Google, at an event on October 4th, unveiled their two brand new smartphones – the Pixel and Pixel XL. This is the first time since the company released an Android smartphone that does not bear the “Nexus” name and signals a dramatic shift in the company’s mobile efforts. The “Pixel” name is associated with Google’s high end premium products and that is what Google wants its new smartphones to be. With a starting price of $649, these are the most expensive smartphones Google has ever made.
The Pixel phones do not have any third party branding on them, just a big “G” on the back. Google says they made the phones from the ground up and so is the ideal culmination of software and hardware. The smartphones bear slight resemblance with last year’s Nexus 6P but bring to the table some of the highest specifications. They are the first using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 processor and also the first Daydream compatible devices.
The Pixel has a 5 inch 1080p AMOLED display and the Pixel XL has a 5.5 inch quad HD (2560 x 1440) display. Aside from screen size and battery capacity, both the Pixel and Pixel XL are identical to one another so there are no compromises when choosing the smaller version. An interesting point to note is the storage capacity. The base model comes with 32GB storage but the other model comes with 128GB storage. There is no middle ground which makes a lot of sense. There is no microSD card slot in case you were wondering. As there is no microSD storage option, Google will provide all Pixel owners with free, unlimited and uncompressed media storage on Google Photos.
An astonishing exclusion is water resistance. Google made no mention of this in the presentation and no rating is available on their official specifications sheet. Water resistance is no longer an added feature, rather it is a necessity and excluding it from the Pixel phones puts them at a huge competitive disadvantage.
On the flip side the cameras on the Pixel were reviewed by DxOMark, a highly acclaimed camera review entity, and they gave the Pixel the highest ever rating of 89. This places the Pixel’s cameras above the current best Galaxy S7 and Note 7 cameras and also above the iPhone 7/Plus.
The main advantage of the Pixel phones as with the Nexus line is continued software support. Google has promised two years of Android version updates and three years of security updates. Google has also made it easier to switch from an iPhone or other Android phones to the Pixel.
With the pricing of these devices, Google is putting its smartphones in contention with powerhouses like the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7. These competing products bring features to the table that the Pixel does not have so it will be interesting to see how consumers respond. There are many out there who want fast updates and a vanilla Android experience but whether these are enough to sway users away from the current fantastic crop of smartphones is debatable. The Pixel smartphones are available for pre-order in the US, UK, Germany and Australia right now and from October 13th in India. They come in silver and black colors with an exclusive blue color available in the US only.