Google Nexus 2016
Marie Brewis rounds up the latest Nexus rumours
Google unveils a new Nexus smartphone every year (in 2015 it announced two), which it uses as the launch vehicle for its annual Android update. In 2016 we will see Android Nougat. Tradition sees the new operating system Developer Preview announced at Google I/O in early summer, and then released on the new Nexus
5 and/or new Nexus 6 phone around October time. (The Nexus 5X, pictured opposite, and 6P were announced at the end of September 2015, and the Nexus 6 before it in October 2014.)
However, the Android Nougat Developer Preview was released a couple of months early this year, ahead of Google I/O. In July we saw the release of the final Developer Preview, which means it is possible that we’ll see an earlier release for the new Android OS than in previous years – most likely September.
There have been plenty of rumours suggesting an August release date for the new Nexus phones, but with little logic behind them. For instance, we’ve seen many sites reporting that the new Nexus 6 will be released in August because in mid-June the price of the two-year-old (refurbished) Nexus 6 dropped to $180. It is not uncommon for manufacturers to drop the price of or discontinue an older-generation smartphone as they approach the release date of a newer model. But (a very big but), eBay is an online auction site and not Google, and the phone had already been removed from the Google Play Store. And the jump from a price drop in June to a release date in August is nothing more than speculation.
According to respected tipster Evan Blass the final version of Android Nougat will be rolled out in August and will include the August security update. His tweet caused speculation that the phones could launch with the update, but he meant only that the security update will be included in Nougat and not that the new operating system would be rolled out with the patch on 5 August.
Nothing has been confirmed about the price, but given that the Nexus 5X now costs from at £299 and the Nexus 6P from £449, we’d be very surprised if they were any more expensive.
Who will make the new Nexus phones?
Rumours that HTC is working on two new Nexus phones for 2016 went into overdrive at the end of April 2016 following a tip from serial leaker @evleaks on Twitter.
However, Huawei’s PR told us that: “We don’t comment on future products, as a matter of policy. Huawei is committed to creating the world’s most compelling and innovative devices, offering an exceptional performance and outstanding user experience. We are proud to have worked with Google, which is strong in innovation, on the Nexus 6P and will continue to collaborate in the future, such as our support for Daydream, the recently-announced platform for high performance mobile VR.”
Again, we have to make it clear that everything you read here is merely rumours and speculation. As we’ve learned in the past, however, there is usually some truth behind the leaks. Here’s what we’ve heard on the rumour mill so far:
Google has confirmed that it will not be building the new Nexus phones itself, but Google CEO Sundar Pichai says it will be more opinionated in the design. That’s not as extreme as the rumour
earlier reported by Droid Life, which suggested that Google intended to apply “Apple-like control” over its new Nexus devices for 2016, and would be involved at every step of the design and manufacturing process, no longer requiring a second manufacturer such as LG, Huawei or HTC to build the device for it, nor add its name to it.
Pan Jiutang has suggested that the new Nexus 6 2016 will be a high-performance handset running the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor. This seems like a logical move, given that the Nexus 6P runs 2015’s top Snapdragon chip, the 810. The Snapdragon 820 has an Adreno 530 GPU (with 40 percent better performance and
efficiency than previous chips), the X12 LTE modem (which provides 33 percent better performance and 15 percent better power efficiency), the Hexagon 680 DPS (digital signal processor) and a quad-core Kryo CPU that will bring up to double the performance and power efficiency when compared to previous generations.
The specs of the Sailfish Nexus phone have leaked via the GFXBench graphics testing benchmark database. It’s expected to feature a 5in Full-HD screen, a 2.1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor, Adreno 530 graphics, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and 12- rear and 8Mp front cameras with support for 4K video. An AnTuTu listing also reportedly showing the Nexus Sailfish confirms the Snapdragon 820 processor, Adreno 530 graphics and Full-HD screen, but suggests it will have 13- and 8Mp cameras.
The HTC-made Nexus 2016 phone codenamed Marlin has been spotted in the Geekbench database. It is shown to be running Android 7.0, with a quad-core processor (which could be the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 821) and 4GB of RAM. It scored 4969 points multi-core, making it faster that the iPhone 6s Plus but a little behind the Samsung Galaxy S7 and OnePlus 3.
Previously, the number in each phone’s name has been related to its screen size, with the Nexus 5 a standard smartphone and the Nexus 6 a phablet. According to Mocha RQ, HTC will build smaller Nexus phones, with 5- and 5.5in screens
rather than the 5.2- and 5.7in displays we saw in 2015. The current 6P has a 5.7in Quad-HD display, and it’s likely we’ll see this again given that Sony has failed to wow critics with its first 4K smartphone screen. The new Nexus 5 may stick with a Full-HD display.
Twitter tipster LlabTooFeR claims the codenames for the new Nexus 5 2016 and new Nexus 6 2016 are T50 and T55 – both of which hint towards the rumoured 5- and 5.5in screen sizes. They’ve also become known via codenames Sailfish (despite the existing mobile OS of the same name) and Marlin, with the latter recently been spotted on Google’s Source site in a list that mentions three major devices. The other two are Angler and Bullhead.
Regardless of the internal storage capacities, the new Nexus phones are expected to receive unlimited online photo- and video storage via Google Photos without having to reduce their file sizes. According to Android Police the latest Photos update includes text that describes a specific benefit for Nexus customers: “free unlimited storage for original quality photos and videos uploaded from their Nexus devices”.
Marlin is expected to be a metal device, while Sailfish will be built from plastic.
We also know the new Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 2016 will be running a brand-new operating system, Android 7.0 Nougat. However, according to Android Police, the Home screens will be updated to feature a new app drawer, Now pane and Search widget.
With Android Marshmallow building in support for USB-C, it’s a given that the new Nexus 2016 phones will feature USB-C for data transfer and charging. The Snapdragon 820 also supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, for super-fast charging with a compatible mains adaptor.
Android Police has published renders of the new Nexus 2016, although it acknowledges they are not final and the official press renders may differ.
A supposed picture has emerged (right), via Tech Droider, of the screen of the so called HTC-made Marlin Nexus phone. Here’s the screenshot, covered by a case, presumably to avoid any further design leaks. You can clearly see the ‘Model number’ listed as ‘marlin’, though as with every leak we aren’t sure if this is totally genuine. However, the device seems to be running Android Nougat, hinting at an upcoming model.