iTWire reviewed the Pixel XL in November 2016 and stated “Google’s new 5” Pixel and the 5.5” XL are good smartphones, verging on great, but their strongest attraction — Pure Android — needs some work. Its user interface (UI) is nowhere near as polished, intuitive or useful as Samsung, LG, Moto, Sony et al.”
That comment drew a little flack from Android purists who wanted pure Android – and eight months later while I agree with them I can see why many Asian makers “skin” their Android and provide comparative apps to Google Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Gallery, Dialler, etc. It is both a user experience improvement and privacy issue - pure Android exposes everything to Google.
It seems Google did listen to the critics in two ways – first incorporating a lot of the “cures” into Android 8 and second in using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 it has addressed hardware issues. So, we delve into the rumours to present what we think the Pixel 2 and XL may be.
There has been mention of a mysterious Taimen as well – said to be 6” and QHD but later rumours have said it will not be a Pixel but the new “Tango” device likely made by LG. Anonymous benchmark tests show the use of an MSM8998 chip – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 – on all devices.
- Release date: Likely late October or early November 2017
- Screen: Walleye is showing a 4.97” FHD and Muskie a 5.5” QHD LG supplied, AMOLED – there is no talk of the 18:9 format or Dolby Vision HDR but the latter is likely on Muskie.
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon and Adreno 540 GPU
- RAM/Storage: 4/64 for Walleye and 6GB and either 128/256GB for Muskie - still no microSD slot but OTG support for 2TB devices
- Camera Rear: 12MP, f/1.7, 1.55µm pixel, dual pixel phase detection autofocus, true OIS, HDR (no dual camera)
- Camera Front: 16MP, f/2.0, 1.2µm pixel, OIS, HDR, autofocus, screen flash
- Battery: at least 3000 mAh – the Qualcomm 835 and next-gen VNAND are far more power efficient. Quick Charge 3.0 USB-C gen 2 – no wireless charge
- Wi-Fi AC, dual band, 4 x 4 MU-MIMO capable of nearly 1Gbps with the right router
- LTE: Qualcomm x16 modem, CAT 16 Gigabit, 3CA, VoLTE, Wi-Fi calling
- Other: Fingerprint “imprint’ sensor under glass to accommodate higher screen to body ratio, NFC
- Audio: Stereo front firing earpiece speaker and down-firing bottom bezel speaker, Hi-Res audio, likely no 3.5mm audio jack. There has been a suggestion of Pogo pins for VR connection.
- OS: Pure Android 8.x and support for Bluetooth 5.0 and hi-bitrate
- IP Rating: IP67
To a large degree, this is the HTC U11 with an even better camera.
Google’s Pixel look – sorry rumours are that there will still be a glass panel on the back around the camera.
Does Google have a place in the smartphone race?
The answer is that it does not care – like Microsoft and its Surface range of computers, Pixel is there to drive innovation and that is why the rumours have left me wanting to see more!
What is it going to do that is so different that it will change the smartphones direction? What is its answer to the 18:9 screen, or brilliant camera, or the next gen Hi-Res audio or Dolby Atmos?
Not to say it won’t be a great handset and will be the VR king but I want more. I suspect we will see that innovation not in the hardware sense but in Android. Come on Google, surprise and excite me.