Google Pixel and Pixel XL specs, UK prices, release

pixel-and-pixel-xlI still enjoy using my Nexus 6P but Google has killed off the Nexus line and have revealed two new Pixel phones. Do these have enough to offer as an alternative to Apple’s popular iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus?

The search giant has been cobbling its own Nexus branded phones for for the last few years. But no more.

Google has ditched Nexus in favour of Pixel. A brand reserved for the company’s premium tablet and laptop products.

The new phones are, in Google’s words, “the first phone built by Google inside and out”. So, what’s so good about Nexus Pixel phones as opposed to other ‘droids? Well, Google controls/leads the hardware design as well as controlling the software. Just like Apple.

Pixel design

In our last podcast we were quietly hoping that the renders were just ‘blank’ forms. It turns out that the Pixel phones are that… bland.

OK, bland might be a tad strong but, from the front, it isn’t making me want it. This is purely based on the pictures I’ve seen. I have yet to meet it in person. The rounded edges and aerial bands do look a bit Appley though.

Flip it over and things get a little bit more exciting. The Pixel has a glass panel on the rear of the device. This isn’t a touch sensitive trackpad or anything like that though. This is here as a design feature and perhaps improve wireless antenna performance.

Both the Pixel and the larger Pixel XL are equipped with USB-C and both have 4GB of RAM.

The Pixel has a 5-inch display, whereas the Pixel XL features a 5.5-inch display. They’re not super skinny, measuring 8.5mm thick, but not exactly chunksters either.

pixel-front-and-backThe standard Pixel has an HD resolution, while the XL has a 2K display using AMOLED panels.

There’s a fingerprint sensor on the rear (which I have come to prefer). This doubles as a trackpad which is pretty neat.

There’s a choice of either 32GB or 128GB of internal storage, and Google is also offering Pixel owners free unlimited storage for photos and videos through its Google Photos app.

Google has kept the 3.5mm headphone jack in place, unlike Apple. Also unlike Apple, the Pixels are not water resistant.

Pixel camera

Both handsets come with the same 12.3MP with f/2.0 aperture lens camera on the back and an 8MP snapper on the front.

The lens and sensor combination is rated by DxO (expert camera testers) as the best camera in a smartphone.

Both phones have optical image stabilisation, and lots of software options.

Smart Burst captures a continuous stream of images and selects the best, sharpest image, and HDR+ captures the best image possible in any lighting condition.

Pixel software

As you would expect from Google’s flagship handset, it’s loaded with the latest Android software and services.

Google Assistant plays a big role in the operating system. This replaces Google Now and promises to be more intelligent. This also hands the virtual assistant more of a personality in line with Siri and Cortana.

opa-animated-answers-sunglasses-en_gbThrough Google Assistant you can get answers to your questions, book dinner reservations, play games and suggest smart replies to send your friends when you don’t have the time or the energy to actually compose a proper message.

To access Assistant just hold down the home button, the home screen widget, or the hot word.

They also pack automatic operating system updates, 24/7 customer assistance, and Allo. Allo is Google’s new instant messaging app, and along with Duo, the video calling app, come as standard fittings.

Pixel release date

The phones are available for preorder now in the US, UK, Australia, Germany and Canada.

The phone will ship to customers and be available in shops on October 20.

Pixel price

Buying directly from Google or Carphone Warehouse means you can pick up the phones SIM-free and unlocked for the one-off price of £599 for the 5-inch Pixel and £719 for the 5.5-inch Pixel XL.

That puts them in exactly the same kind of territory as Apple’s iPhone models.

It looks like EE is the only network in the UK that will stock the phone on contract. On their 4GEE plan it’s £50.99 per month with a £9.99 up front charge for the 32GB Pixel phone. If you want 128GB then you’ll need to find another fiver each month.

They are available in ‘Quite Black’, Very Silver’, and ‘Really Blue’ although the Blue isn’t listed yet.

So – interested?