2016 Nexus: First live photos leak as Nougat release approaches

This year's Google-designed (and likely HTC-built) Nexus phones might not be arriving alongside Android 7.0 Nougat, but it's looking like we won't have to wait too much longer to wait for the new handsets to arrive. Shots surfacing on Android Police today claim to reveal (in heavily cropped form) the smaller of the two phones, known by its codename "Sailfish."

The 5-inch model (as opposed to the larger 5.5-inch "Marlin") sports an angular, chamfered metal design with a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner and a large glass section on the back. As expected, there's virtually no branding around the front, and the unit shown in these pictures — presumably a testing device — lacks any visible branding on the back as well. (Android Police reports that the final hardware will be branded with Google's "G" logo, fuelling recent speculation around the future of the Nexus brand.)


Aside from being an eye-catching design feature, the glass window on the back could serve as a larger target area for NFC — making Android Pay payments easier, among other things.

The images are broadly in line with shots that surfaced on Twitter recently showing a similar glass-backed design amid copious amounts of digital zoom.

That same account also claims there's a plastic Nexus on the way, however AC understands that both models on the cards this year are metal, and that any plastic model doing the rounds is likely some kind of dummy chassis.

Aside from shots of what appears to be a relatively standard smartphone chassis — aside from that big glass window on the back — the most interesting nugget to come from this spate of Nexus rumors has to do with the Nexus monicker itself, and how this year's "Google" phones will differ from previous Nexuses in terms of design and branding.

Will this year's 'Nexus' phones actually be Nexus phones?

The source of this most recent leak has already shown images of a redesigned Settings app, with updated colors and a new "Support" tab. Weeks earlier, a redesigned "Nexus Launcher" believed to be from one of the new Google phones, also leaked out. Add that to reports that Google is redesigning Android's soft keys again, with colorful accents which animate to reveal Now on Tap, and you've got a highly differentiated UI that's a far cry from the "stock" Nougat we currently know.

AC understands that these images are indeed an accurate representation of the UI that'll appear on the upcoming HTC-built, Google-branded handsets. That being the case, perhaps it makes sense that the LG V20, not any new Nexus device, will be the first phone with Android 7.0. Just because Nougat is done, doesn't necessarily mean the extra Google software on these "Nexus" phones is complete.

Android 7.0 Nougat is expected to arrive later this month. Given that the LG V20 will launch as the "first" Nougat phone on Sept 6, we're probably looking at mid-to-late September before any new Google phones hit store shelves.

MORE: What LG having the first new phone with Nougat means for the Nexus program

Alex Dobie
Executive Editor

Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.