When a new flagship phone is announced, an obvious concern for your average discerning Android enthusiast is how open to modifications and rooting it will be. And rightly so – manufacturer's attitudes can differ radically from one another, as we commented on in our how-to-root guide. Fortunately, Google has shown itself to be one of the most developer and enthusiast-friendly OEMs over the past 5 years. But is the case the same with the Pixel 2?
The new phones do not radically differ from the previous generation of Google flagships in terms of specs – with nothing noteworthy with the exception of the usual iterative SoC update. Don't expect to run into any hardware compatability related issues with running root modifications or tweaks on your Pixel XL, fortunately.
As mentioned earlier, Google have had a lenient attitude towards rooting and enthusiast mods over the past 5 years that they've been making Android phones. With the Nexus line, this made sense as they were targeted at developers who wanted a clean, pure Android experience to develop on. Many of us enthusiasts feared last year that this leniency would fall away when Google launched the new Pixel phones under the "Made by Google" moniker, as they were vigorously marketed as an iPhone competitor (and here at ModMy we know how hard Apple tries to keep their system locked down) – however, we were pleasantly surprised when Google shipped them with unlockable bootloaders, allowing for easy flashing of a custom recovery. While we have no confirmation that it will be the same case this year, we have no reason to believe that Google would want to change anything this time around.
From the manufacturer side of things, everything seems rosy then. However, sometimes additional complications can develop with changes to the Android operating system and how it's secured; a perfect example of this is the restrictions on downgrading that Google implemented in Android Oreo, which we covered here. This caused some issues with the rollout of root tools last year as the Pixel used the A/B partitioning scheme to enable seamless OTA updates, which caused problems with systemless root implementation. This problem was fortunately solved recently. A similar problem with data decryption on Pixel devices running TWRP on Android Oreo was also fixed. So while the road may not be completely smooth from the software side of things, it's looking clear enough for these new Pixels to proceed without hindrance.
To conclude – the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are looking like the modder's flagship smartphone. With a clean, optimised Android experience and full developer backing from Google, and no pesky additional safety nets to prevent custom recovery flashing or bootloader unlocking, things seem good to go for rooters and hackers who want a new Pixel 2.
What do you guys think? Will the Pixel 2 be your next phone? Let us know in the comments below or post in the forums with your thoughts.