Will HTC produce both Nexus 2016 smartphones? Rumours suggest maybe

Aside from the inevitable iPhone launch in September (which by many accounts is shaping up to be something of a damp squib as yet another incremental update) there are pretty much only two major landmark device launches left on the calendar for 2016 – Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 on August 2, and the much rumoured Nexus revamp.

HTC is now pretty much confirmed as being behind the 2016 Nexus models, having been mentioned in many persistent rumours emerging from increasingly in-the-know and clued-up sources. We’ve seen a recent increase in leaks suggesting things are getting close to launch, although unlike the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, we don’t yet have a concrete date. There will be two HTC Nexus phones launching this year, one codenamed the Sailfish, and the other Marlin, of course they will be named something else when they arrive. There is still also the fact that Huawei execs have previously commented that they’re working on a Nexus device.

Many expected Google to go with its usual device announcement at the Google I/O developer conference, which took place in late May this year with no sight or sound of new Nexus hardware.

HTC has a tough act to follow as well. Last year’s Nexus 6P, which was built by Huawei, was one of the best Android phones of 2015 and EASILY the best Nexus phone ever built. It had power, design and a decent camera. Compared to previous releases, the Nexus 6P was a revelation — it was the handset we all dreamed of Google commissioning.

The other big thing is Android itself. During the past 18 months, Google has been working supremely hard on its platform, adding things, refining things and optimising things. The result — Android N — is a platform without equal. Nothing else compares. Not when it comes to choice, functionality and features. Not iOS. Not Windows 10 Mobile. Nothing. Android is the king of the mobile space now and, finally, with good reason too.

The next Nexus phones, therefore, need to be special. We get that Nexus phones are no longer cheap alternatives to Galaxy S phones and that’s fine so long as they match the Galaxy S handsets of the world with respect to specs and features. I will ALWAYS go with a Nexus handset over one from HTC or Samsung or Sony. Always have done. I prefer clean Android. And since 2015 it doesn’t feel like I’m making a concession by buying Nexus — the Nexus 6P was as good as anything released last year.

According to reports from GizmoChina, the HTC-made Nexus handsets are currently being tested running Android N, and what’s more they have a full implementation of the previously rumoured pressure-sensitive touch display. There have been multiple reports that Google has incorporated support for pressure-sensitive touch directly into Android N’s code; according to comments from Google devs, this was a feature requested by Android OEMs following Apple’s reveal of its own equivalent tech aboard the iPhone 6s series, what Apple calls “3D Touch”. Several Chinese manufacturers, including Xiaomi and Oppo, have confirmed they will develop pressure-sensitive touch display handsets inside 2016.

It is also worth noting that a few Android phone makers have already implemented proprietary pressure-sensitive touch inside their handsets. Huawei, for instance. However, with Google’s 3D Touch — or whatever it is called when it lands — hardwired inside Android the performance and scalability will be much greater, as Google will be able to open it up to its legion of developers.

Nevertheless, anyone that has already committed to a H1 Android flagship will miss out on the new display technology. Samsung Galaxy S7, HTC 10 and LG G5 users are all out of luck. Google’s 2016 Nexus phones will likely be the first phones to feature Android N’s new 3D Touch display technology, but we can expect ALL Android phones to pack it during Q1 2017.

Whether phones launching later on in the year, phones like the Galaxy Note 6 and OnePlus 3, will feature Android N’s 3D Touch is also up for debate and likely depend on how far in advance Google briefs its hardware partners on developments within Android. We’d expect all major phone makers to know what’s coming at least 6-12 months in advance, so perhaps Google’s Nexus phones will be joined by some other Android phones with 3D Touch in late-2016.

What is odd, though, is Huawei not returning in 2016. The Nexus 6P still remains one of our favourite Android handsets currently available and was, easily, the most accomplished release of its kind in 2015. Usually, when Google has a very successful Nexus handset on its hands it keeps the OEM around for a couple of generations. Case in point: Samsung and LG.

But, no. This year’s Nexus handsets will apparently be 100% HTC. Source were picked up via Chinese social network Weibo which say that HTC will make both a 5in and 5.5in Nexus phone inside 2016. It’s a little odd to see such a minor variation in display size with these two members of the Nexus range. On the one hand it also seems odd that Huawei is not making a return considering how well the Nexus 6P was received, and the fact that Google tends to offer OEMs another go if things do go well (LG, Samsung etc.). That actually highlights another reason why it’s strange for HTC to be front and centre on the Nexus project, as the firm made the Nexus 9 tablet that was a bit of a flop. Still, being part of the Nexus project can only be a good thing for HTC has it may help raise its profile just like LG’s push into prominence via the Nexus 4, Nexus 5 and Nexus 5X – HTC certainly needs the help given its poor market performance in the last few years.

Nexus Sailfish Spotted In Live Photos

A batch of live photo images has leaked showing what appears to be the Google Nexus Sailfish handset, the smaller 5in model in-development with HTC. Coming via Android Police, the images show a device which closely matches previously leaked renders and schematics of the Nexus Sailfish. The device has some similarity to the Nexus 5X, but is also distinct in a few ways, most notably the two-tone black and grey colouration. Note that the images have clearly been haphazardly “cut” from a photo via something like Photoshop, presumably to protect the identity of the leakster, but the result makes the phone look much more angular than it actually is; there are definitely some HTC 10 influences in there too.

[Source: Knowyourmobile]