Google recently released their new phone line in the Google Pixel and Pixel XL. From the very beginning this was not going to be another iteration of the Nexus phone. Far from it, this is the phone they wanted to make and they had to put their name on it. It presents a state-of-the-art which every cell phone user should note.
The Pixel is the smaller of the two phones, with a 5-inch display with 1920×1080 resolution. Both the Pixel and Pixel XL have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB RAM and either 32GB or 128GB of storage. These devices do not have any microSD slot for memory expansion.
Here are five reasons why cell phone owners should pay attention to the Google Pixel and Pixel XL.
1. Android OS
At the core of the Pixel is the newest Android version, 7.1 (Nougat). These phones are the first to use Android Nougat with phones from other manufacturers to follow several months after. This is a big advantage when you hold the development team of the operating system and you license it out to phone and tablet manufacturers. The phone manufacturers would go through the stage of customizing the interface to suit their taste. This interface overlay is also upgraded every time there is an Android update. Minor revisions of Nougat will only take a few weeks after Pixel to trickle down to other brand’s phones.
As long as other manufacturers are allowed to modify the OS interface, there would not be any anti-trust law suits against Google for manufacturing both the OS and the phone. Manufacturers have taken this opportunity to differentiate their phone’s interface from every other manufacturer. The Android Nougat on Pixel can be considered as the least modified of any Android Nougat interface.
2. The Best Camera Phone on the Market
According to DXOMark, Pixel took the best quality pictures for cell phones. There are several reasons why Pixel stands out. First off, is HDR+. High dynamic range (HDR) is a photography practice which aims to deliver the widest range of colors in a picture. In Pixel’s case, it uses a technology they call HDR+ which sets the camera to always take HDR pictures. Taking HDR pictures in regular cameras uses three exposures with different exposure values and overlays these on top of one another. This results in better luminance where details can be seen in light and dark portions of the picture.
Another reason for Pixel’s image performance is that they opted for only 12MP, while using the same sensor size as other cell phone cameras. The sensor may have less pixels, however it does allocate a larger area for each sensor. This larger area translates to more light for every pixel. With more light being captured, you would have better details for the image.
Among other things, Pixels also have optical imaging stabilization, as well as two autofocus mechanisms: laser detection autofocus (LDAF) and phase detection autofocus (PDAF). For flash photography, it uses dual-LED flash.
Even though the backfacing camera has an f/2.0 aperture, it takes better low-light pictures than the Samsung Galaxy S7 (with an f/1.7 aperture) and the iPhone 7 (with an f/1.8 aperture). Again, this is all due to the sensor in the camera.
3. Google VR ready
Google Dreamview is a set of specifications to use an Android phone as a VR device. The Google VR is the headset which uses the Google Pixels for VR apps. The Pixel and Pixel XL are the first cell phones which conform to the Dreamview specifications. This also explains why Google chose to put a high-end processor into their cell phones.
You may not care about VR today, however, Google has primed the market by laying down a foundation where every Android phone has the software to run VR. The only limitation is the phone’s compliance to specifications. This means that users do not need to buy dedicated VR software and hardware. Google VR is priced relatively cheap compared to the existing offerings on the market.
4. Google Now Launcher on Nougat
On Android Nougat, the Google Now Launcher is not just a voice-activated assistant, but also an interface layer which allows for easy access to search on both your device and on the web. When you access an app, you can also search for keywords on the app screen. For example, while browsing a post about a restaurant, accessing Now will show you where the restaurant is, the reviews, the menu, and even allow you to dial for reservations. The Launcher also allows you to customize your screen in more ways than you already can.
The most visible part of Launcher is on the apps window, where it shows the most commonly accessed apps on the top row. On top of the that you can also do a search of the apps installed, instead of scrolling downward to find the app.
5. A Showcase of Innovation
In addition to the above VR and Launcher, this is just a taste of what Google can do with a cell phone. With a cell phone line of their own, they can use it as a playground or a sandbox where they can field their ideas to real world clients. In addition, with the all-encompassing Google data gathering, they can have a steady flow of data on how these apps were used and where.
The Pixel XL has been called by several analysts as the best phone of 2016. When users buy it, they would be buying into a gateway for more Google innovations. This is where Google would release their new ideas. These ideas do not need to be apps, they could just be something new about the interface or a revision of an app. Google Pixel and Pixel XL users would be the first to see these innovations and give their nod on whether they would use them.
Google has never been a great hardware company. However, they recently introduced Google WiFi, Google Home, and a host of other devices. This is really their first massive wave of hardware devices. However successful Google apps and software have been, that is also not their biggest resource. Their fame and fortune is based on the data that they gather from users of various Google apps. With a phone, Google can have another venue which sends user data directly to their cloud.
The Google Pixel and Pixel XL are quite pricey and you might not want to buy a Google phone, considering that this is their first offering. However, the innovations they have put on the table are worth a look at, as these would the things you would have the next time you buy a cellphone.