The past several months have been marred by one leak after another after another. In fact, we’ve known what the new
Nexus Pixel phones were going to look like before we were even sure what the final design of the Samsung Galaxy Note7 would be. However, in true Google fashion, today’s Pixel launch event managed to keep a few surprises in store for us with the bevy of impressive capabilities that the Pixel devices offer.
It’s the Pixel that is the smaller of the two devices with a five-inch 1080p FHD display while the larger Pixel XL features a 5.5-inch 1440p QHD (or 2K) display. Inside, both Pixel devices hold 4GB of RAM and the updated Snapdragon 821 processor, 8MP front-facing selfie cameras with 12MP shooters on the back, USB C ports with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, premium glass-and-aluminum construction, and both devices will be running the latest Android 7.1 Nougat right out of the box.
In terms of their differences, it’s primarily their batteries: Pixel has a 2770mAh battery while the Pixel XL has a 3450mAh battery. According to Google, both devices will achieve screen-on time of around seven hours, which is a bold claim and will be quite impressive if it turns out to be true. Both devices will be available with two storage options, 32GB and 128GB, which is arguably the most bizarre choice since 32GB is probably too little for most people while 128GB is overkill. As well, both the Pixel and Pixel XL will come in three different colors: “Quite Black”, “Very Silver”, and a limited-edition “Really Blue”, which is quite a jarring color to be covering an entire phone.
Here’s the real clincher: The smaller Pixel device starts at $649 for a 32GB variant and the Pixel XL starts at $769 for the 32GB variant. The 128GB variants are $749 and $869, respectively. In other words, if you’re buying a Pixel XL with 128GB of storage, it’ll cost you the same amount (or more) as a Note7. This is a major departure from Google’s now-dead Nexus line, which was noteworthy for offering top-shelf specs are very reasonable prices. It’s almost as if the Pixel devices are Google’s entry into the same area of the market as Apple and Samsung.
Interestingly, the Pixel and Pixel XL are being sold by Verizon as well as unlocked from Google’s web store. Pre-orders started today right after the launch event wrapped with October 20 being the first day that they’ll be reaching the consumer’s hands.
In addition to the Pixel devices, Google spent a lot of time touting the new Google Assistant, which is Google’s answer to Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. Currently, our only access to the Google Assistant is in the new Allo app, but the Pixel and Pixel XL will be the first devices to have the Google Assistant built into them. This means that the Assistant can be used anywhere and from within any app on the devices. The Google Assistant is also what operates Google Home, which is a Bluetooth speaker with voice activation that will allow you to dictate commands to Google Assistant from anywhere in range without using your phone. In other words, it’s Google’s version of the Amazon Echo. It looks nice although somewhat less robust than the Echo; however, at a lower cost, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t successful, especially given all the current and upcoming integrations.
As announced earlier this year at Google I/O, there is also a new virtual reality (VR) headset being launched alongside the Pixel devices, effectively launching Google’s new Daydream virtual reality platform. The headset itself is called Daydream View, will retail for $79, and its fabric construction was meant to make it exceptionally comfortable during use. Upon launching in November, the Daydream View will be available in three colors: Slate, Snow, and Crimson.
Last but certainly not least, Google announced a new Chromecast called Chromecast Ultra. It’ll allow you to stream video in 4K with HDR support and, perhaps most importantly, will allow you to control your television via Google Assistant support. The Chromecast Ultra will also debut in November and will cost $69, which is almost twice the price of the original 35-dollar Chromecast.
While these are the only actual products that were unveiled at today’s launch, there were a plethora of exciting features, too. For instance, the Pixel and Pixel XL camera is supposedly so good that DXOMark — an organization that essentially rates cameras according to their quality, considered the authority on camera quality — rated the Pixel/Pixel XL camera higher than all other smartphone cameras released to date, including the brand new iPhone 7. Specifically, the Pixel camera scored an 89 with the HTC 10, Samsung Galaxy S7 (and probably the Note7 since it has the same camera), and Sony Xperia X Performance tied for second place with 88.
So what do you think about the Pixel and Pixel XL? Will you be buying one of these phones that are “made by Google”? What do you think of the price? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.