With Apple’s awful iPhone announcement behind us, we can turn our attention to more interesting devices. Including the handsets that I’m most eagerly awaiting, the new generation Google Pixels.
And today, we finally have some concrete news about the timing of these devices. Google will formally announce its new Pixel family on October 4, exactly one year after it unveiled the first generation Pixel and Pixel XL.
We know this because Google has erected an empty new website for the devices, and is teasing the launch on YouTube.
The teaser video provides a few vague clues about what we can expect from the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 (as I’ll call them until we have the official names):
- Better battery life
- More storage or at least better storage management
- Superior camera
- Improved Google Assistant
- Monthly updates
- Excellent performance
- Runs cool, not hot
- Solid build quality
And we also learned today—in my case from Android Police—that the Pixel XL 2 has achieved FCC certification ahead of launch. The FCC filing comfirms that LG is building the device for Google as rumored. But nothing else.
I am cautiously optimistic about the new Pixels.
As you may know, I’m switching to Android this week, and will be using my current Pixel XL for the short term. I have a rough history with this device, which I find to be derivative, design-wise of the iPhone, with bland styling. And the performance falls apart over time; I know people take exception to my ongoing comments about this. Tough. It keeps happening. And it just happened again. So I’ll be blowing it away and doing a clean install (again) within the week.
(Full disclosure. Yes, I did test each Android 8.0 Oreo pre-release build in succession this year, and I agree that this may have impacted the performance of the device. But this isn’t new. This has been happening to the Pixel since I got it.)
Anyway, the Pixel XL 2 is my first choice for my next handset. I don’t care too much about the rumors, per se, but I need the camera to be at least as good as what I have with the Pixel XL today. Looking back at what I wrote about how Google should improve the next Pixel, I’ll note that only the following are top of mind today (though I agree with the full list):
Bigger display. The current Pixel XL has a 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED that is gorgeous to look at but seems small, somehow, compared to the similarly-sized iPhone 7 Plus. But what I really want is 6-ish inches, and preferably in a tall aspect ratio like we see on the Samsung Galaxy S8+ (which is still a contender, frankly) and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (also a contender). If this is yet another Frankenstein-bezeled throwback, I will be hugely disappointed.
Camera. As noted, meeting the performance and quality of the current camera is the minimum. Better? Dual lenses. And Optical zoom.
Stereo speakers. I cannot explain how Google delivered a single mono speaker on its flagship handset in 2016. They cannot do so this year.
And I’m a realist, but I’d love to see Google (re)embrace the pricing structure that (sometimes) made its previous Nexus lineup so great. That is, it should not just price its phones inline with Apple and Samsung. It should instead undercut them by at least $100-$200 per phone. And you know I’m right, because no one is buying these phones. They need to get smart about this.
Anyway, I can’t wait to see what they do announce. Because that day will be the day that I decide which phone I’ll use next. Whether it’s a Pixel XL 2 or not.