Google unveils Pixel – and shows off the potential of Google’s AI future

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Early this morning, Google has finally unveiled what has been long speculated in the tech press – the Google Pixel, its premium line of Android-powered smartphones designed and manufactured internally. With significantly better hardware than most of its rivals, the most interesting thing about the Pixel isn’t the hardware spec sheet.

No, the interesting thing about Pixel is how it will bundle in all of Google’s work on artificial intelligence in one device – thanks to Google Assistant. This will allow you to get answers and manage tasks with your voice. Pixel will also be able to provide context to Google Assistant based on what is on the screen. For example, you will be able to make a booking at a restaurant that was mentioned on your chat.

According to Sundar Pichai, the chief executive at Google, all of this investment into artificial intelligence is to “build a personal Google for each and every user”.

The best camera ever

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Google is also touting the Pixel’s camera as being the best smartphone camera ever, citing its score of 89 by DxOMark Mobile (the iPhone 7 has a score of 86). Featuring a 12.3MP f/2.0 aperture lens, Google says that it will take brilliant photos in any light – including low and bright – thanks to its larger 1.55μm pixels. It will also record video in 4K and features zero shutter lag.

The camera will come with a variety of shooting modes – but the two highlighted at its press conference was Pixel Smartburst and HDR+. Pixel Smartburst will take a series of photos in quick succession and will determine which one is the best.

HDR+, on the other hand, will take sections of a shot varying levels of exposures, with Google saying that this will minimise noise and blur and providing better dynamic range on photos. It will be on by default since there is zero shutter lag.

Google really really wants you to use this phone’s camera, and is prepared to provide unlimited online storage on Google Photos for all photos and video taken with the Pixel in its original resolution. Yes, that means you can store 4K video and 12.3MP images without worrying about space on Google.

The hardware specs

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The Pixel is made with a seamless aluminium body and features a bright AMOLED display – the size depending on the model: a 5-inch screen with the Pixel, or a 5.5-inch display with the Pixel XL.

It also includes a quad-core Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a USB Type-C port. It also features a 3.5mm headphone jack, something it deliberately mentions in its marketing in part of Apple’s decision to remove it on the iPhone 7.

Google also promises that the phone will quickly provide up to 7 hours of battery life within 15 minutes. It also has made the entire switching process entirely easy – simply plug in the USB adapter and your old smartphone to the Pixel and it will transfer all your content and messages across.

The phone will come in two storage varieties (32GB or 128GB), and in two colours – black or silver.

Availability and Pricing

Amongst the carriers, Telstra appears to have exclusivity given they were the only Australian carrier mentioned at launch. However, if you don’t want to leave your carrier – especially given Telstra’s recent troubles – you can still get the phone outright via JB Hi-Fi or the Google Store.

Just like most smartphones in Australia, this will set you back a lot of money. The base model – a 5-inch model with 32GB of storage – will cost $1079 outright. Upgrading to the Pixel XL will cost another $190, and upgrading to the 128GB storage model costs an extra $150.

The phone is available now for pre-order in Australia, the US, UK, Canada and Germany. It will also be available to pre-order from India from October 13.

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