Google announced a number of new products that include the two Pixel phones, along with the Nest Audio smart speaker and Chromecast with Google TV. The Pixel 5 was widely expected, and a variant of the Pixel 4a 5G is in the mix, too. The virtual “Launch Night In” event wasn’t heavy on specifics, but I’ve got some details for the new phones, and the latest smart speaker.
If you want to learn about the new Chromecast with Google TV, you can check that out in Erin’s detailed article also just posted on the Best Buy blog.
Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G
The Pixel 5 will be Google’s flagship for 2020, but you won’t be paying that kind of rate for it. Part of the reason for that is because it’s running on the Snapdragon 765G processor, which is not the top-end chipset. You also won’t have to choose between a regular and XL version. There’s just one this time. It does come with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and will be the first Pixel phone to include reverse wireless charging. Place another wireless charging device on its back and you can give it a little juice.
It sports a 6-inch P-OLED (2340 x 1080) display with a 90Hz refresh rate and HDR support. The overall design is as understated as all Pixels have been, only this time, the colours are slightly different. Last year’s orange is gone, and a new sage is in. It’s also 5G-enabled under the hood.
Google did talk about some interesting features. To address battery issues of the past, Extreme Battery Saver can push the phone’s life per charge up to 48 hours. It’s not immediately clear what you sacrifice in performance to get there, but I will be testing that out.
Hold for Me will have Google Assistant wait on hold for you on a call, and alert you when someone is ready to speak with you. This, along with Extreme Battery Saver, aren’t exclusive to the Pixel 5, as a future update will deliver these features to some of the existing Pixel lineup as well.
Google Duo will let you share your screen and watch video together. Stadia, the company’s streaming video game platform, is also getting a boost, and should match up well with game controllers.
Pixel 5 camera
As per usual, the Pixel 5’s camera took much of the spotlight. It appears most of the software experience and performance is intact. However, it’s not entirely clear if Google went with a different image sensor for its main camera. The 12.2-megapixel shooter is similar on paper, so we’ll have to wait to find out.
Meanwhile, in an about-face, Google removed the extra telephoto lens from last year and put in a 16-megapixel ultrawide one instead. This should be interesting, as the company’s amazing software could make it the best ultrawide lens on any phone. I’ll let you know when I test it out.
Software is where you will find the bigger changes. One that stood out to me was Night Sight integrating with Portrait mode. Now, if you want to take portrait shots at night or in low-light, you can do it pretty easily. Portrait Light is another feature letting you adjust lighting on a person’s face without deconstructing the rest of the image. HDR+ Bracketing is also noteworthy for what it could do in difficult shooting conditions.
Google hinted that its video recording will be better by default, but also touted new additions. Three modes—Locked, Active and Cinematic Pan—will be available. Of the three, Google showed off the latter, where panning is smoothed out and action is slowed down to emulate cinematic filmmaking techniques.
Pre-orders for the Pixel 5 are now live leading up to the launch on October 29.
Pixel 4a gets 5G
Yes, there already is a Pixel 4a out, but it didn’t have 5G. This new one does. Google announced a 5G version of the device that will essentially be the same in every way, save for the additional connection speed. Since 5G isn’t widely active just yet in Canada, you’d be future-proofing by getting this phone.
If you want to be among them, pre-orders for the Pixel 4a 5G are live now leading up to the launch in November.
New Nest Audio
The Nest Audio is a more affordable smart speaker focused on—you guessed it—audio performance. Google claims it has 50% more bass and 75% more volume than the original Google Home. The extra clarity and loudness should combine for a better experience, but since the demo was done virtually, it’s hard to know for sure.
Google brought Mark Ronson, a British-American musician, to endorse the speaker, which is also made from 70% recycled fabric. It’s not especially big, either, with a size relative to the original model. It’s also an understated design that’s kind of cylindrical, but not really. It will come in four colours: chalk, sage, sand and charcoal.
Being a smart speaker, you get full Google Assistant access through it. That means you can control smart home devices, play music on-demand, and everything else the voice assistant offers. You can also delete your history by voice, or turn off the mic when you want extra privacy.
The new Nest Audio is available for pre-order now, and officially launches on October 5.
If you’re looking for more, check out all the latest from Google, including the current lineup.