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Google's Pixel phones: 7 essential technical upgrades we want to see

Jason Cross | Sept. 22, 2016
It looks like "Nexus" is out, and "Pixel" is in. This is what we hope to see as Google updates its flagship phones.

All of this gives the camera a bad “pocket to photo” experience. By the time you whip out your phone, launch the camera, line up your shot, hit the shutter, and actually capture the photo, the moment is long gone.

Yes, we always want better image quality, but it’s the general photo-taking experience, particularly the raw speed, where Google needs to make massive improvements.

Of course, we still have our complaints about the feature limitations of the camera app in stock Android. It’s getting better over time, but we still want a Pro mode that lets you capture RAW+JPG, while also giving you fine manual control over exposure, white balance, shutter speed, ISO, and focus. Samsung and LG deliver great control sets, so for a Pixel phone, we expect the same.

We’ve got plenty of items on our wish list for the new Pixel phones, but massive improvements to camera performance are must-haves. “Good enough” isn’t good enough anymore.

A brighter, more responsive display

The Nexus 6P display is good. The 5X display isn’t quite a nice, but it’s still not too shabby for a modestly priced phone.

But one area where the 6P display just doesn’t hold it own against current phones is visibility in bright daylight. Simply put, it needs to get much brighter.

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A good display is color-accurate, power-efficient, and sharp. We want better daylight viewing and faster auto-brightness.

I would hope that the Pixel phones, despite likely having different resolutions (1080p for the smaller phone and 1440p for the larger one) would have otherwise similar AMOLED displays. And relative to the last Nexus phones, they need a much higher maximum brightness, and lower reflectivity, so they can be more easily seen outdoors.

I’ve been disappointed by the adaptive brightness on Nexus phones, too. It takes way too long for the screen to adjust to new lighting conditions, and it doesn’t seem to remember how bright I want the display in each environment. I shouldn’t have to install an app like Lux to make the screen adapt properly to my surroundings.

While I’m at it, how about a DCI-P3 wide color gamut mode? That would mesh nicely with new 4K video content and really show off the camera. As long as there’s a nicely-calibrated sRGB mode in addition to the wide color gamut mode, I’m happy.

Waterproofing

I don’t want to go SCUBA diving with my Pixel phone, but I would like it to survive a drop in the kitchen sink or a shove in the pool. With so many phones carrying IP67 or IP68 water- and dust-resistance these days, without annoying flaps over all the ports, it sure would be nice if Google’s own premium phone followed suit. 

 

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