The Google Pixel phone is displayed during the presentation of new Google hardware in San Francisco
The Pixel has a 5-inch display, while the Pixel XL’s display is 5.5-inches. A thin bezel gives both phones a near edge-to-edge display.
Like the Nexus 5X and 6P that came before it, the Pixel has a fingerprint sensor on the back, putting it in easy reach when you’re holding the phone in one hand.
The fingerprint reader is not only used to unlock the phone but also to access and scroll through notifications by swiping from top to bottom.
Google made a point of saying that, unlike the iPhone 7, there is “no unsightly camera bump” on the back of the Pixel. This, together with the unbroken sheet of glass covering the front of the device give it a minimalist appearance.
The Google Pixel phone is used by a member of the media during the presentation of new Google hardware in San Francisco
However, its sculpted surfaces and rounded edges leave you in no doubt that it is a premium device and a worthy competitor to the iPhone 7.
Sadly, in the UK, it is only available in two colours – “quite black” and “very silver”, with the “really blue” option reserved for the American market.
The Pixel has a 12.3-megapixel camera, featuring an f/2.0 aperture and big 1.55 micron pixels to capture lots of light.
While those specs may not sound all that impressive on paper, the Pixel’s camera has been given a score of 89 by DxOMark – the industry standard for camera and lens image quality – making it the highest-rated smartphone camera ever tested.
The camera app offers a number of clever features like “Smartburst”, which takes a rapid-fire sequence of shots and automatically selects the best ones, and “Lens Blur” to achieve shallow depth of field and bokeh effects
Brian Rakowski, Google vice president of product management, talks about the camera in the new Google Pixel phone
You can also switch between the rear camera and selfie mode with a double flick of the wrist.
While it was hard to judge the camera’s prowess with the limited time I had with the Pixel, it succeeded in creating a bokeh effect, where an object in the foreground was in focus and the background blurred.
It was also did a good job of capturing details of my face and clothes in low lighting conditions.
Pixel comes with Google Assistant built in, so like with Apple’s Siri, you can ask it a question by saying “OK Google” or holding down the Home button.
Assistant can also offer help with what’s on-screen in any app. So if your friend texts you to meet up at a new restaurant, you can just say “navigate there”.
As is so often the case with these kinds of things, working out how to phrase questions to get the information you want is a bit of a learning curve, but in my brief tests Assistant seemed very responsive.
Members of the media examine Google’s Pixel phone during an event to introduce Google hardware products
The Pixel phones come with Google’s newest apps Allo and Duo pre-installed so you can video call and text with all your friends, whether they’re on Android or iOS.
They also come with quick charging technology, so you can get up to 7 hours of battery life with just 15 minutes of charging.
[b]Price and release date[/b]
The Pixel costs £599 for the 32GB version and £699 for the 128GB version, and the Pixel XL costs £719 for the 32 GB and £819 for the 128GB version.
That puts Google’s smartphones exactly on a par with Apple’s equivalent iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models.
The Pixel and Pixel XL can be pre-ordered from today, and will start shipping on October 20.
They will be available to purchase from the Google Store, EE and Carphone Warehouse.
Google’s new Pixel smartphones are attractive, minimalist, and smarter than most, thanks to tight integration with the search engine and some of its most innovative apps.
They offer an attractive proposition to anyone looking for a pure Android experience, unadulterated by the bloatware that so many manufacturers choose to pile on top of the operating system.
Their impressive cameras and generous storage offerings are also likely to prove enticing to many.
Of course, premium features don’t come cheap. The question is whether Nexus customers, who are used to Google undercutting its rival Apple, will be willing to pay top dollar for the new Pixel devices.
Photos credit: Reuters
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