The Google Nexus is dead! Long live the... Google Pixel?
Yes, it seems Google is finally killing off its flagship smartphone range only to resurrect it under a different name. How very dramatic of it.
So what do we know about Google's new phone? Read on for the full details.
WHAT WE KNOW
Yes, the Nexus name is seemingly dead, replaced with the moniker previously found on Google's fancy high-end Chromebook and its less-fancy tablet/laptop thingy. The fact that there will be two phones is in keeping with Google's plan last year, which saw them release the excellent Nexus 6P and pretty hot Nexus 5X.
Thanks to noted leaker Evan Blass at VentureBeat, we have renders of both the Pixel (above) and Pixel XL (below). While both look plenty official, it's really Blass' reputation that sells these: he's leaked a healthy amount of devices over the years. We believe 'em.
This we know for sure, because Google has now sent out invites for the event. And yes, we've got one.
Another one that we're fairly sure about now, thanks to countless leaks. It's a return to the Google fold for HTC, which was passed over last year in favour of LG and Huawei but which made the original Nexus One smartphone and 2014's Nexus 9 tablet. If it's as good as the company's own HTC 10 flagship, we'll be tickled pink.
According to leaks from this summer, the standard Pixel will pack a 1080p display, making it the slightly lower-end (and surely more affordable) option, while the larger Pixel XL display will bump up to Quad HD territory. The latter resolution is where most Android flagships are sitting these days, so it should be competitive.
Despite differences in screen size and quality, both phones should carry top-level components: likely the Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB RAM, along with a 12MP camera and back-mounted fingerprint sensor. However, you'll pay flagship prices for them: the standard Pixel is expected to sell for US$649, which means the Pixel XL could come in at $100-150 more.
>>> It's surely a Daydream device
Both Pixel phones will almost certainly be the gold standard for Google's own Daydream VR platform, which is expected to be fully launched at the event. We don't know yet which other phones will use the platform, but most of the major Android phone makers have signed up to create their own Daydream phones and headset shells.
From the leaked images, it appears that both Pixel phones use a new Google launcher: minimal and with circular icons. It looks great! But that's not all. Google may also tease a new "Andromeda" operating system, which merges Android and Chrome OS code into an OS that may power everything Google in the near future.
>>> The Pixel and Pixel XL should go on sale on 20 October
In other words, you'll probably have two weeks from the reveal event on Tuesday to make up your mind as to whether either Pixel should find a happy place in your pocket for the next year or two. Choose wisely.
> 26 September 2016
Leave it to Evan Blass (@evleaks) to bring us the official renders. He's posted images of both the Pixel and Pixel XL at VentureBeat, both of which you've already seen on this page, and included the same specs we've seen elsewhere (keep reading).
> 24 September 2016
We heard a long time back that Google planned to fold Android and Chrome OS into one super-OS to benefit the entire ecosystem, and with Android apps coming to Chromebooks, that seems to be happening. However, Android Police suspects we'll get a proper glimpse of the full-on merging at Google's event.
It's reportedly codenamed "Andromeda," and Google's Hiroshi Lockheimer, the company's senior VP of Android, Chrome OS, and Google Play, tweeted out some huge hype for the event, saying, "I have a feeling 8 years from now we'll be talking about Oct 4, 2016." Intriguing!
> 20 September 2016
Google has confirmed that an event will be taking place at 9am PDT on 4 October (which is 6pm UK time), announcing it with the video above. Which, we think you'll agree, certainly suggests that a smartphone will be centre stage.
> 19 September 2016
According to Android Police, the standard-sized Pixel could start at US$649. So much for Google continuing its off-and-on trend of selling a cheaper entry-level mode. If true, that would put the 5in phone in range of top-tier flagships from Apple and Samsung, while the Pixel XL would surely add another US$100-150 to that tally.
> 12 September 2016
We may have just had our best look yet at what form the 2016 Google smartphone range will take. First off, OnLeaks and Android Authority have published renders of the Sailfish (or Pixel), while Android Pure published shots of what they claim is the Marlin (or Pixel XL) leaked from a clear case manufacturer.
> 2 September 2016
Prolific shippers of important info Android Police might well have seen the shape of things to come, predicting both of the new HTC Nexus devices to be wearing full-metal jackets.
Both handsets are said to share the same rugged get-up, taking a pared-back approach to smartphone styling. Opting for clutter-free over eye-catching would fit with HTC’s previous design efforts, as would all-metal exteriors – and we don’t think that’s any bad thing.
The 2016 HTC Nexus looks like a cross between the Nexus 4 & iPhone with glass and fingerprint scanner on the back. pic.twitter.com/7pm9fhszki
— nexus (@usbfl) August 14, 2016
Grainy spy shots have also hinted at a glass panel on the upper-rear of the handsets – where it seems the fingerprint scanner will sit. This would be a departure for HTC, which has previously eschewed any such risky placement of precious breakables, though, as we’ve seen with previous iterations, making the Nexus can be the ideal avenue for getting adventurous.
In true Apple-inspired form, there are also hints that we’ll see antennae bands wrapping in rings around the top and bottom of both new Nexuses, at least if Android Police’s mockups are anything to go by.
> 18 August 2016
HTC has been all but confirmed as manufacturer of the new Nexus hardware.
According to @EVLeaks, resident knowledge on things not supposed to be known, HTC has signed up with the Goog to create two handsets – known internally as M1 and S1 – that Android Police reckons will be essentially identical, but for the screen size.
Despite the Taiwanese tech giant’s troubles at home, phone fans should have no fears about its ability to produce desirable devices: the all-metal HTC One M9 once sat atop our smartphone top 10, whilst its latest effort – the HTC 10 – is a five-star slab of glass-and-aluminium.
[Image source: Android Police]
> 17 August 2016
While Google has yet to announce a release date for either of the new phones, Android Police has reported that the company will officially reveal the devices at a major event on 4 October 2016 (alongside several other new Google hardware products). We'll update the preview if and when that's confirmed, but if it's true we can expect the phones to go on sale very soon after.
> 10 August 2016
Here's an interesting thing: it's looking likely that these smartphones won't even be called "Nexus".
Android Police reports that the phones will be instead named the Pixel and Pixel XL. This brings them into line with the firm's Chromebook Pixel and Pixel C tablet, of course, so it's totally believable - and it may also signal the death knell for the Nexus brand as a whole.
> 2 August 2016
Dual-lens camera setups might be the talk of the seaside town, but, if the shots we have so far are accurate, neither the Sailfish nor the Marlin will be toting double-snapping smarts.
All the same, rumours abound around the shape of shooting on both handsets. Some say they'll share the same lens tech, whilst others reckon the higher-end Marlin will carry slightly superior snapping smarts.
Whatever is the case, a 12-megapixel resolution looks to be the minimum, whilst an 8-megapixel front-facing lens could make for delightfully crisp Snapchat selfies – something that HTC has excelled at with recent devices.
Judging by the HTC 10, the new Nexus phones might not pack best-in-class camera kit, but could well be stellar upgrades from Huawei’s effort with the 6P.
> 1 August 2016
A potential sighting on Geekbench – in the guise of a Nexus 6P – pointed towards a Snapdragon 820 chip and 4GB of RAM hiding inside one of the new Nexus models, likely the Marlin. Oh, and it’s supposed to be running Android N, too.
That would make its basic hardware identical to the HTC 10, which, given how nippy we found it to be, is no bad thing. Previous Nexus gear has been anything but lackadaisical in the hardware stakes, and Google is unlikely to start shipping sluggish smartphones now.
Side-by-side, the Marlin and Sailfish are said to be basically identical, but for their screen size (5in on the Sailfish plays the Marlin’s 5.5in). Whether this extends to the internal tech, though, is impossible to know at this stage.
[Image source: Android Police]