Specifications and Camera
The Google Pixel phone comes in two models: Pixel (5-inch, 1080p, 2770 mAh) and Pixel XL (5.5-inch, QHD, 3450 mAh). Both phones run on a Snapdragon 821, which is a slightly improved version of the Snapdragon 820 SoC from Qualcomm. The Pixel will come with AMOLED displays, 32GB or 128GB versions will be available.
Google has spent considerable time showing the prowess of the Pixel’s Camera, which has many interesting features. It’s a 12.3 Megapixel camera with 1.55-micron sensing pixels. The lens has an f2.0 aperture, which is not that impressive in itself (the S7 has f1.7), but the phone manages to get a DXOMark score of 89, which is one point more than the Galaxy S7/Note7.
That puts it in a good position in an extremely competitive field. The first results from DxOMark seem to show that the Pixel does very well in nearly all situations, but we have yet to see how fast it is in regards to autofocus (AF) and shutter speed. Google typically does well with the latter.
Google also demonstrated a very promising video stabilization technique based on reading the Gyroscope data 200 times per second to adjust videos for shaking induced by motion or vibration. Although many forms of video-stabilization rely on similar principles, it’s not clear of the Google Pixel phone uses the same Qualcomm video stabilization technology as seen in the LG V20. The demo seemed very good, and we will put this to the test once the review units arrive.
Learn more: What is Image Stabilization?
The phone has a clean design, with little branding. It has curves edges to feel a bit thinner and soft to the hand when holding it. Phones such as the LG G5 has a similar concept, and it worked to make the phone feel much softer on in hand.
The Google Pixel phones use the same approach but have an aluminum and glass design, where the G5 used only metal. During the ramp up to the launch, much has been said about the Google Pixel phone shape looking line an iPhone, but the final product doesn’t have much of an iPhone look and feel, silhouette aside.
The back of the phone does not feature a prominent Branding like it was the case with the latest Nexus phones, with just a “G” in the back. The carrier-branded version may feature additional logos. We will have to see what the Verizon version looks like.
The Google Pixel and Pixel XL phones run on Android Nougat, but more importantly, they will be the first phones to feature Google Assistant, unlimited cloud storage for photos and DayDream virtual reality.
Google Assistant can be thought of like a smarter, more integrated (with other Google Services) Google Now. While Google Now was mostly Google Search with some data crawling capability, Google Assistant is smarter and has a more “conversational” way of working. It’s been demonstrated during Google IO. Google Assistant can extract the context of SMS, emails and other pieces of data it has access to. The metric for success of Google Assistant should simply be the gains in productivity that it produces as it should always be faster or more convenient than using taps.
Cloud Storage is now unlimited for storing photos. It’s an interesting proposition if you are comfortable having a copy of your photos on Google’s servers. I suspect that this may be really nice for users who never clean up their phones or sort their photos. It is fairly common to see phone users hit the physical storage limit of their phones. Google did not mention whether or not they would delete photos to free up local storage space, but it’s safe to assume they would.
Pre-orders start today with the 5-inch Pixel going for $649 (32GB) and $749 (128GB). The Pixel XL will cost $869 (128GB) and only comes with 128GB of storage. Google didn’t mention it, but HTC builds the phone.
The new software and the camera performance are certainly strong points of these new phones, and we are looking forward to take them for a spin. Official Pixel phones page.