Update: Codenames for three Google handsets have been leaked, pointing to the Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL and a larger phablet phone.
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.
To help it along, we’ve come up with a list of the specs and features we most want to see, along with guesses at what we're likely to see, and as news and rumors continue to roll in we'll add those to this article too.
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 the Pixel 2 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.
There may in fact be three new phones though, as we've heard word of handsets codenamed 'walleye' and 'muskie' - believed to be the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL respectively, but also the 'taimen', which is thought to be a larger phablet-sized handset.
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.
Google Pixel 2 news and rumors
- The new Pixels will be waterpoof
- There's a third Pixel in the works
- Improved chipset and camera
- No headphone jack
The first rumor for the Google Pixel 2 is it will come with a waterproof design. A Senior Editor at 9to5Google reported a source has said the phone will be dunkable when it's released.
They also revealed that the Pixel 2 will feature an improved chipset and camera, which could go some way to justifying the rumored higher price.
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.
Elsewhere, we've heard that the Pixel 2 might ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack, which seems odd given that Google actively highlighted its presence in advertising for the original Pixel.
As for other Pixel 2 rumors, there are precisely zero so far. But we can take an educated guess at some of the things we’re likely to see.
For example, the Snapdragon 835 looks like the chipset of choice for 2017 flagships, so there’s a good chance the Pixel 2 will use that, though with a likely late 2017 launch Google may opt for something even newer. It’s also likely to have 6GB of RAM, as that too is rumored for a number of phones.
One thing we can be pretty sure of is that the Pixel 2 will run whatever the latest version of Android is at the time, and there’s a good chance that it will launch alongside Android O.
The Pixel 2 is also likely to build on what came before and add missing features – don’t be surprised if it’s water resistant this time around as has been rumored, and the screen on the standard Pixel 2 could be boosted to a QHD resolution.
That would bring it in line with the Pixel XL, which would be handy, especially as Google has positioned the range as built for its Daydream VR platform, for which those extra pixels would really help the visual experience.
Google also heavily marketed the Pixel on its camera skills, so further improvements there are likely, but the company may stick with what works – which could mean the same 12.3MP sensor.
What we want to see
The above is what we’re expecting to see, but the following is what we’d like to see, if the Google Pixel 2 is to really impress us.
1. A lower price
The Pixel and Pixel XL are high-end phones, but they have beyond high-end prices, with the XL costing more than just about anything outside the iPhone 7 Plus, and the standard Pixel rivaling other flagships in price, despite not quite matching all their specs.
If Google really wants to make these phones mainstream, then for the Pixel 2 it needs to slash the price. Apple is a big name in hardware already, so it can get away with wallet-worrying prices, but Google’s Pixel brand still needs to grow.
2. A sharper screen
The original Pixel has just a 1080p screen, which isn’t quite a flagship spec when most rivals (including the Pixel XL) have QHD ones. It’s also problematic when the Pixel is positioned as a VR-friendly phone, yet doesn’t quite have the pixels to back that up.
So we’d like to see a QHD screen on the Pixel 2, and perhaps even a 4K screen on the Pixel 2 XL – though only if it doesn’t destroy the battery.
3. A stylish build
The Google Pixel has a high-end and distinctive look, with a metal and glass back, but it’s also a slightly unusual and divisive one, so we’d like to see it rethought for the Google Pixel 2.
There’s nothing wrong with glass, or metal, or even both together, but the design needs to be cohesive, where on the Pixel it looks a bit like they’ve just combined the two materials for the sake of it.
4. Water resistance
Water resistance still isn’t a feature of all flagship phones, but it’s increasingly heading that way, with even the iPhone 7 sporting a certain amount, so the Pixel having none (beyond being splash-resistant) was unfortunate.
Hopefully that will be changed for the Google Pixel 2, and we’ll get a phone that at least matches the best waterproofing on current phones – that means IP68 certification, but if it can go even further and be fully waterproof, then all the better.
5. Better battery life
It seems like we’re asking for better battery life from almost every phone, but the Pixel is particularly in need, often requiring a top-up midway through an evening.
That’s not great at any price, but especially not on a flagship, so we want to see vast improvements in life from the Pixel 2.
6. Stereo speakers
As with waterproofing, this is another thing that not all flagships have, but it’s certainly something we like to see, or hear.
While we’d always rather use headphones for audio on a phone, that’s not always practical, so a beefy pair of stereo speakers can make all the difference. Hopefully the Google Pixel 2 will have them.
7. Assistant improvements
Google Assistant was one of the main selling points of the Pixel, but while it’s certainly impressive, it doesn’t feel quite like the 2.0 upgrade to Google Now that it was billed as.
Among other things we want it to consistently pick up on the ‘OK Google’ wake command the first time we say it, and to be able to understand what we’re asking every time, even when we speak fast or in loud environments.
It’s pretty good now, but the times when it fails make us wish we hadn’t asked at all.
- The iPhone 8 could be the Pixel 2's biggest rival.