As promised, Google today held a media event to launch new hardware and software products, among them a pair of new smartphones—a five-inch Pixel and a 5.5-inch Pixel XL. These are the first “Made by Google” phones that come with the firm’s new Assistant built in. Google says the devices feature “the highest rated smartphone camera ever”, a battery that lasts all day and much more.
The Pixels are powered by Android 7.1 Nougat and Google promises to deliver software and security updates as soon as they’re available, bypassing carriers, similar to its Nexus hardware.
The aluminum-made devices have 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection, glass on the back with a fingerprint reader called Pixel Imprint and rounded edges to make them easier to grip. The fingerprint sensor can be swiped to quickly access notifications.
The phones have improved cameras with better low-light sensitivity and a Smartbust feature which takes a rapid-fire sequence of shots and automatically selects the best one. Fast charging is supported via a reversible USB-C charger than can give you up to seven hours of run time with a short 15-minute charge.
With the built-in Google Assistant, you just say “OK Google” or hold the Home button to have a natural conversation with Google to find answers or get things done. “Your Assistant can also offer help with what’s on-screen in any app,” explains Google. “So if your friend texts you to meet up at a new restaurant, you can just say ‘navigate there’”.
The Pixel features a 12.3-megapixel camera out the back that has an f/2.0 aperture and big 1.55 micron pixels to capture more light in low-light situations. Google says its team of imaging engineers have spent the last year designing and tirelessly optimizing the camera stack to make “the highest rated smartphone camera anyone has ever made” with a DxOMark Mobile score of 89.
And here’s the Pixel’s camera in action.
And with a Lens Blur feature, the Pixel’s camera can produce shallow depth of field and bokeh effects akin to the Portrait mode on the iPhone 7 Plus. However, unlike the iPhone 7 Plus which has two lenses that work together to produce bokeh images, the Pixel achieves the same effect in software.
The phones are preloaded with Google’s video-calling app Duo, the messaging app Allo and the photo management app Google Photos. Every Pixel gets free unlimited cloud storage for syncing original-quality photos and videos at full resolution.
They’re also offering a new collection of silicone and clear cases, as well as Live Cases that can be customized with your own graphics or with exclusive designs from artists like Justin Maller and photographers like Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.
If you missed the keynote, here’s a funny video that Google made for your viewing pleasure. If you like HBO’s Silicon Valley series, you’ll love this video in which Dinesh waits anxiously for the live stream to begin as Gilfoyle has other plans.
These phones were designed by Google inside and out and aren’t marketed under the Nexus brand, a break from the past six years of flagship Nexus devices.
“We’ve now decided to take the next step and provide our take on the best Google experience, by bringing hardware and software design together under one roof,” said Google.
The new Pixel family of products, according to the company, “brings people the best of Google through hardware and software made by Google.”
The Pixels are available for pre-order today starting at $649 in the U.S., UK, Canada, Germany and Australia. Pre-orders in India will begin October 13. In the United States, the Pixels are available through Verizon retail outlets, including Best Buy stores, while unlocked versions of the devices can be purchased on the Google Store.
All models of the phones are available in Very Silver and Quite Black colorways, while a limited-edition Really Blue color is available in the United States only.
Additional information is available at madeby.google.com/phone.
Here are the videos for other products Google unveiled today.
The search giant also launched its Alexa rival today—a voice-activated speaker with Google Assistant built-in called Home—in addition to a 4K-capable Chromecast Ultra, a Daydream VR headset and a successor to its OnHub wireless router.