Pixel and Pixel XL rumour round up : Everything we expect

There was a time when things looked to be on the rocks for the search giant’s own-brand handsets, but it’s navigated through the treacherous waters, and come out stronger on the other side. Google looks set to launch its two new phones as the Pixel and Pixel XL at a launch event on October 4, with the Nexus name being retired. Plus the latest rumors suggest they will be ready to buy on October 20.

Usually, when we get closer to an announcement, there are plenty of rumors and leaks that spring out of the water works, and Google can’t seem to patch the holes.

The October 4 date is far from set in stone, but two separate sources have now touted the date. Plus October 20 for an on sale date would make sense.

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We’ve already seen the renamed Pixel Launcher that replaced the former Nexus Launcher, and we have also seen the Pixel’s specs leaked courtesy of a GCF certification page. Now, we have our first look at what may be the front display panels for both the Pixel and Pixel XL. The image below is one of many, and shows what has already been rumored, a 5 inch Pixel and a 5.5 inch Pixel XL display with what seem to be huge bezels for no apparent reason. Both phones are expected to sport AMOLED panels.

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The Pixel phones are expected to have dual stereo speakers at the bottom along with a USB type C port between them and a fingerprint scanner on the back and hence the thick bottom chin has no reason to be there. However since these are just front panels, it’s possible these were old prototype’s that have since been scratched or these may be the real deal. We’re just not really able to tell at this point in time but other renders that we have seen have had similar bezels.

Talking about the build, both phones are expected to have a familiar HTC looking design, however, there will not be a HTC logo. Instead, there’s a possibility that Google will opt for its “G” symbol on the rear of the devices. Both devices will feature premium aluminum builds unlike last year’s Nexus 5X and there is a supposed glossy plastic or glass overlay where various antennas will be housed. However, Android Police believes it will be an all metallic build with no plastic or glass and we hope that’s true.

Both the phones are expected to come with an IP53 rating meaning they will be splash proof but don’t take it in the shower. It’s not much but it’s something. There’s nothing on the front but the display and an earpiece at the top with the camera.

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Camera

There’s more likely to be a 13MP rear and 8MP front combo, which has also been leaked, with Sony’s latest and greatest IMX378 sensor. Last year’s LG Nexus 5X and Huawei Nexus 6P both featured the Sony IMX278, it stands to reason that the new sensor comes with improvements compared to that. And that would be great, since the IMX278 was no slouch at all.

The rear camera is said to have all the features you’d expect, such as 4K video recording as well as an LED flash, face detection software and autofocus tech. OIS makes a return with both the phones. Although, a couple of clear TPU cases showing up online on amazon and ebay show a wide camera space suggesting more than a single camera sensor but so far the reports or renders have never mentioned dual cameras. Spigen has also listed a rugged case for the Pixel XL on Amazon.

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Daydream VR

Something the new Pixel devices are likely to feature heavily is virtual reality (VR). Google announced its Daydream VR platform at its IO conference in May, and you can expect the new service to be a highlight of its new Pixel handsets.

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Google even teased its own VR headset with controller – and we could well see the hardware launch alongside the new phones later this year. It would make sense, as the headset will be dependent on a smartphone to function – and what better device to use than a shiny new Pixel?

We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a “free VR headset when you pre-order a new Pixel” offer come September.

Key Specs

To recap, here are the expected specs of the Pixel and Pixel XL based on the rumors and leaks that we’ve seen over the last few months:

  Google Pixel Google Pixel XL
Display 5-inch FHD (1920×1080) 5.5-inch QHD (2560×1440)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
RAM 4GB 4GB
Storage 32GB/128GB 32GB/128GB
Camera 8MP (front) / 13MP (rear) 8MP (front) / 13MP (rear)
Battery 2,770mAh 3,450mAh
Software Android 7.1 Nougat Android 7.1 Nougat

The specs for the Pixel XL leaked on Geekbench recently but there’s nothing here we didn’t already know except a pretty unimpressive multi-core score. The title says Google Pixel but we have good reason to believe it’s the larger sibling, Pixel XL because the name under the motherboard category says ‘marlin’ which is what the Pixel XL was codenamed as. Apart from those, the Pixel and Pixel XL are also coming with expandable storage support! At least that’s what a listing on Carphone warehouse says.

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Software

The Pixels are supposedly coming out with android 7.1 which will introduce all the rumored features that were supposed to arrive with Android 7.0 such as Google Assistant and possibly Allo among other things. We’re also expecting a slightly redesigned Navigation bar with icons that are filled in.

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Image credit : @RonAmadeo

The home button may end up being a solid circle, which is a move away from the “flower” design that we saw floating around in the past. But the flower is still supposedly there and it opens up when long pressing the home button, but that’s not very likely.

Google Assistant

Apparently, the end of Google Now and the new Google Now on Tap is near. The latest version of the Google Search app has dropped the use of Google Now in all possible cases, highlighted by the replacement of Google Now cards with Feed. As for Google Now on Tap, you will now come across a “Screen search” option instead. This move comes at a time when Google Assistant has just been launched, sort of, inside Allo, a smarter version of Google Now. This assistant is set to make an official appearance on the Pixel and Pixel XL phones when they arrive early next month.

Reboot button

In essence, smartphones of today are trying to emulate computers or rather, they are pocket PCs. If a PC has a reboot option, why can’t the same happen with a smartphone? While this little nifty option has been available on other OEMs devices it has never been an option on Nexus devices. But that is about to change with Android 7.1 update hopefully as the Google Pixel and Pixel XL phones will include a reboot button the power menu for restarting the handset.

Round Icons

Additionally, the icons on the home screen will now be round, to follow along with Google’s own Material Design guidelines. If you’re not a fan of circular icons, luckily for you, it’s android and there’s no lack of Icon Packs.

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Launcher Shortcuts

There is also a 3D Touch like feature called Launcher shortcuts but not necessarily revolving around pressure sensitive displays. In fact, it might be triggered with some other gestures like a long press, a short swipe down, swipe up, you know, there are quite a lot of possibilities. The round icons and the launcher shortcuts are covered in detail here.

Recommended : Action Launcher update adds rumoured Launcher Shortcuts from Google Pixel launcher

Dual Partitions

For the geekier of you, the new phones are also expected to have double the amount of partitions in today’s devices i.e. 2 system partitions, 2 boot partitions, 2 vendor partitions, 2 modem partitions, etc. One set of partitions will be active — the set of partitions that are currently used to boot the device. When an update is published, the update will be applied to the second set in the background. Once the update has been applied, a prompt will appear asking to reboot. The reboot will not include booting to recovery. Instead, the device will switch which set of partitions are used to the second set and you will quickly, perhaps nearly instantly, boot an updated device. This is how the seamless updates are supposed to work.

Google Photos, Allo and Duo

Google will provide free unlimited photo backups, at maximum resolution, through Google Photos for both devices. Allo and Duo will ship pre-installed on both the phones.

Price

In the past Nexus smartphones have been cheaper than the flagship devices they tend to be put up against, but that distinction became blurred in 2015, with the Nexus 6P sporting a lofty price tag of its own. This year, the Pixel is expected to carry a similar price tag with that of the Nexus 6P at $649. That’s a steep price for the smaller phone, suggesting the larger Pixel XL could be somewhere around $700-$800 variant which means it would be in direct competition with Cupertino and the other premium Android flagships. Google is looking to finally take charge and fulfill it’s android vision.

Trying to condense all of these rumors is a bit of a pain, but we are so close to the official unveiling that we can smell it and are getting more excited by the day although admittedly the design is a bit off putting but so was the Nexus 6P until it arrived in user’s hands so we’ll wait to pass any judgment on that.

What do you think about all of this? Are you getting impatient as we near the supposed release of these devices? Are you holding out for the Pixel and Pixel XL or the expected huge bezels already a deal breaker for you? Sound off in the comments below.

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