2019 has been a great year for most phone buyers. Over the last nine months we’ve seen everything from stellar mid-range blowers, like the Pixel 3a, to top-notch flagships, such as the Galaxy S10, hit the scene.
But for me there’s been one crucial market that’s been woefully underserved: phablets. Big screen phones have always been a bit of a niche, but, thanks to the ongoing China vs US trade war, one of the market’s core players has been hobbled at the knee. I speak, of course, of Huawei and its newly unveiled Huawei Mate 30 and Huawei Mate 30 Pro.
The phones were unveiled yesterday and, from a hardware perspective, they look great. But the ongoing US-led Huawei Android ban means neither of the new phones have access to key Google services, including the Play Store. This means most users won’t be able to use the regular Android apps they know and love, and is a key reason Huawei’s not even been able to confirm if the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro will launch in Europe.
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There are two choices if you want a flagship phablet as a result: the Galaxy Note 10 if you use Android and the iPhone 11 Pro Max if iOS is your poison.
Having a two-horse race is never a good thing and this year the lack of variety is particularly annoying as both devices are 0.5 refinements on 2018’s offering, rather than big upgrades.
Which, for me, is why Google has a rare opportunity with its fast-approaching Pixel event. The event is scheduled for October 15 and will see Google unveil new Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL handsets. In the past, with the notable exception of Google’s new Pixel 3a line, Pixel phones always review incredibly well and sell terribly.
With the lack of competition, this could make 2019 the perfect opportunity for Google to reverse this trend and grab the top-dog, big-screen smartphone spot.
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Thankfully, if even a smidgeon of the Pixel 4 and Pixel XL rumours are true, then the phones will definitely have the hardware to do it. Google’s already confirmed the new Pixels will be the first to feature multi-sensor camera setups. Given how great past Pixel’s cameras have been, this automatically gets me excited.
On top of this, rumblings suggest the new cameras will only be the start. We’ve heard rumours suggesting the handsets will have everything from improved fast charging to new OnePlus 7 Pro style 90Hz displays. The combination of factors, plus the added perk of a completely clean Android Q install, instantly give the Pixel 4 XL a technical lead on the Galaxy Note 10 and iPhone 11 Pro Max.
Hopefully Google will make good on this opportunity when it launches the Pixel 4 XL, as without it 2019’s phablet market is going to be a fairly boring space.