Ahead of the release of the Google Pixel 2, there are both positives and negatives for the manufacturer. This smartphone is undoubtedly the most important piece of physical kit that Google has ever stamped its name on, but this brings expectations as well as opportunities. With the pricing of the Google Pixel 2 XL veering into iPhone and Samsung Galaxy territory, clearly the manufacturer has to deliver something truly outstanding.
With the recommended retail price of the Pixel 2 XL expected to be $849, the gap between the pricing of this device and the Galaxy Note 8 is now under $100. This means that the premium model of the Google Pixel 2 generation can no longer be seen as a more affordable alternative to better known devices. Essentially, the Pixel 2 must deliver in 2017, and provide consumers with a compelling reason to veer away from the Apple and Samsung staples.
Ironically, one of the most talked about features of the forthcoming Google Pixel 2 is one that has effectively been pilfered from Apple. It seems that the developer will eliminate the 3.5mm headphone jack when the Google Pixel 2 is released, something that Apple has already instigated in its iPhone devices.
This might seem like a bold decision, considering that Apple’s previous move met with a checkered reception, but this is very much indicative of the direction of the mobile industry from hereon in. What is clear with the Google Pixel 2 series is a device range intended to occupy a central position at the forefront of mobile technology, no longer being an also-ran in the smartphone niche.
Google has signalled its intention by buying out the smartphone division of HTC, in a deal worth in excess of $1 billion. This was a logical move for the mega-corporation, with HTC already involved in the manufacturing of Google Pixel 2 devices. Indeed, the utilization of innovative technology already developed by the smartphone manufacturer made this move an absolutely natural progression.
Active Edge will debut in the Google Pixel 2 release, after similar technology was previously included in the HTC U11. This new feature will enable Google Pixel 2 users to unlock a wide variety of functionality by simply squeezing the sides of their devices. In particular, early reports have suggested that Google Assistant will be accessible via this physical feature.
This can be considered a significant innovation that is yet to be included in either the Apple or Samsung mobile ranges. Whether or not Active Edge will provide Google with a significant advantage remains to be seen, as it could be considered the sort of feature that is somewhat gimmicky. Ultimately, this may be a strongly promoted aspect of the Google Pixel 2, but it’s not one that can be relied upon to shift the device.
But a major positive for the premium Google Pixel 2 XL is the inclusion of an impressive six-inch quad HD OLED display. This will be more than the equal of the screen recently included in the Apple iPhone X, meaning that Google possibly has an advantage over its rival in this department. Certainly such screen technology is becoming increasingly important, and this could be a major fillip for Google in establishing the Pixel 2 XL as a premium phablet.
However, reports have suggested that the smartphone will not feature a wraparound display, and that there will be significant bezels, possibly in both versions of the Pixel 2 series. This is perhaps a little surprising considering that the zeitgeist is for wraparound screens to be included in smartphones, and bezels to be virtually non-existent. Certainly with the smaller Google Pixel 2, the manufacturer must factor in affordability; after all, this device is still $350 cheaper than the recent iPhone X release.
Nonetheless, some reports have suggested that the Pixel 2 XL will feature a curved display, and this will allow the manufacturer to cut down on unsightly bezels. Fingers crossed for this possibility.
Another negative that will be disappointing for Pixel 2 users will be the smartphone’s lack of a dual-camera. This should be considered an absolute disaster, as the photographic capabilities of the previous Google Pixel release where lauded, and the second generation should be able to build on this with new functionality.
However, considering that major releases from the likes of Apple, Samsung and LG all feature dual-cameras, it is perhaps an oversight that Google has stuck with a single-lens unit this time round. Although this hasn’t been 100 percent confirmed, and the Google Pixel 2 XL would particularly benefit from a dual-lens camera if Google is this way inclined.
On the plus side, the Google Pixel 2 generation will feature new features and improved specs. In particular, the dust and waterproofing of the device will be massively improved to IP67 level, ensuring that the Pixel 2 generation is significantly more durable than its predecessor. There will also be a powerful Snapragon 835 processor driving the unit, with rumors of the state-of-the-art Snapdragon 836 being included having died down recently.
Storage will be more than respectable, with 128GB as maximum, and there have been reports that the Pixel 2 will also embrace E-SIM technology. This would allow users of the device to switch networks without swapping SIM cards; undoubtedly a brave and revolutionary decision for a smartphone of any nature, let alone one in this price category.
Battery life should also be excellent, with a large 3,520 mAh cell being linked with the Pixel XL 2. There will be a smaller 2,700 unit resident in the Google Pixel 2, meaning that the smartphone will still deliver more than decent battery life on a single charge. Another plus point for purchasers will be the Google Cloud storage option, which will be delivered free until 2023, if the latest reports are to be believed.
With Google having signalled its intention to compete with Apple and Samsung, the Google Pixel 2 series seems equipped to at least establish the corporation as a significant player in the smartphone market.