What to Expect from the Pixel and Pixel XL

Pixel Render

Here’s yet another render of the Google Pixel, found by Evan Blass and posted to VentureBeat yesterday. With exactly one week to go before its official unveiling I thought it might be instructive to compare what we know about it (and the larger Pixel XL) against a list of traits one would expect in a Nexus phone of days gone by.

Note that I won’t have definitive answers for everything you’ll read in this post; chalk that up to rumours I’ve heard on podcasts and my unfamiliarity with Verizon.

1. Carrier Unlocked

Traditionally—at least here in Canada—Nexus phones, even when purchased from carriers, have been sold SIM-unlocked. According to VentureBeat, the Pixel phones will be available “on Verizon and unlocked from Google”. I’m not 100% clear on what that means.

2. Direct Updates

Software updates to Nexus phones have always come straight from Google. I’ve heard nothing suggesting otherwise for Pixel phones, so the short answer here is most likely yes.

3. “Reference” Hardware Design

Yes. Nexus phones usually launched with the latest Qualcomm processor and the Pixel phones will be no different; each will have the Snapdragon 821 under the hood.

4. “Pure” Android

No. But “stock” Android ceased to be a thing when the Google Now Launcher came to Android in 2014. The Pixel phones will likewise feature the exclusive Pixel Launcher.

If by “pure” Android you mean a ROM free of any carrier bloat, that’s likely to continue with Pixel. Except maybe Verizon?

5. Developer (Modder) Friendly

Signs point to no. You can read this XDA post for the technical details, and also this rebuttal from Android Central if you like. I also recall hearing someone on either the Android Police or XDA Podcast mentioning a rumour that the Pixel phones sold through carriers will have locked bootloaders.

6. Competitive Price

Nope. The smaller Pixel phone will reportedly sell for $649 USD, albeit with available financing. That’s the exact same price as a 32 GB iPhone 7, for a white-label phone made by HTC. Hmm…

Leave a Reply