Update: The Pixel 2 might be the first phone to use the Snapdragon 836 chipset, making it one of the most powerful handsets around.
The next flagship phone(s) from Google likely won’t arrive until late 2017, but we’re already thinking about what the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL may have in store for us.
The search giant is done with the Nexus line and in its place the firm has created a slightly more premium, and far more mainstream range.
They were a strong first try too, scoring high in our reviews, but they stumbled in some areas and arguably didn’t quite stack up to their rivals. But Google is sure to learn from its mistakes and make the Pixel 2 even better.
Early rumors are promising, and you can read them all below, followed by a wish list of the things we want from the Pixel 2.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next of Google’s Pixel phones
- When is it out? Late 2017, possibly October
- What will it cost? A flagship price is all but guaranteed
Google Pixel 2 release date and price
- Pixel 2 release date likely to be October
- Expect a flagship price tag too
The Google Pixel and Pixel XL were both launched in October 2016, so we’d expect to see a Google Pixel 2 release date roughly a year later, in or around October 2017.
Although the Pixel line is new, it’s building on the now defunct Nexus range, which also tended to have a new handset in around September or October of each year.
Rick Osterloh, Google’s senior vice president of hardware, has confirmed there will be a new Pixel this year, though he didn’t get any more specific than that.
According to one source the Pixel 2 will apparently carry a loftier price tag than its predecessors – something we hope doesn’t turn out to be true. The old one started at $649 (£599, AU$1,079), or $769 (£719, AU$1,269) for the XL version, so it was already expensive.
TechRadar’s take: Expect the Pixel 2 in or around October with a high price – it’s unlikely to be any cheaper than the original Pixel.
How many Google Pixel 2 phones?
- Most likely two, but some suggestions of three
The latest rumors suggest we’ll get two rather than three new Pixel phones from Google, as apparently the Pixel 2 XL has been cancelled.
Instead we’re in line for the larger taimen (codename) handset, and this could be very, very big – up to 5.99 inches in screen size if the latest leaks are to be believed.
It’s thought to be a similar vein to the Motorola Nexus 6 from 2014. Motorola told TechRadar last year it thought the Nexus 6 was too big when it made the phone, but Google wanted the larger screen on the phone so the company made it for the Nexus project.
We expect this will be a similar situation where Google again wanted a bigger product, and given that other handsets are growing in size it’s not surprising.
There has also been rumors suggesting we may get three new Pixel phones , as we’ve heard word of handsets codenamed ‘walleye’ and ‘muskie’ – believed to be the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL respectively, along with ‘taimen‘. But, as mentioned above, the muskie may have been cancelled.
Google Pixel 2 screen
- A curved screen
- A 5.6-inch 18:9 display
- A 2,560 x 1,312 resolution
One rumor for the Google Pixel 2 is that the phone may come with a curved display when it launches later this year.
Google has tried to put an order for curved OLED screens with the LG Display Company, which suggests the company is ready to embrace curved screens on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Not just that, a recent rumor states that LG itself might actually be making one of the phones.
Based on benchmarks that have appeared on the web, one of the Pixel 2 phones could come with a 5.6-inch 18:9 screen and a 2,560 x 1,312 resolution.
However, another source claims that the standard Pixel 2 will have a 4.97-inch screen, while a larger model will land with a 5.99-inch one.
While another source says the Pixel 2 XL will have a 6-inch AMOLED screen, supplied by LG.
Elsewhere, we’ve heard that this screen might have an always-on function, so you can see the time and notifications at a glance, and that it will have customizable settings, including a new ‘Vivid Colors’ mode.
Those features combined with the use of AMOLED would give it a lot in common with the Samsung Galaxy S8.
TechRadar’s take: QHD or above resolutions on all models are likely, to bring them in line with rivals. The screens may also grow.
Google Pixel 2 design
- Rear-facing fingerprint scanner
- Water resistance
- Tiny bezels on the Pixel 2 XL
We may have got our first look at the Pixel 2 XL, courtesy of the image below, showing a design very similar to that of the Pixel XL, complete with a metal and glass back, but the glass window this time appears smaller and the fingerprint scanner is in the metal part. It also has far smaller bezels than its predecessor.
We don’t know much about the design of the standard Pixel 2 yet, although we have seen leaked cases supposedly designed for the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.
They’re similar in a lot of ways, showing off a rear-facing fingerprint scanner on both, along with a 3.5mm headphone port (which we’d previously heard might be ditched).
Power and volume controls are all on one side of the phone, as with the original Pixel, and the overall shape looks similar, but the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL may differ from their predecessors and from each other up front.
The case images include an insert seemingly showing the designs of the phones, and while the one for the Pixel 2 looks similar to the original Pixel, with slim side bezels but big ones above and below the screen, the Pixel 2 XL case insert shows and almost bezel-free design – though these could just be placeholders rather than accurate designs.
TechRadar’s take: A similar but refined design with added water resistance is likely.
Google Pixel 2 camera and battery
- 12MP rear and 7MP front-facing cameras
- Improvements over the Pixel’s camera
A source has claimed that the Pixel 2 will have an improved camera – no surprise there and they don’t specify how it will be improved.
Elsewhere, we’ve seen images of Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL cases (pictured above), which show different camera cut-outs on the two phones, so they might not both have the same camera.
A benchmark for one of the models lists a 12MP rear camera with 4K video support, and a 7MP front-facing one. That sounds like a similar setup to the 12.3MP and 8MP combo on the original Google Pixel.
We haven’t heard any news on the battery yet, but the Pixel 2’s is likely to be at least as big as the 2,770mAh one in the Pixel and the Pixel 2 XL’s will probably at least match the 3,450mAh one in the Pixel XL.
TechRadar’s take: Camera and battery are anyone’s guess right now, but expect improvements to both.
Google Pixel 2 internal specs and OS
- Snapdragon 836 chipset
- 4GB of RAM
- 128GB of storage
A source has recently claimed that the Pixel 2 will be the first phone to use the Snapdragon 836 chipset, supposedly offering a 10% performance increase over the Snapdragon 835 used by many current flagships, as well as improvements to battery life.
It’s a believable claim, given that the original Pixel was the first phone to use the Snapdragon 821.
An earlier source revealed that the Pixel 2 will apparently feature an improved chipset, which we’d fully expect.
The same source then got back in contact with 9to5Google to reveal that the search giant is currently testing a budget Pixel handset which will have down-graded specs, but a smaller price tag.
This rumor has since been refuted by a Google exec, so it’s looking unlikely – though the exec refers specifically to Pixel, so it’s always possible that a budget Google handset will land without Pixel branding.
We’ve also heard that a true phablet might be landing, alongside the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, so we could see at least three Pixel handsets this year.
That phablet may have been benchmarked, as a phone going by ‘Google taimen’ has appeared on Geekbench with a 1.9GHz (likely Snapdragon 835 or 836) chipset, 4GB of RAM and strong benchmark scores.
Those specs are in line with other recent flagships, so they’re believable, especially as the Snapdragon 835 has been rumored for all three Pixel 2 handsets – though it’s a configuration that might not be quite so cutting-edge by the time the Pixel 2 launches, and as such the Snapdragon 836 is now looking more likely.
The benchmark also highlights its use of Android O, which we’re fully expecting to see on the phone, and some of these sources also point to 128GB of storage being included.
TechRadar’s take: A Snapdragon 836 chipset and 4GB of RAM are looking likely, while Android O is a given.
Google Pixel 2 other features
- Squeezable sides like the HTC U11
We’ve now heard from two different sources that the Pixel 2 XL might have squeezable sides, a lot like the HTC U11. These would apparently allow you to launch Google Assistant whether the screen is on or off, and could also be used for other things, such as silencing calls.
There’s no news on whether the standard Pixel 2 will have the same feature, but it’s likely.
The presence of such a feature also strongly suggests that HTC could be building the phones.
Note: We are not writer of this article, original source is mentioned below.