Google Pixel 3 and XL coming

Google Pixel 3

Google’s Pixel is the Android poster boy of smartphones. Yet recent reports show that it has shipped less than four million Pixel 1/XL and 2/XL to date. Google Pixel 3 needs to be fantastic.

By comparison Samsung (yes, it has several models/price points) shipped about 320 million handsets last year. Fortunately for Google, massive sales are not its primary aim.

The real reason is to produce a reference device to ‘keep the bastards honest’. Pixel is all about what a good Qualcomm-based Android handset running the latest patched version of pure Android can do. And it gives Google a better idea of what the technology levels and costs are in various handsets.

Sometimes we forget that many manufacturers ‘fork’ Android and overlay it with a user interface. Or provide heavily customised versions of apps like mail, camera etc. Some markets like China, North Korea, Russia, Sudan, Syria and almost all Arab countries require this as not many Google services are welcome.

Rick Osterloh is Google’s senior VP for hardware. He and former Sony and Xbox Executive and now Google VP for hardware Phil Harrison have been trying to turn the giant’s hardware division around. GadgetGuy reported on Made by Google back in February. It’s a good read.

Back to the Google Pixel 3

Last year Google acquired HTC’s smartphone Design team (some 2,000 engineers) and many patents for US$1.1 billion. That is not a lot of money as far as Google is concerned, but the intellectual property is what it wanted. Google and HTC now co-exist and collaborate. HTC’s new U12 Plus flagship will be in Australia soon.

So, we are going to see HTC’s smarts in areas like its U Sense and camera and Google’s top drawer hardware in the Pixel 3/XL – third time lucky.

Google Pixel 3 rumours

  • Release date sometime in October 2018
  • The possibility of three models codenamed ‘Crosshatch’, ‘Albacore’, and ‘Blueline’. One of these is a higher-specified ultra-premium device
  • Made by HTC so the build quality will be second to none
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (new 2nd generation 10nm version)
  • 6GB/128GB storage – still no microSD
  • 3 XL will have an Edge-to-Edge 5.8” OLED screen from Samsung. A notch on the XL like iPhone X and Huawei P20 Pro (see screen protector leak below).
  • Pixel 3 will be a traditional flat 5” OLED screen. There are rumours of pOLED from LG.
  • Both screens 18:9 legitimising the format
  • Single 16MP rear camera with increased post-processing capability more oriented to Google’s AI technology. Like Sony sticking to the single rear camera on its new XZ2.
  • Dual front camera with IR face recognition
  • Stereo speakers with VR enhancements – think of HTC’s Boomsound
  • Android P ‘One’ with two years of operating system updates and security updates for the life of the device
  • At least IP67
  • Pixel 3 under A$1,000 and XL under $1,300
  • Still no Qi wireless charge, 3.5mm audio jack and we probably no microSD support.

Google Pixel 3

Why the Qualcomm 845 is important to Google Pixel 3

Google Android is ‘vanilla flavoured’. Everything it does needs to be a good marriage between native hardware and Android. There are no tweaks at all.

The Qualcomm 845 (as did the Qualcomm 830 in the Pixel 3) gives it the best platform – an ideal marriage.

  • Google Pixel 38-core up to 2.8GHz. Using standard Big.Little it can scale up from one core to eight for horsepower and power management. It is 30% faster in graphics and 30% more power efficient
  • Adreno 630 GPU with DirectX 12 and Vulcan
  • Room-Scale VR for mobile XR headsets with six degrees of freedom (6DoF) and Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM)
  • Dual 14-bit Spectra 280 Image Signal Processors allow for active depth sensing (bokeh), hybrid laser DPAF (autofocus), Hardware face detection.
  • Support 2 x 16MP camera and up to 1 x 32MP camera. I suspect Pixel 3 will have dual 16MP from cameras and a single 16MP plus rear camera.
  • Support for HDR10, HLG, and H.265 (HEVC) video capture
  • Slow Motion video capture (720p@480fps)
  • 4K Video Capture for Ultra HD Premium Displays (4K@60fps in HDR) cinema grade
  • 10-bit, 4K colour screen, Rec2020 colour gamut, HDR10
  • Aqstic Hi-Res sound 32-buit/384kHz
  • Hexagon 685 DSP is a 3rd generation AI chip
  • X20 Cat 18/13 (1.2Gbps/150Mbps)
  • Wi-Fi AD, 2 x 2 MIMO and Dual Band simultaneous (aggregation)
  • Bluetooth 5 aptX and TrueWireless
  • DisplayPort over USB-C
  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 4

In short Google Pixel will leverage hardware is a way that few others have the technical ability to do.

Header image is an artists render only