The last few month have been had no shortage of big phone announcements, from the Galaxy Note 8 to Apple’s iPhone X. However, Google’s inevitable follow-up to last year’s Pixel and Pixel XL have stood out as the biggest wildcards ahead of the holiday season.
Despite Google’s recent acquisition of HTC’s hardware team, both have been clouded as just as mystery as excitement and over 100,000 tuned into this morning’s Google Event online to get a first look at what the tech giant plans to top last year’s impressive effort.
"Computers should adapt to how people live their lives, rather than people adapt to computers" Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in his opening address.
He reiterated the company’s belief that the future isn’t mobile-first but AI-first - and pretty much everything announced by Google today embodies that notion to the letter.
With a display size of 5-inches, the new Pixel 2 features an evolved version of the look found in last year’s model. It’s got an IP67 water-resistant metal unibody and a gorgeous FHD AMOLED display (1920x1080 pixels) with a 100,000:1 contrast ratio. The phone runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chipset, 4GB of RAM and - as you’d expect - Android 8.0 Oreo.
When it comes to storage, users can choose between a 64GB and 128GB variants of the Pixel 2. As with last year’s Pixel, buyers will get free unlimited cloud storage through Google Photos.
Then, in terms of battery life, the Pixel 2 features a 2700mAh battery. It charges via USB-C and Google say you’ll be able to quick-charge 7 hours of use in 15 minutes. Alongside Wi-Fi and cellular, the device also supports Bluetooth 5.0, Bluetooth LE and NFC connectivity. It's even got eSIM support.
Designwise, Google have dropped the headphone jack but, as per usual, will be bundling in an adapter with the phone. As previously rumored, the Pixel 2 features an AI-enhanced version of the “squeezable” Edge Sense found in the HTC U range.
There’s also a fingerprint sensor on the back that Google claim is the fastest available on a smartphone. Last but not least, the Pixel 2’s front-facing stereo speakers have been tuned and specifically placed to allow you to watch and listen to music without muffling the sound with your hand.
While there’s plenty of similarities with last year’s device to be found, there are a few significant improvements and additions here.
Firstly, the Pixel 2 features an Always-On display. This appears to work pretty similarly to incarnations of this feature found in other smartphone brands. However, Google's spin on things does possess the very-nifty perk of being able to recognize and identify ambient music (a la Shazam), even when it's not connected to the internet.
Of course, the camera was the biggest draw for last year’s Pixel - and this year’s effort to top that doesn’t look like it’ll disappoint. Touting the highest score DxOMark have ever given to a smartphone (98), the Pixel 2 features a 12.2-megapixel camera on the back (f/1.8 aperture with laser autofocus, dual pixel phase detection, optical and electronic image stabilization).
It’s accompanied by an 8-megapixel front-facing shooter (f/2.4 aperture with fixed-focus) and, unlike most of the other flagships around, there’s no dual lens setup. Like the original Pixel, Google are relying on their HDR Plus computational photography algorithms to deliver the best results rather than going for the biggest sensor they can.
The Pixel 2 also sees Google enter the “Portrait-Mode” arms race with their own take on the feature - which comes ready-to-use and enabled for both the front and rear cameras. Like the first Pixel, it looks like the results will speak for themselves.
In addition, the Google Lens app is now also able to reads content from the camera and converts it to text with minimal fuss. Visual searches are also now supported, as is the easy creation of gif-like Motion Photos.
The Google Pixel 2 is available for preorder now, for a local RRP of AUD $1079. When it launches on October 19th, it’ll be available in Kinda Blue, Just Black and Clearly White color variants. In addition, Google are throwing in a Home Mini (more on that below) with all Pixel 2 preorders.
Pixel 2 XL
Taking a swipe at Apple, Google have insisted they won’t be setting aside any major features for the bigger device in the new range. That said, the nicer 18:9 QHD pOLED display might be reason enough to opt for the larger Pixel 2 XL. The XL’s screen supports HDR and Google say it’s been optimized for VR content - matching it a perfect match for their new Daydream headset.
The Pixel 2 XL packs in a slightly-larger 3520mAh battery. However, that’s basically it for differences. There are only two colors on offer here: “Just Black” and “Black and White”.
In Australia, the Pixel 2 XL is available for preorder at a local price of $1549. Google are throwing in a Home Mini (more on that below) with all Pixel 2 preorders here as well.
A pair of premium wireless headphones envisioned as the perfect match for the new Pixel 2, the Google Pixel Buds boast 5 hours of listening per charge and, thanks to 620mAh charger-case, a total use time of over 24 hours.
The biggest sell for these headphones looks to be coming in the form of Google Assistant and Translate integration. The Pixel Buds promise to offer real-time language translation for over 40 different languages. It's the kind of thing that has to be seen to be believed.
In Australia, the Pixel Buds will retail for AUD $249. They’re available in the same trio of Pixel 2 colors (Kinda Blue, Just Black and Clearly White).
Google’s mobile VR headset, the Daydream View, has also gotten an upgrade. The new Daydream headset features Upgraded lenses and fabrics, a few design tweaks and a trio of new colors (“charcoal,” “fog,” and “coral” ).
Last year, the Daydream had 25 software experience. Now, Google say it has over 250. During the event, they highlighted the platforms support for IMAX movies as a key point of difference over competitors.
Users can also now cast VR content a nearby Chromecast or Chromecast-enabled TV, enabling for easy crowd-viewing.
In Australia, the new headset will retail for AUD $149 from October 19th.
Google Home Mini
Designed for more inconspicuous setups, the Google Home Mini looks like a slightly-flattened oval-like version of the existing speaker.
Smaller than a donut in size, it comes in three colors: charcoal (black), coral (orange) and chalk (grey). It projects 360-degree sound through an enclosure is made from a special Google-crafted fabric.
Like the regular Home, it boasts a set of four LEDs on the roof of the unit to let you know when it’s listening and supports the full breadth of gesture and voice commands available through the Assistant.
In Australia, the Google Home Mini will retail for $79.
Google Home Max
If you’re a music lover who likes things a little louder, Google are also adding the Google Home Max to the lineup. Boasting a bigger form-factor and a 4.5-inch woofer, the Google Home Max supports integration with Google Play, Youtube, Pandora, TuneIn Radio and Spotify.
All told, Google say it's about 20 times more powerful than the regular Google Home for volume. Google say the Max’s powerful “Smart Sound” system that allows it to not just adapt audio output to the acoustics of the room you’ve set it up in, but also its placement within that room. What’s more, they say it leverages unique microphone placement and neural beam technology allows Max to still hear you even through loud music.
The Max boasts a detachable magnetic stand that allows it to be set up vertically or horizontally and comes in a single greyish color.
The Google Home Max will be launching in the US first, with other territories to follow. In the US, it’ll retail for $399. No word yet on Australian availability or pricing.
Pitched as a high-performance Chromebook, the new Pixelbook is a slick-looking convertible laptop that combines the elegant design aesthetics of Google’s Pixel phone range with some pretty hefty specs.
10mm thin and weighing just 1kg, the Pixelbook boasts a 12.3-inch QHD LCD touchscreen display (235 ppi), Intel i5 and i7 configurations, up to 16GB in RAM and up to 512GB of SSD storage. It’ll also come bundled with a new Pixel Pen, which promises 10ms latency and 2000+ levels of pressure sensitivity.
Software-side, the Pixelbook will support “instant-tethering” to your Pixel Phone and the library of apps on the Google Play Store.
In-line with the rest of the Pixel range, it comes fully integrated with the Google Assistant. The new Pixelbook charges using USB-C and Google claim you’ll be able to get about 2 hours of use from just 15 minutes of charging. A full charge will get you about 10 hours of use.
The Pixelbook is available for preorder in the US and Canada from today at an RRP of $999. Australian pricing TBA.
A new wearable camera designed to capture the genuine everyday moments, the Google Clips camera features a high-performance lens with a 12-megapixel sensor. According to Google, it relies on machine learning to capture “family moments.”
The video below illustrates what they’re going for here:
Basically, the pitch is that they’ve built a hands-free camera that takes the photos you want to keep. Google say that, over time, the Google Clips camera learns who the important people (or pets) in your life are and captures stills, videos and Motion Photos of them.
The Google Clips camera comes with 16GB of onboard storage and offers up to 3 hours of smart capturing per charge. It’s got a 130-degree FOV, Gorilla Glass 3 protection alongside USB C, Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth LE connectivity.
Google Clips will be $249 in the US. No official launch date or Australian availability yet.