The wait is finally over! At an event in San Fransisco today Google announced the beginning of a new era with the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones. The Google branded phones that have been in rumours for a while now. As a result of the numerous leaks, we already had a pretty fair idea of what to expect and everything seems to have fallen perfectly in line with the rumours.
First, lets talk design and build. both phones have a familiar HTC A9 looking design, however, there is no HTC logo. HTC has made these devices for Google hence the uncanny resemblance however, unlike the Nexus phones, Google’s is the only branding these phones carry. If you’ve been following Verdict, you already know most of this stuff.
Both the phones have a metallic build and a dual pane glass and aluminum back design. A rear facing fingerprint scanner and dual stereo speakers on the bottom of the frame. The front is a standard Nexus affair with nothing but the earpiece, sensors, camera and the display. The bottom chin looks like something had to be there but was scrapped at the last moment and fans have been on a complaining spree on various forums ever since the first renders leaked. Its an unusually large chin for no apparent reason.
Google is bringing back Live cases so that’s a plus for anyone who isn’t a fan of the design.
Having covered that, lets take a look at the devices and what sets them apart from each other.
The Google Pixel is the smaller of the two and comes with a 5 inch 1080p AMOLED display, Snapdragon 821, 4 gigs of RAM and a 12.3 MP rear facing camera equipped with with Sony’s latest and greatest IMX378 sensor and optical image stabilization and an 8MP front facing shooter. The phone is powered by a 2,770mAh battery. There’s 4K video recording as well as an LED flash, face detection, autofocus and all the usual stuff you’d expect from a $649 device.
Yes, the base 32GB variant of the Google Pixel comes in at $649 (£599) and the 128GB variant comes in at a whopping $749 (£699) with 128GB very unlike the Nexus phones before it which were kind of affordable flagships.
Google Pixel XL
The larger sibling, named the Pixel XL, is quite similar in design and specs to the Pixel except its 5.5 inch Quad HD screena and a larger 3,450mAh battery. This is exactly the kind of strategy Google adopted last year for th Nexus 5X and 6P however they still had more difference in terms of design, since they were manufactured by different companies.
The Google Pixel XL will set you back $769 (£719) for the 32GB variant and $869 (£819) for the 128GB model.
Both the phones have a USB Type C port at the bottom. According to a DxOMark rating the Google Pixel phones have the highest Camera ratings ever on a smartphone. Google says its the best smartphone camera.
It was long rumoured the Pixel phones will mark a shift in Google’s hardware policies but what about software? Nexus smartphones were known for pure Android experience, no skins, no OEM added ‘features’, just Android as Google intended it to be However, with the Pixel smartphones, Google seems to be following other Android OEMs and giving the Pixel software a sort of exclusive look. The rumoured Pixel Launcher makes an appearance here, with the lack of an app drawer icon. The hollow navigation bar icons are now filled but still white.
Google Assistant. Pixel is the first phone with the new Google Assistant built in. When you touch and hold the home button or say the “hot word,” the Assistant “jumps into action.” In Google’s event demo, the Assistant is used to bring up photos from a particular time or place from the past, and also plays whatever music you ask it to play, choosing your favorite music app by default. Similarly, it integrates the Google Now on Tap functionality, allowing the user to swipe up with information on the screen, such as a restaurant name, and provides further information, such as reviews and the restaurant’s address. Also, like a bot, the Google Assistant will take your reservation for that same restaurant using only voice prompts.
Endless cloud storage. Google will allow free unlimited storage for full-resolution images and videos shot with the Pixel. That’s much like the standard Google Photos backup ability, but takes off the size limit and compression, even on 4K video shot with the new phone.
Daydream VR support. The Pixel is the first Daydream-compatible phone and Google today also announced the $79 Daydream View headset to accommodate the Pixel for VR use. The Daydream View comes bundled with a tiny motion controller that is so precise, claims Google, that you can even draw with it. When you’re done using it, the controller tucks inside the Daydream View itself for safe storage.
Pixel users will be getting the latest Android updates directly from Google as soon as they become available which is no surprise but this is one of the biggest pain points with Android, and Google is stressing its lead in this category. The company has also paid close attention to the Pixel’s endurance on the move, adding fast charging that gets you up to 7 hours of power in 15 minutes of charging. Google has also built in 24-hour live phone support right into the Pixel’s software, so that a tech support operator can see exactly what’s on your screen and thus help you better. And yes, the Pixel comes with Google Duo preinstalled, if you’ve been hankering for the company’s video chat app.
There’s a choice between Black or Silver and a limited edition ‘Really Blue’ color.
Pre-orders begin today in USA, Australia, Canada and Germany and from October 13th in India.
The 32 GB Pixel variant in India will cost ₹57000. The US price converted into Indian rupees would be ₹43000 for comparison. The 128GB Google Pixel devices will cost ₹66,000 ($992) in India, while the two Google Pixel XL models will set you back ₹67,000 ($1,007) and ₹76,000 ($1,142) in the country. Do keep in mind that only the Quite Black and Very Silver color variants will be available in India.
It will be available for pre-order in India starting October 13th 2016 on Fllipkart and at over 1000 organized and multi-brand retail stores with leading retail partners including Reliance Digital, Croma and Vijay sales among others.
So, are you buying the any of the Pixels?