I have a confession to make: I have never owned, and have barely used, an Android phone.
I got my first smartphone, an iPhone 4, as an Apple employee, and I got so invested in it that I've never given serious thought to switching, not least because I would lose a decade's worth of digital purchases. (I've also seen what happens to your text messages when you decide to leave Apple!) Apple has built quite a moat around my phone, using integration with my other Apple devices, years of dongles and accessories, and blue text message bubbles to keep me in the ecosystem.
But for people not as "trapped" as I am, now is a very exciting time to be a smartphone shopper! As I mused a few weeks ago, Apple is expected to launch a monster lineup in September, including a new high-end phone with a supersize display and accompanying price tag. Samsung, as usual, beat Apple to the feature punch with its gorgeous Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, featuring the wraparound display and buttonless front that Apple is expected to emulate in its high end model. These smartphone titans have been battling from the beginning for supremacy in the high-end smartphone market, but recently a third contender has entered the ring: Google.
This is where it gets interesting: Google is responsible for the Android operating system, which dominates the smartphone market (over 80% of smartphones run android, by one count). Google makes most of its money from ad sales, so it licenses Android out for free to handset makers to install on their phones and collects the ad revenue from people using their devices. They quickly realized how much money they were leaving on the table, though; Apple's success with the iPhone made it one of the most valuable companies in the world, and Samsung has created a very profitable smartphone division. Google had limited success with its Nexus line, but last year doubled down on proprietary hardware and released the Pixel and Pixel XL, to critical acclaim. Google gets revenue from hardware sales, consumers get another choice in a competitive market, and we debuted a wildly successful range of cases; everybody wins!
So what can we expect from Google's followup to the Pixel? Android Police has what the blogosphere agrees is the authoritative answer: renders of a new style and lots of feature gossip on "the second-generation Pixel XL". Let's see what Google has in store for us this year!
First and foremost, it's clear that 2017 will be remembered as "the year the bezel died." Across all 3 major smartphone lines, we're seeing the displays of the high-end models go edge-to-edge, as Android Police shows a Pixel XL 2 that apes the style of the Galaxy S8 and the "iPhone 8."
The new design also seems to do away with the Pixel's tapered body, where the top of the phone was thicker than the bottom. We wouldn't be sorry to see it go; our KerfCase Pixel line used a terraced carve path to match the case to the oblong phone, and we burned through a lot of prototypes to get there. Flat is better!
The new XL frame will sport a "squeezable" feature, meaning that you activate the Google assistant by physically squeezing the phone in a certain way. Will this feature be compatible with KerfCases? We're hopeful, but testing will be in order. Another unanswered question: would anyone actually use this feature?
Interestingly, the Google rumor mill is pointing to the XL being the only Pixel model with a visual update this year. Our best guess is that the XL vastly outsold the smaller Pixel (and a breakdown of our case sales would back that theory up), so Google is aiming at the big spenders with a new look for the XL, and targeting the budget-conscious with a "Pixel 2" with slightly updated internals. This is similar to Apple's strategy this year: release the 7s and 7s Plus with the usual design, and charge a premium for the fresh look of the "iPhone Pro".
Think this looks cool? Good news! This case design will be around for at least another year.
It remains to be seen how all of these flagship phones will perform, how they'll stack up when compared, and what company will be on top in 2018. But whether you go with a new iPhone or a new Pixel XL in the fall, you can be sure that KerfCase will have a stylish case, made from natural materials, to show off your newest shiny gadget.
Phil Giammattei likes to wear lots of different hats. Formerly employed at Apple, Google and Oracle, he loves applying his technical knowledge to making the best possible custom wooden phone cases. In addition to writing the Kerf Blog, Phil’s duties at KerfCase include customer service, sales, production, shipping and fulfillment, and anywhere else he can be helpful. Reach out to say hi and find out what choice cuts we have in stock!