Pixel / Pixel XL (New Nexus) release date, news and rumors

The new Nexus may actually be the new Pixel

New Nexus 2016 release date news and rumors

Update: Google Pixel and Pixel XL are expected to be the star attraction at the company's confirmed launch event on October 4. The latest rumors suggest they will be ready to buy on October 20 and could use the flagship-beating Snapdragon 821 processor, while new renders and the most crisp leaks we've seen yet give us a closer look at the handsets.

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 excellent Nexus 6P, plus the more affordable (and palm-friendly) Nexus 5X, but with the recent arrivals of the Samsung Galaxy S7, HTC 10, LG G5 and Huawei P9, both those 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 smartphones - although we now think they'll be called Pixel instead, like the Pixel C tablet.

So what can you expect from the new Pixel devices? Bigger screens? New Android? More power? Some actual innovation? We know one thing: they'll definitely come with Android 7 Nougat, and possibly even Android 7.1.

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 these be the most 'Googly' Nexus devices to date? Quite possibly. Let's see what the rumor mill has churned up so far about the new Pixel handsets…

Cut to the chase

  • What are they? Google's next own-brand smartphones
  • When are they out? Launch tipped for October 4
  • What will they cost? Traditionally the Nexus line is slightly cheaper than flagship rivals - but the Pixel range could be pricey

New Pixel / Nexus release date

Hottest leaks:

  • Launch expected to happen on 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 Nexus phones.

More specifically, the Nexus Sailfish and Nexus Marlin could be arriving on October 4, or at least that's what one source reckons.

Another source suggests the same date for the announcement, with the Pixel ready to ship on October 20, though only the standard Pixel, with no mention of when the Pixel XL would hit stores.

TechRadar's take: The October 4 date is set in stone. Plus October 20 for an on sale date would make sense.

Pixel / Pixel XL price

In the past Nexus smartphones have been cheaper than the flagship devices they tend to be put up against, but that distinction became blurred in 2015, with the Nexus 6P sporting a lofty price tag of its own.

The hope is that the smaller of the two new Pixel phones will at least come with a reasonably affordable price tag, much like the Nexus 5X, while the larger, more premium offering is likely to pitch itself closer to Apple, Samsung and co.

TechRadar's take: With Google likely to launch two new handsets, we expect a similar price structure to the 5X and 6P.

Say my name(s)!

Hottest leaks:

  • Two phones, codenamed Marlin and Sailfish
  • Latest name leak points to Pixel and Pixel XL
  • Other names rumored: T50 & T55, Nexus M1 & S1, Nexus 6X & 7P

Singular or plural? That's the first question we need to tackle when talking about new Nexus phones.

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?

The simplest answer would be the Nexus 6X and Nexus 7P, but those make even less sense than the phones they're set to replace.

There's always the chance Google just sticks with the code names M1 and S1, but how about something a little more straightforward? Nexus 7 and Nexus 7 Plus would be nice – but the former has already been used for the firm's 7-inch slate.

Thing is, it looks like the iconic Nexus name could be coming to an end, as Android Central claims its sources have confirmed Google's next two phones won't be using that name. That has sparked rumors suggesting the two new handsets will be called the Pixel and Pixel XL.

TechRadar's take: It's now looking highly likely Google will retire its Nexus name in favor of extending its Pixel line, which already includes the Pixel C tablet and a couple of Chromebooks.

Who's the daddy?

Hottest leaks

  • Two firms in the running
  • HTC tipped for a return after making the original Nexus One
  • Huawei also in the running for bigger phone after Nexus 6P success

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, while Huawei's first ever Nexus device came in the form of the 6P.

Several rumors, however, suggest it'll be HTC that gets the nod for both handsets in 2016 – which could see the HTC 10 and One A9 as strong foundations for whatever Google has up its sleeve.

That said, Google is apparently also pretty pleased with the job Huawei did on the 6P, and alternative rumors point towards the Chinese manufacturer getting a second shot at making the higher-end Nexus.

TechRadar's take: HTC looks to be the front runner to make both the Pixel and the Pixel XL, and with the firm's strong design past we're keeping our fingers crossed for a couple of stylish smartphones.

Design and screen

Hottest leaks:

  • 5-inch and 5.5-inch displays
  • Sailfish all-metal design revealed

With the appearance of those T50 and T55 codenames, it looks like we'll be getting a 5-inch handset and a larger 5.5-inch device.

That would be a downsizing for the larger device, following the 5.95-inch Nexus 6 and 5.7-inch Nexus 6P, and would see the new Nexus slide in comfortably alongside the iPhone 7 Plus and LG G5.

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.

One benchmarking result meanwhile suggests the larger Nexus Marlin device will come with a 2K display, but the size of the screen is currently unclear.

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".

New Nexus 2016 LEAK Android Police
Credit: Android Police

This design has been given a boost as even more images showing a similar style for the Sailfish device have made their way online.

Google Sailfish
Credit: Android Pure

Google Sailfish
Credit: Android Pure

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.

Sailfish renders

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.

Google Pixel
Courtesy of Android Police

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. Unlike Apple's standard and plus sized handsets, we don't think the design will be cloned for the Marlin handset, with that sporting something a bit different.

OS and power

Hottest leaks:

  • Android 7 Nougat straight out the box
  • Flagship power under the hood
  • Snapdragon 821 processor

The new Nexus (new Pixel) handsets will of course launch with Android Nougat, but rather than Android 7.0 they 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.

Android N

That would make some sense, as the LG V20 will beat the new Nexus to the Nougat punch, so this way Google's handsets 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 both handsets will be sporting Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 chip, which has already found its way into the G5 and HTC 10. A build.prop file for the Nexus Sailfish suggests the same.

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, but most of the rumors still point towards the 820.

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.

Nexus scanner

We also expect the fingerprint scanners to return and based on a leaked image it looks like they'll be on the back of the phones 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 820 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

Camera

Hottest leaks:

  • 12MP rear, 8MP front snappers
  • 4K video recording

Camera specs are few and far between for both Nexus 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.

There's more likely to be a 12MP rear and 8MP front combo, which has also been leaked, with Sony tipped as the firm to supply the lenses for the new Pixel duo.

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 handsets, with improved low light performance and possibly some additional camera tricks. We fully expect some general improvements regarding image quality and the auto-modes, but past Nexus devices haven't always dazzled in the camera department.

VR

Google Daydream

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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