With a new year on us, we're about to head into a cycle where all the phones of the year get updated - Samsung, LG, Sony and Huawei all launched new devices at Mobile World Congress. Nokia also rejoined this list.
Heading toward the end of 2017 we'll see the update to the iPhone 8 and Google's new phone, which we'll call the Pixel 2.
We've been using the Pixel XL since launch, so here's a rundown of what we want to see and what we expect for the next Google Pixel phone.
Rumours have already suggested that the Pixel XL codenames might be Muskie, Walleye and Taimen. We've seen Google using fish names in the past, so that's something worth keeping an eye on.
Google Pixel 2: Design
Design is the thing that has probably divided people the most when it comes to the Pixel. Although the body is a high quality design, the top glass section has drawn a lot of criticism. It makes the phone a little different, making it distinctive so it sits apart from the iPhone and all of Android's metal phones.
This seems to be an industry problem however, where many devices look the same because, ultimately, how many ways can you design a slab which is all display on the front? The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge is perhaps the design success of 2016, being the most distinctive and unique device, but we suspect the curved display is going to become more common.
Prior to the launch of the Pixel, it was rumoured that HTC had signed up to manufacture multiple devices across the next 3 years, so they might be the hardware partner once again, and devices like the U Ultra or the future HTC Ocean flagship might be a hint at future Pixel design too.
We suspect there will be a move to reduce the bezels to increase the screen to body ratio to keep the phone competitive.
But the fundamental failing of the Pixel is the lack of waterproofing: with many competitors offering protection, for the price that Google is asking the Pixel 2 needs to step up with a solid IP rating. That's apparently something that was attempted for the Pixel, but eventually dropped, but there's an unconfirmed rumour that's been mentioned to 9to5Google, shared via Twitter.
Little tidbit we were told in October last year that I forgot about: “Waterproofing definitely coming with next Pixel device.”— Stephen Hall (@hallstephenj) January 25, 2017
It's also been confirmed by Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of hardware at Google, that the Pixel 2 will still be a premium offering in 2017.
Google Pixel 2: Display
With two Pixel models on offer giving you the choice of 5.0 or 5.5-inches, we're not really looking for a huge change. We feel that 5.5 inch size is becoming the norm. As smartphones continue to dominate as the first point of interaction in all things, this is a size that works for a lot of people, but we can't rule out an increase in size.
We also wouldn't expect a shift in resolution. The 2560 x 1440 pixels offered gives you the detail when magnified in a Daydream headset, it's crisp and sharp in all things. We also think that AMOLED should remain the display of choice. Although some LCD displays are performing very well at the top level, AMOLED has impressed us the most recently.
There are rumours of increasing display sizes however: the Samsung Galaxy S8 is said to come with 5.7 or 6.2-inch sizes, the LG G6 said to be 5.7-inches and both of these handsets are looking to shrink bezels to create more display space without making the body much larger. Google mey feel the Pixel 2 needs to do the same to stay competitive and this might also dictate some of the body design.
Google Pixel 2: Specs and hardware
When it comes to power, the current Pixel devices opted for a new chip - Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 - a step-up over most of 2016's flagship phones. Qualcomm doesn't stand still and the Snapdragon 835 is now ready to roll out.
We'd expect the Snapdragon 835 to feature in the Pixel 2, supported by at least 4GB of RAM. With some companies pushing to 6GB, that may be a suggestion, although we're yet to see any real demand for that sort of increase. That said, there has been talk of Google testing a couple of different chipsets from Qualcomm, Intel and even a custom chip. Rumour has it there may also be a Pixel 2B handset, which will apparently be cheaper with less powerful hardware.
We'd expect storage options to start at 32GB as they currently do and as Google has avoided microSD card support, we don't think there will be any luck there.
We'd expect USB Type-C as the standard moving forward, as well as a fingerprint scanner, likely on the rear, unless there are serious moves to embrace a scanner under the glass on the front. This is a technology that's already been demonstrated by Qualcomm, so it's not impossible.
There's no telling what the battery capacity might be, but with 3500mAh offering the performance many want, we'd expect that sort of battery size to be crammed into the frame.
Google Pixel 2: Audio and speakers
The Pixel has been flagged up recently as having some problems with its speakers (although we've not suffered anything ourselves). We wouldn't expect a huge change in the speaker arrangements, we're also not convinced that Google would drop the 3.5mm headphone socket. Hopefully, that will continue to be the convention for Pixel phones.
Google Pixel 2: Cameras
Perhaps the biggest movement in cameras at the moment is dual-lens cameras. While LG, Huawei and Apple have all embraced this trend in 2016, we're yet to see if the likes of Samsung will adopt the format too. From a competitive point of view, Google may choose to use a dual-lens camera to add customer appeal.
It has been claimed the Pixel 2 will have a much improved camera, though it apparently won't be all about megapixels and more about extra features instead. The Pixel is coming from a strong place for photography, unlike the previous Nexus handsets, so we hope that continues.
Google Pixel 2: Software
The Pixel launched with Android 7 Nougat and a selection of exclusive features, like Google Assistant, Pixel Launcher and the Pixel camera. That unique software position is being chipped away as features appear elsewhere, but we'd expect the Pixel 2 to debut Google's new software version.
Currently there's no talk about Android O or what it might bring, but we'd expect our first glance at Google I/O 2017 around May time. We'd expect things like Android's instant apps, more Google Assistant developments and more Daydream VR refinement.
Google Pixel 2: Release date
Google launches its phones towards the end of the year, so we wouldn't expect to see a new device from Google until around October 2017. Before that happens, we'll have Google I/O in May which is a key date in outlining what to expect from the Google Pixel.
It has been claimed the Pixel 2 will see a price increase of $50 and be aimed at a different market to the cheaper Pixel 2B that is also being talked about. One thing is clear: Google has failed to meet demand with the Pixel, so needs to think bigger with the Pixel 2.
Rick Osterloh, SVP of hardware at Google also confirmed in an interview that "there is an annual rhythm in the industry. So, you can count on us to follow it", suggesting that Pixel 2 will follow a similar cycle to the first device.
Currently there aren't many other rumours about what to expect, but that will change soon enough and we'll keep you fully updated when they do.