The Pixel was Google’s first internally-designed handset, and it got a lot of things right: the camera is amazing, it had the first crack at Android Nougat, and came with an Apple-like polish.
Unfortunately, it also had an uninspired design, a very hefty price, and some component trade-offs compared to its top-end Android rivals. It was a strong first effort, though.
Apple’s devices usually get significant improvements and refinements on the second go-round, and we’re expect much the same with Google’s iPhone-esque take on Android.
Leaks and rumours are starting to trickle in ahead of an expected release later this year, and the upgrades sound promising. Here’s what we’ve heard so far.
What we know
>>> It should be waterproof
The iPhone 7 and Samsung’s Galaxy S7 both embraced waterproofing, which is quickly becoming the standard for pricier flagships, but the Google Pixel opted not to implement it in the first model. Luckily, sources say that water and dust resistance are likely to be included with the Pixel 2.
>>> The camera may improve
The Pixel and Pixel XL already have one of the absolute best smartphone cameras on the market today, but unsurprisingly, Google plans to keep pushing the tech for the next round. A report claims that we won’t see a big megapixel bump (from 12.3MP), but that the Pixel 2 should have even better low-light performance and other feature enhancements.
>>> It might cost more money
This one’s a surprise, given the already-high price of the Pixel and some missing perks compared to other Android flagships, but 9to5Google says that Google expects the Pixel 2 to cost “at least” US$ 50 more than the original phone at launch (US$ 649 in the States). We had better see some significant feature additions to justify that jump.
Google went with the top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 for the first Pixel, and it sounds like that trend may continue for the next one. A processor in the Snapdragon 830 line is expected, perhaps the powerful Snapdragon 835, although a report claims that Google has also tested out Intel chips, as well as custom chipsets.
>>> No headphone jack?
Surprise! Apple might not be the only big name looking to end the life of the humble headphone jack. Google could be planning a similar move, according to the latest leaked insider info.
>>> Launching with Android O
With the Pixel replacing the old Nexus line, the devices have become the vanguard for the latest and greatest versions of Android. And just as the Pixel was the first phone with the full release version of Android Nougat, we’ll probably see the Pixel 2 launch with Android O (8.0) out of the box.
>>> There might be a cheaper one
Remember the part above about the Pixel 2 being more expensive than the original? While that has been reported, so too has the existence of a cheaper, cut-rate Pixel. We’d expect something smaller and mid-range to compete with the likes of the OnePlus 3T, but unfortunately there aren’t any hard details at this point. Still, that’s a promising tidbit.
>>> No word on the XL
None of the reports so far mention a Pixel 2 XL to follow in the footsteps of the original plus-sized model, but we would be surprised to see Google drop it. The first Pixel XL has been consistently hard to find, and given the popularity of Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus as well, there’s definitely demand for bigger, feature-boosted options.
>>> We’ll probably see it this autumn
Google unveiled the first Pixel in early October 2016 and released it a couple weeks later, and there’s little reason to believe that the company will jump the gun with a sequel. Debuting it around the same time will give Google another chance to try and play off of the next iPhone announcement… and hopefully not look too much like a copy of it again.
Senior VP of hardware Rick Osterloh confirmed as much at Mobile World Congress, saying that Google would be sticking to the mobile industry’s annual cycle for new releases.
All the latest news
>>> 07 March 2017
A report from 9to5Google suggested that Google may be looking to follow in Apple’s footsteps and ditch the headphone jack with the Pixel 2. This would be a huge step, as few other Android phones (from big-name brands here in the UK, at least) have taken the leap. HTC has done it, though, and seeing how it was responsible for building the original Pixel, there could be a grain of truth here.
>>> 02 March 2017
News filtered out of Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress show this week, with Google’s Senior VP of hardware Rick Osterloh confirming the Pixel 2 was real, and that it would be arriving at some point this year.
“There is an annual rhythm in the industry. So, you can count on us to follow it. You can count on a successor this year, even if you don’t hear a date from me now.” AndroidPit also managed to get him to say that the Pixel’s successor would “stay premium”.
>>> 26 January 2017
9to5Google has a big report out today, citing a previously reliable source who has purported leaked details on the Pixel 2. The source claims that waterproofing is on the table as a feature, that the camera will see low-light improvements (and maybe more), that a cheaper version is also in the works, and that the main model will probably see a price bump.