Update: Sources tell Android Central that these images are not of a genuine Nexus device.
The photo above is one of a pair of pictures doing the rounds this morning, claiming to show a future Sony-built Nexus phone. The images appeared on Picasa today, tagged as "Nexus X" and "Xperia Nexus." EXIF information shows the photos were taken on a Galaxy Nexus on Oct. 13 and 14. The front face shows no branding whatsoever, while Google and Sony logos adorn the rear. Along the side can be seen three gold pogo pins and a microUSB port.
Eagle-eyed readers will notice a few anomalies with the image above, and the photo of the front face, which we've included after the break. First up is the odd bulge around the back of the device, and the strangely faded Sony logo. There's also some odd artefacting throughout the photo, particularly around the USB port and the Google logo up top -- hallmarks of possible Photoshopping. Then there's the fact that the front face shows a home screen where the Google Play Store icon is not labeled, and there's no persistent search bar up top. If you ask us, there's definitely something fishy going on here.
And then there's the fact that we're pretty sure the LG Nexus 4 is what's next from Google, and that Googlers are currently testing that model rather than any Sony creation.
In any case, let's suspend disbelief for a few minutes and entertain the idea that this is genuine. If so, we'd guess it's either an abandoned prototype or some future Sony phone in a dummy case. Certainly, the exterior doesn't match any Sony phone we're familiar with, though it does share a few design traits with the Xperia S and Xperia Ion. We know from briefings with Sony and other manufacturers that they often produce numerous prototype designs for future hardware, so it's possible that's what we're dealing with here. We also wouldn't read too much into the fact that it's running vanilla Android, as manufacturers must use this as a starting point when building their own UIs.
In any case, we'd suggest you don't get too excited about what we're seeing here. It's not impossible that we might see a Sony Nexus at some point in the future, but if we do, we're pretty sure it won't look anything like this.
Check past the break for the second, equally suspicious photo in this set.