Alphabet-owned Google launched two new Pixel phones with enhanced camera features as well as improved machine learning capabilities and brought back facial recognition technology, as the company wrestles with Apple and Samsung for more market share.
The new phones — Pixel 7 and 7 Pixel Pro — are powered by Tensor G2 processor, Google’s own chip. The company used Tensor in last year’s Pixel 6 line-up.
The California-based company also unveiled its first full-featured premium smartwatch — Google Pixel Watch — that draws on its acquisition of Fitbit.
“The redesigned Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are here … these phones are at the centre of our ever-expanding hardware portfolio that also includes a watch, tablet and earbuds,” said Brian Rakowski, the company’s vice president for product management.
“All of these devices come with the smarts you expect from Google and work together to help you,” Mr Rakowski said.
Here, The National explores some of the key features of the new phones and the smartwatch.
Pixel’s sleekest design yet
With a 6.3-inch screen and smaller bezels, Pixel 7 is more compact than Pixel 6 as it packs more features into a smaller profile. The larger Pixel 7 Pro comes with a 6.7-inch display in an aluminium frame.
The aluminium enclosure for both phones is made of 100 per cent recycled material.
The smartphones come with the Android 13 operating system, which is both fast and secure. It also offers various customisation options to users such as recolouring the app icons to match the aesthetic of the phone’s wallpaper and even assigns specific languages to individual apps.
With the Tensor G2 processor, the company claims to improve almost every major subsystem in the chip.
“We have designed them to work really well together to handle the nuanced and complex nature of our software and machine learning. So your smartphone is even smarter, especially when it comes to understanding speech and language,” Google said.
Google has extended the zoom range by up to eight times on Pixel 7 and up to 30 times on Pixel 7 Pro to let users snap quality images from a distance.
Users can also improve the quality of blurry photos with Photo Unblur, a feature only on Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. This feature uses machine learning to improve blurry pictures — including old ones.
With Tensor G2 and the Titan M2 security chip, Google said it built the new phones with several layers of security to help keep the personal data of users safe and secure.
Later this year, Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro will also get VPN by Google One at no extra cost to safeguard users’ online activity, irrespective of what app or web browser they use.
Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro come with a secure, under-display fingerprint reader for an easy unlocking of the phones. Users can also use the new Face Unlock option that uses advanced machine learning models for face recognition.
Smartwatch getting 'smarter'
Pixel Watch is powered with Wear OS operating system by Google and it comes with an inbuilt Google Assistant that offers personalised assistance.
Users can control smart home devices through the Google Home app or say “Hey, Google” to their watch to adjust the thermostat, turn on the lights and get notifications from their Nest doorbell when a person or package is at the door.
Emergency SOS feature
Pixel Watch is equipped with an emergency SOS feature to alert emergency responders or contacts when users are experiencing an emergency.
The fall detection feature, which will be introduced in 2023, can sense “if you have taken a hard fall, connecting you to emergency services and even auto-dialling if you are unresponsive”, said Sandeep Waraich, director of product management, Google Pixel Watch.
Health and fitness
With on-device machine learning and optimisation down to the processor level, Pixel Watch offers an “accurate measurement” of heart rate, continuously tracking it once per second.
“The Fitbit experience is completely redesigned for Google Pixel Watch, with 40 exercise modes available to track your favourite workouts and all-day activities including steps, distance with built-in GPS and active zone minutes to help you push for that extra rep during workouts,” Mr Waraich said.
The watch comes with more than 1,000 workouts and 400 mindfulness sessions that are available to help users plan their routines.
Price and availability
Customers can place pre-orders for Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro from Thursday, starting at $599 and $899, respectively. The devices will be available on store shelves with all major US carriers from October 13.
They will be available in select markets including Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, the UK and the US.
Google Pixel Watch is available for $349 for Bluetooth/Wi-Fi, and $399 for 4G LTE, including six months of Fitbit Premium and three months of YouTube Music Premium.
Pre-orders can be placed online from Thursday, with availability in nine countries, including the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Japan, Australia and Taiwan, starting October 13.
There are no details as yet on when the devices will be available in the UAE.
Has Pixel been profitable for Google?
Launched in October last year, the Pixel 6 experienced a good response and added to record sales for the line-up in the fourth quarter of last year.
“In Q4 , we set an all-time quarterly sales record for Pixel. This came in spite of an extremely challenging supply chain environment,” Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Alphabet, said earlier this year.
The company does not disclose the exact sales figures of its phones.
Google sold nearly 1.2 million phones in the first quarter of this year, grabbing 3 per cent of the North American market, researcher Canalys reported.
“Google is on the offensive to take market share, building on its wide carrier presence and unprecedented investment in the Pixel brand,” Canalys research analyst Runar Bjorhovde said in an earlier note.