Google's Nexus programme gives birth to a pure Android smartphone every year, sometimes two, or perhaps a tablet. The idea behind the Nexus is to showcase Android in its purest form, away from the poking and prodding of manufacturer skins.

It's given rise to some great devices over the past years, but in recent times, has seen some of the most competitive Android handsets offered up. Where manufacturer flagships are often fighting to be king of the spec sheet, Nexus doesn't always go toe-to-toe. There has often been compromises and we've see the exclusion of some features, like microSD card slots.

Importantly, the Nexus is the chance for Google to say "this is what Android is". With 2016 well under way, we're looking forward to the next Nexus, in a year that's rumoured to be bringing some big changes.

It's no secret that Google's Nexus devices arrive in line with the latest version of Android and the likelihood of that changing is slim to nothing.

With that in mind, don't expect a new Nexus anytime before the end of September. The Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P were both announced on 29 September 2015, hitting the shelves in October so expect a similar timeframe for 2016's Nexus device or devices.

We'd expect Android N to make its appearance around this time and the next Nexus will be the showcase device for it.

There are currently two Nexus smartphone models. The Nexus 5X is the cheaper and smaller of the two available, manufactured by LG. The Nexus 6P is the larger and more premium device made by Huawei.

Both showcase the manufacturers' skills bringing with them character from the company who created them. The older Nexus 6 was distinctly Motorola and similar to the Moto X family, while the more recent Nexus 6P is clearly a Huawei device, similar to the P series.

Rumour has it this might not be the case for Nexus devices going forward. Sources talking to The Information claimed that Google is looking to play a much greater role in the hardware design, as well as software, which would make the smartphone manufacturer more of a contractor than a partner. As The Information rightly points out, some larger brands might not be completely au fait with this idea as they already get very little from the Nexus partnership.

There are separate reports that suggest that HTC might be lined up to produce the next Nexus. In fact, MyDrivers claims that HTC has signed a contract with Alphabet, Google's parent company, to manufacture the Nexus devices for the next three years.

This idea is supported by Evan Blass, a serial leakster often with accurate information, who claims HTC will indeed be making Google's next Nexus devices and that they are currently being called M1 and S1 internally. Android Police also backs up the codenames in a separate report, claiming M1 refers to Marlin and S1 is Sailfish. These will of course be renamed when they are announced but it gives us something to work with for now. Whether the Taiwanese company will have design control, or if it is participating in more of an OEM role, we simply don't know. Nor do we know if the reports are even true although one thing we do know is that LG won't be manufacturing the next Nexus, leaving space for another manufacturer to step in.

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Whether Google will update both devices to continue offering two Nexus models is a question that remains unanswered. It has been claimed that it will be offering two, and as we mentioned, HTC is said to be making both.

We currently have no idea what the next Nexus will look like, but if HTC do take on the task, it would be reasonable to suggest its latest flagship may have a big part to play. From that you can expect premium manufacture and design, and probably in metal like the HTC 10. Fans on Reddit have started considering what the HTC 10 might look like as a Nexus handset, producing some fun mock-ups so they are worth checking out if you are placing your bets in HTC's corner.

Some reports have suggested the next Nexus devices will be smaller than the current offering - with 5-inch and 5.5-inch models claimed compared to the 5.2-inch and 5.7-inch devices available now, reportedly they are going by the model numbers T50 and T55. Whether Google's alleged bid for more control results in only Google branding is another suggestion.

Google doesn't have a huge wealth of industrial design experience, although it does offer an interesting device in the Pixel C tablet. If the software giant applies the same principals of Pixel to the next Nexus devices, we could be in for some great handsets.

Aside from the display sizes, there haven't been any suggestions as to what hardware we may see on the next Nexus. We'd expect Google to continue with the precedent it has already set - offering powerful devices at a reasonable price.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 will probably make an appearance in at least one of the devices and we would also expect an identification sensor of some description, as well as USB Type-C and a good performing camera.

In the past, Nexus devices fell down when it came to the camera. This was rectified for the latest devices though so we would expect Google to continue to invest an interest in a good camera performance.

The next Nexus will come with the next version of Android. That's also no a secret. What features will come with Android N, as it is currently being called, are not yet known but multi-window mode has cropped up. It is also being rumoured that Android N will drop the apps tray.

What we do know at the moment is Google's annual developer conference - Google I/O - will run from 18 May to 20 May, during which the company will undoubtedly preview Android N and some of the new features coming to the software.

READ: Android N preview: Everything you need to know about Android 7.0

As usual, some kind of sweet treat will be used for the name. It was suggested that Google might consider an online poll to decide what the official name will be, but whether that will happen or not is yet to be seen. Obviously Android Nutella would be a massive win for humankind, but we suspect it will fall to something like Android Nougat.

At the moment there isn't a great deal to conclude about the next Nexus but that will change over the next few months. The Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P were both heavily leaked previous to their official unveiling so we wouldn't be surprised if the same happened for the 2016 devices.

All we know for sure is that the next Nexus device, or devices, will arrive with Android 7.0 and this is more than likely to happen to in Q4. We will be updating this feature as more leaks and rumours appear so keep checking back.

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Britta O'Boyle

Britta is our Features editor. She studied fashion journalism and will gladly spend stupid amounts of money on shoes and handbags before food. Britta loves technology, you will never see her without her phone in her hand, keeping up with an ever-changing digital world.

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Chris Hall

Chris sits in the Editor’s chair, guiding the good ship Pocket-lint through the tumultuous seas of an ever-changing world of tech. Involved with Pocket-lint from its foundation, he’s best known for his critical eye and throwaway snark.

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