With the disappearance of the Nexus range and the birth of the Pixel phones last September, Google has clearly changed its policy in terms of hardware. Faced with the success of its new phones, the Mountain View-based company has decided to continue its streak and is currently preparing the second generation of Pixel phones. To help out the teams working with Rick Osterloh, the hardware boss of Google, we decided to share with him what we expect to see in the Pixel 2.
1. Global availability
These 'made in Google' smartphones are mobile devices that simply offer the best Android experience possible and as such, any mobile OS fan in their right mind would jump at the opportunity to use one. They also come with the guarantee of having the latest system updates available during at least two years.
As I explained in my review, Apple has the iPhone and now Google has the Pixel. This is why it would seem crucial to make the device available on other markets than just the ones the first Pixel phone was officially launched in: Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, United Kingdom and Germany, the latter being the only non-English speaking country to get the Pixel smartphones. Although Google has never put forward a formal explanation for this decision, Lena Heuermann, Google's press officer in Germany, told me that this lack of marketing in all countries was due to the absence of Google Assistant in other languages.
Although the Pixel phones are only marketed in a few countries, Google is experiencing serious stock depletion problems and is having trouble meeting the demand of its customers. Therefore, if you want one, you'll have to be very patient as the wait may last up to several weeks. This is a frustrating situation which, although it may initially appear to pay off from a marketing point of view, can ultimately be detrimental in terms of sales and may even turn out to be catastrophic against the competition.
There are elements missing that hinder being able to manufacture the Pixel phones on a large scale
At the MWC 2017 in Barcelona, Rick Osterloh confided in us that there are elements missing that hinder being able to manufacture the Pixel phones on a large scale. This is why stocks are sold out and why it isn't possible to sell enough. Unfortunately, it isn't possible to ascertain whether the ongoing depletion of stocks of the devices is only linked to the difficulty of obtaining these elements or whether other factors also come into play. Either way, it is widely hoped that Google will improve this situation, especially if the Pixel 2 phone is launched in a larger number of countries.
3. An improved design
Granted, the main aim of the first Pixel phones was to provide a software experience that was as pleasant as possible. As a result, the emphasis during the design stage of the phones was more on optimization between the software and hardware parts of the phones, as well as their photography capabilities. It's clear that the resulting product is successful because the smartphone is powerful, the interface is fluid and the quality of the photos is currently one of the best on the market.
However, for a high-end smartphone costing a somewhat premium rate, users are entitled to expect a little more than good performance and a good camera. Design is one of the elements that was most neglected on the first generation of Pixel phones. Although it isn't ugly, the Pixels don't portray much originality and aren't the most elegant smartphones we've ever seen. At the very least, they don't stand out in any way among their competitors.
At a time when borderless smartphones are becoming more and more numerous (Xiaomi Mi Mix to name but a few), it will be difficult for the Pixel 2 to claim to be within the ranks of the best smartphone if no effort is put into the design of the handset.
Finally, let us conclude with a feature that was missing in the first round of Pixel phones: protection against water and dust. Although last year, this lack of IP68/67 certification was still passable, this won't be the case this year. Most high-end smartphones (Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, LG G6, etc.) all have this level of protection that turns out to be extremely practical on a daily basis.
And even though the latest Huawei P10 doesn't have the certification itself, at least it's splash-proof thanks to its nano-coating - in short, if Google once again decides to forego this feature this year, the web giant will be taking a huge risk.
What about you, what would you like to see in the Google Pixel 2?