Last year’s Google Pixel was certainly a dull smartphone in terms of design, especially considering it targeted the premium market. However, the phone had some standout features. Its rear camera was even better than Apple’s iPhone 7. The Pixel and Pixel XL came with Google Assistant, which is superior to Apple’s Siri. What’s more, the search engine giant offered unlimited photo storage. Now reports coming out of South Korea claim the next-gen Google Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 will have an exciting new design.

google pixel 2 and pixel
Image Source: Google Store (screenshot)

Google offers to invest in LG Display to secure OLED panels

Rick Osterloh, the hardware chief at Google, confirmed at the Mobile World Congress that the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 were on track to hit the store shelves this year. Osterloh reiterated that the Pixel line of smartphones would continue to cater to the premium segment. Citing inside sources, Korean site ET News claims Google has offered to invest one trillion Korean won ($880 million) to help LG Display ramp up its OLED display production.

Samsung Display, the world’s largest OLED screen supplier, already has large orders from Samsung’s smartphone division and Apple. LG Display also has the OLED technology, though the Korean company hasn’t used it in its own devices yet. Google’s investment offer could help LG scale up its production to supply OLED panels for the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2.

Samsung’s Galaxy S8, which comes with an edge-to-edge OLED display, has received overwhelmingly positive response from consumers. Google needs to match or exceed the Galaxy S8 in terms of design and specs to stay relevant in the premium smartphone market. Sources told ET News that LG Display has not yet accepted Google’s offer. Curved screens do not offer any major new functions at this point, but they are aesthetically pleasing. The curved OLED display would cover the entire front of the Pixel 2. The Pixel devices don’t have a physical home button, which should make it easier for Google to adapt the bezel-less display.

Snapdragon 835 to power Google Pixel 2

Other reports claim the Google Pixel 2 will be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor, the same chipset that powers Samsung’s latest Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. Other flagship Android smartphones coming this year such as OnePlus 5 and Xiaomi Mi 6 are rumored to run the same processor. For now, Samsung, which has bagged the contract to manufacture Snapdragon 835, has been hoarding the chips for its own Galaxy S8.

New Pixel phones internally called “Muskie” and “Walleye”

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 are already in the works under the code names “Walleye” and “Muskie” respectively. Both the code names were spotted on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Google’s smartphones are internally named after aquatic animals. The 2016 Pixel and Pixel XL were code named “Sailfish” and “Marlin.”

Meanwhile, a third device code named “Taimen” has also appeared on the AOSP. There are speculations that Google might be planning to launch a third Pixel smartphone. However, taimen are much larger than walleyes and muskies, which indicates that this device could be the Nexus 7 tablet rather than a smartphone.

Pixel 2: Rumored features and specs

Last year, Google had skipped water-proofing capabilities on Pixel phones because it was reportedly running out of time to implement the feature. Most of the flagship smartphones available today are waterproof and dust-proof. We expect the Google Pixel 2 to be waterproof. Both the Pixel smartphones coming this year are expected to offer 6GB RAM and 128GB and 256GB of storage options.

Not much is known about the Google’s Pixel 2’s camera capabilities. Recent reports claim the phone would sport a 16-megapixel main camera and 8MP front shooter. Google is said to be focusing on enhancing the low-light photography. The Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 are also expected to offer virtual reality support.

There have been speculations that Google might ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack. Its rival Apple has done away with the audio jack on the flagship iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Internal Google documents reviewed by 9to5Google revealed that the company was planning to get rid of the headphone jack. It would allow Google to make the Pixel 2 slimmer, while enhancing the phone’s waterproofing capabilities.

HTC to manufacture Google Pixel 2

Taiwan-based HTC is expected to manufacture the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2. The company had won a two-year contract from Google to make Pixel devices. HTC has shipped more than 2.1 million Pixel handsets since their launch. Supply chain sources recently told DigiTimes that HTC was competing with three other firms – Coolpad, LG Electronics, and TCL – to bag the contract for the 2018 Pixel 3. LG, which has had a long working relationship with Google, is considered the frontrunner for the Pixel 3 contract. LG Electronics used to make Nexus 4, Nexus 5, and Nexus 5X for Google.

Recent reports suggest that Google Pixel 2 could set you back by $699 while its bigger sibling may cost up to $819. Google charges an additional $120 for the larger variant. Last year, the Pixel was priced at $649 and Pixel XL at $769 for the base model.