The Google Pixel and Pixel XL were feathers in the tech giant's cap in 2016, so to speak, generating critical acclaim and garnering legions of Android fans. In many ways, the Pixel line of smartphones accomplished what the now-discontinued Nexus line could never do—it firmly planted Google on the exclusive premium flagship handset map, and gave it a silver bullet to use against its top competitors like Apple and Samsung.
With Google now entrenched in the flagship phone market, rumors are slowly coming out of the woodwork regarding the next iteration of the Pixel, the Pixel 2. Here's what we know so far about this upcoming flagship.
You can count on a successor [for the Pixel] this year, even if you don't hear a date from me now.
Starting with its Nexus lines and continuing on to last year's Pixel, Google has always announced and released its branded smartphones around October. Chances are, the Pixel 2 will follow this trend and make its formal debut in October 2017. "There is an annual rhythm in the industry. So, you can count on us to follow it," Osterloh told Android Pit, which only backs up this timeframe.
As rumors for the Pixel 2 are just now trickling in, there are no solid leaks describing how the Pixel 2 will look or what it will be made of. However, it is safe to say is that the device will be made with premium materials befitting a flagship phone, most likely aluminum and Gorilla Glass 5.
There are rumors that suggest, however, that Google is undecided as to whether or not it will follow Apple's lead and omit the 3.5 mm headphone jack in favor of a single USB Type-C port for the Pixel 2. According to 9to5Google, an internal Google document purporting to be about the Pixel 2 suggests that the headphone jack will be excluded in the upcoming flagship.
This rumor has to be taken with a grain of salt, however, as the article notes that the leak comes from a single source, and hasn't been further substantiated.
There's a chance that Google will follow Samsung's lead and incorporate a curved display into its up coming flagships. According to Yonhap News Agency in South Korea, Google has invested a whopping $876 million in LG Display's OLED panels. If a deal is reached, it's safe to assume that LG's flexible OLED displays will be used to furnish the Pixel 2 variants.
Streamlining logistics is key to any company's bottom line, and this gives Google the means of having a steady supply of major components needed to produce their phones from one source, as opposed to having to rely on different manufacturers like Samsung, which can have a negative impact on productivity.
Unlike its Nexus lines, which were designed and produced in collaboration with different companies like Huawei and LG, the Pixel and Pixel XL were the first flagship phones that were designed solely by Google. Rumors suggest that the company might be taking the next step in design, perhaps even making its own processors. According to Bloomberg Technology's interview with Google's VP of engineering Dave Burke:
Now that Google is designing phones itself, the company can at long last put together a product roadmap going out several years. For example, last month Burke was able to see a photo taken by a Google handset that won't debut until next fall. That 'would have never happened with Nexus,' he says. Going forward, more and more of the phones' guts will be developed in-house. Burke says the company will eventually be able to ship its own custom 'silicon,' a buzzword for customized processors that make devices work better.
As enticing as this rumor is, a Pixel sporting an in-house processor might not come to pass this year, mainly due to the sheer amount of resources and time required to develop processors. A more realistic rumor comes to us courtesy of 9to5Google:
Since the phone is still relatively early in development (and the nature of us publishing information from a single source, no matter how reliable), anything we're hearing about the next Pixel could become inaccurate or change by the time it launches — and that's highlighted by details we've received about the chipset that the device will run. Our source says that multiple Pixel 2 models are being tested now with improved chipsets: 'some with Snapdragon 83X chips, others with Intel chips.' We're also told that MediaTek was at one point collaborating with Google on the Pixel 2, but isn't any longer.
Going by this statement, it's likely that the upcoming Pixel 2 line will be powered by a current generation, off-the-shelf chip like Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835.
A Geekbench test of what's purported to be the Pixel 2 has recently surfaced, and clearly shows the suspect Android's vital statistics. The device being tested clearly shows, among other things, an octa-core processor, 4 GB of RAM, and an OS running on Android O which is still in development. With 6 GB of RAM becoming a standard for flagship devices, hopefully the device in question turns out to just be a pre-production sample, as 4 GB seems too low for a premium smartphone that's making its debut later in the year.
The Google Pixel is definitely no slouch in the camera department, setting the bar in DXOMark with the highest ever score of 89. The Pixel 2 has big shoes to fill in this regard when it's released.
Fortunately, research and development is well underway for the Pixel 2's camera, if rumors and leaks are to be trusted. According to 9to5Google:
Google is once again focusing intensely on the camera with Pixel 2, that the device is currently being tested with improved chipsets from two different manufacturers.
The report goes on to say that the camera will be a high priority for the Pixel 2, with Google currently working hard to develop and perfect low light photography. There's no planned upgrade in megapixel rating, but as we've noted before, the megapixel spec race has reached a plateau, and camera quality is now defined by various other specs.
Latest leaks suggest the first possible sightings of what may be the Google Pixel 2 in the wild. According to Android Police courtesy of an unnamed source, the Pixel 2 has been given the code-name Walleye, which can be seen in the Android Open Source gerrit. The source also mentions that the Pixel 2 XL carries the code name of Muskie, though it hasn't showed up yet in the gerrit.
Pricing details for Google's next-generation flagship are currently unknown. However, one tidbit we have on this front is a report from 9to5Google, which suggests that the Pixel 2 will be at least $50 more expensive than the Pixel was at the time of its release. Going by this, we can assume that the Pixel 2 will have a starting price of at least $700 when it comes out.
That's all we have so far regarding the upcoming Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. But with hot flagship phones like these, rumors and leaks are as certain to come up as the sun is every morning. So be sure to check back occasionally, because we'll update this article as more news breaks in the coming months. In the meantime, feel free to comment below and tell us what you think about Google's upcoming flagships.