Unless Google drastically changes their plans, it’s almost a guarantee that Google will be launching new Pixel handsets this year, presumably the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL. Below are a compiled list of some of the rumored changes that we’ve heard about, along with what we might be able to reasonably expect.
Imaginary depiction of the Pixel 3 – Image credit – Phone Designer
When it comes to the design of Google’s Nexus and Pixel phones, admittedly they haven’t really been much to shout about and it seems that this year probably won’t be very different. There have been some renders that found its way online that shows what the phone could look like (image above), and for the most part they seem to be similar to last year’s design with some changes here and there. It has also been rumored that there could be new color options, but other than that it doesn’t seem like it will be too drastically different.
With the display of the Pixel 3, chances are Google will probably be going with two sizes like they did in previous models. This will come in the form of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, with the former sporting a 5.3-inch display while the latter will come with a larger 6.2-inch display. For those familiar with the Pixel 2’s specs, the new sizes are slightly bigger by 0.3-inches and 0.2-inches respectively.
According to my sources: Pixel 3 ≃ 5.3-inch (no notch) Pixel 3XL ≃ 6.2-inch (notch)
However it is possible that the 6.2-inch model could be as big as the Pixel 2 if not smaller. This is because we have heard rumors that the Pixel 3 XL could sport an edge-to-edge display with a notch which could allow it to feature a bigger screen but maintain its size or be smaller.
There was a rumor about Google potentially launching 3 Pixel phones this year, but details about the third model is scarce and it is unclear where it would fit in the Pixel lineup.
Processor & RAM
Given that the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are meant to be flagship level handsets, it’s almost a guarantee that they will be packing Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset. There have been rumors in the past that Google could be interested in developing its own chipset. This comes in the form of several hires of personnel who have had experience developing such hardware. However we haven’t really heard that much on that front and so it seems unlikely Google will be debuting their own chipset this year.
As for RAM, last year’s Pixels came with 4GB of RAM and 64GB/128GB storage options. There have been no rumors to suggest that this could change, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Google were to bump up the RAM to at least 6GB and maybe introduce 256GB storage options as this seems to be the trend.
In the past Google’s Nexus handsets weren’t really known for their camera quality. They were at best adequate for day-to-day use. However Google has turned things around with the Pixel handsets where in 2016, DxOMark ranked the Pixel phones as having one of the best smartphone cameras.
The trend these days certainly seems to be about dual-lens cameras on the back and we wouldn’t be surprised if Google were to introduce this feature this year. However even with the dual-lens setup, Google has managed to accomplish certain features that dual-lenses can achieve through software, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing. If anything it actually helps to keep costs down.
Last year’s Pixel models featured 12.2MP sensors which was essentially the same as the original Pixel and Pixel XL models. The main differences would be in the software and also the aperture, where the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL had wider apertures. This means there is a chance that the megapixel count could continue to remain unchanged this year, but we could see improvements in color, aperture, and software.
Google’s Pixel phones have typically relied on fingerprint sensors and there have been no rumors to suggest that this could change. For those hoping to see features like iris/facial scanning you could be disappointed, but if you’re perfectly happy with fingerprint scanners then it seems unlikely that we’ll see changes this year.
That being said, it has been discovered in the AOSP that there could be native facial authentication features coming to Android. Google did not make any mention of this during I/O 2018 which could mean that it isn’t quite ready yet, so it is unlikely that we’ll see it in the Pixel phones this year, but who knows, maybe 2019’s Pixel phones will tell a different story.
The batteries on the Pixel phones haven’t really changed that much over the past couple of years. The original Pixel and Pixel XL had 2,770mAh and 3,450mAh batteries respectively, and their successors ended up with 2,700mAh and 3,520mAh batteries, which means that this year’s Pixel phones probably won’t see too big of an increase in battery size, if at all. Hopefully the optimization in Android P and the efficiency of the Snapdragon 845 chipset will be able to make a difference at least. There have also been rumors that suggest that wireless charging could be coming to the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Launch Date, Availability, Pricing
Google’s Pixel phones have typically been launched in October and it stands to reason that this probably won’t change this year. When exactly is anyone’s guess but October is the timeframe that you can look forward to. As for availability, those in the US who wish to purchase it from a carrier will have to go through Verizon as it has been rumored that Verizon will continue being the Pixel’s exclusive carrier.
As for pricing, this shouldn’t change that much either. For context, the 64GB Pixel 2 was priced at $649 while the Pixel 2 XL was priced at $849, so expect this year’s Pixel phones to be around that range as well.