So much for the element of surprise. With two weeks to go until Google’s big end-of-year event, we already know everything that’s going to be announced. After months of rumors and speculation surrounding the Pixel 2 event, Droid-Life dropped a bomb yesterday and published images and prices for everything Google is about to release.
You might remember that the same thing happened right before the iPhone X event last week, reducing the presentation to a checklist rather than a show. Granted, Apple relies more on the wow factor than Google does, but yesterday’s massive leak must have rankled CEO Sundar Pichai just a little. We already had a pretty good idea about what was coming, but now there’s little reason to get excited about the Oct. 4 event.
But no matter. Even with the script laid bare, Google’s event is shaping up to be a lot more exciting than Apple’s was. And likely with a whole lot more surprises in store.
Spotlight on Assistant
As expected, Google will be announcing several new products at its Oct. 4 event: Google Home Mini, an updated Daydream View VR headset, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, and a new Chromebook Pixel now called Pixelbook.
Now, we already knew these things were coming care of a leak last month, but Droid-Life spilled all the beans with pictures and pricing info. But even that doesn’t tell the whole story. Take the Google Home Mini. Droid-Life says it will come in three colors—black, gray, and red—and cost just $49, the same as Amazon’s Echo Dot.
Presumably, it will simply be the same as Google Home, just with smaller speakers. At that price point, it’s a great value—especially if you’re able to connect it to external speakers—but what I want to hear about are the upgrades to Google Assistant. Even with HomePod on the horizon, Apple barely touched on Siri at its iPhone X event, so Google has a real opportunity to widen its lead with Google Assistant. The most interesting part of the presentation will be hearing what Google has cooked up for Google Assistant and how Google Home will be taking on the new threat from HomePod.
The star of the show, of course, will be the new Pixel 2 phones. We’ve already seen a ton of rumors about Google’s new handsets, and images leaked from Droid-Life pretty much confirmed what we already knew: there won’t be a dual camera, the back will have a smaller “window,” and there will be a few new colors.
But looks are a small part of the Pixel’s story. The original Pixel was hardly a head-turner, but it excelled at all the right things. And I expect the Pixel 2 to do the same. After all, Google’s own teaser for the phone presents some pretty big questions it’s supposed to answer, alluding to things like improved image stabilization, long-lasting battery life, and auto updates. Apple’s iPhone updates are nice, but Google has an opportunity to truly elevate Android if it can address all of these issues.
And for the price, it should bring some major improvements. While Droid-Life reports that the Pixel 2 will cost $649 (the same as the current 32GB model), the Pixel 2 XL will reportedly start at $849, an $80 increase over its predecessor. If true, that’s actually higher than the starting price for the iPhone 8 Plus and the Galaxy S8+, so it’s safe to assume that the Pixel 2 XL will be a pretty major upgrade over the Pixel XL.
So there’s lots we don’t know. As with the original Pixel, the most exciting parts won’t be the design or even the features—it will be the ways it optimizes Android and removes the pain points many of the phones still have.
The other Pixel
But the real surprise at this year’s event will be the Pixelbook. While we had heard it was likely coming, Droid-Life has confirmed it will arrive, complete with a pic and pricing: $1,199 for 128GB, $1,399 for 256GB, and the $1,749 for 512GB of storage. If those prices seem high, then you don’t remember the Chromebook Pixel. The original cost $1,299 for 32GB of storage, and the second-generation model “cut” the price to $999 for a paltry 32GB of storage. So those rumored prices are well in line with Google’s vision for its premier Chromebook device.