The Made for Google program announced at the October 4th event will yield a bevy of cases for the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. However, Google is still making first-party cases for its phones, including revamped Live Cases that forego one notable feature, while adding more protection.
While great for customization and getting custom artwork printed, the first-generation Live Case had two notable issues. Essentially a shell, cracking was a common complaint, while the thin plastic design made tapping the shortcut button quite hard. It lays flat on the rear in an awkward position and required a significant amount of force to press.
With the new Live Cases, Google addressed the latter issue by removing the customizable button. Fortunately, users can still get live wallpapers and backgrounds depending on the style. While the loss of a customization option is unfortunate, it was never implemented well.
Update: Google has reached out to clarify that the new Live Cases do not use an NFC chip to show the custom wallpaper. Rather, pairing is handled through a code inside the case. They can also automatically be paired if you purchased the case with the same Google account that’s logged into the Live Case app.
On the design front, Google now sells two models. The first is the same hard shell design, but there is also a dual-layer design with a rubber “supportive interior.” Meanwhile, the top and bottom of the phone are no longer open, but rather also covered by the TPU material.
For those who like the customization, but dreaded the lack of actual protection, this is a big benefit. The “Slim Protection” cases cost $40, while upgrading to “Dual-layer Protection” only adds $10 to the price. Some cases, like the Google Earth model, are only available in the dual-layer variant.
These two new designs are only available for the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Google still sells the older design with a customizable button for the original Pixel.