2016 Google Pixel and Pixel XL were excellent phones—possibly the best overall Android phones on the market, in fact. So, Google has a lot of live up to with the Pixel 2, which is set for announcement on October 4th.
Many details have been leaked, but it’s hard to keep track of what’s likely and what’s debunked. So, here are the most important things to watch for when the Pixel 2 is unveiled.
New Display, New Design
Samsung is the largest manufacturer of OLED displays, but it’s getting harder for device makers to secure large numbers of them. LG recently turned its attention to manufacturing OLED displays for mobile devices again after several years of sticking to LCDs, and the larger Pixel XL 2 is expected to have one of these panels.
With LG’s new panel, the Pixel XL 2 is expected to take on a very different look than the smaller Pixel 2. The display will be edge-to-edge with rounded corners, much more like the Galaxy S8. However, the panel itself will be flat despite the curved glass on the left and right sides.
Still, the Pixel XL 2 won’t look as old as the first-gen Pixels. The smaller Pixel 2 is expected to only get minor design tweaks. The LG V30 uses the same panel that might be in the Pixel XL 2.
The V30 is the first to come with one of LG’s new OLEDs, and initial impressions are good. We’ll have to see how the Pixel 2 looks, though.
The Headphone Jack Dies, Bisto Lives
By all accounts, Google is leaving the headphone jack behind this year. It’s funny, seeing as last year’s Pixel announcement made a big deal out of the phone still having a headphone jack when Apple has just removed it. These phones will just have a USB Type-C port on the bottom, which means using an adapter for wired headphones.
There will be complaints when Google reveals the lack of headphone jack, but this is a battle we’ve lost. One less port to deal with simplifies the engineering and makes phones easier to waterproof, and Bluetooth has gotten much more reliable.
Google is expected to soften the blow with custom Bluetooth headphones, mirroring Apple’s AirPod announcement with the iPhone 7.
Google’s “Bisto” headphones will most likely be “completely wireless” like the AirPods, and they will have Google Assistant built in. Bisto may actually be a range of products, with Google being joined by the likes of Bose. Even if you don’t get the official Google headphones, you’ll probably want to pick up some Bluetooth devices for the coming 3.5mm apocalypse.
A Squeezable, Smarter Phone
Reports indicate the Pixel 2 and XL 2 will include a squeezable frame, similar to the HTC U11. HTC is expected to manufacture the smaller Pixel, but even the LG-made XL will include this feature. The squeeze action is believed to be tied into Google Assistant. So, instead of using a hotword or pressing the home button, you could call up Assistant simply by squeezing your device.
Google Lens demo at I/O.
Google Lens is probably launching on the Pixel 2, and it could also be part of the squeeze gesture. This feature was demoed at I/O 2017, showing just how far Google’s machine learning technology has come. Lens can look at a photo or the camera viewfinder and identify objects, text, and even locations just from analyzing the image. It’s like Google Now on Tap, but useful.
Keep an eye out on October 4th for all the details. And start saving up. The new Pixels won’t be cheap.