All eyes will be on the Apple iPhone 15 event on September 12, as Apple shows off its latest smartphones. But one group in particular should be paying special attention to the debut of the iPhone 15 and how Apple positions its new handsets — the folks at Google responsible for the Pixel smartphones.
Google has its own launch event coming up — the Made by Google event on October 4 where we're likely to see the Pixel 8 make its debut. And while Google certainly doesn't need Apple's help in coming up with ideas for improvements to its flagship phones, it could draw some inspiration for how the latest iPhones are shown off at their September 12 coming-out party.
Apple's flair for marketing is well-established at this point, and it figures to be on prominent display for the iPhone 15 launch, as Apple looks to convince shoppers that these new devices are the best iPhones yet. And while we won't know Apple's specific pitch until Tim Cook takes the stage at his company's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, we think there will be some lessons in there for Google's next phone launch.
Cameras are key
Rumors surrounding the new iPhones predict plenty of features, from new A17 Bionic silicon in the iPhone 15 Pro models, to USB-C connectivity across the whole range of handsets. But much of the attention — both from Apple and from the people considering whether to upgrade to an iPhone 15 — will hone in on the iPhone 15 cameras.
Specific camera upgrades are rumored to include a 48MP main sensor for the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, matching a change Apple introduced to the iPhone 14 Pro lineup a year ago. The iPhone 15 Pro is expected to get a larger sensor of its own, improving photography in low-light settings, while the iPhone 15 Pro Max may turn to a periscope-style telephoto lens that will improve its ability to zoom in on shots beyond the current 3x optical zoom.
None of those rumors touch on potential software improvements like the Cinematic and Action modes Apple has added to the iPhones in recent years. Because those changes don't rely on hardware, Apple's able to keep a tighter lid on new image processing tools coming to its iPhones.
The point is, that camera changes figure to be a substantial part of the iPhone 15 story. And you can expect Apple to spend a lot of time detailing those particular changes given how important camera features are to smartphone shoppers.
Based on Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro rumors, Google should have plenty to say about its cameras, too, highlighted by a new Samsung Isoccell GN2 sensor. That sensor is supposed to be able to capture 35% more light than the main sensor used by the Pixel 7. It also could enable features like staggered HDR, where multiple exposures are captured at once to avoid blurry images. A Video Unblur feature similar to the current Photo Unblur capabilities could also be in the cards.
So Google won't have to struggle to find camera features to talk about at its October 4 event. And coming nearly a month after Apple's iPhone 15 launch, Google will have the opportunity to explain to us why its camera phones are better.
Know your audience
Having watched my share of iPhone launches over the years, there's something that's struck me about Apple's approach: Very rarely does Apple draw comparisons between its new phones and older models. Oh, sometimes it happens, especially when discussing upgraded silicon and Apple needs to add some context to the promised improvements. But for the most part, Apple doesn't seem to be convincing existing iPhone users to upgrade.
That's because it knows iPhone users are going to upgrade sooner or later. Instead, the audience it's trying to reach are people who own other types of smartphones. I mean, there's a reason so many Apple earnings briefings with Wall Street analysts include stats on Android users switching to the iPhone.
Google should take a cue from Apple and better tailor its Pixel 8 pitch to broaden the appeal of its phone. It's no secret that the smartphone market is currently composed of Apple, Samsung and Everybody Else. If Google wants to split off from Everybody Else, it needs to make the case that the Pixel 8 is notably different from other Android phones.
The switch to Tensor chips with the Pixel 6 in 2021 has helped in that regard, as has the Pixel's rather unique design featuring that horizontal camera bar spanning the back of Google's phones. But there needs to be something else to make people consider a Pixel in the same they'd look at an iPhone or Galaxy S device. And maybe Google's rumored move to five years of software support with the Pixel 8 helps make that happen.
Be upfront about pricing
Rumors ahead of the upcoming Apple event suggest that the iPhone 15 Pro models will cost more than their iPhone 14 Pro counterparts. In the case of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, that could wind up being a lot more, as in $200 above the iPhone 14 Pro Max's $1,099 starting price.
We don't know for certain just what the new iPhones are going to cost and won't until Apple reveals that information at its event. But I'm willing to bet that if the cost does go up, Apple's going to take every opportunity to make the case that you're getting more for your money. Expect Apple to emphasize potential new features like added storage and titanium frames for the iPhone 15 Pro to justify why this year's models cost more.
Pixel 8 pricing is similarly up in the air, though one report suggests a price hike is on the way, at least in Europe. We'd need additional reports to confirm that price increase before we'd accept it as gospel, but if the cost of Google's flagships is going up, then the phone maker is going to need to use its launch event to make a strong case for why people should have to pay more.
Google Pixel 8 outlook
We've got a few weeks to go before the Made by Google event, and doubtlessly, Google has its own ideas about how best to show off the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. But given Apple's track record of successful phone launches, Google would be doing itself a favor to pay attention to the coming iPhone 15 roll out to see if it can generate some buzz of its own.