New Google phones the Pixel X and Pixel XL (aka Nexus 2016) will launch next week. We investigate rumours surrounding the new Pixel phones. Nexus 2016 release date, UK price, new feature and specification rumours. How to watch Pixel X/XL live stream. Also see: Nexus 5X review and Nexus 6P review.
Update 28 September: Earlier this week VentureBeat revealed the best image yet of the Google Pixel. That image is now joined by a high-quality image of the Google Pixel XL. (Both are shown below.)
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Pixel X, Pixel XL release date: 4 October 2016 (launch).
Google unveils a new Nexus smartphone every year (in 2015 it announced two), which it traditionally uses as the launch vehicle for its annual Android update. On 22 August we saw the release of the final version of Android Nougat. What we didn't see was any new Nexus phones, though Google did confirm that the LG V20 would be the first phone to run N out of the box.
Perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised. 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 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 we were expecting to see an earlier Android OS launch than in previous years. Also see: When will my phone get Android Marshmallow?
So what gives? It has now become apparent that Google is ditching its Nexus phones and that it will instead unveil a Pixel X and Pixel XL at a special event in October. Australian mobile operator Telstra is rumoured to begin shipping the new Google phones on 20 October, around three weeks after the expected launch.
Google has now confirmed it will hold a special event on 4 October 2016. Given the image of a phone in the teaser video (at the top of this page) and on the new website google.com/tenfour set up for the event, we would expect this to be the Google Pixel XL and Pixel X launch. Hopefully we will also see a new Nexus 7 - or Pixel 7 - from Huawei. We'll be hosting the live stream at the top of this page and a live blog on this page on 4 October, so bookmark us now.
New Google phone: How to watch Pixel XL live stream
Google will be holding a live stream of its Pixel X and Pixel XL launch, which we will host at the top of this page. We will also be hosting a live blog on this page, offering real-time expert analysis and commentary on the announcements.
The event will be held on 4 October at 9am PDT, which is 5pm in the UK.
The Nexus 5X now costs from £299 and the Nexus 6P from £449, and we would be surprised if Google was to take its pricing higher. However, that's exactly what it's about to do if rumours are to be believed.
The Nexus Blog reports that "The 32GB version of Nexus Marlin will be priced at $599 while the same storage option for the Sailfish will be priced at $449."
If true, that's an extra $70 over the 5X, and $100 over the 6P.
However, the Pixel phones could turn out to be even more expensive - in fact they could be Google's most expensive phones yet. Android Police managing editor David Ruddock has tweeted that the Pixel XL will cost $649, though it's not clear whether he is talking about a 32- or 128GB version.
This one is more hearsay: price point being thrown around for Pixel XL is $649. Not clear if that's 32GB or 128GB.— David Ruddock (@RDR0b11) September 11, 2016
As we've said, nothing is concrete right now, but we will continue to update this article over the coming year as and when we hear new snippets of Nexus 5 or Nexus 6 2016 information. Also see: Best phones 2016 and Best Android phones 2016.
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.
HTC is building a pair of Android N devices for Google internally dubbed M1 and S1 #nexus— Evan Blass (@evleaks) April 27, 2016
However, Huawei has since allegedly confirmed that it is responsible for at least one of the new Nexus devices for 2016 (which could very well be a new Nexus 7 rather than a new phone). Huawei general manager for consumer business in South Africa said: "We’re doing the Nexus again this year, by the way."
Huawei was already tipped to be making the updated Nexus 6P by Chinese electronics industry analyst Pan Jiutang, via Weibo.com, yet others have claimed HTC is responsible for both.
Since we updated this article Huawei's PR has been in touch with the company's official comment on the subject: “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 13Mp- and 8Mp cameras.
• The Nexus Marlin has now appeared on AnTuTu as well, and has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, Adreno 530 graphics, 8Mp and 13Mp cameras, plus a Quad-HD screen.
• 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 - you can see how this compares to other flagships in our article What's the fastest smartphone 2016?
• 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 screen.
• 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, 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.
Based on the render and leaked information, Tech Configurations has made a 3D video rendering of what the phone might look like.
Android Police has leaked images of what is said to be the Nexus Sailfish, a metal and glass device with a very 'HTC' look abut it. The Marlin is expected to be the same, but larger. (We've cleaned up the edges a little, but have not otherwise tampered with the image.)
As leaked by Android Police, what it thinks is the Pixel XL has appeared in a Nest advert in the Netherlands.
Android Police has leaked new photos that are alleged to be the new Pixel XL.
Then earlier this week VentureBeat revealed the best image yet of the Google Pixel. That image is now joined by a high-quality image of the Google Pixel XL. (Both are shown below.)
We'll be updating this article with new rumours all year, so bookmark us and return another day for the latest new Nexus 5 and new Nexus 6 2016 leaks.
What happened to the new Nexus phones?
Android Nougat was released on 22 August, but Google didn't announce new Nexus phones alongside it. Its official Android blog pointed merely to the now-confirmed LG V20, which will be the first device to ship with Nougat out of the box. So what happened to the new Nexus phones we've been hearing rumours about for months?
There are two possible scenarios here. One, they never existed in the first place, and could in fact be other non-Nexus devices HTC is working on. We've heard rumours about multiple HTC Desires (the HTC Desire Pro and HTC Desire Lifestyle) tipping up at IFA, so could Marlin and Sailfish actually be HTC Desires rather than Nexus phones? (We think not, if only because the leaked renders look so different.) And two, perhaps they just weren't ready yet. Maybe Google is holding them back for a proper launch in the coming weeks.
It now appears that the latter is true, but while we're all waiting for two new Nexus phones Google is actually working on two new Pixel phones: the Pixel X and Pixel XL. According to reports, these new phones are the Sailfish and Marlin we've been reading about, and will launch at a special event on 4 October.
Read next: Best new phones coming in 2016.