Our sources are confirming that the HTC Nexus 9, which we had originally reported thanks to Nvidia’s own legal documents, will indeed be landing this month. The HTC Nexus 9 will indeed feature Nvidia’s Tegra K1 SoC which confirms the rumors of the previous few months that Nvidia had managed to work their way into the newest Nexus tablet. Another detail we were able to learn is that the MSRP for the HTC Nexus 9 will indeed be $399, which isn’t anywhere near the Nexus 7’s $229 price point but indicates that Google is aiming to bring a premium quality device to market at an affordable price.
Details are still murky about whether or not the HTC Nexus 9 will feature Nvidia’s current Tegra K1 SoC or the 64-bit denver-based variant of Tegra K1 that the company has been teasing since they announced Tegra K1 at CES in January of this year. One interesting point is that in the Nvidia blog, the company specifically states, “And for hard-core Android fans, take note that we’re already developing the next version of Android – “L” – on the 64-bit Tegra K1.” This would indicate that we will very likely see the Tegra K1 64-bit version in the HTC Nexus 9 with Android-L (or Lollipop). This all makes sense because Google has a tendency of requiring their chip suppliers to meet a certain minimum spec list and if they don’t meet it, they’re out. It happened with the Nexus 7 when Qualcomm knocked out Nvidia with OpenGL ES 3.0 support and it looks like Nvidia is now doing it to Qualcomm with 64-bit support in the Tegra K1. Qualcomm won’t have any high-end 64-bit devices until 2015 once their partners start building devices with the Snapdragon 810 and 808. They have already announced the Snapdragon 610 and 410 and some devices are even utilizing these processors now, but they are not considered flagship chips like Google likes to use.
It remains to be seen how good Nvidia’s battery life with the 64-bit Denver-based Tegra K1 will be, especially compared to the quad ARM Cortex-A15 version that’s currently in the Xiaomi MiPad and Nvidia SHIELD tablet. One must also consider that there may be a lot of 64-bit optimizations as part of Android-L which may actually help Nvidia see far greater performance per watt than with quad Cortex A15 chips. We don’t have any performance figures just yet, or battery life figures, but once we do, we will be sure to keep you posted here.
Also, here’s a new little tidbit in addition to us being able to confirm most of the rumors… The HTC Nexus 9 will not sold exclusively by the Play Store, meaning that it should be widely available on November 3rd after pre-orders start on October 15th. The HTC Nexus 9 will actually sell at most major retailers online and B&M from what we’ve been told. This means that Google is clearly trying to target a broader audience but at the same time trying to bring a premium experience. And when you think about the fact that they have mini-kiosks in places like Best Buy that already let you buy most things that are sold on the Google Play Store. We don’t have a complete list of retailers yet, but it does mean that Google expects this launch to be much bigger than ones in the past.