Google is preparing to unveil brand new smartphones this week, in the wake of major launches from both Apple and Samsung.The company is expected to reveal two high-end handsets, the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2, which will go head-to-head with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone X.The 2016 versions of the Pixel and Pixel XL were widely praised and feature what many users consider to be the the best smartphone camera ever made. Big things are therefore expected from their successors.
The original Google Pixel and Pixel XL may have been celebrated, but it wasn’t because of their design. Unfortunately for many, their successors are expected to look very similar.
Multiple leaks suggest that the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 will feature a fairly prominent “forehead” and “chin”, unlike the “edge-to-edge” S8, Note 8 and iPhone X.
This means the new Pixels won’t look anywhere near as attractive as some of the handsets they’ll be competing directly with, which could put Google at a major disadvantage.
Leaks also show that they’ll feature a two-tone rear, similar to the original Pixels. While the new phones will be built almost entirely of metal, a small section of it will be covered in glossy glass. It’s a unique look that should help the Pixel brand stand out.
The Pixel 2 will reportedly be built by HTC and come in three colour schemes: Kinda Blue, Just Black and Clearly White.
LG, meanwhile, is claimed to be building the XL 2, which will come in Just Black and Black & White.
The most notable difference between the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 comes in the size department.
We’re not 100 per cent confident about numbers yet, but it has been reported that the Pixel 2 will come with a 5-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 screen. This is an identical setup to what we found on last year’s Pixel and, though it’s perfectly adequate, it will be disappointing if Google opts against enhancing it.
The Pixel XL 2, meanwhile, is rumoured to feature a 6-inch, 2,880 x 1,440 display. This would make the XL both larger and sharper than the regular model, which comes as no real surprise.
The XL 2’s claimed screen setup matches that of the recently launched V30, LG’s latest flagship smartphone.
Like the HTC U11, the Pixel 2 is expected to have a special frame embedded with sensors, which you can squeeze to launch software features or execute commands.
I enjoyed using it on the U11, as it has the potential to solve common issues. For instance, it’s much easier to snap a picture one-handed with a squeeze than with the push of an awkwardly located button.
We’ve heard that the Pixel XL 2 will also have squeezable sides, but aren’t sure how likely this is, with the phone being manufactured by LG rather than HTC.
Many people were disappointing about the lack of waterproofing on last year’s Pixel models, and Google is expected to address that shortcoming this year.
A teaser released by Google also suggests the phones will focus on improving battery life, storage and camera quality.
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The latest version of Android – 8.0 Oreo – is already available on last year’s Pixels, and it would be extremely surprising if the new batch didn’t come pre-loaded with the software.
In fact, this is likely to prove a key selling point for the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2.
They’ll run a pure version of Android that hasn’t been tampered with or spoiled by the addition of unwanted bloatware and strange skins. It’s Android as Google intends it to work.
Other Android smartphone manufacturers tend to put their own spin on the software, which can damage the user experience because the tweaks are often designed to promote the company’s own apps and services.
Major Android updates can also take a long time to come to handsets with software tweaks. That won’t be a problem with the Pixels, which will receive updates as soon as they’re ready.
Price and release
Both of Google’s new handsets will be revealed at an event on 4 October. There’s no word yet on when they’ll be released, but it’s likely to be later this month, around the same time the iPhone X comes out.
The Pixel 2 will reportedly cost $649 (£480) for 64GB of internal storage and $749 (£555) for 128GB, while the Pixel XL 2 is rumoured to be priced at $849 (£630) for 64GB of storage and $949 (£700) for 128GB.