What perfect timing for the launch of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphone. As Samsung goes into damage control from the fall out of the Galaxy Note7 recall, the Google Pixel smartphone is being launched in Australia tomorrow. Here’s what you need to know about the Pixel, plus our techspert Joseph Hanlon from WhistleOut dishes out his verdict on the new device.
Pixel comes in two sizes, 5-inch (Pixel) and 5.5-inch (Pixel XL). You can choose between two colours – Quite Black and Very Silver. To purchase the phone outright, the 32GB 5-inch phone will set you back $1079 and $1229 for the 128GB. For the 5.5-inch Pixel, you’ll be paying $1269 for the 32GB and $1419 for the 128GB. The phone is available exclusively through Telstra on a number of plans, or you can purchase it outright from JB Hi-Fi or Google.
The main highlights of the phone include Google assistant, the camera and storage capacity.
Google assistant: This is the first phone to have Google Assistant built in. Similar to iPhone’s Siri, you can ask it questions and tell it to do things. It has even been designed to recognise Australianisms such as ‘this ‘arvo’ and ‘servo’.
Photography: Pixel has received a DxOMark Mobile score of 89 – the highest rated smartphone camera currently on the market. As a comparison, the iPhone 7 achieved an overall score of 86, with the iPhone 6s Plus receiving a score of 84 and 82 for the iPhone 6s.
Storage: You have access to unlimited online storage for your photos and videos taken on your Pixel, so you don’t have to worry about running out of storage.
So how does the Pixel stack up? “The Pixel is absolutely what we expect from a phone of this calibre and price. It has a beautiful display, super fast performance and a fantastic camera. In fact, this is probably the best camera in a smartphone this year,” says Joseph Hanlon, editor of WhistleOut.
“But the real selling point of the Pixel is Google Assistant, a context-aware voice control system that not only follows commands, but can build on multiple requests using natural language. In short, you can talk to the phone and it should understand you. For example, you can ask Assistant ‘what is the Sydney Harbour Bridge?’, you will see information about this landmark. You can then follow up with, ‘what is good to eat around there?’ and it combines this request with the previous one and will look for restaurants near the Harbour Bridge. Then you might ask, ‘how do I get there?’ and it launch Maps to direct you to the Bridge or the restaurant you choose.”
“When you use the Pixel like this, you get a glimpse of the future; you can see where smartphones are heading. One day we will ditch the keyboard and chat to our phones like friends. But you also get the feeling that you are speaking with a technology in its infancy. It is a lot like speaking with a toddler. It understands broad concepts, but it has difficulty understanding the nuance.”
“We asked the Pixel, ‘what is my favourite colour?’ It replied, ‘I don't know, what is your favourite colour?’ We said, ‘Blue’, and Pixel responded, ‘I don't understand what you mean.’ Google says that Assistant will learn about you each time you use the service, and you can be sure that Google is pooling all of this data on supercomputers somewhere and training the system on a mass scale. But for now, it isn't a tool worth spending big bucks on. We still highly recommend the Pixel for the core smartphone features, like the camera, but don't expect to have a heart-to-heart with your phone any time soon.”
And meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy Note7 has taken a backseat, permanently. Samsung is advising customers who purchased a Galaxy Note7 device before September 5, or a replacement Galaxy Note7 device, to power down your Note7 and return the device to the original place of purchase and seek a remedy of your choice
If you own a Galaxy Note7 and you’re not across the latest recall notice, click here for more information.