Google’s fall hardware event was packed with surprises. The company decided to go down a slightly different road for its flagship Pixel 5, amongst others. If you missed it, here’s everything the company showed off during the half hour event.
Google’s flagship won’t be directly competing with the iPhone 12 or Galaxy S20. Make no mistake, this is still very much a flagship device, just without the oomph. The device comes with a midrange Snapdragon 765G processor, rather than the more powerful Snapdragon 865. To compensate though, the company has added 8GB of RAM, so it shouldn’t feel too sluggish.
Apart from that, the Pixel 5 comes with 5G support (as expected). To really differentiate from its mid-tier Pixel 4A, Google has added IPX8 water resistance, reverse wireless charging, Corning Gorilla Glass 6 and removed the 3.5mm audio jack.
The Pixel has also switched the 16MP telephoto lens with a 16MP ultra wide lens. The 12.2MP main shooter remains. On the front, the company has added the ability to take portrait mode with Night Sight. There are a few other software updates to the camera – AI-powered “Portrait Light” mode, “Cinematic Pan” and three new stabalisation modes. There’s also an “Extreme Battery Saver” option that will give you 48 hours.
Despite these updates, it’s clear Google’s strategy has changed. The flagship Pixel now no longer packs the latest-and-greatest specs. Instead, the company is pushing for a more modest offering. That’s reflected in the price too. The Pixel 5 will now start at $699, a full $100 less than last year’s Pixel 4.
If that sounds too juicy to ignore, US customers can pick their Pixel 5 up on October 29th. Available in “Just Black” or “Sorta Sage”, UK customers can pre-book a Pixel 5 for £599 now. It should ship from October 15.
Pixel 4A 5G
The second phone the company announced is an upgrade to its budget Pixel 4A. Packing a larger 6.2” display as compared to the 4A, the 4A 5G is a modest upgrade. Costing £499, the 4A 5G comes with the same Snapdragon 765G as the Pixel 5. You also get to keep the 3.5mm headphone jack, but there’s no wireless charging or water resistance.
The 4A 5G also comes with the same 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage as the 4A. The battery though, does get a boost. You now get a slightly larger 3885mAh battery. You also get the same camera set up as the Pixel 5.
The 4A 5G will be available from October 15 in Japan. It will come to the UK, USA, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and Taiwan in November. It will cost £499 when it comes to the UK.
2020 Google Chromecast
Google’s media streaming device has certainly come a long way. From a barebones device that needed an Android phone, the Chromecast now stands on its own. For starters, there’s a new easier to use interface built on top of Android TV. You also get a remote in the box to navigate the UI. The “Chromecast with Google TV” supports 4K playback, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. Costing just £59.99, the device is competing with Roku and Amazon. You get access to almost all your major streaming services bar Apple TV+.
The remote is the really neat part. Like Amazon’s FireTV, you get voice search and the ability to control TV volume and power. There’s also added a shortcut button for YouTube and Netflix.
Unlike Amazon, Google has attempted to break the walls between your multiple subscription services. The ‘For You’ tab will surface up content from all your services, along with the source and Rotten Tomatoes score. Early reviews have praised this UI, so it’s clear that the company is doing something right here.
Oddly the new Chromecast cannot stream Google Stadia at launch, the company said the feature would be coming in 2021. You can now pre-order the Chromecast in 3 colours – Snow, Sunrise (pink) and Sky (blue) from the Google Store. There’s also a Netflix bundle for £89.99, if you are interested. It will ship October 15.
Google has unveiled a new speaker under its Nest family called Nest Audio. Replacing the Google Home, the Nest Audio is a midrange speaker between the Mini and Max. The speaker has a more softed and rounded design, and is wrapped in fabric. The device also has four coloured LED that lights up when responding.
Google claims the Nest Audio “is 75 percent louder and has 50 percent stronger bass response.” That’s because it is equipped with a 19mm tweet and a 75mm mid-woofer. The enclosure is made up from 75% recycled plastic. You can now pre-order the device in five colours: dark gray, light gray, green, pink, or blue. It will ship from October 15.
Google has decided to rename its Google Play Movies & TV app. It will now be called ‘Google TV’. The rebranding will make its way to Android first, before rolling out to other platforms. It’s clear the company has decided to follow Apple’s footsteps. The Google TV app will be your one home for buying and renting TV shows and films.
It’s nothing like the Google TV the company killed off in 2014. Instead, now Google TV will refer to 2 distinct things:
- The Google TV app on Android and Chromecast, where you can rent, buy and view all your movies and TV shows from the Google store. Think of it as the Apple TV app for Google.
- The Google TV interface, that runs on top of Android TV. The Google TV interface is what you see on your Chromecast, and soon other Android TV operators. It uses Google Assistant to find and show you content from various streaming services.
That’s quite a lot of announcements packed into a short event. There’s a clear sign of Google changing its strategy on both the hardware and software front. Given the competition in the market, it’s going to be tough to see Google win over any Amazon or Apple users. I guess we will have to wait and see.