Google Pixel 2

MARIE BLACK looks at Google’s up­com­ing hand­set

Android Advisor - - Contents -

Google’s new phones for 2017 will be the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2. At least one of the pair will fea­ture an al­ways-on 18:9 dis­play, and the other is likely to have a squeez­able frame. No prizes for guess­ing they’ll likely be made by LG and HTC then. What’s more, the brand-new Snap­dragon 836 pro­ces­sor could make them even faster than ri­vals an­nounced ear­lier in 2017.

The new Google phones will al­most cer­tainly be the first to show­case An­droid Oreo, which was

an­nounced on 21 Au­gust. The phones them­selves are likely to be an­nounced on 5 Oc­to­ber.

Re­lease date

Google Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent of Hard­ware, Rick Oster­loh, has con­firmed that a Pixel 2 will ar­rive in 2017. “There is an an­nual rhythm in the in­dus­try. So, you can count on us to fol­low it,” Oster­loh said. “You can count on a suc­ces­sor this year, even if you don’t hear a date from me now,” Oster­loh told An­droid Pit. Oster­loh also said the Pixel 2 would re­tain its premium price.

Google phones are tra­di­tion­ally un­veiled in lateSeptem­ber/early-Oc­to­ber. The cur­rent Pixel and Pixel XL were an­nounced at a spe­cial event on 5 Oc­to­ber 2016, and went on sale on 20 Oc­to­ber. We’d ex­pect a sim­i­lar time frame for the Google Pixel 2.

In­deed, Evan Blass sug­gests we will see the very same launch date for the Pixel 2: 5 Oc­to­ber 2017.

It’s prob­a­ble that the phones will be an­nounced along­side a new Chrome­book Pixel 3 and a mini ver­sion of Google Home.

Price

Rick Oster­loh has con­firmed that Pixel will re­tain its premium pric­ing in 2017. When it switched its phone line brand­ing from Nexus to Pixel in 2016, Google moved away from high-value de­vices and to­ward more premium phones. The cheap­est Pixel to­day costs £599, while the cheap­est Pixel XL costs £719.

9to5Google sug­gests we should ex­pect at least a $50 in­crease on this due to im­prove­ments it is mak­ing

to the cam­era and adding wa­ter­proof­ing. How­ever, the same source also sug­gests Google is ex­per­i­ment­ing with a cheaper, lower-spec­i­fied Pixel 2B that it hopes to launch at the same time or shortly af­ter the Pixel 2 in emerg­ing mar­kets. If it goes ahead there is no guar­an­tee we will see this cheaper Pixel in the UK.

De­sign

An im­age of the Pixel 2 (said to be made by HTC) pub­lished by Ven­ture Beat (see be­low) sug­gests that the smaller hand­set will not fea­ture the 18:9 dis­play. It also re­veals a sin­gle cam­era at the rear, which doesn’t tally with what other flag­ship phone man­u­fac­tur­ers are do­ing right now. But then this is not likely to be the flag­ship phone – that’s the Pixel XL 2.

An­droid Po­lice’s im­age of the larger Pixel XL 2 on page 78 shows a fuller dis­play. But with this phone

ex­pected to be made by LG it will un­likely fea­ture the squeez­able edges of the Pixel 2 (an HTC U11 fea­ture).

We’re start­ing to see some ren­ders leaked by case mak­ers, such as that on page 75, and Mo­bileFun tells us all are miss­ing the 3.5mm head­phone jack slot. That’s not nec­es­sar­ily the end of the world, though: An­droid Oreo sup­ports a bunch of high-qual­ity au­dio codecs, in­clud­ing aptX, aptX HD and LDAC.

Google may choose to bun­dle some ear­phones in the box, and there is talk of it build­ing a set that al­low ac­cess to the Google As­sis­tant with­out need­ing to in­ter­act di­rectly with the phone. Now that sounds cool.

A video based on 3D ren­ders of the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL2 has been pub­lished by @OnLeaks

and MyS­martPrice.com. It can be viewed at tinyurl. com/ycfzr­mxh.

An­other video at tinyurl.com/yca­jchct is an early cre­ation from Con­cept Creators, with a more re­cent ex­am­ple at the top of this page. It shows ren­ders of what the Pixel 2 may look like, based on spec­u­la­tion and ru­mours.

One in­ter­est­ing thing to note is the in­clu­sion of a red Google Pixel 2.

Ru­moured spec­i­fi­ca­tions

• 5in (1920x1080, 441ppi) Corn­ing Go­rilla Glass 5 • An­droid 8.0 Oreo • Qual­comm Snap­dragon 835 pro­ces­sor • Octa-core (4x 2.45GHz Kryo, 4x 1.9GHz Kryo) CPU • Adreno 540 GPU • 4GB RAM • 32GB stor­age (mi­croSD sup­port up to 256GB) • 12.3Mp, EIS (gyro), phase de­tec­tion and laser

aut­o­fo­cus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash • 8Mp, 1/3.2in sen­sor size, 1.4μm pixel size, 1080p • Wi-Fi dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi • Blue­tooth 5.0 • A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS • NFC • Stereo speak­ers • Non-re­mov­able Lithium-ion bat­tery • USB 2.0 Type-C

A de­vice said to be the Pixel XL 2 has popped up in a GFXBench list­ing, re­port­edly with a 5.6in 2560x1312 dis­play, An­droid 7.1.1, a 2.4GHz octa-core pro­ces­sor,

Adreno 540, 4GB of RAM and 13Mp and 8Mp cam­eras. This fol­lowed a Geek­bench list­ing that seem­ingly con­firmed an octa-core pro­ces­sor, 4GB of RAM and An­droid Oreo. This de­vice scored 1804 points in the sin­gle-core test, and 6248 multi-core. That’s blis­ter­ing per­for­mance, and only slightly down on the re­cently re­leased Gal­axy S8 and Xiaomi Mi6 flag­ship phones.

That Google might go for the Qual­comm Snap­dragon 835 isn’t es­pe­cially sur­pris­ing, and though it was also said to be test­ing mod­els with In­tel chips ear­lier this year Google ap­par­ently ruled out cheaper brand Me­di­aTek. The Snap­dragon 835 also popped in some Google code as­so­ci­ated with the code names ‘Wall­eye’ and ‘Taimen’, mak­ing it ap­pear to be the likely can­di­date.

How­ever, more re­cently it has been sug­gested that the Pixel 2 will be the first to fea­ture the Snap­dragon 836, an im­proved ver­sion of the 835 with en­hanced bat­tery life sav­ings and slightly higher clock speeds.

9to5Google re­ports that the Pixel 2 will also be wa­ter­proof and fea­ture an im­proved cam­era (en­hanced through fea­tures – es­pe­cially with low­light pho­tog­ra­phy – rather than the megapixel count).

Ed­i­tor Stephen Hall tweeted in late-Jan­uary that he re­called be­ing told back in Oc­to­ber that the next Google phone would be wa­ter­proof, and the fact the cur­rent model was not came down to an is­sue of time con­straints, and the need to keep down costs. He says Google was forced to choose be­tween up­grad­ing the cam­era and mak­ing the Pixel wa­ter­proof.

The cur­rent Pixel and Pixel XL are IP58 rated, which means they are dust­proof and pro­tected against spray­ing water, but not sub­mersible or water-re­sis­tant.

Ac­cord­ing to 9to5Google, an in­ter­nal doc­u­ment shown to the site con­firms that Google will fol­low Ap­ple in re­mov­ing the 3.5mm head­phone jack in the Pixel 2. We pre­sume this means it will in­stead get USB-C au­dio, and as we’ve men­tioned there is talk of Google de­vel­op­ing a set of ear­phones with the Google As­sis­tant built-in.

There’s also talk of a Sam­sung Gal­axy S8-es­que curved screen com­ing to the Pixel 2. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port from South Korea’s Elec­tronic Times, Google is in­vest­ing $880m in LG Dis­play Com­pany so it can get hold of flex­i­ble OLED screens.

More ru­mours on the screen front sug­gest the up­com­ing Pixel 2 could also fea­ture an al­ways-on

dis­play, as seen on Sam­sung and LG flag­ships. XDA De­vel­op­ers has un­earthed code in the An­droid O pre­view that sug­gests just this.

Soft­ware

Google’s new de­vices for 2017 will come with An­droid Oreo pre­in­stalled. We’ve al­ready been able to take a good look at what we can ex­pect.

An­droid Oreo fo­cuses on ‘fluid ex­pe­ri­ences’ and vi­tals, with head­line new fea­tures in­clud­ing pic­ture in pic­ture (multi-win­dow­ing mode), no­ti­fi­ca­tion dots (long-press an app short­cut to view the no­ti­fi­ca­tion right there on screen), aut­ofill (like in Chrome but now in apps), and Smart Text Se­lec­tion (au­to­mat­i­cally rec­og­nizes names, ad­dresses and phone num­bers so you don’t have to fid­dle around with se­lec­tion han­dles; it can also sug­gest a rel­e­vant app).

An­droid Oreo is much more stream­lined than Nougat with var­i­ous OS op­ti­miza­tions. The bot­tom line, ac­cord­ing to Google, is that de­vices boot twice as fast and all apps run faster and smoother by de­fault.

On the sub­ject of apps Google is also in­tro­duc­ing Play Pro­tect, which in­stalls every app on a per-de­vice ba­sis in or­der to keep things ul­tra-se­cure.

Oreo also adds ‘wise lim­its’ to back­ground pro­cesses such as lo­ca­tion track­ing to sen­si­bly keep bat­tery us­age at a rea­son­able level.

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