You might not have to wait long to see whether or not rumors of Google having more say over phone designs are true. Sources speaking to the Telegraph claim that Google will release a smartphone with tighter controls over "design, manufacturing and software" before the end of the year. The details of the phone aren't available, but this wouldn't be a Nexus from the sound of it -- those are shaped more by third parties that maintain at least some of their influence. The Pixel C tablet might (might) offer an inkling of what to expect.
Google didn't comment on the rumor for the newspaper. With that said, its leadership hasn't been shy about wanting to take the reins. CEO Sundar Pichai recently said that Google would be more "opinionated" about designs. The issue may simply be a matter of how far Mountain View wants to go. Is it willing to risk alienating Android's hardware partners with a phone designed largely in-house, or would this be more about making a bigger mark on the Nexus program? One thing's certain: if the rumor is at all accurate, Google's hardware strategy will never be the same.