As all of the leaks and rumors foresaw, Google announced its first smartphone this morning, built from the ground up by the company. The phone comes in two sizes—a 5.0-inch model and a 5.5-inch model. It’s a premium-looking smartphone without being too flashy, something like a mix between an iPhone 7 and a Nexus 5X. The two models are nearly identical in terms of feature sets and specs, unlike Samsung and Apple’s models which both make their larger phone more advanced.
As Google was insistent to point out, it made digs at Apple by mentioning that the phone comes with a headphone jack and without an ugly camera bump. The phone is coming exclusively to Verizon, but it’s also available for purchase unlocked in the Google Play Store. Lastly, we didn’t get a release date, but the Pixel is available for pre-order today.
So what more is there to know about the Google Pixel? Here are five features you should be looking forward to using:
1. Google Assistant
Google opened up its event talking about Google Assistant and machine learning. This might be the first time a smartphone manufacturer talked about its hardware products merely as portals for its advanced software, but that’s starting to make sense with how Google sees the world.
Google Assistant looks like it replaces Now On Tap and can be accessed through a long hold of the Home button. From there, Google showed off how the Assistant knows about what you’re asking contextually, based on what’s on your screen. As Google CEO Sundar Pichai talked about, the sound of the Assistant’s voice is even a bit smoother now, thanks to the machine learning processes Google has been investing in.
According to Google, it’s made the best camera smartphone ever made. Before getting too excited about that, we have to mention we’ve heard plenty of companies say that. As backup for its claim, Google brought up that the Pixel received an 89 rating on DxOMark, the highest rating of any smartphone.
It’s got a 12.3-megapixel camera with f/2.0, 1.55um pixels, and built-in optical image stabilization. We’ll have to wait and see if it deserves the award of the best smartphone camera, but at the very least it looks like Google is taking its cameras seriously on the Pixel.
Some of the camera features Google mentioned include Smartburst, which is similar to what the iPhone has, where the camera take a burst of photos and then choose the best photo. Google also mentioned its HDR+ mode, which is on by default and allows for some impressive lowlight shots. Lastly, Google showed off its video stabilization, which looks like to make video footage a whole lot smoother, even in 4K.
3. Google Cloud
Google didn’t spend too long talking about this, but it’s probably the feature that will affect user the most on a daily basis. So what we’re talking about here is free unlimited storage of all your photos and videos in full resolution, including 4K videos. This is for everyone who buys a Pixel phone.
They called it Google Cloud, so we’re assuming this is something different from Google Drive. If having all of your photos and videos automatically saved in the cloud really works easily, it’ll be way more help than going from offering 16GB to 32GB storage options. Now all we need is an easy way to access these photos from laptops and desktop computers…
4. Quick Charging
Battery life will always be an issue, but the various phones like the Galaxy Note 7 and OnePlus 3 that have Quick Charging really help. It looks like Google knew that and with the Pixel, it claims that you can get up to 7 hours of battery life in just 15 minutes of charging. It’s a seriously impressive feat if it’s true and we can’t wait to be able to test that out.
5. Virtual Reality
Google calls the Pixel “Daydream-ready”, meaning it’s shipping with all the specs and features necessary to take advantage of Google’s new VR platform. They showed off some of the different partnerships they have in the works, including Netflix and YouTube, which means there will be plenty of VR content right out of the box. It looks like a serious competitor to the Samsung Gear VR and should really help bring VR to the mainstream.
Google also announced Daydream View, which is a new headset made of cloth materials and comfortable for people wearing glasses. The headset also comes with a small motion controller that has a gyroscope, two buttons, and a clickable touch pad. The headset and controller will both be available in November for $79.