Google overnight launched a pair of new 5G Android smartphones: the Pixel 5, its flagship model, and the Pixel 4a 5G, an entry-level device with faster cellular network speeds.
While the Pixel 5’s display is in line with the latest top-end phones from Apple and Samsung, changes to its features and a lower price put the handset more directly in competition with lower-end phones from those companies.
The Pixel 5 moves to a front display that is almost all screen. Both new phones include slower processors, fewer camera sensors and cost less than the premier phones from its rivals.
Google also removed the facial recognition camera and motion sensor from last year’s Pixel 4, instead adding a hole-punch sized notch for the camera and reverting to a fingerprint sensor on the back.
The starting price for the Pixel 5 is $999, with Australian availability in black or 'sage' green from October 15.
Google’s hardware chief, said the company removed expensive components because it didn’t want to sell a phone that would price many consumers out of the market in an economic downturn.
The flagship handset unveiled Wednesday for new fifth-generation, or 5G, wireless networks now comes in a single 6-inch model, replacing the 5.7-inch and 6.3-inch Pixel 4 offerings from last year.
The phone also adds the ability to charge headphones on the phone’s back, and new low-power mode to extend battery life.
Pixel devices have won over some customers with capable cameras and photo-related software. But Apple and other manufacturers have caught up and one of Google’s leading camera technology experts, Marc Levoy, left earlier this year.
The Pixel 5 adds an ultrawide-angle camera, replacing the telephoto camera lens from last year’s model. The latest setup helps users photograph more of the environment, while the telephoto lens had more zoom.
Google is making up for the lack of optical zoom with software. Apple and Samsung offer three separate cameras on the rear of their pricier top-tier phones.
The front camera on the Pixel 5 is 8 megapixels, the same as the Pixel 4, but the new handset has more memory and a larger battery.
The phone also adds a feature to use portrait mode in the dark and new modes for enhanced video stabilization.
The Pixel 4a 5G is similar to the Pixel 4a announced in August, but adds a 6.2-inch screen, improved cameras and a faster processor. Also available from October 15, the Pixel 4a with 5G costs $799 – considerably more than the smaller non-5G variant.
Google introduced other smart home hardware products on Wednesday.
The new Nest Audio speaker is a next-generation take on the original Google Home, with a fresh cloth-clad design housing two forward-firing speaker – a 19mm tweeter and a 75mm mid-woofer – which Google says is 75% louder with 50% stronger bass than the original Google Home.
The Smart Sound feature which first appeared in the Google Home Max uses the Nest Audio's far-field microphones to tune the speaker profile to suit whatever space it's in, while two Nest Audio speakers can be paired to create a stereo setup.
The Nest Audio arrives alongside the new Pixel phones on October 15 with a $149 price tag, although Google indicates that only the monotonous chalk and charcoal colours will be sold here, not the more pleasing pastels of blue, pink or sage green.
Finally, the Google Chromecast streaming device becomes a front-end for the new 'Google TV experience' with its own remote control to take on the Apple TV box.
The compact puck supports 4K plus DTS, Dolby Digital+, Dolby Audio and Dolby Atmos, and runs over your home WiFi network; buttons on the remote to call up YouTube and Netflix apps as well as the Google voice assistant.
Google says the Chromecast will also drop on October 15 at an affordable $99.
Additional reporting by David Flynn
This article is published under license from Bloomberg Media: the original article can be viewed here