What do we want from the Google Pixel 2?

Update: 9to5Google reports that the Pixel 2 will waterproofing is currently "on the table" as an addition to Google's next flagship. Its sources are also saying that there will be renewed emphasis on the camera, which we already consider the best in the industry, and that Google is in talks with both Qualcomm and Intel on the chips powering the Pixel 2.

We're well into the new year (happy 2017!) and we've just done an audit of our favorite Android phones, and yes, the Google Pixel still sits atop the list.

Despite much haranguing from a small minority, and a few notable issues people continue to encounter along the way, Google has quite a smash hit on its hands — critically, if not financially.

But that doesn't mean the Pixel is perfect. Far from it. There are many things we thought immediately needed to be changed, and have since lengthened that list, from waterproofing to wider carrier availability. Here are the things we think the Google Pixel 2 — or whatever it's going to be called — needs when it inevitably debuts later this year.

Waterproofing

Waterproofing is the most obvious feature manufacturers can't afford to overlook in 2017.

The most obvious one is a feature manufacturers can't afford to overlook in 2017. With the Samsung Galaxy line well established as the IP68 mainstay, and Sony not far behind with its admittedly less acclaimed lineup, Google has to appeal to the mainstream by waterproofing its 2017 flagship. There were just too many times in recent months where I would have preferred to be able to be more cavalier about taking the Pixel out in the rain or snow — or even using it near a sink — without worrying about death through mainboard corrosion.

To be fair, though, I've exposed both my Pixel and Pixel XL to what would be considered a fair amount of water — swiping through Spotify in the rain, or accidentally getting knocked into a snow bank by my puppy — with no immediate consequences, but frequent exposure to the elements may, over time, cause problems, and will almost certainly void my warranty.

More carrier support

I know, this may seem counterintuitive, but the Pixel is being held back by being a Verizon exclusive. In Canada, the Pixel is sold through nearly every carrier and is a much more easy-to-spot phone as a result. Being available through AT&T and T-Mobile would almost certainly put the Pixel 2 in better standing to compete with the Galaxy S8 and iPhone 8, and there is no question that Google has certainly earned the right to have a successful product launch in the U.S.

Despite what we once feared, Verizon hasn't completely undermined the Pixel's frequent update promise, nor has it sullied the foundation of openness that the Nexus line laid so many years ago. But the Verizon model is bootloader locked, and it comes with bloatware, which are compromises Google must be willing to make to get its device(s) in the hands of more people.

It seems counter-intuitive, but we need the carriers to be on board still.

The Pixel, for better or worse (depending on who's reading) is a mainstream phone with an extremely populist approach to Android, and it deserves to be purchased by anyone on any carrier. Financing plans allow people who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford a $649 Pixel or $769 Pixel XL to walk out of a store with a phone, a plan, and a smile. Carrier stores are also places people can go when they have questions or problems.

As generous as Google's interest-free financing options are, and as ubiquitous as its 24/7 support line may be, there are still inherent advantages to being able to buy a phone from a carrier, and I'd love to see more of that, please.

Better battery life on the Baby Pixel

This has been a constant source of frustration for me since I began using the Pixel, left it for the Pixel XL, went back to the Pixel, and gave up and settled with the XL.

The Pixel's 2770 mAh battery isn't big enough to comfortably get me through the whole day without having to top up at least once — and not for just a few minutes, either — in the day. Normally I can, and it's not a problem, but I shouldn't have to, and it's something that I think Google can solve for this year with ...

A slightly bigger Baby Pixel

Five inches seems to be the sweet spot for a lot of people, but given that 2017 appears to be the year of the No Bezel Smartphone, hear me out: it shouldn't be too difficult for Google to do a couple of things to make the smaller Pixel slightly larger — a couple of millimeters taller and wider, or ever-so-slightly thicker, to increase the battery size to, say, 3200 mAh, in addition to increasing the size of the display to 5.2 inches.

After using the Huawei Mate 9, I have no problem losing some pixel density by sticking with 1080p — if the display is good.

After using the Huawei Mate 9 for a while now, I have no problem losing a small amount of pixel density by maintaining a 1080p resolution on a display that would be four percent or so larger — as long as the AMOLED panel itself is of high quality, properly calibrated and ideally DCI-3P compliant — because Nougat's excellent display scaling makes it easy to fit more on the screen at once, even at lower resolutions.

A more inspired design with smaller bezels

The Pixel is many things, most great, but the phone's design is not universally lauded. Insofar as most devices today are slabs of metal and glass with rounded corners, the Pixel hits all the right marks, and yet there is something perfunctory about it, especially given HTC's prowess in actually designing and building its own products.

If it's true that the Pixel's design and production was rushed to meet the demands of a holiday release, the emphasis on utility over beauty may be been a worthy trade-off, but given that Google has its own in-house team of hardware engineers, I'd love to see them take some chances with the Pixequel.

In particular, I'd love to see a Pixel 2 with slimmer bezels, allowing the now-larger base Pixel pack a larger screen (as above) into the same size or only slightly bigger chassis. And getting rid of that glass on the back entirely wouldn't be a bad idea, either.

A camera bump

We're not talking a Galaxy S6-level wart, but something a bit more reasonable.

This one sounds weird, but hear us out: Should Google insist on stepping around cellular attenuation by affixing glass to the top half of the Pixel 2 as it did on the original, we'd prefer the camera to have a camera bump — a slightly-protruding lens covered by sapphire glass, much like the Galaxy devices do today. We're not talking a Galaxy S6-level rear wart, but more like its sequel, the Galaxy S7, which blended better into the chassis and wasn't nearly as unsightly.

The benefits would be twofold: first, a slight camera bump allows for a larger sensor, which would reinforce the Pixel's lead in the camera department. It would also give Google more room to install real optical image stabilization, something that, despite the Pixel's excellent electronic stabilization, I would prefer to see in all high-end phones. Such a move would also prevent the glass from getting as scratched as ours has become in the four months since the phone's release. It's quite shocking, actually.

A 64GB option and a lower starting price

Friend of the site (and editor at Android Police), David Ruddock, said that 64GB should be the base storage option for the next Pixel. I disagree.

Instead, what I'd like to see is a 64GB model filling in for the standard $649 price, and a $599 or even $549 starting price for the 32GB option. Google shot itself in the foot a little separating the $649 Pixel from the $499 Nexus 6P, and I think it would do them a lot of good bringing down cost of ownership for people who generally store things in the cloud and don't need a huge amount of local space.

I've been using a 32GB Pixel for the past two months and haven't run into any storage issues because I offload my photos to Google Photos every few days and I don't download a lot of large apps and games. I'm sure many people are in the same boat as me and would instead prefer to spend a bit less upfront for what is the best Android phone you can buy today.

Your choices

None of my desires for a Pixel 2 are particularly out there, nor are they looking at technologies that may or may not take off in 2017. I mean, sure, I guess I'd like to see an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor that lives under the display, the same thing rumored to debut in the Galaxy S8. And I would certainly like to see more attention paid to building out the Pixel's first-party accessory lineup, which does not really compare well to the much more popular Galaxy series. But to me neither of these overshadow the fundamentals.

What would you like to see in the next Google Pixel? Let us know in the comments!