2016 will go down as the year when Google finally decided to kill the Nexus sub-brand. It’s also the year people will remember as the birth of the Pixel brand, for phones. There are Pixel Chromebooks (and Pixel tablet) out there, but now Google has launched 2 phones under this sub-brand. To no ones surprise, they are the Pixel (5″ phone) and Pixel L (5.5″ phone).
But what are they all about? How have they changed from the Nexuses? Let’s dig in.
The Nexus Wasn’t a Google Phone
The entire idea behind launching Nexus was to give the users an experience of what an Android experience on a phone would be like, as imagined by Google. The Android OS has (and probably will always) been an open source OS which phone makers can modify to their liking. But with so many modifications over the years, there was no ‘true’ Android experience – till the original Nexus came along.
HTC made the very first Nexus and though it wasn’t particularly successful, it gave developers an idea of what a true Android experience can be. But, still, it wasn’t a true Google phone. Pure Android experience, sure. But a true Google Phone? Debatable. That’s how the Nexus line was shown the door where Pixel was welcomed. HTC, by the way, is also the maker of this year’s Pixel phones.
Meet the Pixel Phones
Phones by Google haven’t really been about the specs, but the experience. Google themselves highlighted the features of the phones that they’ve designed, rather than touching on the actual innards. Of course the phone will run on the latest Android OS – v7.0 aka Nougat. But, the main feature highlighted was the Google Assistant. The technology behind the Assistant is the same that we’ve seen on the Allo messaging app. It’s the successor to Google Now, but from the presentation it seems like we’ve only scratched the surface of what a digital assistant can do for a user.
A simple long-press of the home button and swipe up gesture from various apps can get you more information of whatever it is that you need. Need to book a cab? Want to make reservations for a restaurant? It’s all possible with easy steps using the Google Assistant. All in one place.
Another app which will be pre-installed on the Pixel phones is Google Duo. Again, it’s not a new app, but it will now act as the default video-calling app for these phones.
A 12.3MP camera powers the shooting experience of the Pixel phones. It has some cool tricks up its sleeve and Google seems to be excited about the HDR+ and the improved burst mode, which will select the sharpest image of the continually shot photos in that mode. There’s also a much more improved image stabilization as well as 4K video recording.
Moreover, Pixel owners won’t have to worry about storage space running out. They get unlimited storage on Google Photos to store all their photos in original quality. Google has also stated that this is the best camera ever on a smartphone, as rated by DxOMark. We’ll see how that holds when we actually test out the device.
Again, to no one’s surprise, there are top-of-the-line specs for the Pixel phones. The SoC is a Snapdragon 821, which is an improved version of the existing Snapdragon 820 which we’ve seen in flagships this year, like the OnePlus 3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note7. It will thankfully have a 3.5 mm audio jack as well as a type-C USB port.
And the display is a Hi-Def AMOLED one, though the exact resolution wasn’t mentioned. Though since the very next presentation was about VR, we can expect it to be QHD (2560×1440).
Update: We can now confirm that the Pixel phones will have QHD displays.
If you’re in the US, Australia, Canada, Germany or UK – you can pre-order the Pixel phones today. Indians can rejoice too, as you can now pre-order the devices only a couple of weeks from now – on October 13th. The details of retail partners are as below.
Is the announcement exciting enough for you to buy the new Pixel phones? Or are you going to miss the Nexus line? Let us know in the comments section, either way.