Ahead of the expected October launch of its second-generation Pixel smartphones, Google is dropping the price on current models (pictured above) by up to $200. The discount is presumably to clear inventory for the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, but their future is also in doubt. At least one industry watcher predicts "serious problems ahead" for the new models.

Announced by Google yesterday, the latest promotion cuts the cost of last year's Pixel by $125 and reduces the cost of the larger Pixel XL by $200. Buyers of either phone will also be able to add Google's Daydream View virtual-reality headset for no extra cost. Google said the offer will continue "while supplies last."

In the meantime, recently leaked images show the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are not expected to feature several of the latest design elements that are appearing on competing devices. One "missing" design element is a nearly bezel-free front display like the one on the Samsung Galaxy S8, which was released in April. The 10th-anniversary iPhone, anticipated to launch by the end of the year, is also expected to be bezel-free.

Front Bezels, Single Rear Camera Remain

The new promotion on last year's Google smartphones brings the starting price down to $524 for the Pixel and $569 for the Pixel XL. Meanwhile, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are expected to arrive with a "premium" price-tag similar to that of a new Samsung Galaxy or Apple iPhone, according to comments made earlier this year by Google senior vice president of hardware Rich Osterloh.

However, this year's Pixels appear likely to forego their competitors' "increasingly-common flagship features," noted mobile tech writer Evan Blass, who has published numerous accurate leaks about other devices in the past.

On Friday, Blass posted a leaked photo that purports to show the front and back of the Pixel 2 XL, which has been codenamed Taimen. The images reveal a device that is similar to the original Pixel XL, without the bezel-free design, and dual rear cameras that have made their appearance on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and are also expected to be featured on the next iPhone.

Commenting on the Pixel 2's single rear camera, Blass wrote on VentureBeat, "The choice was odd last year, but looks even more bizarre in the face of the industry trend to move away from singular cameras by phone manufacturers like Apple (iPhone 7 Plus), LG (G6), Samsung (Note8), and Huawei (P10, among others)."

Commercial Suicide?

Google's apparent design decisions for the Pixel 2 and 2 XL indicate "serious problems ahead," according to Forbes' Gordon Kelly. In an analysis published yesterday of Blass' leaked images, Kelly called the combination of a bezel-bordered front display and a single camera in the rear "commercial suicide."

"Why?" Kelly wrote. "Because while the Pixel and Pixel XL magnificently overcame their uninspired designs to top their rivals, the smartphone world in 2017 is a very different place and the biggest advances have been exactly this this area where the Pixels were already lagging behind."

Several earlier leaked renders of the Pixel 2 XL appeared to have indicated the device would feature smaller bezels on the front than the Pixel XL. However, the latest images posted by Blass suggest that won't be the case.

If Google's new smartphones also arrive with the expected premium price-tags, it will be hard to persuade buyers that the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will be worth the cost, Kelly said.

"[T]he Pixel 2 may be an incredible phone when it comes to substance, but it only just about convinced buyers to overlook its design in 2016 when Galaxies still had noticeable bezels and iPhones -- well -- looked little better than Pixels," Kelly wrote. "That's not going to fly in 2017 or (most of) 2018."