Ever since the original Nexus One, Google has at some point each and every year released a new Nexus smartphone. Since the Nexus One days, we’ve seen Samsung, LG, Motorola and Huawei all try their hand at partnering with Google to create a flagship Android experience in exactly Google’s image. 2016 appears to be no different, as the game appears to be the same but Google is changing the rules a little bit with a name change to Pixel, and some more aggressive marketing to the everyday user. The Pixel and Pixel XL are both devices cut from the same cloth, and it’s abundantly clear that Google has had more control in the overall design of these devices than anything else, which is presumably why they’re being marketed as “Made by Google”.
Just like last year’s Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, Google is offering flagship smartphones in two different sizes, but the Pixel and Pixel XL are essentially the same device in different sizes and at different price points. The Pixel is a 5.0-inch Full HD device with the same Snapdragon 821 quad-core 64-bit CPU under-the-hood as the Pixel XL, and it also has the same amount of RAM at 4GB. Elsewhere, the rear-facing 12.3-megapixel camera is the same as the Pixel XL’s, just as it was with the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P last year, and an 8-megapixel camera takes care of selfies and video chats. That rear-facing camera doesn’t add a camera bump to this year’s phone though. On top of this, Google have tried their best to make the Pixel and Pixel XL well worth the DxOMark rating they were given that marks these as the best cameras on a smartphone ever. USB Type-C connectivity is here, unsurprisingly, and those hoping for a change away from the Nexus naming to bring the microSD card slot will be disappointed, as there isn’t one here, just choices of either 32GB or 128GB of storage. While the Pixel and Pixel XL differ in size, that means the Pixel has a smaller battery at 2,770 mAh, which might not give the Pixel the best battery life out there, sadly. As well as that USB Type-C port, there is also a 3.5mm headphone jack, too. Of course, while the specs of any Nexus – or from here on out, Pixel – device have always been strong, they’ve never been the focus of the overall package, instead that’s left to the software.
This year, Google is not only launching these devices with the latest version of Android, Android 7.1 Nougat, but they’ve also added in a number of exclusive touches to make their devices stand out from the crowd. Chief among them is of course the inclusion of Google Assistant, making the Pixel and Pixel XL the first phones to launch with the Google Assistant. These include the Pixel Launcher, which leaked some time ago, as well as some exclusive back, home and multitasking buttons which we’ve also see leak out before now. These will also be built in order to take mobile virtual reality to a whole new level, too.
The Pixel will be available in Quite Black, Very Silver and the limited edition, Really Blue as well as apps like Allo and Duo pre-installed. On top of this, Pixel and Pixel XL owners will get unlimited storage for photos and video files at their full resolutions. It’s available for pre-order in the United States right away for $649, and will also go live in other countries today, too. We’ll have more on the Pixel and Pixel XL elsewhere on the site throughout the day.