While there are dozens of phones which run their own flavor of the Android operating system, Nexus phones are the purest expressions of Google’s ideas. Google is preparing to launch a pair of new Nexus phones this fall, and thanks to rumors and leaks we’ve already got a good idea of what they’ll look like.
Here’s everything we think we know (so far).
A truism for smartphones nowadays is that flagships come in twos. Samsung did this with the S7, Apple does it with the iPhone, and Google did it with its phones last year. It’s likely to repeat the formula again by introducing one big phone and one small phone.
The two phones are reportedly codenamed “Sailfish” and “Marlin,” which is in-step with Google’s fish-centric naming convention for Nexus phones. Last year’s Nexus 6P was codenamed “Angler,” for instance. However, these phones’ official names are much less certain. With evidence that Google is dropping the “Nexus” branding on the phone itself, who knows if it’ll even be called a Nexus.
Update 09/20/16: Google has sent out invites for an event on October 4. Although there’s no definitive proof on the teaser website, the predominant belief is that the devices will be called Google Pixel phones (and that Google will discontinue the Nexus brand). Earlier this month, Android Police published several reports citing a “reliable source” that says Google will announce a Pixel and Pixel XL smartphone on October 4. Also earlier this month, a leaked APK of the Google Pixel Launcher made its way to the Internet.
Update 10/2/2016: Two big leaks happened the weekend before Google’s October 4 press event. First, Canadian phone company Bell leaked the news by publishing a preorder page for the phone early on Sunday. Then, it got worse. UK retailer Carphone Warehouse reportedly published leaked images of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL handsets shortly after. The second leak included even more photos of the phones and technical specifications. You can see more leaked images in the design section of this article.
According to Android Police, the new Google devices will be built exclusively by HTC, which seems to be confirmed by FCC filings. The nearly always correct Evan Blass, aka @evleaks, also confirmed the rumor.
Android Police also says that the two devices will both be metal and will have very few differences between them besides size.
But some bloggers have compared the leaked images above to this year’s HTC 10, saying the hardware looks recycled. The bezel does look uncommonly big as if it is missing some hardware. However, the phone shows visible differences in several other areas.
Once you flip to the back, you’re left with something very not HTC—a giant glass panel which will likely house the camera and fingerprint sensor.
Another leak that reportedly shows the smaller Sailfish seems to support the existence of that back glass panel.
So it looks like the Nexus could come with that interesting back panel design. As for colors, right now it’s looking like black, white, and “electric blue.”
Update 09/20/16: The folks at Android Police, who have a great track record publishing credible leaks, recently posted this photo sent to them by a tipster. The blog says the images shows “both phones in the aluminum finish.” The most obvious detail is that the fingerprint sensor is on the back of the phone, similar to last year’s Huawei 6P and LG Nexus 5X. The Pixel phones will reportedly come in aluminum, black, and blue.
Update 10/2/2016: As we mentioned in the previous section, two big leaks happened this weekend, just two days before Google’s October 4 press event. First, Canadian phone company Bell leaked the announcement by publishing a preorder page for the Pixel phones early on Sunday. Later that day, UK retailer Carphone Warehouse reportedly published images of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL handsets. Below are some of the images that were published.
All rumors need to be taken with a grain of salt, but the specs for the smaller of these Nexus phones has been convincingly leaked and exhaustively reported by Android Police. Here’s what we’re supposedly looking at:
- 5-inch 1080p display (440PPI) AMOLED
- Snapdragon 821
- 4GB RAM
- 2770mAh battery
- 32GB storage (base)
- 12MP rear camera, 8MP front
- Extras: Fingerprint sensor, USB Type-C, headphone jack
According to leaks, the only difference between the small Nexus and its bigger brother is a higher resolution Quad HD display, a bigger 3450 mAh battery, and obviously, a larger 5.5-inch display.
Update 10/2/2016: A major leak from UK retailer Carphone Warehouse appears to confirm most of the specifications we anticipated. The Pixel and Pixel XL will have 5-inch and 5.5-inch screens respectively. Both will ship with a Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB of RAM. Other specifications included a choice of 32GB or 128GB of internal storage, 1080 x 1920 resolution for the Pixel, and 1440 x 2560 resolution for the Pixel XL.
Android Nougat isn’t much of a secret anymore since Google launched the software back in March. However, Google looks like it’ll have some Nexus-specific tricks up its sleeve with a new Google launcher.
Android Police also found evidence of certain swipe actions to access the notifications pane with that glass panel. It looks something like this:
Update 09/20/16: Also earlier this month, a leaked APK of the Google Pixel Launcher made its way to the Internet. The new launcher shows off a couple of cool new features including daily wallpaper options, a new Google search bar at the top left of the screen, a new app drawer and search functions, and a brand new apps folder.
Availability and Price
If history tells us anything, we can expect these next Nexus phones around late September/early October. However, Google has been slowly pushing up the Nexus release date from the fall to late summer. The added twist is that Android Nougat is already further along than previous Android software with the “final” release supposedly coming sometime after July—So in other words any day now?
It also seems that all major carriers will likely receive the Nexus phone, including Verizon, which has been occasionally left off the roster. Although I haven’t been able to find any sort of pricing information, last year’s 6p came in at $500 with the 5x at a more affordable $380.
Update 09/20/16: The rumors blog Android Authority reports both phones will start at $649, citing a “new source.” The story also claims Google is adding accidental damage coverage at $99 for Pixel and $119 for Pixel XL. The phones will reportedly be sold through Google’s online store and in Verizon stores.
[Note: We’ll be updating this post with new information added as it becomes available until the phone(s) are finally released.]
Update, 2:42 p.m., May 5, 2020: This post has been updated to remove a video embed that is no longer available.