When you’ve two highly anticipated pieces of smartphone finery in the works, from where do you source your device codenames?

Sci-fi? Space? Sedimentary rocks? If you’re Google, it’s the sea: say hello to Marlin and Sailfish.

Set to be the next Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 handsets, these fishily named projects look the likely successors to Huawei and LG’s 2015 efforts on the Android powerhouse brand – and there’s already plenty to be excited about.

Perhaps appropriately for two aquatically labelled smartphones, there have been leaks aplenty, offering up bucket loads of fresh bait – from shell suspicions to hardware rumours – to whet your appetite for the catch. So, tuna in: we’ve got all the details.


First up, a new maker: banished to bin of bad catches are Huawei and LG, in favour of HTC – 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]

One they made earlier

Update 12/09/2016: 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. 

What's fin a name?

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.


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.

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.


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.


As for hardware, things are shadier still. 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]


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.

Update 20/09/2016: Google has confirmed that an event will be taking place at 9am PDT on 4 October (which is 1am Malaysian time, 5 October), announcing it with the video above. Which, we think you'll agree, certainly suggests that a smartphone will be centre stage.