Google is prepping to launch the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 in October, specifically October 5. At least that’s according to Twitter tipster @evleaks, aka Evan Blass, who has proven a reliable source on pretty much everything in the past, so we think this is 100% legit.
October 5 2017 is only a day later than the first-gen series was announced in 2016, on October 4.
In addtion, Blass says both Pixel 2 handets will be equipped with a new Snapdragon 836 processor from Qualcomm; this is the first mention we’ve heard of a Snapdragon 836, as most current-gen flagships are running the Snapdragon 835.
However, it’s not at all implausible considering the way in which Qualcomm’s chip portfolio usually develops; the Snapdragon 836 will likely be a tweaked version of the Snapdragon 835, mostly the same tech, but with a slightly faster clock speed and just generally streamlined to be a bit quicker. The company has done this for many generations, for example, inside 2016 there was the Snapdragon 820 followed by the Snapdragon 821.
HOWEVER – seeing as this chip still doesn’t exist the most likely outcome is that the Google Pixel 2 will run Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835.
“Both XDA Developers and Android Police are today reporting that the Snapdragon 836 that was supposed to power the Pixel 2 doesn’t actually exist,” notes 9to5Mac. “What does this mean for the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2? The answer is simple. Seeing that Qualcomm doesn’t have any newer hardware available right now, these two phones will most likely be powered by the Snapdragon 835.”
The only other option is that Google waits until Q1 2018 for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and then releases its Pixel 2 phones. Personally, I do not see this happening; though there could be an updated – OnePlus 3T – style update inside Q1 potentially.
Either way, you won’t be missing out on too much performance, as the current Snapdragon 835 CPU is MASSIVELY powerful.
Google Pixel 2 – First With Android Oreo
Android Oreo is now official and Google’s Pixel 2 phones will be the first handsets that run the brand new update out the box. This year’s Android update is quite a big one too, adding in loads of new features and optimisations, though the most interesting is likely how updates are handled.
Updates in Android Oreo will be done OTA and, thanks to a disk partition, will be seamless and take place in the background. The only reboot that is required is to switch the phone from one partition to another. If something goes wrong, the device is still perfectly functional as it has the older software stored on the other partition.
“The A/B system is robust because any errors (such as I/O errors) affect only the unused partition set and can be retried. Such errors also become less likely because the I/O load is deliberately low to avoid degrading the user experience,” said Google.
It added: “OTA updates can occur while the system is running, without interrupting the user. This includes the app optimizations that occur after a reboot. Additionally, the cache partition is no longer used to store OTA update packages; there is no need for sizing the cache partition.:
Below is a breakdown of Android Oreo’s key new features:
- Improved Notifications
- Better Battery Management
- Picture-In-Picture Mode
- Adaptive Icons
- Improved Sound Quality
- Password Autofill
- Multi-Display Support
- Improved Keyboard Input
Another earlier report shows that the Pixel 2 has passed through the US FCC carrying the model number G011A. The certification features a few screenshots which confirm that HTC is the manufacturer for the smaller of the two Pixels – it will reportedly feature a squeezable edge like the HTC U11 though here it will be called Active Edge.
The images also reveal Android 8.0.1 is onboard with the August security patch, and the phone features 64GB of onboard storage.
The original Pixel phones were somewhat divisive at the time of launch, though this was understandable given that in order for the Pixel to live, the much-loved Nexus brand had to die.
Personally, much as I knew I would miss my beloved Nexus series, I liked the new Pixel series straight away, and I even went as far as saying the Google Pixel XL was the best Android phone released in 2016.
That was my opinion, of course, after living with the Pixel XL for a month and while many might not agree with me, a lot of people will because Google’s Pixel lineup of phones weren’t just great looking handsets, they were also solid performers.
The camera was brilliant, the battery life superb. I loved the software, pure Android, and I do actually regularly use Assistant for a variety of tasks on a day to day basis.
Google even sold a respectable number of Pixel phones too.
The downside to the Pixel phone was that it was very expensive; like, way more expensive than Google’s Nexus phones, though, on the surface, not all that different. I think Google could have done more with the way the handset looked and that would have made the price more bearable for some.
The big G has now confirmed that there WILL be a series of successor model Pixel handsets in 2017, as expected.
In 2017, there were reports of a trio of Pixel phones. But the latest rumours suggest this may not actually happen. Google’s plans have changed, apparently, three devices were planned – the Muskie, WallEye, and Taimen as the Pixel XL, Pixel, and an allegedly even larger phablet, respectively. But now reports indicate the original Pixel XL successor, the Muskie, has been axed. There will still be a Pixel XL though, as that moniker is being transferred to the larger Taimen.
And this is what they might look like:
We’ve seen enough recent leaks of the Pixel 2 series to know that the successor models do not look very different to their predecessors. There’s been a slight re-jig of how much of the phone has the glossy glass panel on the back; it has shrunk slightly, but apart from that it’s more or less business as usual.
There will be no amazing bronze-coloured metal or any of that jazz we’ve seen in optimistic concept renders.
PhoneArena managed to source some renders which it says are based on CAD schematics and leaked live photos, indicating that these renders were made by a third party based on the most accurate information available from the leak-o-sphere. The artist appears to have rendered the device in the typical colours we’ve seen the existing Pixel and Nexus ranges wearing before; silver, black, and blue, but they’ve also added in two possible red variants, one with a white front and one with a black front. We have seen Nexus phones in red before, but not the Pixel series so far.
The black model is definitely going to happen, as leaked photos have showed a black coloured version. Silver seems very likely, or perhaps white, and Google did launch the Pixel in blue last year so that seems a fair guess too.
“Although we don’t know every single minute detail about the Pixel 2, such as where exactly the antenna lines will thread for example, or whether the power button will have the knurled finish of last year’s model, these Pixel 2 renders should provide a nice preliminary look at the upcoming device,” says the report.
The renders adopt some design features which have repeatedly leaked recently; these include the absence of a 3.5mm headphone jack and the appearance of some fairly large bezels at the top and bottom of the phone. In the first render we can also see the Type-C USB port in the base, and the sides of the phone too.
Abundantly Red is of course a guess, a riff based on Google’s established colour naming convention; Quite Black, Very Silver, and Really Blue are all repeats of the first-gen Pixel colour names. The source admits that a red and black model seems unlikely and there’s no concrete evidence for a red model at all at this stage.
The Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 are expected to come with Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processors onboard with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (higher storage tiers are rumoured, but not confirmed). It’ll have IP68 waterproofing certification, a Full HD display panel and a high-end single-sensor camera.
We’ve seen a handful of renders based on schematics and descriptions from people who’ve allegedly seen the phone, and now the latest is a video showcase from Concept Creator. The video was created from the Pixel XL 2 renders posted by Android Police only a week ago, which the publication claimed were representative of the real deal device.
As you can see, the Pixel 2 shares more than a passing resemblance to its predecessor: it has the two tone colouring on the chassis and a similar aesthetic overall.
The display, however, is an edge-to-edge setup with zero bezel, which is basically par for the course in 2017. It will be an 18:9 aspect ratio display just like Samsung’s Galaxy S8 Infinity Display and similar designs found on the LG G6.
LG will build the Pixel XL, while HTC will build the Pixel; expect a mixture of first-gen Pixel, LG G6 and HTC U11.
There has been plenty of back and forth about the overall design of the handset, and I think a lot of that is down to Google managing expectation, because when it does release something different looking people will stand up and take notice.
Rumours suggest the new Pixel phones WILL feature edge-to-edge OLED displays and this idea stacks up for the one simple reason that this is where the market is going – people will expect edgeless displays because Apple and Samsung are doing it.
Google would be very unwise not to take this into account. And Google being Google will almost certainly have done its research and realised that many found the original Pixel phones rather dull.
For this reason, it’d be insane for it to simply rehash a design that wasn’t even popular in the first place. And in Q4 2017, there are A LOT of hot handsets from Apple, Essential, Samsung, and Huawei in circulation.
Basically, there is no excuse for boring design in today’s market – and I believe Google knows this.
Google is working on bringing always-on functionality to the Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL. This isn’t a new, outlandish feature by any stretch of the imagination but it is a nice addition and one I’m glad to see, as it means you don’t always have to unlock your phone to see what’s going on.
“The phone will also let users select different display profiles from the Settings app,” reports BGR, “including a normal screen mode as well as a ‘Vivid Colors’ option. The phone’s default theme will be dark, the report says, and users will get to experience a Pixel Phone Tour tutorial when setting up the handset.”
On top of this, the handsets will apparently also feature a “squeezable frame” that will allow users to activate Google Assistant or answer a call simply by squeezing the handset’s frame. You can do this on the HTC U11, but do not expect Apple’s iPhone or Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 to feature anything similar.
The word of three models originally came via Android Review, which reports that Android Open Source Project code was spotted which strongly implies this to be the case. Allegedly ‘code commits’ were picked up which not only show the Snapdragon 835 is involved, but also shows a new third codename.
Previously spotted codenames “Muskie” and “Walleye” have shown up again, but the third new codename to appear is “Taimen”. Apparently all three would run the Snapdragon 835.
Taimen was then spotted in Geekbench running Android O and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with a clock-speed of 1.9GHz and 4GB of RAM. Still no indication of what type of device it is though, or indeed, any other specs which might help make a clearer picture of things.
However, more recent details now suggest the large Pixel XL successor may have been axed. Android Police reports that contrary to earlier rumours, which were accurate at the time, Google has now decided to launch only two Pixel smartphones in 2017.
Allegedly the regular size Pixel successor is still coming, but the Pixel XL successor will be usurped by the “Taimen” which it’s believed may be an even larger phablet. The report cites multiple corroborating sources on this, but what remains unclear is whether the Taimen will take on the Pixel XL2 branding depsite being bigger than the original Pixel XL and the now axed successor model.
On top of this, reports now also indicate the larger Pixel XL2 is being developed by LG. This isn’t the first time LG has been name-dropped in terms of Pixel development. Previously, as with historic rumours regarding the Nexus series, LG has denied it is involved, but on this subject you can’t always take LG’s word for it. In the past it has said it wasn’t collaborating with Google on a project and this turned out to be the firm just playing coy.
Anyway, corroborating reports from Android Police’s David Ruddock, posting on Twitter, and from 9To5Google, suggest that LG is manufacturing the “Taimen”, that is the biggest Pixel model in development which has taken over as the Pixel XL 2 from the “Muskie”, which was a direct Pixel XL successor presumably being developed by HTC alongside the “Walleye”, aka the Pixel 2.
“I can independently confirm that my sources indicate LG is the manufacturer of taimen,” Tweeted Ruddock, in response to 9To5Mac’s article. This article pointed towards a bug report on the official Android Issue Tracker, which listed a problem with USB Power Delivery; that bug report was filed by an LG employee, but a response from a Google rep requested that the report be closed and re-filed under “Android > Partner > External > LGE > Taimen > Power.”
The Google Pixel 2 series phones will apparently feature a Galaxy S8-style OLED display, waterproofing and boosted internal specs. All told, the handset should look dramatically different and pack quite a punch when it comes to processing performance.
The one controversial thing about the upcoming Pixel 2 series, however, is that Google might remove the headphone jack just as Apple did on its iPhone 7. Speaking personally, I REALLY hope they do not go this route. I don’t mind using wireless headphones, I own a pair of Bose QC35s, but I REALLY like having the option to plug in just in case my battery dies.
Pixel 3 (2018) Already In Development With LG?
On a slightly different note, rumours have already emerged of a possible Pixel 3 handset in-development by LG. The word comes via Korean publication Chosun which claims LG is “expected” to be involved with 2018’s run of Pixel branded hardware. PhoneArena reports having spoken to LG on the subject, with the firm branding it “pure speculation”.
Our thought is that this really could go either way. On the one hand, with the Pixel 2 series not even out the gate yet – and frankly not expected until the latter half of the year, given 2016’s Pixel launch date – it’s difficult to imagine the Pixel 3 plans are very concrete at this stage. But, on the other, as we know from the last few cycles of rumours for Apple, Samsung, and indeed several other OEMs, planning does seem to start very far in advance of new releases, like, before a successor is even out, its subsequent successor is already on the drawing board. That would certainly fit here.
And LG does make quite a compelling candidate, having worked on the Google Nexus 5 and Google Nexus 5X in the past; two of Google’s more popular Nexus phones. It doesn’t get any less believable for the firm’s denials either, given that it has made similar denials about alleged involvement in Nexus products in the past, only to turn out to be very much involved indeed! So yes, it’s standard MO for LG to play coy when it’s suggested the firm is in cahoots with Google on a new product. We pretty much expect them to go “who? moi?” at this stage.
Google Pixel 2: Definitely Room For Improvement
The Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL were solid phones and all-round performers. But they weren’t perfect and there are definitely a bunch of areas where Google can improve things.
The original Google Pixel was extremely polarising; some people loved it, others despised it. As a current Pixel XL user, I fall into the former category, however, there are plenty of things I would change about the handset. Like, LOADS of things.
The original Pixel phones, for a first attempt, were extremely solid phones, though, with excellent specs and overall performance. The camera aboard them was also exceptional as well, which was a huge USP for many.
I am confident Google’s 2017 Pixel phones will be suitably more impressive, though, as The Big G now has plenty of feedback to work on. Adding in things like wireless charging, water proofing and making the design a little more eye-catching will all almost certainly feature in the mix.
The first is design; Google can do a lot in this area, so expect some big(ish) changes to the way Pixel phones look and feel in 2017. The original phones were very conventional and, in some ways, rather dull.
I’d expect this to be the first thing Google tackles when planning the sequel.
Samsung has pretty much lit the mobile space on fire with its eye-catching Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus. Both handsets are exceptionally well designed phones that will almost certainly prove to be the biggest selling and most popular Android phones of 2017.
I also think the release of Samsung’s Galaxy S8 will also take some of the sheen off Apple’s incoming iPhone 8. It too will feature an all-display front and no Home button. Only problem here is that Samsung has beat Apple to market with this by around six months.
Will Apple fans care? Maybe not. But if I was rocking an iPhone 6s now and thinking about upgrading, I would definitely be looking at the Galaxy S8 rather than waiting six months to find out whether Apple has actually changed the design of its flagship phone.
I think Google could do A LOT with the design of its Pixel phone. I’d like to see the an all-display front and, perhaps, some curved OLED action. I know it’s copying Samsung but who cares? If it looks good, it looks good.
The current Pixel phones do not have a home key on the front, so making the handsets more display heavy (basically, reducing the bezels dramatically) shouldn’t be too much of a big deal. This small tweak would make a huge difference to the phone’s aesthetics, as there is a lot of wasted space above and below the display on the current models.
Curved OLED displays? They’re all the rage these days and, according to 9to5Google, they could be coming to the next-generation Google Pixel phones.
Citing Electronic Times, the report claims that Google is investing around $880 million in LG’s display division. This is a shrewd move on Google’s part because not only will it ensure it has its pick of OLED panels when the time comes to update its Pixel phones, but it will also likely make a rather large ROI with Apple switching to OLED panels from 2017 onwards.
Samsung currently dominates the OLED display space, but LG – with a little help from Google – is clearly eyeing up some potential new business via Apple who’s iPhone will push demand for OLED panels WAY above current levels.
Samsung provided the current-generation Pixel phone’s AMOLED displays. However, Google is looking at taking things a step further in 2017 with the release of its Google Pixel 2.
The next thing that springs to mind is water-resistance; neither Pixel handset featured this and, to be honest, in 2016/17 that isn’t really acceptable. Even Apple’s iPhones are now water-proof.
I’d like to see Google include microSD support as well, there’s so many great SD card options around these days, though this doesn’t seem particularly likely given the company’s track record.
Wireless charging would also be nice, as well as some improvements to the handset’s audio capabilities – the speakers were crap on the Pixel and Pixel XL and I’d love something like a HD DAC included inside the sequel, just like HTC did on the HTC 10.
No Headphone Jack Aboard Google Pixel 2? Say It Ain’t So!
According to a report from 9to5Google, which is usually pretty well connected regarding such matters, the Pixel 2 series could follow the iPhone and other handsets in ditching the 3.5mm headphone jack. It’s allegedly stated in an “internal Google document” that the traditional headphone port is being dropped.
Assuming this is accurate, it’s also not being presented as something that is merely under consideration, but rather a solid plan already in place. The report says, “the language used presents the removal of the jack as a matter of fact.”
It’s also not clear what the motivation for the removal is, in theory it could be to do with waterproofing, which the existing Pixel phones famously skipped due to time constraints, however, other devices have been waterproofed with nanocoatings and have kept their headphone jacks.
Another possibility is in order to make a device that is ultra-thin, thinner than a 3.5mm jack would allow, or alternatively some new and innovatively shaped form factor – perhaps even a folding OLED phone?
What would you like to see from Google with the Pixel 2? Let me know in the comments below.