Democracy Dies in Darkness

The Switch

Three ways the new Google Pixel could stand out from the pack

By Hayley Tsukayama

October 2, 2017 at 1:49 PM

Google is expected to launch a new version of its Pixel phone this week.  (Eric Risberg/AP)

After a series of phone launches that have been a little boring, this is the last chance for a major firm to make a big first impression this year. Based on the rumors, we can expect the phone to keep most of its features with some models getting upgrades. Those include a second-generation fingerprint scanner, faster processor and larger screen (thanks to reduced bevels).

But for the phone to really impress, it will have to offer something novel. Here are three ways I think it could distinguish itself:

The company could take a cue from successful smartphone makers in China, where consumers have rewarded such companies as Huawei and Xiaomi by snapping up their pretty good phones at cheap prices. Emulating that, with the Google name behind it, might give Google a good niche here and around the world.

Astonishing battery life: Google has made some big claims in teaser promotions about the new Pixel, but perhaps none quite so practical as the promise of better battery life.

“What's wrong with my phone's battery?” is the first question in Google's teaser, which lists an array of problems that the company apparently wants to fix. Setting that out as a top goal is smart, considering that battery life is one of the most important aspects of picking a phone. Not having to top up your phone after work, or avoiding the panic of needing an outlet at the end of the night is just about priceless.

Something really unexpected: Google may not have the world's best record when it comes to hardware, but when it does succeed it's because it offers something that's both a little bit out there and solves practical problems. Think of the Chromecast: When it launched, it was sort of a weird device for Google, and its main selling point was its ability for you to easily watch YouTube on your television. But it was also just $35 and let you watch streaming services on your TV without having to buy another subscription — so, what was there to lose?

But Google's real strength is in software and services, which could make for some interesting logistical advances in the smartphone category. Even useful, working improvements to Google Assistant would be a good selling point if it really meant that your phone would understand what you were saying.

It would also be exciting to see Google power some unusual experiences, perhaps on other devices, as both virtual reality and smart-home products are also expected to make an appearance Wednesday.

Read more:

Apple looks into reports of iPhone 8 Plus splitting open

The practical guide to choosing a smartphone

Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Review: iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

Post Recommends

You obviously love great journalism.

With special savings on our Basic Digital package, you’ll never miss a single story again.

Already a subscriber?

Secure & Encrypted