The Nexus phones — for now called Sailfish and Marlin — are coming soon, most likely in September. We have already seen their mock ups, pictures, already have a fair idea of the hardware inside them and, courtesy the FCC in US, already know for sure that HTC is making them. But there is another piece of information that is out on the world wide web, an image to be specific, and it’s already diving the Android fans, especially those who are waiting for the phone.
The image in question belongs to the Nexus Sailfish, which is the smaller Nexus this year with a screen size of 5 inches. (The Marlin is the bigger Nexus with 5.5-inch screen). The image, leaked by Android Police, shows that the Nexus Sailfish is going to be a very familiar phone. Yes, it will most likely have a very premium finish, complete with a body made of metal and glass, but it will also sport a design that we have seen again and again in the last two years. It will look like the HTC One A9.
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Now, HTC One A9 is not bad looking phone. In fact it is a fairly smart looking phone and a fairly iPhone looking phone but you can easily say that a Nexus phone that looks similar to the One A9 will be arguably the best looking Nexus launched so far (unless you ask a hardcore android fan). It will definitely be better looking than the Nexus 5 and the Nexus 5X, both of which have plastic bodies.
Yet, the Nexus Sailfish, even before its launch, has already found itself in middle of a controversy. There are a number of Android and Nexus fans who are already hating on it. Inspired by the One A9 is not exactly its problem. The problem is the thick bezel around the screen, which in a way is because of the HTC One A9 design.
Just like the upcoming Sailfish phone, the A9 also has a 5-inch screen. So, it seems that Google and HTC have not only taken some inspiration from the design of A9 for their smaller Nexus phone but have also decided to keep the design process as close to the A9’s as possible. This means even when the Nexus Sailfish sports a fingerprint scanner on the back, its bezel under the screen is similar to what the A9 has. Now, in this case of the A9 this area was supposed to big because it houses a physical home button along with a fingerprint scanner. On the Nexus device there is no home button or fingerprint scanner on the front. It’s just there because, as disgruntled fans say, Google and HTC are lazy.
Ron Amadeo, who writes for Ars Technica, created a quick mock up of the Nexus Sailfish and posted it on his Google+ page, which was then shared on Reddit. The community at the Android sub-Reddit is surely seething with anger over Google and HTC’s decision to not trim the thick bezels. Here is a comment posted on Ron’s page, which perfectly captures the sentiment:
“That’s why they will only sell two of them. It shows how much effort and thought Google puts into their hardware. They have a pixel team, why the f**k don’t they use them??”
Similar thoughts have been repeated at the Android sub-Reddit. For example, one Reddit user said:
“I thought this nexus would be my first Nexus, now I don’t know. This ruined my day.”
Although a few are still hoping for the best. They believe that the phone in the leaked image could be a prototype and the actual one would be better. Another said that in images it may look bad but actually the Sailfish will look better. for example, here are thoughts from another Reddit user:
Pretty lame, but I can’t judge until I see real images. The leaked images of the camera hump on the (Nexus) 6P looked bigger than it was, so maybe the same with the bezel? Can’t really imagine how, but you never know.
A few months ago, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai raised a lot of hopes when it comes to the next Nexus. He said that going forward Google will be “more opinionated” about the design of the Nexus phones. Until now the company has focused on creating Nexus phones with functional design, which may not look great but are good enough and the probably can be manufactured at a lower cost. But that hasn’t been enough, especially at a time when Google is hoping to convert Nexus phones into a sort of sub-brand capable of competing with the iPhone and Galaxy phones.
To really stand apart in the world of smartphone, the company needs better looking Nexus phones. Pichai’s comments hinted that this year’s Nexus phones will be different.
But it looks like the Android fans jumped the gun. It is possible that even as Google overhauls the Nexus strategy, this year we are going to see the continuation of the old even if we may see the G logo on the Sailfish and Marlin. It is possible that by June, when Pichai made the comments, everything about the Sailfish and Marlin was already fixed. So, this year’s Nexus phones are just going to look like slightly modified One A9.
But google does have a fairly decent design team. The Pixel Chromebook, which uses an all aluminum shell, has a fresh design with industrial looks that make it truly unique. Google has also reportedly set up a new division under Rick Osterloh, ex Motorola president, to build better hardware, including Nexus phones.
But considering it all started just a few months ago, the earliest the results from these endeavors are going to appear will be in 2017.