Google Pixel 2
MARIE BLACK looks at Google’s upcoming handset
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.
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.
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.
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.
• 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.
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.