It’s officially official.
Google has announced its first solely branded Google phone, the Pixel and Pixel XL. At this point, there really isn’t much to know given the number of leaks.
One of the biggest differences with the Pixel though is not so much the upgraded hardware (even though it’s good), but rather their focus on an all-round improved experience.
Let’s get the basic specs out of the way and then talk about some of the more interesting updates.
Starting with the design, the phone, which comes in three flavours (Quite Black, Very Silver, and a limited edition Really Blue) has a very iPhone-esque design, featuring a rear polished glass and aluminum combo finish with subtle lines along the edges. They did make it clear that there were no camera bumps as well.
The HTC-manufactured phone features a 5 inch FHD AMOLED display on the Pixel while the Pixel XL features QHD AMOLED with a slightly larger 5.5 inch screen.
Under the hood of both phones, you’ll find a Snapdragon 821 SoC (system on a chip) 64-bit quad core (2x 2.15GHz and 2x 1.6 GHz processors), 4GB of LPDDR4RAM, a 12.3MP rear main camera and an 8MP front facing camera. The Pixel has a 2770 mAh battery while the XL has 3450mAh worth of energy.
It also features Bluetooth 4.2, a USB Type-C port (with a ton of cable converters so that your traditional cables won’t go to waste) and a 3.5mm headphone jack. So weird that that has to be mentioned, right?
As mentioned above, Google has spent a lot of its time working on building a better experience.
For starters, its camera is so good that DxOMark gave it a mobile score of 89 out of 100, which is the highest ever issued by the benchmarking website. That’s even higher than the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7! The Pixel will feature camera technology like HDR Plus (enabled by default). This new feature takes a series of mini long exposures, combining them into one well-balanced image.
There is also Smartburst technology which takes a series of shots and then chooses the best one. Additionally, their Lens Blur features allows you to achieve shallow depth of field photos, giving you that nice bokeh effect in the background while keeping the subject in full focus.
Google’s voice search has bee around for quite some time, and it’s pretty good, but really never stood up to the likes of Siri or Cortana.
Google Assistant allows for more natural conversations with your phone, and can be launched by saying “Ok Google” or touching and holding the Home button.
While the phone itself doesn’t have a whole ton new to offer, even though it’s still a worthy upgrade if you’re coming from a Nexus 5 (like myself), a lot of the cool features come with their newest iteration of Android Nougat. Pixel devices will run version 7.1 and will feature the ability to run OS updates in the background without having to interrupt the user experience.
There is also a fast charging capability, which can power the phone up to 70% of its battery life in just 15 minutes. Along with the three color options (or two depending on where you buy it), you can also pick up custom cases that match your style. In the box you’ll also get an adapter kit so that you can plug in your phone to traditional USB cables, as USB Type-C connectors are still taking some time to get to the general market.
Google customers will also have the option of 24/7 phone support, with either a chat or call-in option. There is also the option of sharing your screen while you’re in contact with customer support, allowing them to see exactly what’s on your screen.
Finally, your Google Pixel comes VR (virtual reality) ready. The Daydream View headset can be purchased for an additional $79.
The Pixel can be purchased via various carriers worldwide, even though Verizon is currently the exclusive launch partner in the US. If you want an unlocked version, you can head directly to the Play Store to pre-order your unit right now.
Pre-orders can be placed today if you live in the US, Australia, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom. Folks living in India should be able to order by October 13th. If you’re living outside of the US, I hope you have your proxies ready!
The price structure is as follows.
The Really Blue option is available in the Play Store as well, so I’d hurry up and get it now as it comes at no additional cost.
We’ll post more links as we get them.