10 Features We Want to See in Google's New Pixel Smartphones

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2016-09-28
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    10 Features We Want to See in Google's New Pixel Smartphones
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    10 Features We Want to See in Google's New Pixel Smartphones

    If Google introduces new Pixel smartphones on Oct. 4, as predicted, here are some of the features the phones will need to be successful.
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    The Big Screens Are a Good Idea
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    The Big Screens Are a Good Idea

    According to several reports, Google is planning to offer a 5-inch screen in the Pixel smartphone and a 5.5-inch display in the Pixel XL. Those sizes make the smaller Pixel a bit larger than most standard smartphones, including the iPhone 7, and put the bigger version on par with some of the market's most popular handsets, such as the iPhone 7 Plus. Google doesn't need to go bigger than that.
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    Slick Designs Always Sell
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    Slick Designs Always Sell

    Leaked images suggest that Google will play it safe with the Pixel designs, but that could be a mistake. The company should try to deliver something fresh in its Pixels, including different materials or refined designs that aren't just curved smartphones. The Pixel smartphones need to stand out, and they can do that only if they offer something interesting in their designs.
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    Android Nougat Is Essential
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    Android Nougat Is Essential

    Google likely will offer Android Nougat in its upcoming smartphones, and that's a good idea. Nougat is the operating system Android shoppers want as it comes with several important upgrades, including enhancements to notifications and better security. If Google wants the Pixels to compete with today's top smartphones, launching them with anything other than Nougat would be a bad idea.
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    Deliver a Powerful Processor
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    Deliver a Powerful Processor

    Nexus devices have long offered high-end processors. The Pixel shouldn't change tack. Again, if the Pixel and Pixel XL are to be top-of-the-line smartphones, they need to come with top-of-the-line components. And the processor arguably is the most important component. Offering a nice chip from Qualcomm, such as the company's Snapdragon 821, would be a good first step.
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    Give Them Good-Quality Cameras
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    Give Them Good-Quality Cameras

    Camera quality matters greatly in the smartphone market, so it's important Google doesn't skimp on the quality of that feature. The rear-facing camera should be close to digital-SLR quality and offer the kind of optical and digital zoom features one would find in a Samsung Galaxy Note7 or the iPhone 7. And, if Google can deliver a wide-angle camera with a good flash on the front of the cameras, selfie-takers should be satisfied.
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    Fast Charging Has Become Important
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    Fast Charging Has Become Important

    In the Android ecosystem, fast charging has become a standard feature for both high-end and midlevel smartphones. That's precisely why the Pixels should come with a USB-C port and support fast charging. A slow-charging Pixel won't impress anyone. But a long-lasting, fast-charging Pixel will undoubtedly get user attention.
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    Include Strong Security Features
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    Include Strong Security Features

    Hopefully Google delivers several hardware-based security features in its Pixels. To start, the smartphones should come with a fingerprint sensor that acts both as a lock button and the component that verifies a purchase through a service such as Android Pay. Although it's not a likely feature, it also would be nice to see hardware-based encryption to further improve the device's security.
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    Keep the Headphone Jack
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    Keep the Headphone Jack

    Apple was the first major manufacturer to eliminate the headphone jack, but others shouldn't follow its lead just yet. Wired headphones are still too popular, and there are some customers who still expect a headphone jack in their devices. Removing the feature from the Pixel and Pixel XL could make it more difficult for Google to compete with Apple's iPhone 7. And the last thing Google should want is a more difficult fight with Apple.
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    Make the Phones Work Anywhere
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    Make the Phones Work Anywhere

    Google can't fall into the trap of locking its smartphones into certain carrier networks. Instead, the company should sell unlocked versions of its Pixel and Pixel XL that can work on the customer's chosen mobile carrier. Offering devices that work anywhere will help Google sell more Pixel smartphones.
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    Keep Prices Down
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    Keep Prices Down

    All the reports about the Pixels say that the smartphone line's pricing will start at around $649 unlocked. As long as the price doesn't soar from there for the XL version, the market should support that price point. At $649 unlocked, the Pixels wouldn't be cheap, but they would be cheaper than some of the market's top devices from Apple and Samsung. And that's precisely where the Pixels should be priced to be successful.
 

All news reports about the Google media briefing scheduled for Oct. 4 are nearly unanimous in predicting that the company will introduce new Android smartphone models. These reports indicate that Google will replace its Nexus line of smartphones with devices known as Pixel and Pixel XL. Google has used the Pixel brand name already for Chromebook and tablet models, and now the company's smartphones will bear the same name. As is Google's usual practice, the smartphones will be designed by another hardware maker. While the company hasn't commented on the design of the latest smartphones, several news reports suggest they could come with 5-inch and 5.5-inch screen sizes, a new design and a fingerprint sensor to support Android Pay, and will run on Android Nougat. Google also likely will sell unlocked versions so customers can put the smartphone on the network of their choosing. While all of that sounds nice, it's just a start. This slide show discusses the features well-designed Google Pixel smartphones should deliver to win favor in the mobile market.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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