Update: The new Google Pixel and Pixel XL are expected to be the star attraction at the company’s confirmed launch event tomorrow, October 4.
Google’s Nexus line is still going strong. There was a time when things looked to be on the rocks for the search giant’s own-brand handsets, but it’s navigated through the treacherous waters, and come out stronger on the other side.
2015 gave us the Nexus 6P, plus the more affordable (and palm-friendly) Nexus 5X, but with the more recent arrivals of the Samsung Galaxy S7, iPhone 7, HTC 10, LG G5 and Huawei P9, both phones are suddenly looking a little long in the tooth.
- Can’t wait for the launch? Here are all the rumors we know right now!
It’s time then, to look at what Google has up its sleeve for its next Nexus smartphone – although it looks like the search giant is ready to ditch the iconic Nexus name.
Instead of getting what looks to be not one, but two new Nexus devices, it now seems we will be treated to a duo of new Pixel phones instead. It appears Google is going to align its naming scheme with other products such as the Pixel C tablet.
So what are these two new Pixel handsets we talk of? They’re the Google Pixel and Pixel XL, with the former the focus of this article, while you’ll need to pop over to our Googe Pixel XL feature to learn more about its bigger brother.
While very little is set in stone in terms of what we know about the Google Pixel, we do know one thing: it’ll definitely come with Android 7 Nougat.
Another thing we know for sure is that Google will continue to leave Nexus manufacturing to established names in the market. CEO Sundar Pichai has said Google will instead focus on the design and software, hinting that the search giant will be more involved than ever in future Nexus/Pixel devices.
Could this be the most ‘Googly’ Nexus device to date? Quite possibly. Let’s see what the rumor mill has churned up so far about the new Pixel handset…
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Google’s next own-brand smartphone
- When is it out? Launch is tomorrow!
- What will it cost? Less than the new Pixel XL and main flagship rivals
Google Pixel release date
- Launch set for October 4
- May be in your pocket on October 20
Google launched the Nexus 6P and 5X in September 2015, with both devices going on sale the following month, so it stands to reason that it’ll follow a similar release schedule with the new Pixel phones.
More specifically, the Nexus Sailfish and Nexus Marlin are almost certainly going to be unveiled tomorrow, October 4, after Google sent out invites teasing a handset launch recently.
Another source suggests the same date for the announcement, with the new Pixel ready to ship on October 20.
TechRadar’s take: The October 4 date is set in stone. Plus October 20 for an on sale date would make sense.
Google Pixel price
In the past Nexus smartphones have been cheaper than the flagship devices they tend to be put up against, and the hope is with the Google Pixel being the smaller of the two new handsets it’ll retain a relatively low price point.
The Nexus 5X launched with a price of $379 (£299, around AU$490) for the 16GB version and $429 (£339, around AU$550) for the 32GB model, and we hope to see the same sort of pricing for the new Pixel.
TechRadar’s take: We expect to see the Google Pixel undercut the main flagship competition (iPhone 7, Galaxy S7 etc).
Say my name!
- Latest leaks point to Google Pixel name
- Other names rumored: T50, Sailfish, Nexus S1, Nexus 6X
2015 was the first time Google launched two Nexus smartphones side by side, the 5X and 6P. Arguably the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 were also a pair, but there was a year between their releases and they were rarely marketed together.
A duo of handsets felt right, and we fully expect Google to repeat the trick this time around. Two new Nexus phones have supposedly been spotted online – dubbed the Nexus M1 and Nexus S1. ‘M’ apparently stands for Marlin, while ‘S’ is allegedly Sailfish.
They’ve also been touted as T50 and T55, with those numbers relating to the screen sizes: 5-inch and 5.5-inch. Those are all said to just be development codenames – so what will Google opt for in the end?
It looks like the iconic Nexus name is coming to an end, as Android Central (among others) claims its sources have confirmed Google’s next two phones won’t be using that name. That has sparked even more rumors suggesting we’ll welcome the Google Pixel (and Pixel XL) at the firm’s October 4 event.
TechRadar’s take: It’s now looking highly likely Google will retire its Nexus name in favor of extending its Pixel line.
Who’s the daddy?
While Nexus devices are routinely referred to as Google’s handsets, the search giant doesn’t actually make the hardware. That task is shipped out to established handset manufacturers, and in the past HTC, Samsung, LG, Asus, Motorola and Huawei have all been called upon to do the honors.
LG is the company behind the 5X and Nexus 5, but it we’re hearing that the South Korean firm’s time as the maker of the smaller of the two phones is up – for now – with Taiwanese firm HTC hotly tipped for new Pixel stardom in 2016.
TechRadar’s take: HTC looks to be the front runner to make the Pixel, and with the firm’s strong design past we’re keeping our fingers crossed for a stylish smartphone.
Google Pixel design and screen
- 5-inch or 5.2-inch full HD display
- All-metal design revealed
With the appearance of those T50 and T55 codenames, it looks like thew new Pixel will get a 5-inch display, making it the smaller of the two with the Pixel XL.
A leaked build.prop file for the Nexus Sailfish suggests the smaller phone might be slightly bigger than 5 inches though, with a roughly 5.2-inch 1080 x 1920 screen, which would be a match for the Nexus 5X.
However the 5-inch form factor has been given a big boost after a UK retailer leaked an almost full spec sheet for the Google Pixel. That same leak also points towards a full HD resolution, USB-C port and microSD slot.
A leaked render posted online by Android Police seems to suggest a svelte looking aluminum uni-body and a rear facing fingerprint scanner – just like on the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P. The source who provided the image also claims the new Nexus phones will be available in silver, black, and “electric blue”.
This design has been given a boost as even more images showing a similar style for the Sailfish device have made their way online.
More recently still yet another set of Sailfish (aka Pixel) renders have emerged, this time from Android Authority, showing the same design again, but with the addition of a USB-C port and dual speakers for stereo sound – all of which can be seen on the bottom edge of the handset.
The source claims that although not shown in the renders the phone will have a 3.5mm headphone port on the top edge, and that the dimensions are 143.8 x 69.5 x 7.3 – 8.5mm, making the phone slightly more compact than the 147 x 72.6 x 7.9mm Nexus 5X.
Just in from Android Police, these are definitely the clearest leaks we’ve seen yet of the rumored devices. It’s hard to tell if they rock the Google branding because there’s a lot of blurring going on to protect the leaker. But, the transition between glass and metal is fairly clear.
TechRadar’s take: with a number of renders claiming to show the Nexus Sailfish (likely the smaller Google Pixel phone) we reckon the rounded, metal body will come to fruition.
Google Pixel OS and power
- Android 7 Nougat straight out the box
- Flagship power under the hood
- Snapdragon 821 processor
The new Nexus (new Pixel) handset will of course launch with Android Nougat, but rather than Android 7.0 it might land with Android 7.1.
The 7.1 update is almost certainly in the works, especially as it’s been spotted on Google’s developer console and it’s been rumored that it will launch with the Nexus Sailfish and Marlin handsets.
That would make some sense, as the LG V20 has beaten the new Pixel to the Nougat punch, so this way Google’s handset would have something new to launch with. What Android 7.1 will contain is unknown, but it’s possible that it will include support for Daydream VR.
In terms of power, we’ve seen leaked benchmark tests suggesting the Pixel will sport Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 chip, which has already found its way into the G5 and HTC 10, with a leaked build.prop file suggesting the same thing.
However Qualcomm has launched the shiny new Snapdragon 821, which boosts power up even more and it’s certainly not out of the question that the new Pixel smartphones could benefit from the additional oomph, especially as the chip is built with VR in mind – making it beneficial to Daydream VR.
There’s even some evidence pointing towards the Snapdragon 821, with a recent leak suggesting that both new Pixel phones will sport it, while a comprehensive leak by Carphone Warehouse also pegs the Pixel as having the 821 chip and 4GB of RAM.
Whichever chip we get it will likely be backed up by 4GB of RAM, which would give you plenty of grunt under the hood for all the latest Android Nougat has to throw at you, although 6GB of RAM is also possible with the OnePlus 3 sporting it along with a low price tag.
We also expect the fingerprint scanners to return and based on a number of leaked images it looks like they’ll be on the back of the phone once again, but complete with a new feature, allowing you to reveal your notifications by sliding a digit across it.
TechRadar’s take: With most evidence pointing towards the Snapdragon 821 processor that’s our best guess for now, along with 4GB of RAM and Android 7.1.
Check out what Android Nougat has to offer in our beta walkthrough
Google Pixel camera
- 12MP rear, 8MP front snappers
- 4K video recording
Camera specs are few and far between for both Pixel phones. GFXBench details suggest they’ll have 7MP selfie shooters and 11MP rear facing cameras. That’s a strange set up that we haven’t seen before, so it may turn out that these details are a little bit off.
The back camera is said to have all the features you’d expect, such as 4K video recording as well as an LED flash, face detection software and autofocus tech.
TechRadar’s take: With HTC on board we could well see the firm’s UltraPixel technology make its way into the new Pixel handset, with improved low light performance and possibly some additional camera tricks. We fully expect some general improvements regarding image quality and the auto-mode, but past Nexus devices haven’t always dazzled in the camera department.
Something the new Nexus devices are likely to feature heavily is virtual reality (VR). Google announced its Daydream VR platform at its IO conference in May, and you can expect the new service to be a highlight of its new Nexus handsets.
Google even teased its own VR headset with controller – and we could well see the hardware launch alongside the new phones later this year. It would make sense, as the headset will be dependent on a smartphone to function – and what better device to use than a shiny new Pixel?
We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a “free VR headset when you pre-order a new Nexus” offer come September.
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