Google’s new Pixel phones show the company is getting serious about the hardware business, but its done with the Nexus program. The Pixel is not a true successor to the Nexus but an entirely different device. And fans of the $400 stock android experience have not many choices right now but the OnePlus 3 and the ZTE Axon 7, both based in China.
OnePlus is not stock Android, but very closely similar. But ZTE Axon 7 deserves to be perceived as a Nexus 6P replacement because it is packed with Google-exclusive features and it runs on flagship hardware. The best part is that the Axon 7 is cheap, unlike the Pixel phones. ZTE appears to be considering launching stock Android devices after a community poll in September showed most users preferred a stock or near-stock Android experience.
ZTE could be the hero we don’t deserve but the hero we need, as it’s looking to fill the stock Android void that the Nexus devices’ end has brought. The Chinese company is holding a poll to figure out why users want stock Android. The choices include “Quicker updates,” “Longer support,” “Cleaner user interface and skin,” “Better overall performance,” “Less bloatware,” “Lower defects” and “Greater dev support for custom ROMs.”
“We’ve heard our community’s voice loud and clear: stock or near-stock Android! But everyone has different reasons for this preference. In this week’s poll, please select the top reason from the list below. We would’ve allowed for the top two or even three selections, but our platform doesn’t have this feature. However, you can elaborate in your comments. Note: this is an important poll for us to present findings to our R&D team,” ZTE says.
They’re considering filling the niche that the end of the Nexus line left for people who want stock Android devices with fast updates. While ZTE traditionally hasn’t done very well in the update department with its handsets, the Axon 7 breaks that mold as ZTE has released security updates each month and plans for Nougat to be released by January.
It’s a welcome gesture by a company that’s been accepting customer feedback with open arms of late. If you’re an Android old-fashioned timer, you might remember that Google briefly sold ‘Google Play Edition’ phones from third parties that stripped custom skins and features in favor of the pure Android experience. I’d assume those didn’t do too well given the program was discontinued, but it’s nice to know Android fans may have at least one more stock option in the future.
More likely than not, ZTE could just go the “stock-ish” route of Motorola, with only a few custom features, but it seems the company is placing particular emphasis on quick updates and a pure experience at an affordable price, which is all an ex-Nexus owner really wants.
How do you feel about a stock experience coming from the land of custom Android skins? Will you consider switching from your current Nexus?