Google's Pixel smartphone was our best phone of 2016. Here's a rundown of the new features we expect to see on the second-generation model.
It hasn’t been that long since the release of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL, but we’re already hearing rumors and news about the 2017 model that’s expected to launch in the fall.
We’ve haven’t only heard rumors about the Pixel 2, however. Google hardware boss Rick Osterloh officially confirmed in an interview with Android Pit that there will, in fact, be a second iteration of the Google Pixel. It’s not surprising to hear, but it’s still nice to get confirmation of the phone.
More: Google Pixel review
We don’t know what Google is planning on naming the next model, so we’re tentatively going to stick with the Pixel 2. The phones could, however, be code-named “Muskie” and “Walleye,” according to a report from Android Police. The report notes that Walleye is believed to be the smaller of the two phones.
Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming phones.
An even bigger Pixel?
We initially heard that Google was conducting testing for two phones — the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, code-named Muskie and Walleye, respectively. Now, however, it appears as though Google may be testing a third, even larger device. According to a report from Droid Life, the third device is currently code-named Taimen — unfortunately, we don’t yet know many details about the phone.
The rumor doesn’t specifically mention that there will be another phone in the Pixel lineup, but let’s take this opportunity to cast massive doubt on the idea that Google will launch a non-Pixel-branded phone this year. It’s even unlikely that there will be a third Pixel launched. Instead, what has probably happened is that Google is testing multiple sizes for its upcoming phones, and will choose the two best sizes to launch after testing.
We have yet to see any leaked photos of the Google Pixel 2, but recent reports indicate that Google may follow Apple’s lead with an interesting design choice — the removal of the headphone jack. The report comes from 9to5Google and it cites internal Google documentation suggesting that the company will remove the headphone jack in favor of a single USB-C port.
Android fans would undoubtedly be frustrated by the news — however, keep in mind that the news has yet to be confirmed (and 9to5Google is only 60 percent sure of the rumor). If it does prove to be true, there would certainly be a slew of accessories for helping people connect their 3.5mm headphones to their device.
A budget Pixel
Early on in the Pixel 2 rumors, we heard that there could be a more budget-friendly Pixel device called the Pixel 2B. Most recently, however, it seems like that device could eventually get a release — but it won’t be released under the Pixel name. The news comes from a 9to5Google tipster, who claims that while the Pixel team isn’t working on a Pixel branded budget-friendly device, it is working on a budget-friendly device to be released with a different name. This could be launched under the Android One program, or a new name entirely.
The news makes sense. In the Android Pit interview, Rick Osterloh went on to say that the Pixel will “stay premium.” We won’t know what that means until the Pixel 2 is launched, but don’t expect Nexus-style pricing on a Pixel phone.
We first heard of a budget Pixel device at the end of January, when it was revealed that Google was testing a few prototypes of a device code-named the “Pixel 2B.” The report came from 9to5Google, which also said that the device would cost a lot less than $650, with the compromise of less-powerful hardware. This device, which may launch alongside the Pixel 2 or after, will be intended to be released in “different markets.”
An even better camera
The Google Pixel was praised for its stellar camera that rivaled the iPhone 7 Plus, and it seems as though Google is prioritizing it again for the second-generation device. That’s according to a source speaking to Stephan Hall at 9to5Google. We cannot verify this source’s claims, and we’re a long time away from the release date, so things can change.
The source said Google is looking to perfect the low-light capabilities of the next Pixel, but it will “not have large [megapixel] size.” Google will reportedly compensate for this with extra features.
Hall posted a tweet that the next-generation Pixel will be waterproof — information he received at the Google event last October. Going by what Apple and Samsung have done for their flagship devices, the Pixel 2 will likely be IP67- or IP68-rated, allowing for water submersion up to 1 to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes.
But Hall now says waterproofing may not be so definite anymore. His source said the feature is “still on the table” for the Pixel 2 — which is hardly as concrete as “definitely.”
Little tidbit we were told in October last year that I forgot about: “Waterproofing definitely coming with next Pixel device.”
— Stephen Hall @ SXSW (@hallstephenj) January 25, 2017
The reason it wasn’t in the current Pixel? Google ran out of time. According to a Wired podcast, Google said it threw out plans for the device at the end of 2015 and had to start from scratch — meaning the phone was built in a mere nine months. Huawei was supposed to manufacture the device, but the company backed out when Google demanded there be no Huawei logo. HTC took Huawei’s place.
Google may be trying to make its own processor — like Apple does for the iPhone — to power its future smartphones. That’s all according to Dave Burke, Google’s vice president of engineering, in an interview with Bloomberg.
It seems unlikely that these chips will be ready for the Pixel 2, as building a custom processor is no easy feat. New information from Hall’s source tells us that Google is reportedly testing the Pixel 2 with multiple, improved chipsets — “some with Snapdragon 83X chips, others with Intel chips.” MediaTek was also contributing at some point, but not anymore.
Until Google is ready to make its own processors to power its smartphones, the company is searching for which chipset will power the Pixel 2 the best. We’ll have to wait some time before the company settles on one manufacturer.
Release date and price
Google has traditionally unveiled its Nexus smartphones, as well as last year’s Pixel, during a fall event. We’ll likely see the Pixel 2, as well as the Pixel 2 XL (Pixel XXL?) in October.
Unfortunately, you may see a price increase for the flagship Pixel 2. Hall’s source said Google is expecting “at least” a $50 price jump for the device, but the Pixel 2B will be “significantly cheaper.” Keep in mind, the company is months away from a release date and all of this is subject to change.
We’ll update this post as we learn more about the 2017 Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2B.
Article originally published in January 2017. Updated on 03-15-2017 by Christian de Looper: Added rumors of a third, larger phone being tested with the code name “Taimen