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Google on Tuesday unveiled Pixel, its first branded smartphone in the post-Nexus era. With it, Google is squarely taking aim at Apple and its new iPhone 7. Here’s everything you need to know.
Google’s Pixel smartphone is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 SoC, a quad-core chip with two high-performance cores clocked at 2.15GHz and two energy-efficient cores running at 1.6GHz, along with 4G of LPDDR4 RAM and 32GB or 128GB of local storage.
Around back is a 12.3-megapixel rear-facing camera with an f/2.0 aperture lens and 1.55 micron pixels that Google spent a year working on. Google touched on a few camera features including smartburst in which you hold down the shutter button to capture multiple images and let the phone select the best of the bunch and HDR+, a nifty low-light technique in which the camera snaps several photos and stitches them together instead of capturing one long exposure that may end up being blurry.
The search giant was quick to point out that Pixel received a rating of 89 from DxOMark, the highest score ever for a smartphone camera. For comparison, the Galaxy S7 Edge and Sony Xperia X Performance earned a score of 88 while the iPhone 7 could only muster a score of 86.
What’s more, Google is offering free, unlimited storage of full-resolution images and videos shot with Pixel via Google Photos meaning you won’t run out of storage at the most inopportune time.
Connectivity shouldn’t be an issue as Pixel includes a USB Type-C connector as well as Bluetooth 4.2. Oh, and there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack – another solid jab at Apple. Powering the device is a 2,770mAh or 3,450mAh battery depending on which model you purchase. Quick charging technology allows you to get up to seven hours of runtime with just a 15-minute charge.
As you’ve no doubt seen in leaked images, Pixel is constructed of a combination of aluminum and glass with no unsightly camera bump on the rear. It’ll ship running Android 7.1 Nougat and will be the first with Google Assistant built in. It'll also come with a dongle that'll make transferring data from your existing phone a breeze.
For all of the features and benefits that Android affords, the mobile OS has been plagued by fragmentation over the years as handset makers and wireless carriers more often than not take their sweet time in rolling out updates. As a Google phone, Pixel owners shouldn't have much to worry about in this category as the handset will automatically download and install the latest Android updates in the background, making the process about as seamless as possible.
Pixel will also come with a custom launcher that features round icons and apps that are just "a swipe away." The overall look and feel of the skin looks quite clean and polished, somewhat reminiscent of the vanilla experience that Nexus devices offered but with some subtle changes.
Worth noting is the fact that Pixel doesn’t appear to be water resistant nor does it have a microSD card slot for local storage expansion.
Google is partnering with Verizon in the US but will also sell Pixel unlocked via the Google Store. Pixel also works on Project Fi, should that be your preferred wireless provider.
Pixel will be offered with your choice of 5-inch (1080p) or 5.5-inch (2,160 x 1,440) AMOLED display – both coated with 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4 – in three colors: Very Silver, Quite Black and Really Blue (a US exclusive). Pricing starts at $649 and $769, respectively, with both phones being made available to pre-order starting today. They're scheduled to ship later this month.