An accidental leak by chipmaker Nvidia in a US International Trade Commission filing indicates that HTC is building the next Google tablet and that it will be out in the third quarter of 2014.
What with secret drone projects, autonomous cars, digital health platforms and a smartwatch operating system, Google has been extremely busy this year. So busy in fact that it has neglected to launch either a new Nexus-branded smartphone or a Nexus-branded tablet. New Nexus tablets tend to launch in June and December and new phones in October. But no new kit has surfaced.
However reports have been circulating for some time that the company is working with HTC on a tablet with a new 8.9-inch display size -- Nexus tablets currently come with a 7-inch or 10-inch screen -- but until now, there has been nothing official to support the claims.
A filing made by Nvidia and spotted by Droid Life indicates that the tablet will not only be built by HTC but that it will be powered by the Nvidia Tegra K1 processor. In the document, the link to which has now been pulled, Nvidia states: "The HTC Nexus 9, expected in the third quarter of 2014, is also expected to use the Tegra K1."
Although still extremely popular, growth in the tablet market is slowing. Analysts claim that the cooling is down to two reasons: that phablets are stealing market share from smaller 7-inch devices like the Nexus 7 and iPad Mini, while at the other end of the scale, existing large-screen tablets aren't being replaced, as two-to-three years later, they're continuing to perform well.
Therefore the choice of a new medium-sized screen is seen as a way of differentiating the Nexus 9 from phablet competition and, because it is a Google-backed product, its low price -- a Nexus 7 is just $229 for example -- will help it compete with larger, full-size devices.
As well as a Tegra K1 processor, the Nexus 9 is expected to have a pretty serious 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with optical image stabilization and a generous 3-megapixel front-facing camera for video calls and selfies.
It should also have pretty decent audio performance thanks to HTC's Boomsound technology and come with a choice of 16GB or 32GB of storage and as a wi-fi only or wi-fi/LTE/4G connectivity.
Expect the 16GB wi-fi only model to cost less than $400 but to boast a great build quality and to forsake plastics in favor of metal, as with HTC's flagship smartphones.