There’s a palpable excitement surrounding the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8, along with the litany of Android phones introduced at Mobile World Congress this week. But, looking beyond what’s on the immediate horizon, Google’s Pixel 2 is already looming large.
To be fair, we don’t know much about what the search giant has planned for the sequel, and apparently neither does Google.
Still, what we’ve been seeing over these past few days—along with what’s to come—could hint at the possibilities: wireless charging, expandable storage, “bezel-less” displays, camera improvements, dust and water resistance, and better battery technology. That’s not to mention the promise of day-one Android updates.
For how bland the hardware and design of the Pixel was, this year’s follow-up already has some serious potential—but it must borrow heavily from its competitors to truly be great.
One area where the Pixel needs to make an immediate improvement is in its design and hardware. While there are no reports suggesting the Pixel 2 will make sweeping changes, a number of Google’s largest competitors, including Apple, are moving to “edge-to-edge” displays. That should be the first change Google considers when the sequel is introduced later this year.
It’s also important for Google to re-think the Pixel’s pedestrian design, which looked like something from 2014, not 2016, when it launched last year. Just to be clear, Google was involved in the design and manufacturing of the device, though HTC was a silent partner. The collaboration ultimately resulted in a Franken-phone that looked strikingly similar to an old HTC design. Put another way, design seemed like more of an afterthought than a priority.
With former Motorola president Rick Osterloh at the helm, Google is certainly capable of doing better. Osterloh, remember, was responsible for the launch of the Moto X, a device that smartly out-Googled Google. Even if the search giant does team-up with a partner again, the Pixel 2 needs to be more than just a basic shell with an excellent camera.
If the Pixel 2 looks anything close to Samsung’s Galaxy family, Google’s flagship will pose a serious threat when it launches. We’re under no delusions the Pixel 2 will challenge the iPhone 8 and Galaxy S8 in sales. But an elegant design and assembly of fancy features should provide the Pixel 2 with a nice boost in reputation, which may be beneficial in the long run.
It’s very possible the Pixel 2 will be nothing more than a refinement over the original, rather than a major update; a Pixel S, so to speak. But considering what new technology is coming to the mobile market, our expectations are high for the sequel.
Beyond hardware, one thing we can count on Google to do later this year is deliver updated software, which is an area where the Pixel will always have an advantage. Some devices are still barely getting Android N, which was first made available at the end of August 2016. Whenever Android O (and Android P) hits, you can bet Google’s Pixel will be the first to get it (along with any exclusive features).
In addition to getting day-one updates, you can count on the Pixel 2 to offer the cleanest, fastest, and best version of Android available. OEM skins have improved dramatically over the past few years but nothing beats Android the way Google intended it. That’s one big reason why the Nexus family was so beloved.
Even with a boring design and lack of water resistance, the Pixel was our favorite phone of 2016. The device nailed the fundamentals and offered a truly unmatched camera experience. Now, imagine a Galaxy S8-caliber device with a Pixel Launcher thrown on top.
Chances are that’s being overly optimistic. But it’s exciting to consider how Google might build on last year’s success, which is why, more than any other device, we’re so amped for the Pixel 2.