Google Pixel 3: what's coming next?

Crystal ball time

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The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are only just making their way out to buyers, so it seems like the perfect time to consider what Google might be planning for 2018 - a Pixel 3 and a Pixel 3 XL? Or even more handsets? Here we'll collect together all the rumours we've heard so far.

Despite some screen issues, the verdict seems to be that the 2017 Pixels were a solid step forward from the 2016 Pixels, which themselves were pretty decent smartphones. Google knows it needs to keep innovating with the likes of Apple and Samsung around, though.

The story so far

On the 4th of October 2016, Google officially ditched the idea of the Nexus programme and decided to start making its own smartphones - or at least take more responsibility for the hardware design as well as the software on board.

The first Pixel and Pixel XL lacked some of the key features and specs of other flagship phones, but attracted a lot of praise for their software and the quality of the camera, which is always one of the key features for any smartphone buyer.

The successors to those two phones were announced earlier this month by Google, successors which bumped the specs up a little, added some missing features like waterproofing, and gave buyers the choice of an 18:9, bezel-free display on the larger Pixel phone alongside a more traditional-looking, smaller model.

Again the cameras received a lot of attention, and with unlimited Google Photos storage thrown in, these are definitely worth a look if picture quality is most important to you.

With a new Google Home speakers and a new Pixelbook launched alongside the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL, Google seems to be ramping up its hardware efforts, and taking an Apple-like approach to developing both hardware and software in the future.

With that in mind, all the signs point towards more flagship phones from Google next year. It's still early days, of course, but we're already hearing whispers about what might be in the pipeline.

Pixel 3: what to expect

So what are we going to see from the Pixel 3s? Even at this early stage a rumor or two has started circulating: a trusted source speaking to Droid Life says there are not two but three handsets due for 2018.

Those handsets have the codenames Crosshatch, Albacore, and Blueline, so the fishy theme continues (see the codenames for previous Pixels), and... that's just about all we know. Interestingly enough, there were rumoured to be three Pixels this year as well, but one got ditched somewhere in the production process.

At the moment there's not much out there in terms of speculation so let's think about what the current Pixels are missing. Wireless charging is the obvious one, so that's a decent bet for whatever Google unveils in 2018.

All the usual spec bumps will apply too, we would've thought, so the new devices will run faster than their predecessors and will of course come running the new version of Android, Android P - whatever Google decides to call it.

As for the camera, Google might finally give in and stick a dual-camera setup on the back of one of its Pixel 3 models, though up to this point it has been content enough to focus more on software and AI improvements to bring out the best shots possible.

The industry seems to be banishing bezels for good, so it's likely that all the Pixel 3 models next year are going to feature full displays with very little in the way of borders. It's still a bit early in the year for images and renders of the new phones to leak out, though.

Pixel 3: launch date and price

The first Pixels appeared on the 4th of October 2016, then the Pixel 2 devices were announced on the 4th of October 2017. You don't need to be a smartphone Sherlock Holmes to work out that the 4th of October 2018 is a decent guess for the launch of the Pixel 3 phones.

It might not be exactly that date but October is very likely - the phone industry has settled into a regular routine as far as its phone launches go and Google seems happy to let everyone else go first.

Prices for this year's Pixels start at £629 (UK) or $649 (US) for the smaller model, and £799 (UK) or $849 (US) for the bigger phone, and it seems probable that Google will follow the same kind of structure next year. If three phones do appear, one might be a little lower than that, and one a little higher.

Having three handsets would allow Google to cover more bases as far as prices go, though it's unlikely it would go all the way up to four figures and iPhone X levels.

There's no doubt more information will leak out over the next year - which we'll include here as we get it - and there's also no doubt that the likes of Apple and Samsung will be working hard on their handsets for 2018, so Google will have to keep improving the Pixel line if it's going to stay competitive.