The #MadeByGoogle event kicked off with another appeal from Google CEO Sundar Pichai on how artificial intelligence will bring us into the next consumer frontier globally. In transitioning from “mobile-first” to “AI-first,” Google will need fresh conduits into the neural network and the first of those new conduits was just revealed.
Hardware SVP Rick Osterloh says that specifications have become “table stakes” — though you can see them anyways right here — and advancement hits an event frontier, Google has taken another route to hardware innovation — by making it more useful, less often.
“It’s this combination of AI, software and hardware working together to provide a better experience for users,” Osterloh said. “What if smartphones got smarter and simpler?” product management VP Mario Queiroz wondered aloud.
It’s time to officially meet the wholly unsurprising Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, available in oft-leaked 5 and 6-inch screen sizes. Both new handsets look… predictable yet premium, with all-aluminum bodies, save for extended “visors” made of matte glass.
The fingerprint sensors are located “where your finger naturally falls” (nice Samsung burn), while on the front, audiophiles get powerful stereo speakers. No conventional headphone jack, though. Sadly, the standard Pixel 2 doesn’t look all that different from its compact predecessor, thick bezels and all, with the 2 XL substantially narrowing the screen borders but nowhere near the point of invisibility.
There’s a big difference in display resolution (Full HD vs QHD+), a 16:9 to 18:9 aspect ratio distinction, and even a difference in color options. The Pixel 2 comes in “just black”, “kinda blue” and “clearly white”, whereas the Pixel 2 XL goes for “just black” and black and white flavors.
“Active Edge”, aka Edge Sense, squeezability is a major common selling point, with various (mostly experimental) augmented reality features added to the main Pixel 2 camera. We’re talking AR stickers, as well as 3D characters and emoji you can add to photos and videos while capturing them.
Out of the box, squeezing the phones’ sides will trigger the Google Assistant and mute phone calls.
Just like last year, Google is touting a stellar DxO Mark as proof shutterbugs should look no further for their next professional photo and video-taking tool. This time, you’re looking at a new record-breaking camera review score of 98, up from 89 points.
A single dual-pixel sensor is supposed to “reimagine smartphone photography”, enabling a portrait mode in which you can blur the background of your best snapshots without needing a trendy secondary lens. Something called “Motion Photos” sounds an awful lot like Google’s response (copycat?) of Apple’s Live Photos functionality on recent iPhones.
Protected against water damage (actual rating unspecified), the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL start at $649 and $849 respectively on pre-order today. If you’re fast (and lucky), you should get either one delivered from October 17.
Jules Wang contributed to this post.