Will Google play catch-up — or leapfrog the iPhone X?
Google went through a bit of its own shakeup when it acquired HTC’s phone hardware team in September 2017, which it has since folded it into its own operations. And the smartphone landscape has evolved too, as Apple reset the standards and conventions for price and design with the iPhone X.
It’s in this dynamic environment that Google will launch the next generation of its flagship phone, as it attempts to solidify its place among the smartphone elite. The current Pixel is one of the best smartphones on the strength of its camera, snappy performance and homegrown Android software — one that’s first with feature updates and security patches. And the company’s forthcoming Android Poperating system has that can’t be found on any iPhone(yet).
But there have been some bumps in the road. With the Pixel 3 series, Google will want to avoid the mistakes associated with the Pixel 2 XL, which caught flack for burn-in issues and other defects related to the phone’s OLED display. Those missteps resulted in quite a bit of media attention, marring some initial positive reviews with caveats. It also added a spotlight on Google’s warranty policies, which were eventually broadened. (Note that the iPhone X’s OLED display is not immune from burn-in either.)
As for design changes coming to the Pixel 3 there have been some renders, and Google’s annual I/O conference provided plenty of grist for the rumor mill. We’ve collated the major buzz on the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL below, and will continue to update this space regularly with news and rumors.
Pixel 3 coming soon in October 2018?
Google introduced the original Pixel and its super-size sibling, the Pixel XL on October 4, 2016. The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL debuted exactly one year later. We have every reason to believe that the company will remain faithful to this schedule, introducing the next phone in October.
The first phone with Android P
The next version of Google’s Android OS is all about gesture navigation, and it would be natural for Google to debut it on its upcoming flagship. Google already showed off two beta versions of Android P — we don’t know what the P stands for yet — since its I/O conference in May.
Because the iPhone X also has a new gesture-based navigation, Google executives insist that they’ve been working on their new interface for more than a year, and that they are driven by a desire to reduce the number of physical buttons on Android phones.
Google could give the Pixel 3 a notch
This one requires a little triangulation. We already know that Android P will support phones with notches. And, as previously mentioned, we’re assuming that Google will debut Android P on the Pixel 3. As such, the rumor about a notched Pixel 3 is entirely plausible.
And while Google may deny that it’s following any other company with its gesture-based navigation, it’s irrefutable that Apple has brought notch design into the , even though the Essential Phone was the first to actually ship it.
The phone could have wireless charging
After releasing its second beta of Android P, XDA Developers found evidence in the OS’ code that points to support for wireless charging. This rumor is also boosted by another speculation that the new Pixel may (which is ideal for wireless charging compared to metal bodies). Google has made wireless charging phones before (like the Google Nexus 6 and Google Nexus 5), but stopped in 2015 with the launch of the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P. Perhaps it’s bringing the feature back, however, due to the wireless charging capabilities of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X.
Pixel 3 XL may have two front-facing cameras, new display
In addition to the notch, Bloomberg posited that the Pixel 3 XL will have an edge-to-edge display and two front-facing cameras. The smaller Pixel 3, however, will have neither of these things.
The German news site WinFuture, which has a pretty reliable record with tech rumors, also reported that Google will partner with Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn (the same company that makes iPhones) to build “new display hardware.”
It might look pretty similar to the Pixel 2
According to the first batch of allegedly(because we’re sure there will be more), the Pixel 3 may not look too different than its predecessor. Again, these photos weren’t independently verified, but the images show a phone with a speaker grilled embedded in the bottom bezel, one rear-camera and the Pixel’s signature glass shade.
There could be a premium Pixel phone to battle 2018 iPhones…
Tech blog Droid Life reported that Google has three new Pixel phones in the pipeline for 2018. This trio could include a mysterious higher-end version — perhaps intended to compete with the $999 iPhone X — in addition to the standard and XL models. As a reminder, the 64GB Pixel 2 starts at $649 (£629 or AU$1,079) and the Pixel 2 XL starts at $849 (£799 or AU$1,399).
That noted, frequent tipster Evan Blass tweeted that, according to a “reliable source,” Google will deliver a Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL — as well as the next generation of Pixel Buds and a Pixel-branded watch. If he’s right, we’re back to looking at two phones, not three. The Pixel 3 XL might have to take on 2018’s iPhones on its own.
Or a super-cheap Pixel phone?
Google is said to be developing an inexpensive “midrange” Pixel for emerging markets that could debut this summer, according to Economic Times.
It’s not clear whether Google would bring this budget model to the US; the timing doesn’t sync up with the Pixel’s usual October debut. But such a phone would certainly make an interesting foil to Apple’s rumored iPhone SE 2, which we could see in September, when iPhones usually launch.