The Pixel 2 is already the best Android phone you can buy, but it can always be better. Here are the things I would like to see in the Pixel 3.
I’ve had my Pixel 2 XL since a week after release, and while a small number of early units had some issues, most owners have reported being happy with their device. I didn’t encounter any of the hardware issues that other early owners experienced, and I’ve been enjoying the phone quite a bit since receiving in the mail.
Having said that, there are some things I would change about the phone. Nothing major, but a few little things that would add up to a better device (in my eyes). I know the Pixel 3 will feature the newest processor, an even better camera, and whatever software features come in Android P. We’ve had a bit of time with the Android P beta, though we’ll surely see more changes come before P reaches stable status. Other pieces aren’t certain, and I hope these all make it into the Pixel 3.
Broader retail availability
This one doesn’t matter much for me, since I’ve been buying my phones unlocked for years. But I’m not most people. Most consumers — at least in North America — still go to their cellular carrier’s stores to play with a device in hand before buying it. Which mostly means those consumers are buying iPhones and Galaxies. That’s not to say those are bad choices, but if Google wants to improve the Pixel line’s sales numbers, the phone will need to be sold by all carriers. I’m not sure how long Verizon has a retail exclusive for the Pixel phones, but hopefully 2018 is the year they will be available in more stores.
Way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, Google’s Nexus line featured Qi charging fairly consistently. That changed when the Nexus 6P debuted with a metal body, and the Pixel line has continued the exclusion of any wireless charging. With the latest iPhones popularizing wireless charging more than ever and the wireless charging standards settling, I’d really like the next Pixels to bring back Qi charging. This will necessitate moving away from the metal back to using glass, but I think the tradeoff would be well worth it. There are some Qi charging adapters that would work with the current Pixels, but that would mean I couldn’t use the USB port to connect to my Android Auto head unit.
Faster wired charging
Wireless charging is for when my phone would sit overnight, but when I need to charge in a hurry, nothing works better than just plugging in a cable. While the Pixels currently charge fairly quickly with the right charger, there have a few instances — entirely of my own making — where I’ve needed the phone to top up sooner. The Essential Phone can recharge at a blistering 27 watts, while the Pixels don’t charge any faster than 18 watts. That’s still plenty fast for most situations, but not all.
More refined gesture navigation
Gesture navigation was added in the first beta release of Android P, and while it’s rough around the edges, it’s promising. It’s not enabled by default — making it clear this is still a work in progress. Personally, it’s a bit weird right now because two actions — back and home — are done with a tap, while two others — multitasking and opening the app drawer — come with a gesture. The integration with the app drawer also makes using a third party launcher with the gesture navigation a bit… odd, to say the least. I’m sure these issues with be ironed out in the next few months.
Some sort of secure face unlock
This isn’t something I’m likely to use if a fingerprint sensor is also present, but it’d be a good option nonetheless. A secure face unlock system would be great when using gloves during the winter months, especially if it can tie into Google Pay. I still want a fingerprint sensor present, either remaining on the back or built into the screen. Giving users a choice on which biometric system to use would be perfect for me. Android has had insecure Face Unlock for years, but a native solution that plugs into the same APIs that are used for fingerprint sensors would be the best thing for the platform going forward.
The first Android P developer preview included support for a software-based notch, presumably to help developers get their apps ready for all of the iPhone X clones that will surely be released over the next year. We have yet to see hardware leaks for the next Pixels, so we don’t have any indication on whether a physical notch would be present. With Google controlling both the hardware and software on the Pixels, a notch may not look bad, but I’d still prefer a smooth top for the display.
A recent leak showed what could be the display panel for the Pixel 3 XL sporting a notch, while the panel for the standard Pixel 3 does without. This is an early leak to take with a grain of salt, but we’ll know more as we get closer to October.
Honorable mention: A 3.5mm headphone jack
How about you?
What would you like to see in the Pixel 3? Let us know down below!
Updated June 4, 2018: This article was updated to add information about the Pixel 3’s gesture navigation.
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June 5, 2018 at 10:05AM