Google Pixel and Pixel XL might not have set the sales record on fire, but that doesn’t mean the search giant is giving up on its hardware dreams. Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will be launched tonight by the company at an event in San Francisco. Clearly Google is invested in this project for the long run. It has already announced the acquisition of a part of HTC’s engineering team, which includes people who were working on the Pixel series.
As with the previous Pixel phones, leaks have given us a pretty good look at the upcoming smartphones, though we will have to wait for the official launch to see what turns out to be true. However, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will also continue with the premium price tag that we saw in the earlier devices. Google Pixel started in India at a price of Rs 57,000, while the bigger Pixel XL had a price tag of Rs 67,000 for the base 32GB variant. Such pricing meant that when Pixel phones launched they were directly competing with the likes of Samsung Galaxy S series and Apple iPhone 7, etc.
While Pixel offered top notch specifications and a camera the press couldn’t stop raving about, the fact remained that there was nothing to really make the Pixel phones stand out from their mid-range rivals. Yes, Pixel phones comes with stock Android and were among the first phones to have the Google Assistant. But players like OnePlus have also adopted a more stock UI Android approach. Then there’s the Motorola list of phones, which has always sported stock Android. And Google Assistant was soon rolled out to the entire Android universe, which meant the exclusivity aspect of Pixel phones was soon lost.
With Pixel series, Google says it is in the hardware game for a long run. But this is not the first time that we have seen the company trying to succeed in this segment. There have been Nexus phones, though those were co-branded with other companies. In 2013, we saw Nexus editions of popular flagship phones like Samsung Galaxy S4 ‘Nexus Edition’ which came with stock Android.
Finally, let’s not forget the Android One series, which is now being revived in India with the Xiaomi Mi A1. The phone is a mid-range device with stock Android and the promise of quick updates. So where will the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL stand in this large and fragmented Android universe? How are they different, and that’s a question many users might ask if they want to spend a premium price on an Android phone.
That’s really the question that will be answered tonight. If one goes by the leaks, there’s no dual-rear camera coming, which might be a miss given top tier flagships are sporting this, including the Galaxy Note 8 and the Apple iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X.
Again we’ll have to see what sort of results the Google Pixel 2 camera delivers, considering that the company has more than a few software tricks up its sleeves to surprise on this front. Having used the Pixel XL camera extensively, I can still say this is one to keep most folks more than happy, even without the dual lens system.
Then, there’s the design and according to reports only the bigger Pixel 2 XL is getting a ‘Full Vision’ style display with minimal bezels. But as we’ve seen the market is suddenly full of “bezel-less” phones, with options range from hideous implementations to those that are simply stunning. How the Google Pixel 2 XL fares on this front will be closely watched.
With the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, the company wants to control everything from top to bottom. Hardware, software, after sales servicing, etc, just like Apple and this isn’t news. But for most users that might not be enough, especially in a crowded Android market. Now whether the Pixel 2 packs a surprise element that we’ve not quite seen being leaked would be the story.