Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Google unveils Pixel smartphones (and Home, WiFi, Chromecast Ultra, Daydream VR View "Made by Google" family)

It's finally out of the bag, Google has officially unveiled their Pixel phones and other devices of its new "Made by Google" family which includes the Google Home home hub (anti-Amazon Echo), Google WiFi (hassle-free WiFi repeaters/routers), Chromecast Ultra (with 4K HDR support and Ethernet) and it's Daydream VR View glasses.

Sorry, we won't be diving too much into Google Home, WiFi, Chromecast Ultra and Daydream VR View. So, let's focus on the Pixel phones, the ones with Google Assistant.

Google seems to have grown tired of its Nexus devices ending up being just rebranded devices made by its partners and is now adopting a Apple-like strategy. Now, Google is the one calling all the shots, and its Pixel devices are entirely theirs, from head to toe, "made by Google" (though assembled and produced by HTC, in this case).

This allows Google to push things a bit further than it might with a regular Nexus, though you can still argue that the improvements made in these Pixel devices could very well be done for any other device. In fact, Google had already pushed for better cameras in the latest Nexus generation; so, it could do it again (it says the Pixel has the best cameras ever placed in a smartphone, with zero lag, amazing video stabilization, etc.)

All the hardware specs had already been leaked, so there's no surprises there: AMOLED 5" (Full HD) and 5.5" (QHD) screens, Snapdragon 821, 4GB RAM, 32GB/128GB storage options, 12.3MP f/2.0 camera, USB Type-C, Bluetooth 4.2, 2770mAh and 3450mAh battery with quick charging, headphone jack (they did made sure to talk about it) and fingerprint sensor on the back that can be used as a trackpad (just like some other smartphones already do).

The build quality might be top notch, but the design isn't particularly appealing. Some say the front looks too much like an iPhone, but my main gripe is the large bezels around the screen which make it look just like any other regular low-cost smartphone.

Anyway, Google still has a sense of humor, and while other manufacturers advertise their smartphones with "cosmic black" or "vulcano-flavored red", Google's Pixel colors are simply: "quite black", "really blue" e "very silver".

Price isn't particularly attractive, starting and $649 and being a Verizon exclusive on the US. (Though you can still buy it unlocked via Google).

Google had promised this would be a big day, but I feel they came up short. Now it's for the public to weigh in: will we see these Pixels being sold by the millions in the coming weeks; or will we see Google hastily starting with the discounts a couple of months from now?

P.S. - the Pixel launcher seems to be a Pixel phone exclusive, which I don't think will be received too kindly even for long time Android fans either...

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