Google's cheeky Oct 4 event invite never mentions Pixel phones

Nonetheless, reliable signs point to Google retiring Nexus phone branding, and replacing it with Pixel signage via the eponymous 5-inch Pixel and 5.5-inch Pixel XL.

The walk-up to Google’s release of its latest pure Android phones probably just hit another milestone: Late Monday night, tech reporters received an invite for an Oct 4 event. The simple email invitation makes no mention of Pixel phones. In fact, it doesn’t even mention hardware at all. But, c’mon. In all likelihood, Google will reveal a 5-inch Pixel phone and 5.5-inch Pixel XL, along with some other hardware goodies.

I’ll be at the event in person, and all the world can follow along via Google’s Oct 4 live stream on YouTube. Earlier this month, Android Police reported—correctly, as it turns out—that Google would be holding an Oct 4 event. The report also indicated that Google would announce two Pixel phones; an updated Chromecast video streamer with 4K support; more details on the Google Home smart home platform; and Google’s own Daydream VR headset.

That’s a lot of hardware, but, hey, Google is a mega-company, and it needs to keep stirring every pot.

Why this matters: If you can nudge your brain back to the Google I/O 2016, you’ll recall that Daydream VR is Google’s somewhat mysterious VR headset initiative. So perhaps we’ll see a “Daydream View” reference design on Oct 4. As for Chromecast, it’s a wonderful platform (I use it multiple times a week), and 4K support is welcome.

But it’s the prospect of two Pixel-branded phones that’s most interesting. Throughout Google history, the company has always branded its “pure” Android phones as Nexus devices. The hardware has often been unspectacular, but Nexus owners have always received the Android OS just as Google intended, unencumbered by software customizations from the likes of Samsung, HTC and LG.

Nexus phone hardware took significant leaps forward with the release of last year’s Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, and now uncorroborated reports tell us Google is dropping Nexus branding altogether, and placing this year’s phones under the Pixel banner. Current Pixel devices include the Chromebook Pixel and Pixel C—each a somewhat decadent device with premium materials and design flair.

We expect all details to be resolved on Oct 4, and at least one report suggests the Pixel phones will be high-end devices, with the smaller of the two phones starting at $649. But I think big-phone fanatics should look closely at the presumptive 5.5-inch Pixel XL. The Android phablet space currently includes the tainted Samsung Galaxy Note7 and the oddball-to-many LG V20. So a pure Android Pixel XL could appeal to a lot of Android users. Now we just wait to see exactly what premium benefits and features the phone actually delivers.

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