The 2016 Nexus: Everything We Think We Know About Google's Next Phones

By Darren Orf on at

While there are dozens of phones that run their own flavour of 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 autumn, and thanks to rumours and leaks we’ve already got a good idea of what they’ll look like.

Here’s everything we think we know (so far).

Name

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.

The 2016 Nexus: Everything We Think We Know About Google's Next Phones

Image: Android Police

Design

According to Android Police, the twin Nexus 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 rumour.

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.

The 2016 Nexus: Everything We Think We Know About Google's Next Phones

GIF: Ron Amadeo

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.

The 2016 Nexus: Everything We Think We Know About Google's Next Phones

Image: Android Police (not a press render)

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 colours, right now it’s looking like black, white, and “electric blue”

Specifications

All rumours 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.

Software

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:

The 2016 Nexus: Everything We Think We Know About Google's Next Phones

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 autumn 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 in the US, 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 £449 with the 5x at a more affordable £260.

[Note: We’ll be updating this post with new information added as it becomes available until the phone(s) are finally released.]