News to the Newlywed
If you’ve been wondering where your fresh Kerf prose has been for the past few weeks, I must apologize for my absence. I was busy getting married!
My wife and I spent the early weeks of October traveling through Europe, and though I applied a woodworker’s eye to my travels through Austria, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, I turned off the email and was free of work-related concerns during my honeymoon.
So imagine my surprise returning to work this morning, when I discover that our product offering is about to expand!
Yes, following on the heels of the iPhone announcement in September, where we learned all about the now available iPhone 8 and 8 Plus and the still-forthcoming iPhone X, Google has thrown their hat into the 2017 ring with followups to their flagship smartphones. I’ve spent all morning soaking up all of the details of these new phones, so read on if you want the skinny on the latest from Mountain View.
Two sizes, two designs
Google made an interesting decision when it came to the industrial design for their Pixel 2 line. Unlike the Pixel and Pixel XL, which differed only in dimensions but otherwise shared the same overall look, the Pixel 2 is, in smartphone terms, a wildly different phone than the Pixel XL 2. They’re even made by different manufacturers (HTC and LG, respectively)!
Both phones have a few things in common: instead of the tapered design of the first-generation Pixel, where the top of the phone was thicker than the bottom the Pixel 2’s have a uniformly thick body but now sport protruding cameras, as iPhones have since 2014.
Both models make good use of their top and bottom bezels by adding large speakers above and below the screen. I haven’t heard it yet, but I’m guessing this is a big win for people who do a lot of watching and listening on their phone without headphones! Which is good, because the new Pixels, like every modern smartphone, do not have a headphone jack.
There’s a new method of interaction with the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2, where “squeezing” the phone’s sides brings up Google Assistant, Google’s version of Siri. Reviewers have said that this feature works really well, and is easier to activate than Siri’s home button interaction, so as an iPhone user I am extremely jealous.
Each of the new phones feature a beautiful OLED display, the same style of screen used on the Apple Watch and the iPhone X, and along with it an “always-on” mode that shows the time even when the screen is off. OLED displays allow each pixel (lowercase p) to be on or off independently, so a little white text on a black background can be shown without drawing significant battery power.
When it comes to the bezels, the differences between the models become a bit more apparent. 2017 will be remembered as the Year of the Disappearing Bezel in smartphone design history books, with Samsung’s Galaxy S8 models and the iPhone X taking different approaches toward a shared ideal: a screen that covers the entire front of the device. The Pixel XL 2 joins these models with a 2017-like approach to its screen. The side bezels are all but gone, and the top and bottom bezels are very small, enough to store the giant speakers and other sensors.
The Pixel 2, on the other hand, looks like it took the bezels from the XL 2! Sporting a frankly goofy amount of blank space above and below the screen, it’s clear that 2017 hasn’t really hit the design for the base model this year. Based on look alone, it seems that Google is doing a similar tiering of its designs that Apple is. The Pixel 2 XL and the iPhone X are the best-of-the-best, while the iPhone 8 and the Pixel 2, are less expensive alternatives that still offer substantial improvements off of last year’s models.
We sold a lot more XL cases than Pixel cases in the past year, so my guess is that people buying Google phones prefer the large model, and given how much nicer the XL 2 looks than its counterpart, I expect that trend to continue.
A handsome (and squeezable) case for your new Pixel
The good news is no matter which Pixel 2 model you buy, we’ll be offering a case for it! We’ll be opening our site for preorders soon, and we’re in the midst of redesigning our cases to accommodate the new shape. We promise that our cases are flexible enough to be squeezed, and they’re going to look good enveloping a mostly bezel-less display.
The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 go on sale on October 17. Let us know what you think of your Pixel 2 if you get it, so that I can continue to be jealous!