Android Central first reported that Google would drop the Nexus name for different branding, but they couldn’t confirm what the new names were. There was speculation around using the ‘Google’ name or using the Pixel name. Android Police confirmed they’re going to use the Pixel name for both upcoming ‘Nexus’ devices, with the smaller phone carrying the name “Pixel” and the larger phone carrying the name “Pixel XL.”
The reason’s for a new name haven’t been confirmed, but everything from a more sophisticated Android launcher to more marketing for the phone has been thrown around. My thought’s around the name change still revolve around the launcher. If Google’s going to integrate more of their services into the Android launcher, they’re necessarily creating a skin for Android. The Pixel devices could come with Allo and Dou installed as the main chatting apps, and the phone will be Daydream ready before anyone else. In addition to the launcher, Google’s latest phones are going to feel and look more premium than ever before. This would fit along with the other Pixel devices which are higher end premium devices that have traditionally carried a higher price tag. The Nexus devices are thought to be Google’s lower cost, flagship devices. When they announced the Nexus 6 with a higher price tag, many cried out against the pricing for a Nexus phone.
If the new Pixel phones are premium handsets with higher prices, Google could have wanted to keep the Nexus branding for lower cost devices in the future. Either way, Google is working towards a different feel and look for their next phones. They’re so different they’re going to name them appropriately, compared to other devices they have in their line up already.