Google has launched a line of smartphones, intended to compete directly with Apple’s iPhone, called Pixel and Pixel XL. This marks Google’s first smartphone release to not be associated with other manufacturers, and it has made a clear statement that the product will challenge Apple’s dominance of the smartphone market. In presenting the smartphone, Google went so far as to mention Apple by name, highlighting that the iPhone ‘storage full’ messages would be a thing of the past for the new line of smartphones, which offer unlimited photo storage through Google’s cloud storage.
According to Pixel project manager James Nugent, “We’re putting a stake in the ground for the Android ecosystem in terms of what we think is the best from both the software and hardware point of view, which has been developed and made by Google.”
Google’s new smartphones offer 12 megapixel cameras, featuring 1.55 micrometer pixels, which are boosted for low light performance. The camera was awarded a rating of 89 by camera analysts DxOMark, which makes it the highest ever rated smartphone camera. The iPhone 7’s camera was rated 87, while Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge was rated 88.
The Pixel comes in two different sizes – either a 5-inch screen or a 5.5 inch. The phones boast Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 processor, the newest version of Android 7.1 Nougat.
Furthermore, replacing Google Now and Google voice search, which had been available on other Android phones, is a new integrated smart assistant.
“This is the first device with Google Assistant, a conversational, contextually aware assistant that will help you through your day. You can talk to it, ask it various questions and it will provide a consistent experience throughout, as well as prompting you with information when it thinks its relevant,” Nugent said.
The new assistant is powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence. Google spokespeople have said will the new assistant will represent the future of computing over the course of the next decade. The assistant will be accessible by saying the “OK Google” hotword, or by a long press of the new smartphone’s home button. The assistant will be capable of answering questions, performing voice and text actions, and consolidating services and information from Google’s wide range of offerings.
So far, neither Apple nor Samsung have been able to properly address the demand for an integrated personal assistant function.
The smaller Pixel, with a 5-inch screen and 32 gigabytes of internal storage is priced at $649, scaling up to $729 For 128 gigabytes of storage. The larger Pixel XL is $769 with 32 gigabytes, or $869 for 128 gigabytes of storage. The phones are available in black or silver, as well as in a “really blue” color through Verizon, exclusively in the US.