Many leading Android vendors have already unveiled their flagship devices, but Google’s next-gen Pixel is still in the works. Rick Osterloh, the hardware chief at Google, has confirmed that the company would release successors to the last year’s Pixel and Pixel XL. The upcoming Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL would continue to target the high-end segment.

pixel and pixel xl
Image Source: Google Store (screenshot)

What is taimen?

Multiple leaks have indicated over the last few weeks that the search engine giant is working on not just two, but three Android devices. Recently, German publication WinFuture discovered references to code names “muskie,” “walleye” and “taimen” in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Google’s flagship smartphones have historically been code named after aquatic animals. The Pixel and Pixel XL were code named “sailfish” and “marlin.”

Considering the size of muskies and walleyes, the device code named walleye should be Pixel 2. Muskies are bigger than walleyes, meaning the name “musky” refers to the bigger Pixel 2 XL. Things are a bit confusing for the taimen because they are significantly larger than muskies and walleyes. Is Google working on an even bigger Pixel 2 XXL? Or “taimen” is the code name for the next-gen Nexus tablet?

Google has said previously that it had no plans to replace the Nexus 9 tablet. It means taimen could indeed be a bigger Pixel 2 XXL.

Google engineer testing the Walleye prototype

Folks at SlashGear have found that a Google engineer has access to a physical Google Pixel 2 prototype. The said engineer, David Zeuthen, was able to test a feature on the Walleye device. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise considering Google is working on the next-gen Pixel as well as Android O. The code commits on AOSP Gerrit give Pixel fans a reason to believe that the company has already developed a working prototype of its upcoming flagship.

It’s also entirely possible that David Zeuthen is using an older Nexus or Pixel device running the same software that Google Pixel 2 will deploy.

Google Pixel 2 features and specs

Google has already said that the new Pixel phones would cater to the premium segment. WinFuture found reference to Qualcomm’s latest MSM8998 aka Snapdragon 835 in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). All three Pixel phones coming this year would run the same processor as Samsung’s latest Galaxy S8.

According to Pixel 2 renders leaked on Chinese microblogging site Weibo, the phone would have a curved display similar to the Galaxy S8. The side bezels are gone, and the top and bottom bezels have become incredibly thin. Last year’s Pixel phones had a dull and conventional design. Samsung’s Galaxy S8 has raised the bar for premium smartphones, and the 10th anniversary iPhone 8 is also expected to have an entirely new design.

On the rear panel, the leaked renders sport a dual-camera system. A dual camera is expected, considering it has become a rage since Apple introduced the dual-camera system on the iPhone 7 Plus. Recent rumors suggest Pixel 2 would have 16MP dual cameras on the back, and an 8MP front snapper. Google is particularly interested in enhancing low-light photography. It would optimize the camera hardware and software to take the best quality photos.

The Google Pixel 2 is rumored to sport a 5.5-inch Quad HD display with 2560 x 1440 pixels resolution. Google is expected to add waterproofing capabilities to the Pixel 2 phones. The company reportedly had to drop the water- and dust-resistance capabilities from the last year’s Pixel and Pixel XL because of time constraints. Water-resistance has become a standard feature for premium smartphones. Google has to offer this feature if it wants to stay relevant in the high-end market.

The Pixel 2 line is said to feature 6GB RAM and 128GB/256GB of internal storage. The device would run Android 8.0 out of the box. It would boast of features like Google Assistant, Pixel Launcher, and Daydream VR.

Who is going to manufacture Google Pixel 2?

The original Pixel phones were manufactured by HTC, even though Google has had a long working relationship with LG Electronics. Supply chain sources told DigiTimes that HTC had signed a two-year contract with Google, which means it will also be assembling this year’s Pixel 2 phones. However, Google is in talks with as many as four players – HTC, LG, Coolpad, and TCL – for the next year’s Pixel 3 line.

Release date and price

The fact that Google engineers are already testing Pixel 2 prototypes has sparked speculations that the phone’s unveiling is imminent. The rumor mill expects Google to share details on the device at its I/O event, set to take place later this month. However, we can’t say with certainty if the device will be announced in May. Last year’s Pixel phones were launched in early October. It makes sense for Google to bring out the Pixel 2 phones in the fourth quarter to capitalize on the holiday sales.

The Google Pixel and Pixel XL were priced at $649 and $769 for the base model, respectively. Since the new devices would continue to target the premium market, don’t expect them to cost less than $649. Rumors indicate that the Google Pixel 2 would be priced at $699. The XL version costs $120 more than its smaller sibling.