As we enter July 2017, we are rapidly approaching several key smartphone launches that should ideally happen over the next few months. Starting with iPhone 8 in early September, followed by Google Pixel 2 around October and then the “Surface Mobile” from Microsoft’s OEM partners a couple of months later, we’re going to see some pretty expensive premium smartphones hit the market this year.
We’ve known for some time that the iPhone 8 will have a starting price of $1,000. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 is also expected to launch on August 26 (September availability) carrying a four-figure retail price. No doubt Microsoft’s OEM devices running Windows 10 will also follow suit and hit store shelves with a hefty price tag.
With respect to pricing, Google Pixel 2 is likely to retail for a little more than last year’s model, but the Pixel 2 with OLED could approach $1,000 for the top-end variant.
The price increases are indicative of the expensive components that will be going into this year’s premium smartphones: OLED panels, under-display embedded sensors, redesigned shells and panels, wireless charging, higher-specced processors, better and dual camera sensors and so on, depending on which premium smartphone model we’re talking about.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing in the long run because, as more brands start using these technologies and components, component prices will organically drop over time, making future phones with such capabilities much cheaper. Also, plunking down a thousand dollars for a smartphone is beyond the reach of many, so we don’t expect sales growth to be phenomenal for any of these smartphone giants.
As for the Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL, latest information shows that the Google Pixel 2 XL may take a very different direction in terms of design. With LG being contracted to manufacture the phone (and HTC making the smaller Google Pixel 2), there will be some similarities between this and other brands like Apple’s iPhone 8 and Samsung’s Galaxy S and Note phones for 2017.
The release date for Google Pixel 2 and its larger sibling has unofficially been set at around October, based on what Pixel boss Rick Osterloh last indicated about an annual release cycle.
There’s been no change in that, but there’s one thing we need to keep in mind. The iPhone has always been the benchmark for smartphone releases for several years now, with Samsung releasing one at the beginning of the year and one right before the iPhone launch. Things won’t be different this year for Samsung, but Google may play around with the Google Pixel 2 launch date based on the iPhone 8’s September release.
There are two ways this could play out. If Google feels the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are strong enough to withstand giving iPhone 8 a head start, it could go with an October release. On the other hand, iPhone 8 being a watershed edition (iPhone’s 10th anniversary model), Alphabet may play it safe and launch their phones right after iPhone 8 is announced and pre-ordering is open. They’d want to try and capture whatever market share they missed out on last year because of an October release.
There’s very little chance that the Pixel 2s could come before then, the reason being not many people are likely to pre-order a Google device until they’ve at least had a chance to see the iPhone 8.
As such, we could see a Google Pixel 2 launch date around mid to end September, which is probably likelier than an October release, in our opinion.
For a full list of known features, please see our coverage of the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL over the past several weeks.