An Xperia Nexus? Don't bet on it

Two leaked photos suggest an upcoming Pure Google handset from Sony. But a closer look shows we're in for a long wait.

A Sony-manufactured Nexus device?

A pair of photos circulating the Internet today may be the first images of a rumored Sony Xperia Nexus, but it's more likely an elaborate hoax.

Appearing on Picasa this morning, the photos are tagged as "sony nexus" and "xperia nexus" and have EXIF details that show they were taken on a Galaxy Nexus over the weekend.

The front side of the handset is void of branding, but the backside shows both the Sony and Google logo, suggesting a "Pure Google" experience a la the Nexus program. Although the handset doesn't match up with any other Sony devices, it does bear some resemblance to the Xperia Ion. As you can see from the front-facing shot, the handset appears to be running a stock version of Android, most likely 4.1 Jelly Bean.

While it's easy to get whipped into a frenzy over a potential Xperia Nexus, we should consider a few things about the photos. I've seen a few sources already calling fake over the images, pointing to the faded Sony logo and artifacts on and near the USB port and gold pins.

The rumored Xperia Nexus? Picasa

What's more, there is no Google search bar or labeling for the Google Play icon. Typically, a stock Android experience features a search bar that persists on each home screen. This could be simply explained, however, as a case of an early prototype with a stock Android build for hardware testing.

Rumors of multiple Nexus partners have circulated for the better part of 2012 with Sony's name thrown in the mix a few times along the way. Considering how much has leaked for the LG Nexus 4 as of late, it would appear that this model might be a bit further off.