After the release of the Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL, work is now well underway on a trio of Pixel 3 phones

After the release of the Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL, work is now well underway on a trio of Pixel 3 phones



Google's own-brand phones might not have taken the world by storm, but they've had a fairly consistent and loyal fanbase for some time now - first with the Nexus series, and now with the Pixel phones. 

Google intended Pixel to have the kind of mass-appeal that would put it on a rival footing with Apple's iPhone, but to date, with both the first-gen Pixels and both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL from 2017, sales have been fair, but not mind-blowing.

But with most of Google's mountain of cash coming from its Android OS, search, ads, services, and YouTube enterprises, the company has enough padding that it can keep trying to make its phones take off. Perhaps 2018's Pixel 3 series will make it third time's the charm?

The Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL are now widely available all around the world. Both handsets feature brilliant cameras and one of the best software experiences around, but there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Google only sold 3.9 million Pixel phones in 2017, a paltry figure when you consider how many iPhones Apple ships per quarter (spoiler: it's almost 80 million). But Google is new to this game, building an install base will take time, and it is still very much getting its ideas down at this stage of the game.

The Pixel and Pixel 2 series were both very impressive, but both releases lacked that all-important wow factor. Sure, they had brilliant software and amazing cameras. But to look at? Yeah, they weren't too exciting. And this is where I see things developing in 2018.

In order to compete with the big boys, the Apple and Samsung's of the world, Google needs a rock-solid design that inspires as much as it performs ergonomically. This is why Google acquired HTC's phone design division – it wants more direct control over its phones, how they're designed, and how they're built.

The software and hardware side of things is sorted. Android runs better on a Pixel phone than any other phone on the planet. Google just needs to make them more attractive to users en masse. And the best way to do this is by switching up the design to something more, well…. Eye-catching.

And in 2018, there will be three Pixel 3 phones to choose from. Interestingly, this was also meant to be the plan for 2017, until one phone was axed. So what can we expect from Google's Pixel 3 smartphones?

And we now have some Pixel 3 concepts to look at courtesy of Concept Creators. Granted, none of these concepts are official, but they are based on the current run of rumours, so they might be quite close to what we actually get to see later on this year.

(IMAGE SOURCE)

I'm a huge fan of the Pixel 2 XL, but I do think the design of the phone is a bit, well… pedestrian. Google could – and should – give its 2018 Pixel phones are BIG update in the physical design department. Doing this would increase the appeal of the handset as well as make the price of the devices a little more palatable.

The bezels on the Pixel 2 are too big and the next generation of Pixel phones, if 2017 trends are anything to go by, will see more display and less bezel on the front of the handsets. I also love the color options used in the concepts as well, so fingers crossed Google steps up its game in both regards in 2018.

The fact that there will be three is definitely interesting, as it could mean Google is looking at releasing a budget-oriented model, something similar to the Nexus 4/Nexus 5 from a few years back.

Time For A Notch?

In a bizarre move, Android phone makers seem to be copying the worst features implemented on iPhone and bringing them to Android handsets. The first instance of this was the removal of headphone jacks. The second will be the "notch" – a unit on the front of the handset that houses a camera and sensors.

The notch wasn't exactly popular on the iPhone X, it broke up the display and looked, well, a little out of place. Why Android phone makers are copying this feature remains to be seen, but they ARE copying, as Android P even has references to a notch in its source code. So notches are coming to Android in 2018.

iphone-x-review
iphone-x-review

The notch does serve a purpose, however, as for a phone to be completely edgeless it has to have one, so you can get a phone speaker and a camera unit, as well as sensors, in the front of the device. In years to come, these features will likely be integrated into the display – just like what Samsung will do with its fingerprint scanner this year – but this is likely a ways off yet. So for now we're stuck with the notch.

A New Kind of Nexus 5-Style Release For 2018? 

The Nexus 5 was one of the most loved Android phones of all time. If you spend any time on Reddit, you will know that the handset is still thriving despite its age and lack of support from Google.

And the reason why the Nexus 5 was so popular is simple, it was a great phone with a great price tag. Made by Google in cahoots with LG, the Nexus 5 was all about value for money, software, and getting stuff done with minimal fuss or fanfare.

The hole left by the Nexus 5 was never really filled, though OnePlus has made a valiant attempt to do so with its excellent phones over the years. But as good as the OnePlus 5T is it still misses the one thing that made the Nexus 5 – and all Nexus phones, for that matter – special; updates.

And this got me thinking, especially after reading that there would be three Pixel 3 phones released in 2018, that perhaps it is time for Google to revisit what it was doing with the Nexus 5? In a sea of almost-£1000 phones, a low-priced Google phone would be extremely popular, especially if it borrowed from the Nexus 5's modus operandi.

Will this happen? Don't count on it – reports suggest the third Pixel option will be an ultra-premium affair, meaning Google is keen to go after the example set by the iPhone X and charge $1000 for a phone.

This is the wrong approach, however, as I am sure it would have more success with something similar to the Nexus 5, only dressed in Pixel clothing. By using its old model, Google could create an exceptional phone that, when priced around the same as the OnePlus 5T, could do some serious damage to Apple's dominance of the space.

Google wants to be more like Apple. But competing with the company head-on, and on pricing, I feel, is not the way to go about it. A better approach would be to offer up something that gave users unparalleled value for money, get them locked into the Pixel ecosystem, and then, a year or two later, try and get them upsold to a bigger and more costly model.

This is basically what Apple has done, although over a 10 year period, and it definitely works. Android is not iOS, it's always been more inclusive, and I think this is something Google should reflect with its product choices in 2018.

By offering a compelling-but-easily-affordable Pixel phone in 2018, Google would increase brand exposure, secure itself millions of new users, and help push its Pixel install base from barely anything at all to something approaching decent.

I am a HUGE fan of the current Pixel phones, but you definitely do not need an even more expensive version. There's not much else you could do to make the phone better, for instance, unless you're talking about its physical appearance. And even then, why would you pay more just for some arbitrary design tweaks?

A cheaper, functional handset that undercuts the OnePlus 5T is definitely more compelling. It offers something different, something that is attainable for more people, and it is something that could be used, over a period of 24 months, to lock a user into Pixel phones for good.

The world does not need another £1000 Android phone, it needs more value for money like the OnePlus 5T. So, come on, Google, sort it out!

Don't count on it, though. Most seem to agree that Google's third handset will be an ultra-premium model similar to Apple's iPhone X – so, expect to pay around $1000 for it. 

I don't think there much of an appetite for this kind of thing in the Android space, even more so when you factor in how irked many users were by the price of Google's Pixel phones, to begin with.

But this is where the problem resides in the mind of phone makers: they love profits and will do anything to get their hands on them. A value proposition would add more value and make more sense, something close to the OnePlus 5T for instance, as it would encourage people to give Pixel a try.

And once they've experienced the Pixel, its fast updates and superb camera, it'd be easier to convert them to more expensive models. As it stands, Google's Pixel phones account for hardly any of the mobile space. Google needs market share for its phones, not higher profit margins (these will come in time with volume).

I was worried that everybody else would follow Apple down the $1000-Phone route and, if early reports are to be believed, it looks as if both Google and Samsung definitely are with their 2018 plans.

Finger's crossed Google goes for value this time around, as the Pixel 2 XL is already VERY expensive anyway.

Google Pixel 3 Will Use Snapdragon 845 CPU

Qualcomm releases a new Snapdragon CPU every year and 2018's flagship device will be the Snapdragon 845 CPU. Samsung will take the lion's share of these chipsets during the first part of the year, though Google, HTC, LG, and others will pick up plenty of these CPUs during the latter part of 2018.

So what can you expect from the Snapdragon 845 CPU with respect to performance and new features? Quite a bit as it goes; here's what Qualcomm said about the 845 at launch:

"Thoughtfully designed with tech-savvy consumers in mind, Snapdragon 845 utilises Qualcomm Technologies' industry-leading wireless heterogenous compute expertise to design a platform for immersive multimedia experiences including eXtended reality (XR), on-device artificial intelligence (AI), lightning-fast connectivity, and introduces our new secure processing unit (SPU) delivering vault-like security for premium, flagship mobile devices."

You can check out a full breakdown of the Snapdragon 845 CPU here

More as we get it!

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