Google just took the wraps off a pair of cutting-edge Android phones: the Pixel with a 5-inch AMOLED display, and the Pixel XL with a 5.5-inch display. The two seem squarely aimed at the new iPhone 7 models from Apple.
The Pixel has a 1080 x 1920 screen resolution, giving a pixel density of 440 ppi. The XL model’s display has a 1440 x 2560 resolution, so it’s at 534 ppi.
Internally, these are nearly identical. Each is built around a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor that includes a pair of 2.15GHz cores and a second pair of 1.6GHz cores, an arrangement intended to combine performance and battery life. They have 4GB of RAM, and will be available with 32GB or 128GB of storage.
The Pixel phones are debuting with Android 7.1 Nougat, and Google has committed to making operating system updates available for them as soon as possible. This is in contrast to typical Android models that generally don’t get OS upgrades for months, if at all, as the new versions have to flow through their device manufacturers.
Both include a 12.3 megapixel rear camera, with an f/2.0 aperture. A gyroscope-based video stabilization is being strongly touted, as well as quick image captures. All images and video taken with this camera can be backed up on Google’s servers at no charge. It also shoots 4k video.
The Pixel sports a 3,450mAh battery, while the XL has a 2,770mAh battery. Google is promising extremely fast recharges: up to seven hours of use after being plugged in for 15 minutes.
Other features include USB-C, a fingerprint scanner, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Casings are aluminum and glass, available in black, silver, and blue. HTC is producing the hardware.
Pixel vs. iPhone 7
Comparisons between the just announced Pixel phones and the recently-released iPhone 7 series are inevitable, as these are flagship products with prices that start about $650. In addition, both Google and Apple offer their respective models in two sizes, and directly distribute operating system updates. Each device maker emphasizes the camera capabilities of their phones.
Google is especially pushing the Pixel’s HDR capabilities, which result in richer photos, and smart burst shooting, which automatically selects the best shot in a quickly-shot series. According to DxO Mark, an industry group focused on photography, the Pixel phones are the highest scoring smartphone cameras of all time, with a score of 89, ahead of the iPhone 7 (86), and new Samsung Galaxy S7 handsets (88).
Prices and Availability
A Google Pixel with 32GB of storage is $649, and can be pre-ordered now. The 128GB version is $100 more. The 32GB Pixel XL is $769, and the 128GB XL is $869.
U.S. residents already reaching for their wallets should be aware that the Pixel series is mostly going to be a Verizon exclusive, but it will work with Project Fi.