Alphabet-owned Google launched two new Pixel smartphones with upgraded camera systems, enhanced artificial intelligence capabilities and improved security features as the company battles with Apple and Samsung for an increased market share.
The new phones – Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro – are powered by the Tensor G3 processor, Google’s own chip. The company used Tensor G2 in last year’s Pixel 7 line-up.
The new phones are “designed with softer silhouettes, beautiful metal finishes and recycled materials”, said Brian Rakowski, the company’s vice president for product management.
“These phones are packed with first-of-their-kind features, all powered by Google Tensor G3 … and they will get seven years of software updates, including Android OS [operating system] upgrades [and] security updates.”
The California-based company also unveiled a new smartwatch – Google Pixel Watch 2 – that draws on its acquisition of Fitbit in January 2021.
Here, The National explores some key features of the new phones and smartwatch.
Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro and Watch 2 price and release date
Customers can place pre-orders for Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro now, starting at $699 and $999, respectively. The devices will be available on store shelves with all major US carriers from October 12.
Pixel Watch 2 is available for $349 for bluetooth/Wi-Fi, and $399 for 4G LTE Users can pre-order it from today and it will be available in various markets from October 12.
Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro screen size
With its contoured edges and smaller size, the 6.2-inch Pixel 8 is nearly 42 per cent brighter than Pixel 7, which was launched in October last year.
Pixel 8 Pro comes with a 6.7-inch screen that offers the company’s brightest display yet.
It also features a new temperature sensor on the rear that enables users to scan an object to see how hot it is. It could be used, for example, to check if the milk in a baby’s bottle is at the right temperature.
Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro come with improved cameras
Both phones feature powerful, upgraded camera systems for “stunning photo and video quality” plus “game-changing” editing tools, Mr Rakowski said.
Pixel 8 Pro’s bigger ultrawide lens delivers better macro focus and the telephoto lens captures 56 per cent more light than its predecessor. Pixel 8 has the same updated main camera, plus a new ultrawide lens that enables macro focus, Google said.
By the end of this year, Pixel 8 Pro will also get a feature called “video boost” that will improve the low-light smartphone video quality and help to adjust colour, lighting, stabilisation and graininess in videos.
Tensor G3: The Pixel 8's new chip on the block
With the Tensor G3 chip, every major subsystem in the phone has been upgraded, allowing on-device generative AI to boost the operating system. Compared to the first generation of Tensor on Pixel 6, the new phones run more than twice as many machine-learning models on-device, Google said.
The new chip has also added features to the phone’s speech and natural language understanding to make it easier to talk to Google Assistant. For example, customers can speak at their own pace and Google Assistant will understand pauses and “ums”, the company said.
Tensor G3 works with the Titan M2 security chip to protect users’ personal information and make new phones more resilient to cyber attacks, Google said.
The Face Unlock feature on Pixel 8 meets the highest Android biometric class, it added, letting users access banking and payment apps like Google Wallet.
Pixel Watch 2
Made of 100 per cent recycled aluminium, Google’s latest Pixel Watch is designed for all-day and night wear. It is nearly 10 per cent lighter than the previous edition.
The new central processing unit gives the watch 24 hours of battery life, even with always-on display, Google said. Pixel Watch 2 comes with a faster charging rate that powers the watch to 50 per cent in 30 minutes.
More precise health insights with Pixel Watch 2
Pixel Watch 2 has three new sensors to give users deeper insights into their health. Working alongside its improved AI heart rate algorithm, an all-new heart rate sensor with increased LEDs (25 times more than the previous model) produces a more accurate heart rate reading.
“It’s up to 40 per cent more accurate for vigorous activities like spinning and rowing. This means you will also get more accurate readings for other important health metrics – from calories burnt … and sleep,” Sandeep Waraich, director of product management, Google wearables, said.
Pixel Watch 2: Let's relieve your stress
Google has brought a “body response” feature to Pixel Watch 2 that is powered by a new continuous electrodermal activity sensor. This sensor can point to possible signs of stress using a machine learning algorithm that incorporates heart rate, heart rate variability and skin temperature.
“When the algorithm picks up on physical indicators of positive and negative stress, including excitement, the body response feature will send you a notification,” said Mr Waraich.
“It will then prompt you to either reflect on how you feel at that moment or take actions to reduce your stress, like guided breathing or a mindfulness session.”
Android 14 is here
Google has also unveiled Android 14, and it's an exciting release packed with a multitude of updates that promise to enhance your device experience. The company says it gives users greater control over their health, security, and data.
It has new features designed to improve accessibility, catering to the needs of low-vision and hearing-impaired users. The roll-out begins today for supported Pixel devices, and later this year it will extend to a wide range of devices from manufacturers including Samsung, iQOO, Nothing, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Sharp, Sony, Tecno, Vivo, and Xiaomi.