Google's new phones for 2017 will be the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2. They could feature always-on 18:9 displays and squeezable frames (now confirmed by an FCC filing), while the Snapdragon 836 processor could make them even faster than its rivals.
The new Google phones will be the first to showcase Android O, which is very close to completion - rumours suggest it could be announced this Monday.
An image of the Pixel 2 (said to be made by HTC) published by Venture Beat suggests that the smaller handset will not feature the 18:9 display. It also reveals a single camera at the rear, which doesn't tally with what other flagship phone manufacturers are doing right now.
However, Android Police's below image of the larger Pixel XL 2 shows a fuller display. But with this phone expected to be made by LG it will unlikely feature the squeezable edges of the Pixel 2 (an HTC U11 feature).
We're starting to see some renders leaked by case makers, such as that below, and MobileFun tells us all are missing the 3.5mm headphone jack slot. That's not necessarily the end of the world, though: Android O will support a bunch of high-quality audio codecs, including aptX, aptX HD and LDAC.
When is the Pixel 2 release date?
Google Senior Vice President of Hardware, Rick Osterloh, has confirmed that a Pixel 2 will arrive in 2017. "There is an annual rhythm in the industry. So, you can count on us to follow it," Osterloh said. "You can count on a successor this year, even if you don't hear a date from me now," Osterloh told Android Pit. Osterloh also said the Pixel 2 would retain its premium price.
Allowing for a good few months of Android O betas prior to the final release, Google phones are traditionally unveiled in late-September/early-October. The current Pixel and Pixel XL were announced at a special event on 5 October 2016, and went on sale on 20 October. We'd expect a similar time frame for the Google Pixel 2.
The concept video at the top of the page shows the date Wednesday 17 October on the phone screen, but we don't know whether this is merely a guess or a good indication of when the release date may be.
How much will the new Google phone cost in the UK?
Rick Osterloh has confirmed that Pixel will retain its premium pricing in 2017.
When it switched its phone line branding from Nexus to Pixel in 2016, Google moved away from high-value devices and toward more premium phones. The cheapest Pixel today costs £599, while the cheapest Pixel XL costs £719.
9to5Google suggests we should expect at least a $50 increase on this due to improvements it is making to the camera and adding waterproofing.
However, the same source also suggests Google is experimenting with a cheaper, lower-specified Pixel 2B that it hopes to launch at the same time or shortly after the Pixel 2 in emerging markets. If it goes ahead there is no guarantee we will see this cheaper Pixel in the UK.
What are the rumoured specifications?
|Specification||Pixel 2||Pixel XL2|
|Operating system||Android O||Android O|
|Display||4.97in Full-HD, always-on display||5.99in Quad-HD (2560x1312), always-on display|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 836||Qualcomm Snapdragon 836|
|GPU||Adreno 540||Adreno 540|
|Primary camera||Unknown single lens||13Mp Single lens, dual-LED flash|
A device said to be the Pixel XL 2 has popped up in a GFXBench listing, reportedly with a 5.6in 2560x1312 display, Android 7.1.1, a 2.4GHz octa-core processor, Adreno 540, 4GB of RAM and 13Mp and 8Mp cameras.
This followed a Geekbench listing that seemingly confirmed an octa-core processor, 4GB of RAM and Android O. This device scored 1804 points in the single-core test, and 6248 multi-core. That's blistering performance, and only slightly down on the recently released Galaxy S8 and Xiaomi Mi6 flagship phones.
That Google might go for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 isn't especially surprising, and though it was also said to be testing models with Intel chips earlier this year Google apparently ruled out cheaper brand MediaTek. The Snapdragon 835 also popped in some Google code associated with 'Walleye' and 'Taimen', making it appear to be the likely candidate.
However, more recently it has been suggested that the Pixel 2 will be the first to feature the Snapdragon 836, an improved version of the 835 with enhanced battery life savings and slightly higher clock speeds.
9to5Google reports that the Pixel 2 will also be waterproof and feature an improved camera (enhanced through features - especially with low-light photography - rather than the megapixel count).
Editor Stephen Hall tweeted in late-January that he recalled being told back in October that the next Google phone would be waterproof, and the fact the current model was not came down to an issue of time constraints, and the need to keep down costs. He says Google was forced to choose between upgrading the camera and making the Pixel waterproof.
The current Pixel and Pixel XL are IP58 rated, which means they are dustproof and protected against spraying water, but not submersible or water-resistant.
According to 9to5Google, an internal document shown to the site confirms that Google will follow Apple in removing the 3.5mm headphone jack in the Pixel 2. We presume this means it will instead get USB-C audio.
There's also talk of a Samsung Galaxy S8-esque curved screen coming to the Pixel 2. According to a report from South Korea's Electronic Times, Google is investing $880m in LG Display Company so it can get hold of flexible OLED screens.
More rumours on the screen front suggest the upcoming Pixel 2 could also feature an always-on display, as seen on Samsung and LG flagships. XDA Developers has unearthed code in the Android O preview that suggests just this. It reports that in the latest Android O Developer Preview 3, it decompiled the SystemUIGoogle.apk file and found evidence of a new tunable that points towards this fact.
The video shown below is an early creation from Concept Creators. It shows renders of what the Pixel 2 may look like, based on speculation and rumours.
One interesting thing to note is the inclusion - once again - of a red Google Pixel 2.
What software will the Pixel 2 run?
Android O focuses on 'fluid experiences' and vitals, with new features headlining during its first public appearance at Google I/O 2017 including picture in picture (multi-windowing mode), notification dots (long-press an app shortcut to view the notification right there onscreen), autofill (like in Chrome but now in apps), and Smart Text Selection (automatically recognises names, addresses and phone numbers so you don't have to fiddle around with selection handles; it can also suggest a relevant app).
Android O is much more streamlined than Nougat with various OS optimisations. The bottom line, according to Google, is that devices boot twice as fast and all apps run faster and smoother by default.
On the subject of apps Google is also introducing Play Protect, which installs every app on a per-device basis in order to keep things ultra-secure.
O also adds 'wise limits' to background processes such as location tracking to sensibly keep battery usage at a reasonable level.
The company noted that there were many more changes coming to the OS, which it didn't have time to talk about during the keynote, including such things as a redesigned Settings menu and Project Treble - the latter in essence ensuring all users get Android OS updates much faster.
We'll bring you more rumours about the Google Pixel 2 as we hear them.
Read next: Best new phones coming in 2017.