Google Pixel Announced, A Smartphone to Rule Them All?

Finally after waves and floods of rumors and leaks that filled up the internet to the brim as we approached Google's official announcement of their new phone offerings, the Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones are now officially launched. And it sounds a real competition both for Android and iOS devices we have ever known.

First off, unlike Nexus devices, this new Pixel is the very first smartphone ever built by Google itself. Nexus phones and tablets were created in partnership with major smartphone manufacturers like LG, HTC, and Huawei. But these Pixel and Pixel XL devices, everything from software to hardware department all created and built by Google alone. And from the looks of it, we are not gonna be seeing new Nexus devices moving forward.

At the Google's event on October 4 in the US, the company talked about and launched a few new products and upgrades on existing offerings such as the Daydream VR headset, Google Assistant, Google Home, Google WiFi, Chromecast Ultra among many others. But in this post we are going to talk about the most famous of all these Google products and services, the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones.

Google Pixel and Pixel XL?

In case you have been wondering, yes Google announced two flagship smartphones just like many other phone manufacturers and those are the Google Pixel and Pixel XL. And as you may have already guessed, the XL is the bigger version of the two sporting 5.5-inch Quad HD display while the Pixel has a smaller 5-inch Full HD display size. In addition to the screen sizes and resolutions, the two Pixel phones also sport different battery sizes, 2770mAh and 3450mAh respectively. The rest of the specs and features are all the same and found on the Pixel and Pixel XL devices.

Design and Color Options

The Google Pixel smartphones are encased in a unibody aluminum casing with a touch of glass plate on its upper back panel where the main camera, LED flash and fingerprint sensor are located. The shiny part you see on the back is the glass (hopefully it is not scratch hungry) and the rest is the metal finish. On front is a Corning Gorilla Glass 4  protecting the screen with 2.5D glass technology on top. On the right side are the power and volume rocker keys, nothing on the other side though. Antenna lines are also nicely visible and placed on the side and across the back cover. There is no capacitive nor physical home button on the chin of the Pixel and Pixel XL devices, all buttons are on-screen as you see in the image.

The Google Pixel and Pixel XL will be offered in three very likable color options and Google is calling them Quite Black, Very Silver and a limited edition Really Blue. Color descriptions sound a bit hilarious and trolling right? or I am the only one?

Software and Operating System

Both smartphones, being the latest phones from Google, are of course expected to run on the latest mobile operating system from Google as well, the Android 7.0 Nougat. In addition to that, the newest Siri-like virtual assistant called Google Assistant is also gonna come pre-installed with the handsets right out of the box. During the event, Google did a live demo of this new assistant and from what was witnessed, the Google Assistant is a pretty smart tool that we can use with our daily activities and loaded schedules. Of course, it is not perfect though and may encounter some issues upon initial launch but Google assured the attendees that the software will continue to learn and improve overtime as we use it.

Camera and Google Photos App

Camera department is one of the most exciting parts of these new Google made smart devices. Upfront, users will have 12.3MP rear camera with 1.55um, PDAF and f/2.0 Aperture and a front facing shooter equipped with 8MP, 1.4um and f/2.4 aperture.

All the photos shown during the presentation were all Google Pixel captured and I admit those were pretty impressive photos taken by a smartphone. While we did not see any dual-camera functionality on any of the two, which is actually not a bad thing to think of, Google still managed to sell (at least to me) the Pixel and Pixel XL's cameras. Based on the specs above, we can really expect the phones to produce the best quality photos possible especially the one sitting on the back. That large 1.55um (micron pixel) and  f/2.0 Aperture will do the heavy lifting of letting more light to pass through lens while a photo or video is being captured. This also means the camera will work really well in low light scenes such as producing bright, detail rich, and less-noise images where many of today's smartphones are having a hard time.

Speaking more of Google Pixel camera power, peeps over at DXOMARK who are very meticulous and obsessed with cameras and photos, gave Google Pixel the highest rate for a smartphone camera ever, 89. Check their review here.

Google also promised the cameras to work really fast. The company said that the Pixel has the shortest capture time compared to any other smartphones they have ever tested. So even if users are taking photos of moving objects, there is no shutter lag that will be observed at the same time not compromising the photo quality. By default, the camera is launched in HDR mode which will help improve an over-lit or poorly-lit environment when taking photos. All of those functionalities are processed super fast in the background, thanks to the powerful Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB RAM sitting at the hear of every Google Pixel phone.

Stabilization feature is also one of the camera features that is being boasted at the event. To give attendees a quick look on how good stabilization on the Pixel is, a video was shown split in two screens where one had stabilization feature turned off and another turned on. And by just looking at it, without comprehending how the thing works as being explained by Google at the same time, you can really see how smooth the video is going to be with this stabilization. The sample video alone with no stabilization, gave me a headache immediately because of its shakiness. And yes, the cameras can capture up to 4K video quality at 30 frames per second.

Now the Google Pixel and Pixel XL will come pre-installed with Google Photos app, just like almost all of Android smartphones nowadays. However, the one on these phones has an extra treat. All photos and videos even the ones in 4K formats are all backed up on Google Photos unlimitedly, at full resolution, and for free. Google Photos app on non-Pixel smartphones also offer unlimited storage of photos and videos for free but not in full resolution. So knowing this particular feature and service is on this phone and knowing that users are expected to capture so much photos and videos with these devices is just a freebie that is very hard to ignore. That being said, you will now get rid of those "not enough storage" errors on these phones. Speaking of storage, users will have 32GB and 128GB options.

Battery size and Battery life

As mentioned above, one of the main differences of Pixel over Pixel XL is the battery size. The Pixel's 2770mAh is enough to provide of 3G talktime up to 26 hours, internet time over LTE of 13 hours or 13 hours of video playback. The Pixel XL's 3450mAh can provide up to 14 hours of LTE internet and video playback time or 32 hours of 3G talktime. Google equipped these phones with fast charge technology that promises up to 7 hours of battery life in just 15 minutes of charging. See more specs below.

Google Pixel and Pixel XL specs:
  • 5.0-inch Full HD / 5.5-inch Quad HD AMOLED Displays
  • 1920 x 1080 (441ppi) /  2560 x 1440 (534ppi)
  • 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4
  • 2.15GHz Quad-core Snapdragon 821 Processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB or 128GB Storage
  • 12.3MP rear camera with 1.55um, PDAF and f/2.0 Aperture
  • 8MP front camera with 1.4um and f/2.4 aperture
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS
  • Fingerprint Scanner
  • LTE
  • Single-SIM
  • USB Type C
  • 3.5mm jack
  • Quite Black, Very Silver, Really Blue
  • Fast Charge
  • 2770mAh / 3450mAh
  • Pricing starts $649
Missing Things

Unfortunately there are a few features missing on the Pixel and Pixel XL that are already present in most flagship devices from other companies. So far these are what I can name... microSD card slot, there is only one SIM slot, dual-camera, Bokeh effect, wireless charging, and water and dust proofing. 

Price, Pre-order, and Availability

The Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones are now available in the US for pre-order with unlocked price beginning at $649 and will ship beginning in December this year. This can be ordered via Verizon or Google Store. People in the UK, Australia, and Germany can also now pre-order the device while Indian market's pre-sale starts on Oct 13th. What about the Philippines? Sadly, there is no word yet as to when and for how much the Philippine price and availability are going to be for the devices.
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