You would have had to have been living under a rock recently not to have known that Google was releasing a new pair of phones at today’s event. The Pixel and Pixel XL have been rumored, leaked, and all other varieties of being “announced” in the days and weeks leading up to the official announcement today. Did the Pixel and Pixel XL announcement live up to the hype?
Were there any real surprises? Yes and no… did it live up to the hype? That’s for consumers and potential phone buyers to decide. Google came out with their vision for the next iteration of hardware. Gone is the Nexus name, and now Google’s reference device will be known by the Pixel name. Their reasoning kind of makes sense here. We’ve seen Google Pixel devices in the past, and they’ve been the high-end Chromebooks, definitely a reference device in that form factor. To Google, Pixel has always represented the best of hardware & software designed by Google. From that standpoint, they were quick to say that the Pixel and Pixel XL were designed and built by Google (no mention of HTC whatsoever).
Other than that brief omission, the specs lined up pretty well with what we already knew. However they’re now significantly more official:
No mention of the SD card slot that Carphone Warehouse mentioned, though that’s really no surprise at this point. The hardware really wasn’t what Google was trying to sell you with the Pixel anyway. Sure, the hardware is pretty capable, but the majority of the discussion was focused on the types of things that the software — most notably Google Assistant — will be able to do as a result of the hardware.
That’s not to say that parts of the hardware aren’t impressive. The camera specifically looks pretty fantastic and should be great for those into mobile photography. Other than the camera and some battery information regarding quick charge, very little time was spent discussing the hardware of the device. Google Assistant was the big draw here, though automatic updates and Daydream compatibility were also discussed. From that standpoint, Pixel and Pixel XL are the first Daydream compatible phones. More will be coming soon, but no previous devices are up to Google’s VR standards as of this time.
Some other key software features include live 24/7 customer care built into the phone. Agents can be reached via phone or chat, and Pixel will include screen sharing to help with any issues that may arise. A new transfer app was also announced for any iPhone users looking to switch to Pixel. The app will quickly and easily transfer all of your contacts, photos, videos, music, calendar appointments, and even iMessages. Time will tell how many iOS users jump at the chance to switch.
The 300-pound gorilla in the room will, of course, be the price of the phones. Up until now, Google has sold their Nexus devices with near-flagship quality hardware at a near-budget price. Pixel and Pixel XL are decidedly not-budget-priced. All said and done they’re still cheaper than an iPhone, but there has been plenty of grumbling from users hoping for a lower priced phone. The Pixel starts at $649 for the 32GB variant, though US customers can finance the phone for $27/month on the Google store. If you’d prefer to buy direct from your carrier, you’ll need to be on Verizon in the US, as that is the carrier partner that Google is working with for the device launch.
To sweeten the deal just a bit though, Google is offering pre-orders (in the US at least, sorry everybody else!) a voucher for a free Daydream View VR headset.
Does the offer of a free Daydream View VR headset make you more or less likely to purchase? You can check out one of the first commercials for Google’s Pixel phones below.
Are you looking to pick up a new Pixel or Pixel XL? Tell us what you think in the comment section below, or on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.