Android Circuit: Pixel XL Review, New Galaxy S8 Leaks And Rumors, Challenging Google’s Perfect Pixel

Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes the internet’s hot takes on the Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, why the reaction to the Pixel is different to the iPhone, how the Pixel family will establish Google in the consumer market (while avoiding a challenge with Apple), Samsung’s continuing Note 7 nightmare, more leaks on the Galaxy S8′s feature list, Huawei challenging Qualcomm’s SnapDragon, and Google’s Material Design Awards.

Android Circuit is here to remind you of a few of the many things that have happened around Android in the last week (and you can find the weekly Apple news digest here).

Everybody Loves The Pixel

Google’s consumer-focused smartphones, the Pixel and Pixel XL are now on sale. Earlier this week the first reviews were published, and Mountain View’s handset is a critical hit, mixing tweaks to Android, top line specifications, and a tighter integration of hardware and software compared to previous Android devices. It might be a powerhouse inside, but the outside of the smartphone looks a touch familiar.

While the Pixel XL’s outline is iPhone like, the back is unique and distinctive. The top third of the phone’s rear is made of glass and protects the 12MP main shooter, flash, laser AF sensor, secondary mic, and fingerprint reader. It’s not so much a camera pod as it is a camera surface, since it’s flush with the aluminum body, and hopefully the glass is hard enough to prevent accidental scratches to the lens.

It is clear that the geekerati have fallen in love with the Pixel and Pixel XL. The question now is whether that love is universal and will sell the device to the consumers, of whether it remains a device with limited appeal – a fate which befell Google’s Nexus devices. My roundup of the first It is clear that the geekerati have fallen in love with the Pixel and Pixel XL. The question now is whether that love is universal and will sell the device to the consumers, of whether it remains a device with limited appeal – a fate which befell Google’s Nexus devices. My roundup of the first reviews can be read here on Forbes.

Calling Out The Pixel’s Problems

Rene Ritchie has an alternative take on the love for Google’s Pixel and it comes both from a love of new technology and wondering why Google has been given a free hall pass over issues such as a lack of waterproofing or optical image stabilisation… the same issues that were used to criticise Apple’s iPhone 6S twelve months ago:

I even get the reception we’re seeing. After years in the Google desert, we’re finally being thrown a cracker, and so we’re so hungry for it, we’re telling ourselves it tastes like a Ritz. Meanwhile, we’re taking Apple’s year-over-year crackers for granted, and looking at them like they’re just regular old saltines. The human brain is a real jerk that way. It only takes perspective when you force it to.

But that’s the job, and grading Pixel on a curve doesn’t help anybody, even and especially Google.

It’s a valid argument and one worth exploring in more detail on iMore.

Establishing The Pixel As A Player

Lurking in the discussions around the Pixel is the ambition of Google’s smartphone team. More than any other device, the Pixel screams ‘wannabe iPhone’ in both styling and marketing. Mark Gurman turns his attention to the story behind the Google Pixel in an extensive feature on Bloomberg that puts the long-term plan in focus:

Now that Google is designing phones itself, the company can at long last put together a product roadmap going out several years. For example, last month Burke was able to see a photo taken by a Google handset that won’t debut until next fall. That “would have never happened with Nexus,” he says. Going forward, more and more of the phones’ guts will be developed in-house. Burke says the company will eventually be able to ship its own custom “silicon,” a buzzword for customized processors that make devices work better.

Google Avoids Challenging Apple

One curious discussion around the Google Pixel is the price. Although the handset is pitched with cutting-edge software, hardware, and design, one of the biggest psychological comparisons is the price… which matches the equivalent iPhone 7 model. By not breaching the iPhone price point, Google has missed a trick  in the marketing of its new smartphone:

The Pixel’s starting price for the 32GB model is $649, rising to $849 for the 128GB Pixel XL. That sets an expectation in the mind of consumers. It gives them a benchmark to compare the various Pixel models to. And the comparison is perhaps the priciest mistake that Google has made with the Pixel.

The iPhone 7′s starting price for the 32GB model is $649, rising to $849 for the 128 GB iPhone 7 Plus.

Google is saying that it can’t do any better than Apple.