Today, at their ‘Made by Google’ event in Silicon Valley, Google officially announced two new mobile devices – Pixel and Pixel XL. These devices replace their Nexus lineup which were made in collaboration with other hardware partners and were hugely popular among enthusiasts and developers. The Pixel lineup is a premium high-end series with a hefty price tag.
Now Google is aiming to attract a larger audience by replacing the Nexus lineup with newer and relatively unknown Pixel lineup. New, in fact, was the theme of this whole launch event. In contrast to their previous Nexus offering, Google is claiming to have had a more hands-on approach with features and designs of these new devices. So in spite of being made by HTC, the devices mainly sport Google branding.
Both Pixel devices sport a mostly aluminum construction except for a small section on the back which is made of glass and hosts camera sensor and fingerprint reader. Both devices will be available in three colors: Very Silver, Quite Black and Really Blue.
Pixel phones are made by Google to challenge the best and brightest in industry, an intention which is clearly reflected by their choice of hardware. A brief summary of Pixel hardware specs is:
- 5 inch 1920 x 1080p display for base model
- 5.5 inch 2560 x 1440p display for the XL model.
- 2.15GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
- 4GB LPDDR4 RAM
- 32 GB or 128 GB internal storage (no 64 GB model is available).
- 12.3MP rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, HDR+, and optical image stabilization; capable of shooting videos at 4K resolution
- 8MP HD front camera
- Nonremovable 2,770 mAh battery (3450 mAh for XL model) with fast charging (Google claims 7 hours of usage with only 15 minutes of charge)
- IP53 water and dust resistance
- USB Type-C
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- Bluetooth 4.2
Google made sure to take a jibe at Apple for getting rid of 3.5 mm jack in their launch video by pointing out that inclusion of 3.5 mm is satisfyingly nothing new in this brand new phone.
Coming towards the software side, Pixel device comes with Android 7.1 Nougat, which is an incremental update over current 7.0 release. This update will overhaul the launcher design and introduce Google Assistant — their brand new attempt to rival Siri and Cortana.
Google assistant packs some interesting features like using on-screen context to make sure your queries remain short and effective. For example, if you are viewing a restaurant on Google maps and want a reservation for lunch, you just need to launch Google assistant with a long press of a home button and straight away ask for the reservation. Google assistant will read the data currently populated on screen and understand which restaurant you are talking about.
Android 7.1 also introduces new on-screen buttons with brand new animations to indicate activation of different Google Assistant features.
4. Value added services
Google is throwing in a lot of features to make sure that people seriously consider these devices as viable competitors to established companies like Apple and Samsung. Google photos will allow you to upload unlimited full resolution images and videos. This is a step away from the traditional policy by Google to offer unlimited storage on Google photos for downsized and compressed photos and videos.
Google is also touting these Pixels devices as the best point and shoot devices ever released. To support this claim, they referenced a score of 89 by well-known image benchmarking company DxOMark. For comparison purposes, newest iPhone 7 devices managed to score 86 when put to test by DxOMark.
In addition to superior image quality, Pixel devices will also be the first devices which are being marketed as ready for Daydream — Google’s own VR platform.
Price and availability
Pixel smartphones are coming with a hefty price tag of $649. Due to no official launch in Pakistan, there is speculation that, initially, it will be sold with prices as high as PKR 100,000 in the country. Once the dust settles, the prices will relax a bit.
While the phone will be officially launched in India through e-commerce store, FlipKart. But apparently, Pakistani market is not lucrative enough or the local e-commerce stores don’t have solid partnerships division else we would have been able to taste pure Android in Google’s own Pixel smartphones.