Google Pixel Phones: What We Know So Far

Google is working hard on a few new smartphones for 2016, but instead of Nexus devices they will be re-branded to Google Pixel Phones. This past month a lot of information has surfaced about these two phones, including the new name and some launch details. Here’s what we know so far about the Pixel release.

With each new version of Android Google releases new hardware, like the recent Nexus 5X and 6P along with Marshmallow. For 2016 the company is rumored to be building two brand new phones. HTC will manufacture devices Google will call the Pixel and Pixel XL.

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Read: HTC Nexus 2016 Release Details Leak

Back in April the famed leakster Evan Blass (@Evleaks) revealed that two phones were in the works from HTC, and since then we’ve seen multiple corroborating reports. Now that Android 7.0 Nougat has been released and multiple Pixel photos leaked, details are starting to clear up.

NexusOnetoNexus6P

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Google has partnered with manufacturers to create its phones for years. Starting with the original HTC Nexus One. Since then we’ve seen devices from ASUS, Samsung, Motorola, LG and Huawei. Google appears to be heading back to HTC in an effort to release two phones yet again.

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A recent report from AndroidCentral states Google wants to take a different route and won’t call these “Nexus” phones at all. We’ve heard they will have a “G” on back instead of Nexus, according to AndroidPolice and come in two different sizes.

The first set of solid details arrived in June from Android Police, stating they knew the codenames for these two phones and some early specs. Since then, they’ve shared far more detailed reports regarding exactly what we can expect, software changes, new features and more. These are still early rumors though which means things are subject to change before they’re announced.

That being said, here’s what we know about Google’s flagship smartphones for 2016, and maybe even a tablet and some watches.

AndroidPolice states that their source is very reliable, and this information received a 9/10 in terms of being accurate and coming true. Both Nexus (Pixel) smartphones for 2016 will be made by HTC, have premium aluminum designs, and share nearly the same specs only one will be much bigger, have a better display and longer battery life. Meaning the smaller model won’t be a lower end “budget” phone, like we saw with the Nexus 5x in 2015.

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Back in July our first image of the smartphone surfaced. It’s an image created based off information from reliable sources, a render, and not a real photo. That said, AndroidPolice states it could be extremely similar to the look of both of HTC’s Nexus smartphones. As in both will look nearly identical, with one being bigger than the other. Since this we’ve seen other photos suggesting something much different, but it’s all still a mystery for now.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 2.11.16 PM

Before we get into the specs and other rumors, we have more information about the software. Google recently confirmed they’ll be making some software changes and adding more software features on Nexus phones, aside from stock Android, and below could be one of many changes. AndroidPolice states there will be a new Google button rather than an entire search bar, and a swipe-up gesture for the app tray. The application launcher button is gone completely in their teaser below.

Nexus-launcher

If accurate, Google will be making quite a bit of small but possibly useful software tweaks. The Nexus Launcher recently leaked in final form as the Pixel Launcher, confirming these reports.

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2016 Pixel Phones

Each year Google gives devices a codename that they use internally, and for releasing software for developers. As an example the Motorola Nexus 6 from 2014 was codenamed Shamu, and in 2015 they were called Bullhead and Angler. The bigger phone is codename “Marlin” and will have a 5.5-inch display, meaning it’s slightly smaller than the huge Nexus 6P from last year.

2016 Nexus/Pixel XL Specs (Rumored)

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  • 5.5-inch 2560 x 1440 Quad-HD AMOLED Display
  • Quad-core Snapdragon Processor (821) with 4GB of RAM
  • 32 or 128GB of storage (no micro-SD slot, and no 64GB model)
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 12 Megapixel Rear Camera with OIS, 8MP front camera
  • Rear-mounted fingerprint scanner
  • Bottom facing speaker (not front-facing like last year sadly)
  • USB Type-C port for Rapid Charging
  • 3,450 mAh battery
  • more

For the most part it sounds like a decent upgrade over the Nexus 6P, even though the screen is slightly smaller. The device could be much smaller physically without the front facing speakers, have a more powerful (and efficient) processor, improved camera, faster charging, and the same size battery. Meaning better battery life for owners.

Most likely it will have some sort of brushed aluminum finish similar to the Nexus 6P and the HTC 10, but we’ll have to wait and see.

However, the exciting part of these rumors is that both the smaller 5-inch HTC Pixel and the bigger XL will have the same design language, the same specs (for the most part) and just be different in terms of size and price. The idea being a 2-prong approach that’s been extremely successful for Apple and more recently Samsung. Like the Galaxy S7 and bigger Galaxy S7 Edge.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 7.44.04 AM

Earlier reports from Android Police suggest the smaller model codenamed Sailfish will be extremely similar. Simply offering a smaller 5-inch screen and a slightly different battery and price. Although, the latest news suggests this phone could start at $649, which isn’t exactly a budget device like Nexus buyers are used to.

2016 HTC Nexus/Pixel Specs (Rumored)

  • 5-inch 1920 x 1080p Full HD AMOLED Display
  • Quad-core Snapdragon Processor (821 or 823) with 4GB of RAM (Not 2 or 3)
  • 32 or 128GB of storage (no micro-SD slot, and no small 16GB model)
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 12 Megapixel Rear Camera with OIS, 8MP front camera
  • Rear-mounted fingerprint scanner
  • Bottom facing speaker (not front-facing like last year sadly)
  • USB Type-C port for Rapid Charging
  • 2,770 mAh battery
  • more

As shown above, these phones sound almost identical across the board aside from one having a smaller display and a lower resolution. Google’s smaller device also doesn’t need as big of a battery.

To add even more fuel to the fire and rumors, @evleaks is at it again. The leakster has confirmed the phones a few times, but now claims Google and Huawei will release a tablet this year. If all goes according to plan and the above rumors, it would of course be a new 7-inch Pixel Tablet or “Pixel Mini”.

In the past he confirmed both of Google’s new “Pixel” phones will be available on Verizon Wireless. Since then a few reports claim they will be exclusive to Verizon, which is doubtful. If true, Google may have both Pixel phones on Verizon and then unlocked on the Google Store.

Over the past month we’ve seen countless photos of these phones, both in the wild and renders, like the one shown below teasing four potential colors.

htc-render-3

At the end of the day both of these devices have plenty to offer, a great design and the latest version of Android. Buyers will just be able to choose which screen size works for them, without having to sacrifice on specs to get the smaller 5-inch model. Leaks also confirm there will be no 16GB model, with 32GB being the base storage option.

Release Date

There is one date that is being tossed around by not one, but two different sources for Google’s event and announcement of the Nexus/Pixel smartphones for 2016. That being October 4th. If so, more details should be surfacing any day now.

If all of this turns out to be true it looks like in October Google could debut two new smartphones, a new 7-inch tablet, and potentially two new Android Wear smartwatches. These could all be Pixel devices and running the latest version of Android. Not to mention a new Chromecast and some Daydream VR hardware. It should be a busy month for Google so stay tuned for more details.