October 15, 2019
Google today announced the all-new Pixel 4 and 4 XL phones, as well as new Pixel Buds earphones, Nest smart home devices, and a new PixelBook Go Chromebook.
Of course, we already knew a lot about the the upcoming Pixel phones and PixelBook Go thanks to an absolute cornucopia of leaks. However, Google used the announcement to really flesh out its idea of “ambient computing”. Essentially, this means being able to access computer help whenever and wherever you are (if your device uses Google Assistant, naturally).
So, let's dive into the details and get under the skin of Google's new products.
Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL
The headline event was, obviously, the new Pixel 4 series of phones. We already knew a lot about both the Pixel phones, given the extraordinary number of leaks about the devices. However, Google definitely kept some tricks up its sleeve for the full reveal.
One of the big updates over the Pixel 3 series is the addition of a new radar sensor. This allows for a new feature called Motion Sense. According to Google, this allows the phone to detect movement and pre-empt likely functions. For example, when the phone feels you pick it up, it readies the face unlock, or when it notices you walk away, it locks the phone. It also allows for a new range of gesture controls for skipping songs or answering calls. Importantly, Google noted that Motion Sense can be turned off and all the processing is done locally on the phone and not shared with other Google services.
Google also decided to jump on the 90Hz screen bandwagon. This should mean smoother scrolling and better gaming and video-watching experiences. However, the new Pixel phones have variable refresh rates, meaning that the faster screen won't nuke your battery life.
However, as expected, the biggest news about the Pixels was about the cameras. You now get three rear-facing cameras, with a wide-angle lens, an ultra-wide angle lens, and a 2x zoom telephoto lens. The Pixel 3 range already had arguably the finest cameraphone on the market, so Google has a serious pedigree in this area.
Google also announced improvements to Night Sight and Portrait Mode, as well as debuting dual exposure controls. These allow you to control the exposure and shadow depth for more control over your snaps. It also announced Live HDR+ which promises to use machine learning to give you a better approximation of what the final shot will look like (after the phone's processors have worked out what's going on in the image) before you take it — this should prevent ill-advised fiddling with exposure settings, for example.
The Pixel 4 will cost $799, while the Pixel 4 XL will cost $899 — both phones will hit the shelves on October 24. The phones are also available in three colors: Just Black, Clearly White, and a limited edition Oh So Orange.
Google also announced a new version of its PixelBuds wireless earphones. The new model ditches the corded cable from the old PixelBuds, instead, opting for a new truly wireless design, similar to Apple's AirPods or Samsung's Galaxy Buds.
As with all of Google's other hardware products, there's deep integration with the Google Assistant with machine learning powering accelerometers which can detect when your speaking by feeling your jaw move. It has a much longer Bluetooth range than most headphones with Google stating that it can still connect to your phone from across a football field.
But what about battery life? Google claims that you should get 5 hours of playtime, and 24 hours when using the wireless charging case. That isn't particularly impressive, though it's largely on-par with Samsung and Apple's offerings.
The new PixelBuds will go on sale in the Spring next year and will cost $179.
Again, we knew quite a lot about the PixelBook Go before it was officially revealed to us. It gets a new and, erm, interesting ribbed design. This promises to be easier to grip than traditional laptops. It's also crafted from magnesium which means it's light and thin — weighing 2lbs and standing at just 13mm thick, to be precise.
Despite this relatively slender frame, Google claims that you'll get a 12-hour battery life.
It's available to order in Just Black now, while you'll have to wait a little while for the Pink variant. Prices start from $649 for a model with an Intel Core m3 processor, though you can spec that up to an Intel Core i7, if you're into overkill.
Everything Else from the Google Event
Google also showed-off some new-and-improved hardware products, but none as interesting as the Pixel 4, improved PixelBuds, or PixelBook Go. So, here's the skinny on everything else.
We finally have some availability news on Google's new gaming platform.
Stadia will be launching on November 19 and, unsurprisingly, will be available on Pixel phones first.
Google announced an updated version of the Google Home Mini, as well as renaming it the Nest Mini.
The Nest Mini isn't a massive overhaul but it does have some cool new tricks and features:
- The fabric cover is made from recycled plastic bottles
- It can be wall-mounted
- It has 2x stronger bass
- It has an extra mic for louder environments
- It has a new dedicated machine learning chip to learn your routine for faster processing
- It can make phone calls on Google Duo and work as a home intercom with other Nest devices
You can pre-order it today, with the full release starting on October 22. It's also available in a new sky blue color.
Google Wifi is also rebranding to Nest Wifi, and gets some mild improvements compared to its predecessor. For a start, the router and point extender have been redesigned to make them blend into your home more easily.
Google also promised that the speed would be doubled over Google Wifi and it should get 25 times better coverage. The point extender also gets a microphone, meaning that it can work as a Nest Mini smart speaker.
You can pre-order the new Nest Wifi devices today, and they should be available to buy on November 4. Prices start at $269 for a router and point extender pack, while you can get a version with two point extenders for $349.
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