The Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL

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The Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL 

Google has just officially announced its much-anticipated Pixel phones; the Pixel and Pixel XL. We’re live at Google’s London UK event, mirroring the main one taking place in San Francisco, US, where the firm unwrapped the new Android 7.1 Nougat devices which will apparently usurp Google’s long-standing Nexus series.
This launch has been a long time coming and a lot has been said prior to today about Google’s plans for its mobile division, the decision to axe its Nexus brand, and how it will differentiate its Pixel phones from other Android phones available from its hardware partners.
Well, there’s quite a lot to get through, so let’s get the basics out of the way first. This is what Google’s new Pixel phones looks like. First, the Google Pixel:

And, second, the Google Pixel XL

And now we’ll take a quick look at the specs for both the Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL:

Google Pixel Specs & Hardware
  • Dimensions: 143.8 x 69.5 x 8.6 mm
  • Weight: 143g
  • Display: 5in 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad-core 2.1GHz
  • GPU: Adreno 530
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 32GB or 128GB
  • MicroSD: Up To 256GB
  • Rear Camera: 12MP
  • Front Camera: 8MP
  • Software: Android 7.1 Nougat
  • Battery: 2770mAh Quick Charge
  • Colours: Silver, Black
Google Pixel XL Specs & Hardware
  • Dimensions: 154.7 x 75.7 x 8.6mm
  • Weight: 168g
  • Display: 5.5in 2560 x 1440 pixels
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad-core 2.1GHz
  • GPU: Adreno 530
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 32GB or 128GB
  • MicroSD: Up To 256GB
  • Rear Camera: 12MP
  • Front Camera: 8MP
  • Software: Android 7.1 Nougat
  • Battery: 3450mAh Quick Charge
  • Colours: Silver, Black
As you can see, the duo are for the most part identical except for the physical dimensions, the display size and resolution, and the presence of a higher milliamp-hour rated battery cell in the Pixel XL.
Design-wise it’s what we already saw in the leaks ahead of the launch; an aesthetic which does indeed pull in some reminders from the Nexus heritage in terms of overall shape.
Google is pretty pleased with the Pixel's cameras. Here's what it said at launch:
"With a best-ever 89 DxoMark Mobile score, Pixel’s camera lets you take stunning photos in low light, bright light or any light. #Nofilter needed. Catch action shots as they happen with Smartburst, which takes a rapid-fire sequence of shots. Use Lens Blur to achieve shallow depth of field and bokeh effects, making your subject pop. And capture dramatic landscapes or make faces glow with new exposure controls."
The main distinguishing feature is that two-tone back panel design, some seem to love it, others loathe it; we’re fairly neutral to be honest, it’s not hideous but it doesn’t make us go “hot damn I need that sexy phone in my life!”, either.
Both Pixel and Pixel XL run the latest Android 7.1 Nougat build which is packed with software features, many of which we’ve already seen aboard 7.0 Nougat on the existing Nexus line-up. However, there are some new capabilities, as well as specific and unique tailored features baked-into the Pixel phones.

FIRST With Google DayDream

The Pixel phones are also the first Android phones to support Google’s VR platform, Daydream. It also announced its Daydream View VR headset, which is designed to be the most comfortable VR headset in its class. But more on this tomorrow, once we’ve had time to gestate EVERYTHING that Google discussed tonight (or, this morning, if you’re in the US).
Google is keen to push the professional BYOD angle this time with added security and productivity features intended for business users.
It also retains some other features we’re familiar with, but one feature in particular the Google Assistant personal assistant, has been much upgraded from the last time we saw it at Google I/O 2016. As before, it responds to voice commands and ties in with Google Now, as well as Google’s other services such as Calendar, Mail, and Maps, but it offers a much more detailed interaction thanks to Google's AI developments. Google talked a lot about how AI is the "next big thing" for its devices and software development, and Google Assistant seems to be a lynchpin of this.
As well as features typical of virtual assistants such as Siri, things like scheduling appointments, activating searches, and asking questions, Google Assistant was demonstrated offering in-depth conversations and learning about you and what's important in your life.

"The assistant is conversational—an ongoing two-way dialogue between you and Google that understands your world and helps you get things done," says Google. "It makes it easy to buy movie tickets while on the go, to find that perfect restaurant for your family to grab a quick bite before the movie starts, and then help you navigate to the theater. It’s a Google for you, by you."
"The assistant is an ambient experience that will work seamlessly across devices and contexts. So you can summon Google’s help no matter where you are or what the context. It builds on all our years of investment in deeply understanding users' questions."

Google Pixel & Google Pixel XL Release Date & Price

Pixel will be £599 (32GB) and £699 (128GB) and Pixel XL at £719 (32 GB) and £819 (128GB) via Google Play. 
The new Pixel, Phone by Google is now available to pre-order at Carphone Warehouse in stores nationwide and online. Carphone Warehouse is the only place to offer Pixel across iD Mobile and all major networks[2], and on the widest range of tariffs. Pay monthly customers can pick up the Pixel, Phone by Google (5”) for an upfront cost of £79.99 and the Pixel XL (5.5”) for £159.99, both at £42 a month with 6GB of data allowance on Vodafone. All pre-order customers will receive a £50 ‘Google Play Store’ voucher to spend at their leisure.
Jeremy Fennell, Managing Director of Carphone Warehouse said, “Pixel encompasses everything we love about Google and brings more of our favourite Google tools to life than ever before in one device. This is a significant event in the history of mobile and we’re delighted to be the exclusive retail partner offering customers the best deals across all the major networks.”
In the US, both Pixel phones will be available exclusively through Verizon, as well as Google Play. 
Google has now sent out invites to an event on October 4, confirming what we already expected: the Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL phones launch event — and event which has been rumoured for a good month now. The event will take place in San Francisco, though there will likely be a London-based event as well for UK-based journalists and press.
Whether or not the rumoured Chromecast 4K will launch alongside the Pixel Phones, as previously rumoured, remains to be seen. We’re excited either way, however, as the launch of a pure Google brand phone is just about as significant a launch as you could wish for.
HTC is still the OEM behind these phones, or, at least it was last we knew, but the company’s branding will not appear on the handset — like, at all. This handset will be marketed as a pure Google phone; next year we can expect to see Google take control of the production as well just as it does with its Chromebook Pixel and Pixel tablet.

The Death of Google's Nexus Brand

Why would Google bin such a visible and loved brand name? I mean, Nexus has a long and distinguished history in the mobile space; Nexus phones have been around since the very beginning. Perhaps it is fitting then that it is HTC making these phones, as it was HTC that created the very first Nexus phone way back when.
The only explanation as to why Google wants to get away from the Nexus brand is is that Google wants the branding to be more GOOGLE.
And THANK GOD for Google too! Thank god someone is keeping things interesting!
This year’s iPhone 7 launch looked, felt and appeared hardly any different from last year’s. Apple announced two new phones and while they both do possess some interesting updates and features — you can read all about them HERE — there was hardly anything to get excited about. Not really, anyway.
Let’s break it down, for the sake of brevity: new colour options? Big Whoop! Dual camera on the most expensive model? Interesting, but not innovative — see the LG G5. Display technology? Improved colour, but the same resolution. A10 chipset? Excellent. This is likely the biggest piece of innovation in the new iPhone. Water resistance? Again, no big deal — Android phones have had this feature since around 2012.
What happened at Apple’s iPhone 7 launch was a gloss-over the cold, hard fact that Apple is saving ALL of its big innovations for 2017’s iPhone 8, including new OLED panels, a new chassis design, even more camera advancements and much more besides.
This is why, for the past 18 months, I have been using Android phones. They’re more interesting, basically. Android OEMs strive to do more than Apple does with their releases; they push the boundaries of what’s possible, rather than holding off on technology they have access to right now in order to bolster their next big release in 12 months time.
The upcoming Google Pixel phone now has an amazing opportunity to show Apple just how its done in 2016. I have a strong feeling that Google will smash the ball out of the park with these Pixel phones. This is why I love Android phones so much because, unlike Apple releases, there is ALWAYS a few surprises in store for you when you go to their launch events.
Furthermore, multiple sources have now shown that Google is keen on outfitting its own-brand phones with unique software features; things not available on any other Android phones. Couple this with early access to software releases and this combo could prove very popular with consumers en masse — even more so if Google gets the pricing right.
The two “Nexus phones” we’ve all been expecting — the HTC-built Sailfish and Marlin — will be launched on October 4, alongside a new 4K version of Chromecast. And it is these phones that will be the first Pixel phones from Google.

The Pixel Phones WILL NOT Be Water Proof

Unlike Apple’s iPhone 7 and host of other Android phones, Google’s upcoming Pixel phones WILL NOT be completely water-resistant. Leaked information claims the handsets will be IP53 certified, meaning they can handle a splash of the wet stuff and still function but you definitely DO NOT want to go dropping one in the bath or toilet.
“The "3" in IP53 means a device will not experience damaging water ingress when upright at an angle not to exceed 60 degrees from vertical while being sprayed by relatively low-pressure (somewhere between 7-20PSI or 50 to 150kPa) water,” notes Android Police.
What this essentially means is that, yes, you can use your Pixel phone when it’s pouring with rain but you cannot use it in the bath, submerge it in water or drop it inside the toilet, as this will almost certainly break the phone.
“Real water resistance tends to start at IPX5,” the report added, “when a directed jet of water can be sprayed onto a device at any angle with relatively low pressure but very high volume for a few minutes at a time. Sony's old Z line of phones and Samsung's Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are among the relatively few non-dedicated rugged devices to claim such certifications.”

Google Pixel Phone Specs:

Below are the rumoured specs for the upcoming Pixel XL phone:
  • 5.5in QHD 2560x1440 pixel resolution
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • Adreno 530 GPU, 4GB RAM
  • 32GB of onboard storage. 
  • Camera 13MP primary sensor with an 8MP secondary for selfies on the front
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • Battery –3,450mAh.
“Speaking to two independent sources, we now strongly believe that Google's formerly-maybe-Nexus-phones, Marlin and Sailfish, will be marketed as the Pixel and the Pixel XL,” wrote David Ruddock of Android Police.
Why the switch? Many reasons. But the most likely is that Google wants to build a smartphone business similar to what Apple has with its iPhone — a business where Google controls everything about the handsets and, importantly, all the revenues they generate.

Google Pixel & Pixel XL Design Differences Detailed

According to the latest reports on August 1, multiple sources claim that there will be a difference in design and build materials for the HTC-built Pixel and the Pixel XL.
It appears to be a somewhat similar story to the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P launch, in so far as the larger, higher-spec model (Nexus 6P before, Nexus Marlin now) will be made from metal, while the smaller edition will be made from the familiar Nexus soft-touch plastic, although it will have a part metal build.
The word comes via both Nexusblog and BGR independently, with the former saying its info was "solid" and originating from inside HTC's manufacturing division.
"The images show both phones in the aluminum finish," reports Android Police, the source of the images, "which does look very light above. I think that's down to the harsh lighting. The top of the rear panel is clearly lighter and smoother (it's glass). The fingerprint sensor is up there as well. There are some IDs and markings obscured for obvious reasons."
It's also said the HTC Nexus Marlin’s (Pixel XL) 5.5in frame will have a similar quality of build and metal material to the HTC 10. It's thought the material choices relate to the manufacturing cost, and therefore the end prices of each phone for the consumer, however, while the Sailfish (Pixel XL) is expected to be cheaper – around $350 for its plastic build.
"Its own phone would allow Google to control the software, securing the future of services such as the Google search engine and Google Play app store that run on it," the Telegraph noted.
The Chromebook Pixel is a brilliant machine and while the jury is still out on Google’s Pixel C — apparently this too was meant to run ChromeOS, not Android — both devices show that Google can design and engineer very attractive hardware.
Sure, Google would need a manufacturer like Foxconn to build its future phones, should it decided to design and build its own phones, but this wouldn’t be a problem. Not for a company of Google’s size.
This is what Apple has done with all of its products since day one. The brand — Apple or Google in this example — do all the engineering, designing and marketing and, of course, pay for everything and then Foxconn, or any other large-scale manufacturer, produce millions of units of said device. Simples!
There has been plenty of speculation about Google expanding its Pixel line of products to include a phone throughout 2016. Indeed, a Pixel Phone seems like the next logical step forward for the Big G which already has a Pixel Chromebook and hybrid tablet on market.
Developing its own phone would allow Google to have complete control over the design and engineering of the device as well — and we all saw what it did with Motorola in a very short time.
Still, there is the argument that there isn’t really a need for a Pixel phone. Google’s Nexus line of phones are great and enjoyed by a lot of people the globe over, which begs the question: why exactly would Google release its own brand phone and/or change the name of it when it doesn’t really need to?
One argument is money — Google could make a stack of cash on a successful phone. The other is, well, just because it can. Another option is the Pixel phone will bring something to the table Google has been working on in secret?
Might it be the first Android/ChromeOS dual-booting phone? That angle is definitely my current favourite. I use ChromeOS and would love to have a phone that could dual-boot ChromeOS wirelessly — or via cable — with my HDTV or a supported dummy-notebook.
There is so much latent potential for ChromeOS in this area; packed inside Android phones and tablets to be partnered with nearby peripherals like HDTVs, keyboards, and the like. We also know Google is working on something like this for ChromeOS, we just don’t know how far or long that project is.
Definitely food for thought though.
The Pixel phones will also almost certainly feature Google’s DayDream VR platform front and center. These will be the phones that demonstrate just what’s possible with Google’s vision for how VR will work.
Could this switcharoo be a knee jerk reaction to the news that both Samsung and Huawei are eyeing a future without Android on their phones? Potentially. Having its own phones would place Google in the same position as Apple, meaning it has control over everything and, most importantly, all revenues derived from the product — including hardware sales.
Google is also perfectly positioned to do a OnePlus and retail its own brand Android phone direct to consumers via Google Play. It wouldn’t need to bother with networks or, alternatively, it could use the new phone to drive adoption of its own, GoogleFi.
So while this move might seem odd to some people, viewed in another context it makes complete sense — control is everything these days.
Plus, if this initiative is successful it would lessen Google’s reliance on players like Samsung and Huawei. Obviously it would take a good few years for Google to reach these kind of sales, but the search giant does have excellent brand appeal and the know-how to make awesome hardware.


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