Google is reportedly getting serious about introducing a smartphone(s), and Oct. 4 will be the day we get our first official look. These won’t be the Nexus devices fans have grown to love. Rather, numerous reports suggest Google is planning to ditch the Nexus name and instead place these under the Pixel brand. Get used to it.
Thanks to numerous rumors and leaks, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect before Google even takes the stage. Let’s recap what the company (probably) has up its sleeve.
Say your good-byes now, because Google’s future handsets won’t be referred to as “Nexus devices.” Instead, it’ll be Pixel from now on.
Loyal Google followers followers shouldn’t be too surprised by this. The company already offers a few different devices under the Pixel moniker and with two new smartphones joining the family, Google will have an entire lineup aimed at consumers, from computers, to tablets, to mobile phones.
The Nexus name has been around for years but leaving it behind makes sense. By starting fresh, Google is making a statement: The Nexus name has always been associated with the “geek” and developer community. Moving to the Pixel brand is far more consumer-facing.
Couple this with the aggressive marketing of its Oct. 4 event and it becomes clear Google wants people to know something big is on the way.
Dropping a name is one thing. Dropping the wallet-friendly prices associated with the Nexus brand is another.
Apparently, Google’s most inexpensive Pixel device is going to start at $649, which is far more expensive than the most recent Nexus devices released in 2015. For comparison, the Nexus 5X launched with a starting price of just $379.
Google is reportedly counting on consumers to purchase its new devices on a payment plan, which is a model that’s been widely adopted throughout the mobile industry. Rather than pay an upfront lump sum, customers can pay their new phone off over a set amount of time, typically 24 months.
$649 is a flagship price, so it would seem Google is confident the price won’t scare people away. Still, sitting in the same price bracket as the iPhone and Galaxy S7 will be a tough sell, and ultimately seems like a missed opportunity to undercut two of the market’s most popular devices.
The top Nexus devices have always been among the most powerful, and this year shouldn’t be any different. Similar to last year, there will reportedly be two handsets, one with a 5-inch Full HD display and another with a 5.5-inch QHD display. Beyond that, we’re expecting them to be pretty similar in terms of design and specs.
If true, fans can expect 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage (base), a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera, an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, fingerprint sensor, USB-C, and either a Snapdragon 820 chip or a Snapdragon 821 chip. Either way, these devices will be powerful enough to take on today’s most popular Android flagships.
One area of concern, however, is just how durable these phones will be. A recent report claimed the handsets would sport rating of IP56, which is essentially the least amount of protection against dust and water. Most people probably don’t consider water and dust resistance to be a selling point, but some of today’s top devices, such as the new iPhone 7, feature an IP67 rating or higher.
All that is to say, don’t expect to submerge Google’s new devices in water and expect them to survive.
We’ve seen Google’s Pixel devices pop up on a few different occasions over the past few months, so there shouldn’t be too many surprises come Oct. 4. If you’re thinking the handsets look familiar, that’s because HTC allegedly helped Google with production this year.
Based on the leaks we’ve seen, the device will feature an aluminum unibody design that looks suspiciously like the HTC A9. The home button, however, has seemingly been removed in favor of a fingerprint sensor on the back, leaving a a lot of empty space under the display.
There’s also supposedly going to be a glass panel on the back, which appears to only cover about one-third of the device. It’s unclear what purpose the glass serves, or if it’s simply a design choice on Google’s part. One thing we do know: It’s going to be a fingerprint magnet.
Software will apparently be the x-factor at next week’s event. According to multiple reports, “stock” Android will be a thing of the past, as Google will reportedly introduce new features exclusive to its new Pixel phones.
For starters, Google’s unreleased Pixel Launcher will seemingly be the default going forward, while Assistant is rumored to play a big part as well. In addition, a previous report revealed the glass panel on the back could be used for gestures, allowing users to easily access their notifications.
Beyond what’s been leaked, it’s hard to say what other software tweaks to expect. If Google wants Assistant to become a focal point of its larger ecosystem, the software will likely be a key part of the experience. That means text inquiries, a la Allo, and two-way voice conversations, a la Google Home.
Folks curious to see what the Pixel Launcher has to offer can already find the APK floating around. It doesn’t appear to add too much functionality at the moment but we could see more when it’s properly unveiled by Google.
It’s been a long time coming but it sounds like Google will finally combine the best features of Android and Chrome OS. What does that mean? According to reports, the hybrid OS will bring Android to laptops and 2-in-1 devices, evidence of which we’ve already seen pop up with features such as free-form window mode hidden in Android Nougat.
Google has been working to blur the lines between the smartphone and laptop, recently introducing Android apps to Chrome OS, and Andromeda sounds like a natural progression of where Google ultimately hopes to end up.
Unfortunately, the first device equipped with the hybrid software, a Pixel 3, reportedly won’t be available until Q3 of 2017, so we’re still a long way off. However, we could get our first glimpse of what to expect next week.
Announced at I/O in May, Google Home is the search giant’s answer to the Amazon Echo. But in addition to simply setting timers and telling you the weather, Home’s Assistant, Google’s intelligent new personal assistant, is capable of engaging in two-way conversations, which means users will be able to ask a question and then follow that up with another one.
Google still hasn’t revealed a final release date or price, so expect that next week. If a recent report is to be believed, Home will cost $129, which is about $40 cheaper than Amazon’s Echo. Seeing as we’re so close to the holiday season, that’s a pretty major price difference.
You’ve heard of Google’s OnHub routers, right? Well forget about those, because the search giant is reportedly gearing up to release a new router that offers simple mesh network features. Setting multiple routers up in a home isn’t a new concept but the process has become increasingly simplified over the past few years and it appears Google wants in on the new trend.
Where that leaves existing OnHub routers is unclear. Whatever the device ends up being, a recent report claimed the device will cost $129 when it launches.
Google VR/AR headset
Word has it Google is preparing to unveil a standalone headset that mixes virtual and augmented reality. Curiously, the device won’t use Daydream, Google’s new VR software introduced at I/O. The headset, according to a report, will feature a built-in display and won’t need a computer or smartphone to power it.
To go with the Chromecast and Chromecast Audio, Google is reportedly going to release the Chromecast Ultra, a small streaming dongle that supports 4K and HDR. The catch is the price has allegedly been raised to $69, which is double that of the regular Chromecast.
Google’s portfolio is shaping up to be pretty competitive, particularly as it pertains to Google Home. The Pixel and Pixel, on the other hand, sound like more difficult beasts to wrangle. From what we’re hearing, they sound like they’ll be competitive. But that alleged price is giving us pause.
There probably won’t be too many surprises at next week’s event. But, who knows, maybe the rumor mill hasn’t spoiled everything. Stay tuned for Oct. 4.