Google is ramping up for one of its biggest hardware events of the year. The raison d’etre for its keynote will be the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones, its new flagship Android handsets. A steady stream of leaks over the past few months means that the specs, looks, and some of the phone’s key features are already known.
But there’s good reason to expect more than just smartphone news at Google’s event on Tuesday. We could see one or more new smart speakers from the company, updated hardware for the living room, and a follow-up to last year’s Pixelbook laptop. New audio hardware (Pixel Buds) and new apps or services to use on these devices could also be announced. If you’re hoping for a Google-developed wearable, 2018 doesn’t look like it’s your year, though. Here’s what we’re expecting to see.
Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL
Google’s new smartphones build on the form and features of last year’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. If the reports prove accurate, the Pixel 3 should have a 5.4-inch, 1,080 x 2,160 resolution display while the 6.7-inch Pixel 3 XL will have a 1,440 x 2,960 resolution display.
Besides size, the biggest difference between the phones is that the Pixel 3 XL has a notched display, which houses its dual 8.1-megapixel front-facing cameras. The Pixel 3 should have the same camera system, but not the notch.
On back, both phones keep the same single 12.2-megapixel lens as the previous version but add a Visual Core chip for more advanced image processing. A leaked video suggests the rear-facing camera will have Google Lens–type functionality built in so it can do things like scan business cards. The phones will have stereo front-facing speakers, which offer better audio performance than phones with speakers positioned on the bottom edge of the device. The phones may also have better battery life than the Pixel 2.
The Pixel 3 phones will run Android P, the latest version the operating system, but beyond camera features such as improved HDR+, “Super Selfies,” and different beauty filters for the front-facing camera, we don’t know much about new software elements.
On the personal audio front, we could see a follow-up to its Pixel Buds, the Google Assistant–imbued wireless earbuds the company introduced last fall. Reviewers and consumers found the earbuds lacking in design and performance, so there’s plenty of room for improvement in a second-generation version.
Some are hoping that Google will redesign the Pixel Bud charging case and ditch the cable that attaches the earpieces to one another (and makes them more difficult to store in their charging case). Others mostly hope they’ll feature improved battery life, audio performance, and the addition of sensors such as an accelerometer to detect whether you’ve removed the earbuds from your ear and it should pause playback.
It’s possible that purchasers of the Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL will get a pair of wired Pixel Buds in the box, which suggests that Google may not ditch its cable-based design. But we don’t know much about how exactly this product improves over the first-generation model.
Google quietly added a fourth color, aqua, to the Google Home mini line this week, so it’s unlikely we’ll another big update to Google’s smallest smart speaker. Instead, Google may be turning its focus to the smart display space by introducing a speaker outfitted with a 7-inch screen for giving visual graphics and videos to accompany Google Assistant responses.
Given other Google Assistant–based smart displays like the Lenovo Smart Display already exist, it’ll be interesting to see if and how the company is able to differentiate itself. YouTube integration will likely be a key part of it. One rumored name for the device, “Home Hub,” suggests that smart home control could be a primary feature as well—you could perhaps use the device to check on a feed from a Nest camera elsewhere around your home. A Home Depot product listing suggests it’ll cost $149.
Google will almost certainly announce an update for the living room: a new Chromecast device that plugs into your TV. Best Buy accidentally sold a customer what appears to be the third-generation device about a week ago. According to what appears to be its FCC filing, the device will house a quad-core Amlogic S905X processor with 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB of onboard storage. Following the trend of other streamers over the past year, it will accommodate 4K content, which can be streamed at up to 60 frames per second.
The last major piece of hardware we’re expecting Google to announce is a follow-up to last year’s $1,000 Pixelbook. Google enthusiast site 9to5Google reports that the device will be called the Pixel Slate, and rather than a notebook, it will be the company’s first convertible tablet. And unlike most other non-Apple tablets, it won’t run Android—it’ll run Chrome OS (although it’s worth noting that Chrome can run Android apps).
Product renderings show the device is exceedingly thin, with a 3,000×2,000 resolution display. It includes some features we’ve come to expect from smartphones, such as a fingerprint sensor for authentication and Google’s Camera app, which includes Portrait Mode. Leaked benchmarks suggest there will be four different versions of the Pixel Slate, the higher end with faster processors and more memory.
It’s likely the device will work with the Pixelbook Pen, Google’s stylus accessory for the Pixelbook. The company will likely introduce keyboards or cases for this convertible tablet too, in order to make it more like a laptop.