Google’s annual fall hardware event is right around the corner, and that means this year’s rumor season is coming to a close. But thanks to countless leaks, reports, tweets, and information from our own sources over the last several months, we have a really good idea at this point what the Made by Google event 2018 has in store. We can confidently say you should expect to see the new Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL, a Google Pixel Slate tablet, a Google Home Hub Smart Display, and more.
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Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL
The first and most obvious new product launching at the Made by Google event 2018 is the much-leaked Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL. As is the case every year, the Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL will pack lots of upgrades over last year’s models. Many other things are also likely to be familiar, because it is an annual flagship smartphone, after all.
Just like last year, Google is launching two new phones that have identical internal specs and slightly different external appearances. The larger of the two phones, the Google Pixel 3 XL, will most visibly have much bigger overall size, a large bottom chin, and a display cutout, while the smaller Google Pixel 3 is sticking with a more traditional look — not dissimilar from that of the Pixel 2 XL.
Many of the things that you know and love about the Google Pixel are back again this year. Google’s signature “glass window” is located around back (this time a more artificial cut out to allow for an all-glass back and wireless charging), both phones mark the return of squeezable sides, there’s the Pixel Imprint fingerprint sensor on the back, and once again, you should expect some of the best cameras in the smartphone space.
In fact, the camera — specifically the front-facing one — is one of the most obvious changes this year. The Google Pixel 3 XL has a large notch to hold not one but two front-facing sensors, one of which is a wide-angle lens as we reported. The back will house the standard single shooter we’ve seen for the last two years, but keep in mind that most of the camera prowess on the Pixel is due to computational photography. That’s only going to be better this year.
On the specs front, you should expect pretty much business-as-usual for a 2018 Android flagship. Both phones will have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, an Adreno 630 GPU, 4GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of storage, decent-sized batteries, good — albeit very different — displays, the usual WiFi, NFC, GPS, eSIM, and other interfaces, and more. The biggest selling point for the Pixel phones has long been their software, and that’s not changing here. You’ll get Android 9 Pie and Google’s infusion of AI features everywhere.
The phones are going to go up for pre-order immediately following the 10/9 event, and amazingly, despite how much they’ve leaked, we still don’t know pricing for either phones. I’d expect them to be about on par with last year, though: $649 for the smaller and $849 for the larger.
Largely thanks to devices being sold on the black market in Ukraine and around the world, this is perhaps one of the most leaked devices in history. You can check out our full roundup on every single leak we’ve seen so far right here. There have been more than a dozen examples of both the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL leaking in the flesh, and we’ve seen official-looking renders from multiple reliable sources as well.
More on Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL:
Google Home Hub
Google launched the Smart Display category of Assistant-powered devices back at CES 2018, and now the company is gearing up to finally announce its own. The device, called the Google Home Hub, has actually leaked in its entirety in the weeks running up to the October Google event. Essentially, it’s a tablet-esque 7-inch display mounted on a speaker base with a design similar to other Google Home products you already know.
It’s going to be available in both black and white , as you can see in official press renders that leaked:
Not only did we get full official-looking renders of both colors of the device, but the Google Home Hub specification pages also leaked. The device has a volume rocker on the back-left side, a switch to turn off the microphone, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, an ambient light and color sense, and it weighs in at 480g. In the retail box, the leaked page we saw last month says you’ll get the Home Hub, a power adapter, a quick start manual, and the warranty booklet.
On the software side of things, you’ll be able to do just about everything that you can do with the current lineup of Smart Displays. You can get weather, traffic, and relevant information for the wide variety of Google Assistant tasks on its display alongside the usual verbal feedback. You might expect that Google will have some special features here to differentiate the product, but there’s one thing in particular we know it won’t have: Duo calling. There’s no camera on this device.
Unlike the rest of the products in this roundup, we actually have a clue as to what the Google Home Hub’s price will be. A leaked retail listing suggested that the device will come in at $149, which is incredibly fair and aligns with reports that Google wants to push 3 million of these into the market before the end of the year.
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Google Pixel Slate
One of the more interesting launches set for the Made by Google event 2018 is a device we now know is called the Google Pixel Slate. It’s Google first Chrome OS tablet, and it’s shaping up to be a great competitor to the iPad Pro and Surface Pros of the world. We got our first look at this device codenamed ‘Nocturne’ earlier this month thanks to a leak from keyboard accessory maker Brydge’s website, a company which we exclusively reported was working on keyboard hardware for Google Pixel tablet/convertible hardware.
Based on the renders from Brydge, we know that the device will likely feature a sleek, modern style, and if we use the USB-C port as our reference, the Pixel Slate seems to be a very thin device. There’s a fingerprint sensor (and presumable power button) at the top-left corner when using it in tablet mode, at least one USB-C port on the left side, and it will clearly support both first-party and third-party keyboard accessories. We’ve found direct evidence for both in the Chromium source code.
On the specs front, the device seems to be a bit of a powerhouse — or will at least come in a variant that is. One device that was spotted in a benchmark test recently had an Intel Amber Lake i7-8500Y processor and 16GB of RAM. We know from digging around the Chromium source that the device will have a 3000×2000 display, a pair of Sony IMX sensors — specifically the IMX319 on the front and the IMX355 on the back. That’s pretty much all we know about the hardware for now, but it doesn’t leave much to the imagination.
On software, we largely expect that the Google Pixel Slate is basically one of the big reasons Google’s further optimizing Chrome OS 70 — the next major version — for tablets and touch interfaces. We know that Chrome OS has Linux support now, a benchmark revealed the Android app support side of things is getting updated to Pie with the Pixel Slate, and Google also seems to be putting in significant work to make sure that the Google Camera app works great with the Pixel Slate too.
As of this writing, we don’t really have anything to go off in terms of pricing or variants that Google will be launching next week — so we’ll just have to stick it out for the event to learn about that. As I guessed on the Alphabet Scoop podcast last week, though, it’d make sense if the entry-level price is similar to that of the iPad Pro.
More on Google Pixel Slate:
Google Pixelbook 2 (‘Atlas’)?
In addition to the brand-new Pixel Slate, word on the street is that Google is also preparing a formal followup to last year’s Pixelbook. One device that many believe to be this device is a board codenamed “Atlas” in the Chromium source. This hardware is nearly identical to the Pixelbook, but also shares some qualities with the device we know as “Nocturne” — or the Google Pixel Slate.
One thing that has been falsely spreading around the news cycle based on very dubious evidence was that “Atlas” would be a “detachable”, similar to “Nocturne”. Based on what we’ve seen in the Chromium source, we think Atlas is much more likely to be a traditional notebook. Our Kyle explained in his roundup on Atlas that while some have suggested that Atlas being in the ‘Poppy’ line of Chromebooks suggests it being detachable, the Poppy-based Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 isn’t.
Unlike the Google Pixel Slate, there’s not much information we have on solid authority — nor are there any leaked renders. That might suggest the device won’t be launching at the Oct. 9th Google event, or it could suggest that it’s merely a spec-bump update to the Pixelbook and therefore is just unexciting enough to skirt the leaks.
There is one big bullet point that we can say with confidence though, based on our (and others’) digging in the Chromium source: Atlas will bring a high-resolution 4K display. Other details that we’ve been able to pick up on are that the device brings a Sony IMX208 front-facing camera which brings 1080p support at 60fps (a notable upgrade over the Pixelbook), and that the keyboard will replace its “hamburger” button with a power button.
This is one of the more dubious items on this list, but if it is launching it’s one that makes sense to have not leaked as much. It sounds like an all-around spec-bump upgrade to the Pixelbook with a 4K display, a better camera, and perhaps some hardware tweaks. No word on pricing or availability on this yet.
More on Pixelbook 2 (‘Atlas’):
Google Pixel Stand
We mentioned that the Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL are both packing wireless charging, but what’s wireless charging without a nifty hardware dock to go with it? Leaks we uncovered in our APK Insight series (and later, a press render via MySmartPrice) suggest that Google’s prepping to launch such an accessory. But it does more than just charge your phone on a nice Italian design-inspired dock.
The dock is expected to work with the phone sitting in portrait orientation primarily, and it’s expected — based on evidence we found in teardowns — that Google will include some kind of “Smart Display” or Google Assistant function when the device is docked. There also might be some sort of slideshow functionality if you want to go off of one of the GIFs we found — it looks pretty similar to the Google Photos “Photo Frame” functionality on smart displays.
On the bottom of the device there’s a USB-C port and a bright orange grippy pad, and the FCC ID on the press render does indeed show up on the FCC’s testing database. That confirms to us that it does indeed wireless charge the Pixel 3, but also, fast wireless charging might be included. Over at the FCC, you’ll find that there are 9V ⎓ 2A and 5V ⎓ 3A specifications for charging align with other fast wireless charging products on the market. That’s pretty exciting.
There’s no word on the pricing or availability for the Pixel Stand, but we’d guess that it’ll be a separate accessory from the Pixel 3 and require an additional purchase. Basing this on the pricing of other similar products, we’d guess this might run $50-$100. Not bad if it turns your phone into a full-fledged Google Home.
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A refreshed Chromecast
The FCC revealed way back in May that Google was working on some kind of updated Chromecast that would bear many similarities to the current model. The new device according to the filing only brought notable internal changes, such as adding Bluetooth and later documents confirmed some Wi-Fi improvements as well.
It was largely a mystery why this device existed or what it would be, but then a Best Buy employee accidentally put one on the shelves and sold it to a customer before it October 9th street date. Such a street date confirms that this device is indeed likely going to be mentioned at the Google event on October 9th, obviously.
Here’s what that Chromecast looks like:
There’s really nothing all that special about the hardware here. It’s essentially the same as the current $35 Chromecast, but ditches the shiny black plastic with the Chrome logo for a matte logo with a Google “G”. There’s the added Bluetooth and improved Wi-Fi as well, but this doesn’t bring any notable changes like 4K support. Interestingly, some have speculated that the update may be due to a project we now know as Project Stream that will work with it. That’s yet to be seen.
More on the third-generation Chromecast:
Google Pixel Buds 2
Finally, there’s word that Google is planning to launch a re-do of its ill-fated Google Pixel Buds from last year. That’s literally the only tidbit of information we have on these so far though: that Google’s planning to announce them. You can use your imagination or your best guess to assume that maybe this year’s model will be a direct truly wireless competitor to the AirPods, though, since that’s largely what made them not-so-compelling last year.
More on Pixel Buds 2:
Other things to expect…
The chances that there’s any significant hardware products launching on October 9th that we haven’t mentioned in this post are slim, but there are many things Google can keep secret. The software side of things for all these products — particularly the Pixel Slate, Pixelbook 2, and Home Hub — is likely to bring a few surprises. We also expect that the new color for the Home Mini might get a mention and there might be updates to the current product line that we’re as yet unaware of. Perhaps we’ll see price drops for the Pixel 2 and 2 XL, and maybe even other products like the original Google Home.
As mentioned, all of these products are expected to launch on October 9th at Google’s annual Made by Google event 2018 in New York City — with concurrent events planned to take place in Paris, London, and possible Japan. We’ll be on the ground next Tuesday in both New York City and London to fill you in on all the latest news and announcements — so expect a special episode of Alphabet Scoop, hands-on videos, relentless digging into the minutiae, and more.