The Google Pixel was Google’s attempt to create a premium Google phone, one that could stand-up against the best in the market, ask top prices and deliver pure Android with a couple of exclusive twists. That’s very much been a success, with the Pixel and Pixel XL proving hugely popular with the Android set, even if the price was seen as a little high compared to some rivals.
With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and the Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone X announced, the Google Pixel 2 becomes the most anticipated device left in 2017. (We love you too Huawei Mate 10, don’t worry.)
Rumours have suggested that the new Pixel codenames might be Walleye and Taimen, with two new potential Pixel handsets for 2017.
Here’s the lowdown on the new Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.
Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL: Release date
- 4 October 2017 launch event confirmed
Google is making a lot of noise about 4 October. The company has released a teaser for the event, suggesting that you “ask more”, which is the sort of messaging we’ve seen before. This video was released on 14 September and the date is no coincidence, raising the prospect of a new Pixel the day before the iPhone 8 pre-orders opened.
Google has invited the press to a launch event on 4 October and we’re expecting to see both new Pixel devices announces, a new Google Home Mini device, a new version of Daydream and the Pixelbook. All the details on how to watch that event can be found below.
Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL: Design
- Walleye = Pixel 2; Taimen = Pixel 2 XL
- HTC and LG manufacturing respectively
- Waterproofing likely to be included
It was first confirmed by Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of hardware at Google, that the new Pixel would again be a premium offering in 2017. Prior to the launch of the first Pixel, it was rumoured that HTC had signed up to manufacture multiple devices across 3 years and we’ve also seen a report that claims codenames were lurking in the HTC U11’s files which points to HTC’s involvement.
According to the latest thinking, the smaller Google Pixel 2 (Walleye) will be made by HTC and the Google Pixel 2 XL (Taimen) will be made by LG.
Here’s how the two devices break down respectively.
Google Pixel 2 design
While the Pixel XL 2 saw more early leaks there’s no shortage of information about the smaller Pixel 2. Thought to be built by HTC, one of the first leaks came from a VentureBeat report from Evan Blass, who also shared the image on Twitter.
You’ll note that it has a regular 16:9 display, leaving a conventional forehead and chin, much like HTC’s 2017 HTC U11 device. A blurred image was also leaked by 9to5Google presenting what it claims to be the Pixel 2, which seemingly matches the leak from Blass though hard to make out full details – except those twin from speaker grilles and the arrangement of the camera and sensors on the rear.
Both these leaks have been corroborated with the huge leak from Droid-Life (as seen above at the top of this section) showing the rear of three colours for the Google Pixel 2: Kinda Blue, Just Black, and Clearly White. It matches the details shown in these other leaks, suggesting this is very much what the Pixel 2 will look like.
The Pixel is also believed to offer a squeezable frame to launch Google Assistant; we weren’t sold on that function on the HTC U11, but it sounds like Google is keen on it – and a recent FCC filing gives a hint a edge controls in screenshots, suggesting it might be happening. This has also been unearthed in Oreo code.
The fundamental failing of the 2016 Pixel is the lack of waterproofing: with many competitors offering protection, for the price that Google is asking the Pixel 2 needs to step up with a solid IP rating. Waterproofing was apparently something that was attempted for the Pixel, but eventually dropped, but there’s an unconfirmed rumour that’s been mentioned to 9to5Google, shared via Twitter, as well as in a more recent report from the same site.
Pixel 2 XL design
Early reports from sources talking to XDA suggested that the Taimen, the larger device, will keep the two-tone glass and metal design of the 2016 Pixel, which seems to hold true: all Pixel 2 XL leaks have shown this. There was early talk of LG being involved, something that Android Police’s sources are confident of too.
A render pulled together by Android Police shows the Pixel 2 XL might look like. It very much looks like an evolution of the 2016 Pixel, but shrinking that glass panel on the rear so the fingerprint scanner sits in the metal back.
The big change here is a shift in aspect to 18:9 on that display, which we’ll talk about below, but resulting in shrinking the bezels top and bottom of the display. We’ve seen this design also flaunted by MySmartPrice, teaming up with @onleaks to provide a render based on dimensions passed to case manufacturers, and this very much follows the lead of LG with the G6 and the V30
A huge leak from Droid-Life shows the rear of the device which it calls the “Pixel 2 XL”, with confirmation of two colours: Black and White and Just Black. The comedy name of “just black” should come as no surprise: Google mocked the rest of the industry with its colour names when it launched the 2016 Pixel.
Strangely, XDA states that the Pixel 2 XL will also have a squeezable frame. And while that seems somewhat at odds with the fact this sized model will be made by LG, suggested uses include squeezing the phone as a shortcut to Google Assistant, as we’ve already seen for the Pixel 2.
Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL: Specs and hardware
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
- 64 or 128GB storage
When it comes to power, the 2016 Pixel devices opted for a new chip – Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 – a step-up over most of 2016’s flagship phones. Qualcomm doesn’t stand still though with the Snapdragon 835 having rolled out to numerous other flagships in 2017, with excellent performance.
We’d expect the Snapdragon 835 to feature in the Pixel 2, supported by at least 4GB of RAM. The use of Snapdragon 835 is again reported by XDA from a source, so at the moment it seems the most likely.
With some companies pushing to 6GB of RAM, that could also be a suggestion, although we’re yet to see any real demand for that sort of increase. We’d expect storage options to start at 32GB as they currently do and as Google has avoided microSD card support, we don’t think there will be any luck there. A 9to5Google leak suggests the Pixel 2 will be available in 64GB and 128GB storage options, something we’ve also seen from Droid-Life.
We’d expect USB Type-C as the standard moving forward, as well as a fingerprint scanner on the rear.
There’s no telling what the battery capacity might be, but with 3500mAh offering the performance many want, we’d expect that sort of battery size to be crammed into the frame.
Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL: Display
With two current Pixel models on offer giving you the choice of 5.0 or 5.5-inches, we’re not really looking for a huge change in terms of size or resolution.
However, there are rumours of changing the display aspect, however, very much in the style of LG and Samsung’s 2017 flagships.
Pixel 2 (Walleye)
- Pixel 2: 4.97-inch 16:9 display, 1920 x 1080 pixels, 440ppi
The smaller phone is reported to have a 4.97-inch display. This is likely to come out as a 5-inch display meaning no great shift from the 2016 Pixel. In this case, an XDA report mentions that it’s “Full HD”, or 1920 x 1080 pixels, suggesting that this handset would be a regular 16:9 aspect and this is reflected in the leak from VentureBeat.
A leak from 9to5Google also supports the idea of a 4.97-inch display with a Full HD display and a 16:9 aspect ratio. If accurate, the Pixel 2’s pixel density should sit around 440ppi, just as it did in 2016.
Pixel 2 XL (Taimen)
- Pixel 2 XL: 5.99-inch 18:9 AMOLED display, 2880 x 1440 pixels, 538ppi
A report from XDA suggests that the new Pixel XL 2 will have a 5.99-inch display, but only mentions a 1440p resolution, suggesting a shift in aspect: the Galaxy S8+ is 6.2-inch in 18.5:9, but has 2960 x 1440 pixels; as this phone is reported to be from LG, we’d suggest that it will take an 18:9 aspect, giving you a 2880 x 1440 pixel resolution display, as found on the LG V30.
The report from Android Police suggests a shift to an 18:9 AMOLED display for the Pixel 2 XL and gives a 6-inch size. This is reflected in shrinking bezels for the display in the images above, but also ties in with the 5.99-inches suggested by XDA previously, so is starting to sound legitimate.
XDA also reports that the display on the XL 2 will have an “always on” option, so can be set to show notifications or useful information even when the phone is switched off.
Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL: Audio and speakers
- 3.5mm headphone socket could go
- Dual front speakers on the Pixel 2
A piece of information has suggested that the Pixel 2 might feature dual front firing speakers and lose the 3.5mm headphone socket. As HTC is suggested as the build partner for the phone, this sounds very much like HTC of old. This is also something we see in the Evan Blass leak, so sounds legit.
The loss of the 3.5mm headphone socket might set alarm bells ringing for some though as that suggests we’re looking at USB Type-C audio for the Pixel 2.
This has been supported by the 9to5Google leak, which also claims there will be no 3.5mm headphone jack but that Google will offer an adapter in the box, as Apple does with its iPhone.
Google Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2: Cameras
- Single cameras
Perhaps the biggest movement in cameras at the moment is dual-lens cameras with Samsung and even Apple embracing this trend.
It has been claimed the Pixel 2 will have a much improved camera, though it apparently won’t be all about megapixels and more about extra features instead. According to Android Police’s founder, one of these features will be Portrait mode, which is said to use software-induced bokeh blur, rather than a hardware one. The Pixel is coming from a strong place for photography, unlike the previous Nexus handsets, so we hope that continues.
The first renders we’ve seen displays a conventional single rear camera, so it may be that the Pixel is one of the few flagship devices to stick with one camera. Hopefully it will continue the stellar performance.
Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL: Software
- Android Oreo
The Pixel launched with Android 7 Nougat and a selection of exclusive features, like Google Assistant, Pixel Launcher and the Pixel camera. That unique software position is being chipped away as features appear elsewhere, but we’d expect the Pixel 2 launch on Android Oreo with a few new extras.
At the moment there’s no telling what those features might include but we’ve heard that there will be always-on display on the Pixel 2 XL (probably thanks to its AMOLED display), as well as the squeeze function to trigger Google Assistant adding to the range of gestures supported.
Google Pixel and Pixel XL 2: Price
- Pixel 2: From $649
- Pixel 2 XL: From $849
It looks like the prices for the Pixel 2 are going to be rather steep. The leak from Droid-Life has suggested that the Pixel 2 will cost $649 for the 64GB version, while the 128GB version will cost $749.
For the Pixel 2 XL the prices are said to start at $849 and jumping up to $949 if you choose the 128GB version. Ouch.
There’s no word on UK pricing, but expect expensive.