Google added much needed spice to the smartphone industry last year when it announced it was entering the market in earnest. No more coupling with another manufacturer to make a Nexus device that was part Google and part Huawei, or HTC, or LG or Samsung. Mountain View was ready to do it all on its own (except for the actually building part, HTC still did that). The first Pixel was also the first smartphone designed entirely by Google, and it remains the closest device Android has to the iPhone in terms of melding hardware and software.
Despite all its strengths, the Pixel was far from perfect. Now, with the next generation just around the corner, rumors are starting to fly about the next Pixel and we’ve even had a look at some renders thanks to the folks at Android Police. Indications are that Google will remedy many of the major issues the original Pixel had, so we figured we should throw out our wishlist in case Mountain View needs any more ideas down the homestretch.
Here are 5 things we want to see in the Pixel 2:
Image via Android Police
The original Pixel had just about everything going for it, but the one knock that was consistent across nearly every review was that the hardware, from a design perspective, was incredibly stale. The design was the clearest sign of Google having to rush the production of its first handset, the Pixel wasn’t prepared to face off against the likes of the iPhone 7 and Galaxy Note 7 when it came to market. It caught a break when Notes began to explode, and when it proved it was the best Android smartphone to buy in every other category, but nearly a year since its release, the Pixel looks even more dated than it did in the fall of 2016.
The good news is that, if we are to believe the leaked renderings posted by Android Police, which has a stellar track record of accuracy when it comes to leaks like this, the next Pixel will be a stunner. It is reportedly being built by LG, and the G6’s influence is seen in the phone’s reduced bezels, giving it a very modern and on trend look for 2017. If it looks as good in the hand as it does in the renders, the next Pixel will be up to the task of competing with the forthcoming iPhone and Galaxy Note 8. It is important to note, though, that the renders are of the Pixel XL 2 specifically, and reports tend to suggest that the difference between the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 could be more than just size this time around.
Wishing for better hardware speakers on flagship smartphones in 2017 is akin to screaming into a darkened canyon. The OEMs aren’t listening, and they don’t care. But, the Pixel’s speaker was so pitiful that any improvement is welcome. The renders suggest that Google could opt for an HTC-style stereo effect with one front-facing speaker and one bottom-firing, which would greatly improve immersion when playing games and watching videos sans headphones. Even if the company opts for just a single front-facing speaker, I’d be elated. The rule of putting the speaker on the underside of the phone’s frame needs to be eradicated.
Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
I’ve gone on record saying all smartphones should have 50mm lenses, a wish that is possible with the trend of dual camera setups on many smartphones. Though Samsung opted not to put a dual camera in the Galaxy S8, they are expected to do so with the forthcoming Note 8, which means Google shouldn’t rest on its laurels of having the best camera on the market with the current Pixel. The company is sitting pretty when it comes to camera performance, but the opportunity to cement the Pixel as the best camera you can have in your pocket is available this year. One way to enhance the Pixel’s camera would be to add a second lens, giving users more flexibility and options when shooting photos. If Google wants to keep the price from skyrocketing, it could even opt to designate the dual cameras for the XL, much like Apple did with the iPhone 7 Plus.
Every top-tier flagship in 2017 should be waterproof. Hell, every top-tier flagship in 2016 should have been waterproof, but the Pixel wasn’t. Expect Google not to overlook this feature for a second year in a row. The Pixel 2 should be able to be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes, just like the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8. Even if you’re extremely careful with your devices, the added insurance of waterproofing can’t be overstated.
There is no question that the biggest thing Google needs to improve in 2017 is its own manufacturing procedures. The primary issue holding the Pixel back last year wasn’t the design, or the lack of waterproofing, it was the fact that most people who wanted to buy the phone couldn’t. There are numerous horror stories of users desperately hoping to pick up a Pixel, only for it to be out of stock for weeks on end, and then, once they were finally able to purchase the device, not receiving it until months later. If all the rumors are true, the next Pixel could be a world beater of a smartphone, and will likely be the best Android handset money can buy. But none of that matters if you can’t, you know, buy it.