Three new Pixel 3 phones are anticipated for 2018 (and might launch alongside a new Pixel Watch). Rumours on the hardware itself remain thin on the ground, but we're hearing more and more about Android P: the operating system they will be among the first to run, and for which there is now a Public Beta.
Although Google did not confirm the phones themselves at Google I/O 2018 on 8 May, it did release the Android P Public Beta and highlight some key points about the update. The new features fall into three main categories: intelligence, simplicity, and digital wellbeing.
The most obvious change on the Pixel 3 will be its new single-button navigation system, which you swipe from side to side to see open apps or pull up to view predicted apps. But we will also see new features such as Android Dashboard, Adaptive Battery and Adaptive Brightness, a Wind Down Mode and a new Shush gesture.
The new phones are popping up for the first time in AOSP, too, according to XDA-Developers. It doesn't give much away, but suggests there has been some upgrade in the cellular connectivity radio of the Pixel 3 that is not found in previous devices - exactly what is not yet known.
When is the Pixel 3 release date?
The Pixel phones are unlikely to be unveiled before early October 2018, with an on-sale date later in October probable. For the past two years Google has unveiled the new phones on 4 October, so 4 October 2018 is as good a guess as any.
They will come with the latest version of Android - Android 9.0 P - but as we saw in 2017 they may not be the first devices to ship with that OS. It will be a pure version of the software, running exactly as Google intends, with regular security updates and no bloatware.
What are the rumoured features and specifications for the Pixel 3?
Early rumours suggest there will be three Pixel phones announced, but bear in mind that this was also the case in 2017 and we saw only two new Pixel phones announced.
Alleged codenames include Crosshatch, Albacore and Blueline, according to Droid Life, although there is talk that Google will simply reference them internally as A, B and C to hide their details from the outside world.
The biggest leak so far is a post on XDA Developers that shows a device, codenamed Crosshatch, looking a lot like a Pixel 2 XL but with a notch display and smaller bezels:
The rear here, looking identical to the 2 XL save for the different logo where the Google G should be, indicates this is probably a prototype and not a final design. The front is very different, with a deep notch and two front facing cameras.
The Pixel 2 designs were very different from the original, hence the feeling this is a prototype. Then again, Apple's iPhone 6, 6s, 7 and 8 all look similar so Google may make fewer changes than most would expect.
The following leaked image (pulled from Weibo but posted via SlashLeaks) allegedly shows the front panels for the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. If they're the real deal, it looks like the phones will have front facing stereo speakers. The XL faceplate looks like it'd fit on the above prototype, too.
More interesting is the possibility of dual front facing cameras and the XL model getting a notch at the top of the screen, which Android P will support natively.
If it does happen, we could see a cheaper model with pricing more in line with the old Nexus phones than Pixel, which is more expensive than ever with the Pixel 2 XL retailing at £799 (although currently on offer at just £699). Alternatively, and as most rumours seem to suggest, the third model will be a super-high-spec version that is a closer competitor to the iPhone X.
We think that Google might use some of the features from the HTC U12+ in the Pixel 3, such as this trio:
Google knows its users don't want cut-down specs just because a phone has a smaller screen, so we fully expect to see the Snapdragon 845 processor running the show on all Pixel 3 models. This is a 7nm chip that is faster and 30 percent more efficient than any before it, thanks to an octa-core Kryo 385 CPU with four 2.8GHz high-power cores and four 1.8GHz low power cores.
Qualcomm's new super-fast X20 LTE modem is built-in, offering CAT 18 speeds of more than 1Gbps, as well as an enhanced Spectra 280 image signal processor. Qualcomm has bumped up video recording potential to Ultra-HD, and added in various AI improvements.
A leaked image from Chinese social network Weibo corroborates this, listing 20 phones which will use the 845 chip in 2018. Among them, predictably, is the Pixel 3.
2018 might be the year Google bumps up the RAM to 6GB, while storage is likely to remain at 64GB and 128GB.
We’d like to see Google retain the waterproofing (perhaps upgraded from IP67 to IP68) and aluminium chassis, and it’s probable that the 18:9 pOLED display will also remain, but this time around the new Pixel might also feature an under-glass fingerprint sensor. We’d like to see the 18:9 panel in the cheaper model, too, and for Google to add wireless charging.
The camera is one of the most important specs for Google, and that found in last year’s Pixel phones is among the best you’ll find on a smartphone. We’d expect to see some improvements here, though potentially in the software rather than the hardware.
In 2017 both models came in Just Black, while the Pixel 2 XL was also available in Black & White, and the Pixel 2 in Clearly White and Kinda Blue. We don’t expect much deviation here.
It’s likely HTC will again be the brains behind the Pixel 3, now that Google has bought out its mobile business, so Active Edge and front-facing stereo speakers would not come as a shock.
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