I’m thrilled to hear about any new Nexus device. I’m also a pretty big fan of Motorola these days, particularly of the cheap and cheerful Moto G. The phablet thing I’m not so sure about; after a few weeks with the OnePlus One my Nexus 5 feels like the perfect size for me, about as big as I’d want my phone to be. But hey, to each their own. If you’re still waiting on an OPO come November you might at least have another option to consider. And options are always good. 😀