Google this week announced its next line of hardware products for the holiday season and as expected (thanks to the many leaks from all over the internet), Google’s newest smartphones – The Google Pixel 3 and 3XL were centre stage. Also announced at the event were The Pixel Slate, Google Home Hub, Pixel Stand and a refreshed Chromecast.
As a follow up, to what without a doubt was one of the best smartphones out last year, Google has announced the Google Pixel 3 and 3XL. Like last year, both devices are pretty much identical on the inside and from a performance standpoint (The battery sizes are different, but so are the display sizes – meaning that at the end of the day the on-screen time is pretty much the same across both devices). Like the last iteration, the camera is the killer feature and improves on what is without a doubt the best camera on a mobile device, but sticks to the idea that one main 12.2-megapixel camera (it’s a new sensor, not the same one from last year) is enough, though both feature two 8-megapixel (one regular, one wide-angle) front cameras. Both devices feature a two-tone, textured glass back, and support wireless charging.
On the specs side of things, both devices feature the Snapdragon 845, 4GB RAM, Bluetooth 5.0, and front-facing stereo speakers. Both devices also feature an updated visual core chip and a Titan M security chip, which provides “on-device protection for login credentials, disk encryption, app data, and the integrity of the operating system.”
For displays, the Pixel 3 features a 5.5 inch OLED display, without notches, while the Pixel 3XL features a 6.3-inch display, with a notch that houses two front camera, and one of the front-blasting speakers.
As expected, the Pixel 3s ship with Android P, and a lot of the features – including active touch – make it from the Pixel 2s to the Pixel 3s. That said, there’s a lot of new stuff debuting on the new devices. These include:
Call screening: Uses Google Assistant to screen spam calls and let you decide whether to block a caller or get a reminder to call back later. It works by allowing the phone answer itself and then provides a real-time transcription of whatever the suspected spam caller says.
Night Shot (Night Sight): Uses the AI to take better shots in low-light conditions without using flash.
Photobooth: Snaps selfies by watching your face for cues and letting AI decide the perfect shot (same way it does on Google Clips, its standalone camera which was announced last year with the Pixel 2).
Top Shot: Uses AI to pick the best shot from a burst of shots.
Super Res Zoom: Uses multiple shots and AI to deliver a zoomed shot without optical zoom.
The Google Pixel 3 and 3XL are available for pre-order already, starting from $799 and $899 and will start shipping on October 18th.
Beyond the new Pixels, Google also announced a slew of new devices and accessories at the same event.
The Pixel Slate is Google’s newest stab at the tablet market, a space it seemed to have abandoned in the past few years. Unlike past attempts though, the Pixel slate runs on Chrome OS and not android (for the record, Chrome OS runs both chrome and android apps) and a theory is that unlike android, Chrome OS is better suited for tablets. The Pixel Slate is also positioned to compete with the Microsoft Surface and iPad Pro type devices as it features a detachable Pixel Slate Keyboard (sold separately) and works with the Pixelbook Pen (also sold separately). It’ll work with any Bluetooth keyboard as well.
The Pixel slate features a 12.3-inch, 293ppi, 3000 x 2000 resolution, “molecular” LCD display, (Google states its molecular display is faster and more power efficient than regular LCD displays), dual stereo speakers, an in-built, fingerprint reader in the power button, 8-megapixel cameras in front and at the rear. It comes in a variety of storage, processor and RAM configurations. The Pixel Slate processor features from a range of Intel 8th generation processors, starting with the Core m3 processor, optimised for lightweight or fan-less designs; to a Core i5 or i7 processor, which should have better graphics processing; to a lower-end Intel Celeron chip. RAM also start at 4GB but go all the way to 16GB and storage from 32GB all the way to 256GB. The slate pricing starts at $599 for a model with the Intel Celeron chip, 4 gigabytes of RAM and 32GB of SSD storage; and tops out at $1,599 for 16GB of RAM, a 256 SSD, and Intel’s 8th generation Core i7 chip.
Google Home Hub:
With the Home Hub, Google puts a “face” (make that screen) to its Google Home speaker range. The Google Home Hub, which is positioned to compete with Amazon Echo show (and maybe Facebook’s newly announced Facebook Portal), features a 7-inch display, attached to a cloth cloth-covered speaker stand. Google says its focus with the Home Hub is to create “a more helpful, thoughtful Home,” with the advantage of not just hearing the Google assistant, but seeing its responses as well. Google has also reworked its apps – Search, YouTube, Maps, Calendar, and Photos for Home Hub, adding both voice controls and visual information.
The Google Home Hub, doesn’t feature a camera, so as a result, there’s no video chatting, however the omission also means you’re more likely to have it in places like your bedroom where privacy is important.
Besides having all the features of a regular Google Home Speaker, the Home Hub also launches with a new feature Google is calling Home View, which is basically a dashboard that allows you control all your smart home appliances. When not in use, the Home Hub can also double as a picture frame for the photos in your Google Photos.
Google also announced a wireless charging stand accessory for the Google Pixel 3 and 3XL. The stand uses the Qi standard and is plugged via a USB type C cable, so it supports fast charging, and allows you charge the device in both portrait and landscape.
Once docked, the device switches to a custom mode which can show you notifications, play music while displaying the cover art, or switch to a live photo frame for your Google photos. At night, docking will put the device in Do Not Disturb Mode and an alarm that mimics the sun rising is also available. While docked, Google Assistant, would still be active and ready to take your commands and display your responses. The wireless stand ships on the 18th of October as well, and costs $79.
Google also announced a revamped Chromecast, that’s 15% faster and able to display 60FPS at 1080p (as against 720p in the last generation). The new Chromecast is also able to act as a Chromecast audio and let you play music in sync with either Google Homes or Chomecast audios.
Thats it for the announcements, but also newly available (but not announced) is a new, wired, USB-C earbuds, which retail for $30.