Google has launched its latest iPhone-competitor, the Pixel 4 and 4 XL, with new radar technology, dual-camera and a lower price.
Google’s consumer hardware division unveiled a series of new devices in New York, led by the Pixel 4 smartphone and including an updated Nest Mini smart speaker and Nest Wifi system, among other products.
The Pixel 4 and 4 XL are two new Google-made smartphones that are designed to challenge Apple’s iPhone with new hardware and software technologies, plus Pixel-exclusive Android features, while undercutting it on price.
The Pixel 4’s UK price is £669, £70 less than last year’s Pixel 3, or $799 in the US, and it comes with Google’s new dual-camera system, which pairs a wide angle 12-megapixel camera with a 16-megapixel 2x telephoto camera for up to 3x hybrid zoom. The new camera also comes with Google’s next generation of its “night sight” technology, capable of capturing long exposures of stars in astrophotography mode and other low-light tricks.
Google has made its market-leading HDR+ computational photography system work in real time, displaying what the final image will look like in the viewfinder. Users will also be able to decouple and manually adjust the background and foreground lighting using a new feature called dual exposure. The camera technology aims to solving the problem of backlighting.
The Pixel 4 has a new 90Hz OLED screen, in 5.7in or 6.3in sizes depending on model, similar to that introduced on the OnePlus 7 Pro in May. It is also the first smartphone to come with Google’s new Neural Core chip and local speech recognition technology for Google Assistant, which is capable of recognising natural language without having to send the data across the internet to Google’s servers. The breakthroughmeans your voice data stays on the phone, allowing for greater privacy, significantly faster responses and the ability to work offline or in unreliable internet connectivity.
Google also built the technology into a new Pixel voice recorder app to provide offline real-time transcription and the ability to search through the recording.
— Made by Google (@madebygoogle) July 29, 2019
The Pixel’s biggest new feature is the integration of Google’s Soli radar technology. The new chip enables hands-free gestures for a variety of functions such as silencing alarms, skipping tracks in music and interacting with new Pokémon Pikachu and Eevee wallpapers. It will also detect presence and is integrated into Google’s new Face Unlock 3D facial-recognition technology, which mirrors that introduced by Apple with the iPhone X’s Face ID.
Geoff Blaber, vice president of research for the Americas at CCS Insight said: “The inclusion of radar with Project Soli gives Pixel 4 some unique UI features through gesture control. It’s unlikely to be viewed as game changing but it gives Pixel 4 some much needed differentiation in the smartphone sea of sameness.”
“With Huawei facing huge challenges, particularly in Europe, now is the time for Google if it’s serious about moving the needle with Pixel.”
The Pixel 4 will cost £699 and the Pixel 4 XL will cost £829, both with 64GB of storage, shipping on the 24 October.
Google Nest Mini
Google also launched a revamped Google Nest Mini, which is a replacement for the Google Home Mini and continues the firm’s rebranding of its smart-home devices under the Google Nest mark.
The new £49/$49 Nest Mini features the same fabric, pincushion-like design, available in a variety of colours, but comes with new ultrasound presence-sensing system, as well as new touch-controls on the top. It has a new machine learning chip for faster processing of speech and frequently used tasks, plus new wake word technology that is designed to minimise accidental activations.
The speaker has been upgraded, too, with increased volume and 40% improved bass. The speaker will also automatically adjust the volume depending on background noise and has a wall mount option. The body and fabric are made from 35% and 100% post-consumer recycled plastic respectively.
Google Nest WiFi
Google also unveiled the second generation of its smart WiFi router system called Nest WiFi. It combines a central router with mesh points to spread a WiFi network across your home and eliminate black spots.
The Nest WiFi has more powerful antenna for greater coverage and faster speeds further away from the router, connecting to your broadband via ethernet. It supports Bluetooth and Thread connectivity for connecting smart home devices to your broadband without additional hubs, but is only WiFi 5 (802.11ac) not the new, faster WiFi 6.
The mesh points support the same connection technologies, but also have Google Assistant smart speakers built into them, which are essentially Nest Mini with touch controls, activity lights and a mute switch for greater privacy.
Nest WiFi costs £149 for the router on its own or £239 with one point. Additional points cost £129 each.
Google Pixelbook Go
Alongside the Pixel 4, Google also showed off the latest in its own-brand Chromebook computer line, the Pixelbook Go. It is the follow up to 2017’s Pixelbook after Google abandoned tablets such as its 2018 Pixel Slate for traditional laptop-style computers.
The Pixelbook Go has a 13in widescreen with a redesigned keyboard featuring new “Hush Keys” for quiet typing and traditional trackpad. The machine is 13mm thick, weighs about 1kg and is made of magnesium with a matt finish on the lid and ribbed bottom for added grip. The Chromebook has two USB-C ports for charging and connecting devices such as monitors and smartphones, a traditional 3.5mm headphones socket to take care of audio and Google’s Titan C security chip.
It will be available in a variety of different models starting at $649 in the US, including options with Intel’s Core m3, i5 or i7 processors, 8 or 16GB of RAM, 64, 128 or 256GB of storage, and either a Full HD or 4K screen.
The Pixelbook Go will be available in black first with a light pink colour coming at a later date.
Google also showed off its next generation Pixelbuds earphones, which will launch next year costing $179.
The new Pixelbuds are now true wireless, as made popular by Apple’s AirPods and others. They sit almost flush in the ear and offer a new hybrid design that uses a traditional silicone earbud tip for a solid fit and bass response, but offers awareness of your surroundings using new spatial vents that allow sound from the outside world in as well.
For picking up your voice, they feature both beamforming microphones and accelerometers that can pick up the vibrations of your voice through your jaw. Google Assistant is built in with “Hey, Google” wake word support, while Google Translate can perform real time language translation, like the previous versions of the headphones.
The earbuds have long-range Bluetooth technology that can connect to a smartphone through three rooms inside or across the length of a football pitch outside. They will last five hours of continuous playback and up to 24 hours using the wireless charging case.