Google Pixel and Pixel XL: Here's everything we know

Google's Pixel smartphones come at the time when the smartphone industry seems to be plateauing with little or no innovation, apart from software.


It's just a day to go until Google unveils a new breed of "refined" Google smartphones that are expected to be called the Pixel and the Pixel XL. While it isn't clear, whether Google will retain the Nexus brand post the launch, the Pixel brand is all about Android growing up and taking this year's Apple iPhone 7 and 7 Plus head on!

And Google has got its secret sauce just right this year, or so it seems. Smartphones with a premium looking design with metal and glass. Check! The latest hardware. Check! The latest and specially customised software experience. Double Check! And there's even the smarter Google Assistant built right into the smartphone. Good luck Siri!

With that said Google seems to have a rather attractive product in a time when every new smartphone launch we have witnessed lately seems unimpressive. The Pixel smartphones come at the time when the smartphone industry seems to be plateauing with little or no innovation, apart from software.

So what do we know about these upcoming smartphones. Well, thanks to the recent leaks (and we're expecting some more), all the major details are already out including some of the finer bits.

Design and Construction
We have seen them in plenty of leaks and considering all of them (renders and photographs) look identical, it's easy to conclude that this is the stuff we will see in a few days at the launch. Both Google Pixel and Pixel XL look identical. Google may have taken a page out of Apple playbook here, but yes, for the first time Google may announce two identical looking smartphones, just that the Pixel XL is an inch bigger (overall size) than the standard Pixel model.

For long, both smartphones are said to be manufactured by HTC and even though Google is rooting for its "Made by Google" campaign, we highly doubt that Google may have manufactured the smartphones by itself.

Image: Carphone Warehouse (via 9to5Google)

Image: Carphone Warehouse (via 9to5Google)

The designs do not look intriguing. We have seen better designs from HTC (10) and Samsung (Galaxy S7 Edge and Note 7) this year. You get a metal body with what appears (from the leaks) to be a glass windows on the back that also supports the fingerprint reader.

Image: Carphone Warehouse (via 9to5Google)

Image: Carphone Warehouse (via 9to5Google)

The designs somehow remind me of the body of the HTC One X9, which also features a plastic window on the back but a lot smaller.

HTC One X9 Review (1)

The HTC One X9

With that said, the One X9 was slimmer and looked slick compared to the Pixel. As of now, no one really knows why that glass window exists on the back of the Pixel. Our best guesses are for better reception and NFC.

There's a headphone jack on the top (yes, it's for normal people), and a two speaker grilles at the bottom with a USB Type C port in the center.

Google Pixel Telus

On the left side one will find a SIM tray while a power/unlock button and the volume rocker sits on the right. One other detail that had leaked out recently was that the handset will be available in white and black options.

Hardware
The Google Pixel is said to sport a 5.2-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) display, while the Google Pixel XL is said to feature a 5.5-inch one (which should in all probability be of Quad HD resolution).

Inside, expect a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chipset paired with 4GB RAM with 32GB of internal storage (for the base option). Expect a 12MP rear camera and an 8MP front facing camera.

For now, rumours point at the Pixel XL to be one with Daydream capabilities. Since the hardware specifications for Daydream have not been out, we should take the specifications that have leaked out so far, with a spoonful of salt.

Software
With Android in its pockets, Google's Pixel smartphones are expected to go big on software. The built-in Google app now comes with a heavy dose of the Google Assistant. In fact, the company according to Android Police, may skip on the 'Now' branding and simply call its search 'Google' instead. The same was also indicated in the massive Carphone Warehoue leak as reported by 9to5Google.

Other good news that comes on the hardware and software front is that Pixel phones will offer unlimited storage for photos and videos and all of them will be stored in full resolution (that's a big commitment).

Coming to the software bits, there are a couple of new additions compared to what we have seen on the recent Android 7.0 Nougat update that rolled out to Nexus devices. These are not expected to make it to older Nexus devices (well, at least officially) and there's plenty more apart from Google Assistant integration, new navigation bar icons, new rounded iconography and a smart new launcher.

Image Credit: Android Police

Image Credit: Android Police

There's also this little hint that Google could go with a pressure sensitive display (like on the iPhone) by allowing for hard press to access Launcher Shortcuts. The latest tear downs have revealed that Nougat will support shortcuts and that these could be activated by either swiping or long pressing the homescreen icon. These shortcuts, similar to what we have seen on iOS 9 and 10, will allow a user to get to different parts of an app directly instead of opening the app and navigating to a specific section.

Pricing
Google Pixel launch Made by Google

The current rumours state that the Google Pixel will be priced at over $600, which is roughly around Rs 45,000 and this is expected to be for the 32GB base version. With no memory card expansion, the models with higher storage capacities will be priced a lot higher, and the XL models above them.

This may seem like a lot to Nexus users, but last year's metal-clad Nexus 6P did not come cheap at a launch price of Rs 39,990. Considering that HTC usually prices its smartphones a lot higher, the $600 price tag does not come as a surprise. It's all about Google's Android smartphone growing up and the price tags were expected to rise with the new philosophy in mind. There's no cheaper hexa-core chipset, but just a high-end one, there are some special new software features unlike any Android smartphone out there, and then there's Daydream as well. The future of Android, thanks to Pixel, now looks a lot more appealing. But will you buy a premium Nexus?


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