Google launches Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2
Google's latest in-house smartphones feature improved artificial intelligence with a mission of being more useful.
While the Pixel 2 phones were always going to be the stars of the show, Google kicked its event off talking about its AI-based approach and redefinition of its company objectives.
Order Google Pixel 2 from Telstra from Telstra deals
Google's pitch for the launch was its shift from a mobile company to an AI-driven one, and that's a clear focus for all the devices it has released . Google considers itself to be at the forefront of machine AI based learning, whether that's for automatic mapping applications or smarter user interaction based on the information that Google already has about its users.
Google's Rick Osterloh formalised some numbers around its recent HTC not-quite-buyout acquisition, with a claimed 2,000 engineers heading into Google, along with what he called "some important IP" as part of its HTC deal.
Osterloh noted that the core features for smartphones are "levelling off". "To be honest, it's going to be tougher and tougher for people to deliver new and exciting products each year. That's why we're taking a different approach at Google."
"Smartphones might be reaching parity in their specs, but we're seeing huge breakthroughs in what we can deliver to users" he said. "AI and machine learning are helping us to do that."
Google's mission with Pixel phones has, like its Nexus predecessors, been one of offering a "clean" Google Android experience, so unsurprisingly, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL run on Android 8.0 ("Oreo") on top of the Snapdragon 835 SoC. Google's also decided to drop the headphone jack, although an adaptor will be included in the box, and you can use USB-C headphones or Bluetooth compatible headphones.
While the larger Pixel 2 XL features a higher resolution screen, the rest of the feature set is identical across both handsets. They're both IP67 rated for water immersion. The Pixel 2 will use on-device machine learning to identify songs immediately when they're playing without sending data to Google, allowing users to add it to subscription services such as Google Play music or Spotify.
Google has also redesigned the Pixel homescreen with a stronger search focus via an embedded search bar now at the base of the screen that stays persistent across multiple homescreens. As with the HTC U11, it's squeezable for actions such as photo taking and, naturally enough, accessing the Google Assistant.
Google demonstrated Google Lens running on the Pixel 2, allowing user interaction with visual images to enable quick searches, emails and search for information based on visual cues. Google's claim is that image search is powered by its search algorithms and machine learning to identify images with greater clarity than ever before. Google is still claiming that it's early days for its Lens product, and that in time it will bring Lens to all its products. Pixel users will access Lens first as part of Google's pitch to deliver new features to Pixel buyers first.
Google also showed off its ARCore engine on Pixel, as well as a new Pixel-exclusive "AR Stickers" feature, which will feature content from partners such as Netflix, Disney's Star Wars and the NBA.
Google showed off AR Stickers from Stranger Things as an example of what can be done with its AR stickers feature. The demo shown had interactivity between different AR Sticker characters, although it's not clear if that will be built into every AR Stickers product.
Google has opted for a single lens camera on both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, but it's claiming that its imaging software still gives it an edge. Google announced that DXOMark rated the Pixel 2 at a score of 98, above that of the recently released Apple iPhone 8 Plus or Samsung Galaxy Note 8.
The rear camera on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL features a 12MP f/1.8 sensor, along with optical image stabilisation and a new portrait mode. Because it only features a single lens, the bokeh effect is generated computationally via machine learning. Google's claim is that a single lens is enough for it to generate its depth map. Portrait mode will also work with the front-facing selfie camera on both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Motion Photos will allow for a live photos style effect, with just some of the motion captured around the picture rendered into each picture.
As with the original Pixel, Pixel 2 users will get unlimited photo storage at full resolution on Google's cloud services. Google's claim is that its existing Pixel users take twice the number of photos as iPhone users.
Pre-orders for the Pixel 2 start in the US from today, with Australia listed as a launch country. In Australia, Google will sell the Pixel 2 for $1,079 outright with 64GB of storage, or $1,229 for the 128GB version. The Pixel 2 XL will sell for $1,339 for the 64GB version, while the 128GB version will retail for $1,549. While Google has opened preorders for the new phones, they're already listed as sold out on the Australian Google store. Local launch partners were not announced, although Google made the first generation Pixel an exclusive to Telstra.
As a pre-order bonus, Google will provide a Google Home Mini with any Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL pre-order, and that's a deal that will come to Australia as well.
|Handset||Google Pixel 2||Google Pixel 2 XL|
|Display size||5.0 in||6.0in|
|Resolution||1080x1920||2880 x 1440|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835|
|Operating system||Android 8.0||Android 8.0|