The Google Nexus smartphones have carved an impressive path through the mobile market over the past three years. These own-brand Android devices are designed to offer the purest experience of Google’s mobile operating system, although it has turned to a number of different hardware manufacturers to provide the physical underpinnings for each generation. With the Motorola Nexus X tipped to be the next big launch in this line-up, now seems like an apt point to look back over the history of the Google Nexus range.

Nexus One

Launched at the start of 2010, the Nexus One was the first phone in this family and featured hardware from Taiwanese manufacturer HTC, which went on to become one of the world’s most significant mobile makers. It was effectively a rebadged version of the HTC Desire, although a few hardware differences and the lack of the Sense interface helped to distinguish these models from one another.

At the time its single core 1GHz processor made it impressively powerful, while it 3.7 inch AMOLED display was big, bold and endowed with excellent contrast ratios and colour saturation. Although it had just 512MB of RAM, it made light work of running Android 2.1 Eclair and eventually got an upgrade to the newer Gingerbread version of the operating system.

The design of the Nexus One included a physical trackball as well as four capacitive menu buttons, which shows just how far Google Nexus smartphones have come in the past three years as none of these inputs are required on Jelly Bean, or indeed on the upcoming Android Key Lime Pie.

Nexus S

Arriving a little over a year after its predecessor, the Nexus S has a larger 4.0 inch AMOLED display and was built to natively run the Android 2.3 Gingerbread platform.

Based on the Galaxy S from Samsung, it still stuck with a 1GHz processor and 512MB of RAM, although had a PowerVR graphics chipset to make it a bit better in the gaming department.

The all-black design was also a nice touch, giving the Nexus S a serious, business-like look to go with its unfiltered Android user experience.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Samsung was called up to provide the hardware for a Google Nexus smartphone once more with the Galaxy Nexus, even putting its own name on the packaging this time around. This time the internal hardware was bumped up to make sure that it was completely state of the art, since the Galaxy Nexus was the flagship phone supporting the launch of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

A dual core 1.2GHz processor and a 4.65 inch display with a high-def resolution gave it the edge over its rivals, while the new platform meant that capacitive menu keys were out of the window, replaced instead with context-sensitive buttons within the software itself.

LG Nexus 4

The most recent addition to the Nexus range was the Nexus 4, built by South Korean company LG and sold with branding from Google. The Nexus 4 was remarkable not only because of its hardware, but also as a result of the impressive lengths Google went to in order to enhance sales.

With a quad core processor and HD display it was the most powerful Nexus device to date and still retains that title, at least until it is superseded later in 2013.

Android Jelly Bean made the Nexus 4 impressively innovative and with a low asking price in spite of its high end status, Google managed to get great reviews and serious consumer demand.

Motorola Nexus X

The next device to join this range is expected to be the Nexus X, built by Motorola in the USA rather than by one of Google’s Asian partners.

As a subsidiary of Google, Motorola should offer greater integration of the Android platform with smartphone hardware.

Leaks and rumours suggest that the Nexus X will have a 4.7 inch HD display, a dual core processor and 2GB of RAM.

It should also make a debut with a 10 megapixel primary camera and feature 16GB of onboard storage.

Phone Arena reports that Nexus X release date could be as soon as August 23rd, at least for customers who are in the US. Its international rollout schedule is less clear, as are Google’s intentions when it comes to the design of the phone. Reports suggest that customers will be able to order the Nexus X in the colour of their choice, as well as with a personalised engraving on the rear as a result of its production in Google’s homeland.

The future of Google Nexus smartphones?

Google seems to be taking more of a mid-range route with the Nexus X rather than going for absolutely cutting-edge technology. This could make it supremely affordable and in the same category as the Nexus 7 tablet when it comes to value for money. The history of the Nexus smartphone range is still being written and Google clearly has big plans for the future.