The moment you've all been waiting for, right? As you can see in the above image, Google's Nexus phones are taking on a decidedly cleaner design language for 2016, according to information we've received from a reliable source. The image you're seeing is not an actual press render, but our own recreation of the upcoming Nexus phones based on evidence from our source. So, let's do the rumor breakdown.

Confidence level

We give this rumor a confidence level of 8 out of 10. While we are very confident in the reliability of our source in this case, we are uncertain of the age and finality of particular details we received from that source. As such, the final design of the Nexus phones may differ slightly or perhaps even substantially from what you see here in certain respects. In addition, given that our image is a recreation, some details may be slightly inaccurate or estimated for the sake of convenience and publication. In particular:

  • At this point, we are uncertain if the software home button will be solid white or solid white with the previously-leaked 4-color "flower" design. In this case, we opted for faithfulness to the source's information which indicated solid white, though we know that information to be older than that given to us in regard to the "flower" home button.
  • The "G" logo on the back of the device may or may not be part of the final design.
  • It remains unclear to us if the final design will include an HTC logo, but we are inclined to believe the answer is no.
  • We lack exact dimensions and measurements for the phones, and so some edges and curves may appear visibly different in the final retail press renders.

In addition, we do not at this point have a reliable secondary source for information about the phone's design. But as I've said, we trust our source for this information very highly, it's just a matter in the confidence of the age and level of completeness of the evidence. But as a general idea of the "look" of the phones? We feel extremely confident in that much: Marlin and Sailfish will look basically like what we're showing you here.

The evidence

I mean, boom: here it is. You're staring at it. Obviously, we can't share our primary source, but this is what we've been able to create using that information.


What can we learn from the image? Well, there's no camera hump, for one, which: excellent. The secondary glossy plastic (we think - it could be glass, though) pane on the back of the phones gives them an interesting two-tone look, and this black version looks downright stealthy. The rear of the phones has a gentle curve around the edges, with the fingerprint scanner sitting in the typical Nexus position. As far as we know, these phones are aluminum body, not polycarbonate. We're confident in this because we believe the "flagship" advertised color will be a standard aluminum finish with a white face, but we figured we'd share this dark gray / black version. We also believe Google is considering what I'd call an "electric blue" version of the Nexuses (white face, but blue glossy rear pane) that looks absolutely crazy, but we aren't sure if that'll actually come to market or not.

The design of the phones bears basically no resemblance to the HTC 10 (unless you believe HTC invented antenna lines), and also relatively little resemblance to the current Nexus phones, either. With that lone "G" logo and no Nexus branding - something we aren't confident at this point will remain in the final design - these phones look unlike any Nexus we've seen before. I see a little 6P, I guess, in some respects, but this design really appears to be its own thing. When Sundar Pichai said Google was going to be more opinionated with the design of Nexus devices, he wasn't kidding.

On the front we see the single earpiece speaker, front-facing camera, a small sensor cluster, and that's about it. On the back, you've got some antenna bands on the bottom (horizontal) and top (vertical, off-center), with that big glossy pane likely serving as a window for NFC and other radios. The three holes next to the camera are a bit of a mystery at this point, but our guess is that two of them relate to the camera (auto-focus and perhaps a secondary sensor of some kind) and one is likely a secondary microphone.

As to your inevitable question - "which Nexus is this?" - we like to say it's both. While Sailfish and Marlin will look slightly different just owing to proportions, we believe this image accurately represents the overall design and aesthetic of both handsets. You could, realistically, just clone that image and put a slightly smaller version of it next to it on the same canvas, and you'd basically have Sailfish and Marlin. But that felt a little redundant to us, so we just chose to publish it as a single device.

Remember to check out our specs posts for Marlin and Sailfish here and here.

Final thoughts

Key pieces of information remain unknown to us about Google's new Nexus phones. How much they'll cost, when they're coming out, or even what they'll be called. But when you can lay eyes on a device - even if just a rendered facsimile of it - it's hard not to feel like you don't immediately know a lot more about it.

We'll let you know if we come across any more juicy Nexus info in the days and weeks to come. But for now? I'm guessing this will give you plenty to talk about.