Google had a big Pixel event this week, showing off its new hardware enhancements for the year ahead. The Pixel brand might not be as iconic as many of its big counterparts and doesn’t have a local presence, but the company remains an important hardware manufacturer. Especially because their hardware products often form the foundation of their own development and experimentation with their software that’s used around the world. Plus, the company also isn’t trying to compete with the likes of Apple, Huawei or Samsung in making big expensive flagship products, but rather tries to make hardware that the average person can afford. An effort I can most certainly get behind.
The new Pixel 5 phone has relatively mid-range specs, featuring a Snapdragon 765G processor, 8GB of RAM, and 5G support. Google is focusing on making the phone more usable with it being both waterproof and dustproof, plus its optimising the software to cater for what the company claims will provide both improved performance in operation. Camera shots will have more post-processing features to allow budding photographers to make the most out of its mid-spec lenses as well.
Perhaps its best feature though is on the software front with Google Duo, which will allow you to share your screen during a video call, allow people to watch movies, games or get together and still chat. These are not major updates for any new phone, but at a cost of $699 though, it’s certainly value for money. It’s just a pity there are no plans to release this phone locally.
Pixel 4A 5G
Along with a new Pixel 5, the company is becoming even more budget-friendly with its other smartphone, the Pixel 4A 5G, which is essentially the same Pixel 4A device from the past year but with a slightly faster processor, marginally bigger screen, and 5G support. It does come in at just $499 though and will look to fill a similar space to Apple’s SE devices, where Google will offer a slightly improved older phone, but for significantly less.
The Verge has put together a nice table, explaining the differences between Google new phones and the existing Pixel 4A:
|Category||Pixel 5||Pixel 4A with 5G||Pixel 4A|
|Screen||6-inch flexible OLED display at 432 ppi||6.2-inch OLED display at 413 ppi||5.8-inch OLED display at 443 ppi|
|Refresh Rate||90 Hz||60 Hz||60 Hz|
|Resolution||1080 x 2340||1080 x 2340||1080 x 2340|
|Battery||4080 mAh||3885 mAh||3140 mAh|
|Front Camera||8 megapixels||8 megapixels||8 megapixels|
|Rear Camera||12.2-megapixel dual-pixel (16-megapixel ultrawide)||12.2-megapixel dual-pixel (16-megapixel ultrawide)||12.2-megapixel dual-pixel|
|Camera Features||Night Sight, Portrait Light, Cinematic Pan, Live HDR+||Night Sight, Portrait Light, Cinematic Pan, Live HDR+||Night Sight, Live HDR+|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G||Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G||Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, USB-C audio||Stereo speakers, USB-C audio, 3.5mm headphone jack||USB-C audio, 3.5mm headphone jack|
|Colours||Green, Black||White, Black||Black|
|Operating System||Pre-loaded with Android 11||Pre-loaded with Android 11||Pre-loaded with Android 10|
Chromecast and Google TV
Other hardware updates from the company announced is a new Chromecast device which unlike previous versions, won’t require a phone to be paired with it, but rather have it’s own remote and buttons that allow you to launch Netflix and YouTube. Oddly enough, the new Chromecast device won’t be able to support Google’s own cloud gaming service Stadia yet, though the constraint is more software related and Google is expected to launch an update in future to address this. For $50 (R850) though, it’s a steal compared to what you pay for Apple’s similar product.
Along with the Chromecast announcement, the company has revealed that it will be merging its Google Play Movies and TV app into – wait for it – Google TV. This will essentially provide one place for people to purchase all of their movie and TV entertainment from one place, something which makes complete sense and could also be the launchpad for a future streaming service from the company should they choose to go down that road. Google TV will be available on the new Chromecast devices and will make its way to Android devices in the near future.
Nest Audio Speaker
Lastly, Google offered an update to its audio speaker. Much like Amazon, this is really more of a central hub for communicating with other connected products through Google’s own AI voice assistant. Google is claiming that the new speaker will provide 75% louder audio and a 50% improvement in the bass, but outside of a better speaker, it doesn’t seem to be offering much more. This new model is more “green” than previous models and is made up of 70% recycled plastic.
These may not be massive updates from Google, but considering the affordability and value of their devices, they make a compelling argument for giving them a try. Even if it means having to import them yourself.
Last Updated: October 2, 2020