Google Pixel 2 launch event – perhaps the last big smartphone launch of year – commenced, with Google CEO Sundar Pichai taking the stage. The company reserved the two phones till the end, with the unveiling of the new Google Home Max & Home Mini smart speakers and the Pixelbook convertible laptop in the first hour. The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL were received with cheers from the audience at the event, with the company announcing a host of new features of the second-generation Pixel smartphones. The two phones will take on the likes of iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, and LG V30, among others.
Google Pixel 2 specifications, price, launch date
First up, the Pixel 2 specifications include a 5-inch full-HD OLED display, no 3.5mm headphone jack, and a fingerprint sensor that the company says is the fastest in the industry. As for the Pixel 2 XL, the handset has a 6-inch near edge-to-edge display with QHD resolution, as rumoured. There is also a new feature called Active Edge that lets you squeeze the phone to trigger Google Assistant, similar to the squeezable display of HTC U11. Both the phones have Always-On display, and Android Oreo out-of-the-box, with support for minimum 3 years of OS and security updates.
Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will come with octa-core Snapdragon 835 processor (four 2.35GHz cores + four 1.9GHz cores), with 4GB RAM. Storage options include 64GB and 128GB capacities, with unlimited online storage for photos and videos. The two phones have 12.2-megapixel rear camera and 8-megapixel front camera with portrait selfies, bokeh effect, OIS and EIS, as well as Motion Photos (similar to iPhone’s Live Photos). The former will come in Just Black, Clearly White and Kinda Blue colours, while the latter in Just Black and Black & White colours. There’s USB Type-C port, Bluetooth 5.0 + LE, stereo speakers, dual-band Wi-Fi, GPS, GLONASS, and NFC. Pixel 2 battery capacity is 2700mAh, and 3520mAh for Pixel 2 XL.
The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will be available at $649 and $849, respectively, and will be launched in Australia, Canada, Germany, India, the UK, and the US in the first wave of release. Google has also announced a new Pixel Bud wireless earphones, which can translate languages (including Hindi and Bengali) seamlessly. The headphones have 5-hour battery life, and will come at $159, with pre-orders starting today.
Google Home Max, Home Mini, and more
Pichai started the event by talking about the importance of machine learning and the AI-first world, along with the need to make interaction between AI and humans more natural. Rick Osterloh, Google’s hardware lead took the stage after Pichai and started off with a mention of the recent HTC acquisition. He said the distinguishing feature of smartphones in the coming generation will be at a conjunction of software, hardware and AI.
The Google Home Mini, a smaller smart speaker has also been unveiled at the event. It is made almost entirely out of fabric, and can pause or play music with just a tap on the speaker. Priced at $49 in the US, the Google Home Mini will be available for pre-orders tonight and go on sale on October 19. It will be available in Australia, Germany, Japan, the UK, France and Canada as well. To recall, Google Home Mini had been leaked earlier.
Another new product at the Google Pixel 2 launch event was the Google Home Max, with Assistant baked in. The new smart speaker is 20 times more powerful than the original Google Home, and can work with Spotify, YouTube Music, apart from other music services. It has a new feature called Smart Sound that adjusts the sound to where you place the speaker in your home. Google Home Max will launch at $399 and will be released in December in the US, and will come with 12-month YouTube Red membership free.
Google Home is getting a new feature called Voice Match that allows Google Assistant to recognise your voice to provide personalised help to each member of the family. Voice Match will be released for the seven markets in which Google Home is available. The smart speaker is also getting hands-free calling. The speaker can control over 1,000 connected devices as well. Nest and Google are also collaborating to reimagine the smart home, to make more in tune with the needs of the user – with the Google Assistant at the centre of it all. There is also a new Family Link that allows parents to manage accounts they create for children under the age of 13. Assistant can understand the way kids speak as well now. Disney and Google are also partnering for content for kids as well, as part of the family-centric approach of the company.
The next hardware product unveiled at the Pixel 2 launch event is Pixelbook, a high-performance Chromebook. It is 10mm thick and weighs roughly 1 kilogram, and can be used as a tablet or in tent mode courtesy its 360-degree hinge. Google Pixelbook has a 12.3-inch display with Quad HD resolution and 235ppi pixel density, and supports up to 16GB RAM and up to 512GB SSD; buyers can choose between Core i5 and Core i7 processor options. It has a 10-hour battery, and uses USB Type-C charger; its Instant Tethering feature allows the Chromebook to automatically connect with the Internet connection of the user’s Pixel phone in the absence of a Wi-Fi connection.
Pixelbook is also the first laptop is the first laptop with Google Assistant built-in, and supports the new Pixelbook Pen that uses machine learning to understand the user. It will fully support Google Play Android app marketplace so all popular apps will be available on the convertible laptop. A custom Snapchat experience for the larger screen of the laptop is being developed. The laptop will be available in three configurations and price starts at $999, while the Pixelbook Pen price is $99. Pre-orders begin tonight, and shipping begins on October 31.
Google Clips, a tiny hands-free camera that looks for moments for you to capture photos, was also unveiled at the event. It is a $249 device that uses machine learning to sort photos and appears to be always-on.