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Google officially announces the Google Pixel smartphone

By Liu Hongzuo - on 5 Oct 2016, 1:33am

Google officially announces the Google Pixel smartphone

Earlier today, Google announced their new Google Pixel smartphones via their keynote held at a power plant for an ex-chocolate factory. This time, Google's taking smartphone matters into their own hands. Google will launch their very own Pixel smartphones instead of launching Nexus units through third-party smartphone brands.

The Google Pixel comes in two different sizes: 5.0 and 5.5-inches, with a Hi-Definition AMOLED display (Google did not reveal the precise display resolution). The phones will use the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC, a flagship-tier quad-core processor clocked at 2.15GHz. They will pack 4GB RAM, a Pixel Imprint fingerprint sensor, and more importantly, a 3.5mm audio jack.

The smaller Pixel has a battery capacity of 2,770mAh, while the bigger counterpart has it at 3,450mAh. The Google Pixel also has fast-charging technology, which offers seven hours of uptime from a 15-minute long charge. Both phone sizes also come in 32GB and 128GB variants. There's no mention of NFC, neither is there a hint of expandable storage via microSD card.

The new phones will be running on Android 7.1 OS (Nougat), and they are skinned with Pixel Launcher - a re-hash of the Nexus skin with circular logos for apps. Physically, the Pixel has an aluminum unibody with a polished glass surface. Beneath, it will feature the all-new Google Assistant with machine learning capabilities - the AI aims to help users in a more natural and personalized manner. This makes the Google Pixel the first smartphone to have Google Assistant.

Google demonstrated how Google Assistant works on the Pixel - the phone immediately pulls out all the correct photos, sources upcoming events at a venue, plays music on preferred apps, texts loved ones - at a simple query. Google Assistant also works with long-presses in existing apps, and gives more information to the user contextually.

Besides Google Assistant, Google said that the Pixel's next key feature is its 12.3-megapixel rear camera. It has a f/2.0 aperture lens and 1.55 microns pixel size. The rear camera packs some shooting features. They include Smart Burst, where the phone captures multiple shots of the same subject before selecting the best (sharpest) copy with the help of Google Assistant. HDR+ mode allows for High Dynamic Range photography, which delivers well-lit images that were taken in challenging places with huge differences in contrast. The camera is also capable of 4K resolution recording.

Google also claimed that the Pixel has the shortest capture time when compared to any other smartphones they've tested. They were also quick to add that the Pixel phones have no camera bump. Google also said that DxOMark Mobile benchmarking rated the smartphone camera at 89 - currently the highest score achieved by any smartphone camera to-date.

Other features included pre-installed Google Duo, the video-calling app by Google available on iOS and Android. Google Duo has Knock, knock!, which lets the user preview their caller's live-stream before they pick up the call. Google is also offering unlimited Google Photo storage for all photos and videos captured using the Pixel. The phone will also be the first smartphone to support Daydream, and the Daydream View VR headset.

The Pixel will come in three colors that sound quintessentially Singaporean: Quite Black, Very Silver, and Really Blue. The smartphone starts at US$649 (~S$889.68) for the Pixel and US$769 for the Pixel XL. Pre-orders in US begins today. For other territories like India, the Google Pixel pre-orders start on 13th October 2016. There's no mention of availability in Singapore or in this region.

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