Pixel 3 and 3 XL launch: any surprises are on the inside

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Pixel 3 and 3 XL launch: any surprises are on the inside

Google revealed more details about the updated Chromecast in a blog post, and now has it available for sale at its online store. But the experience itself isn't the only thing that's so great about Android on Google's new Pixel phones. The company announced new Pixel phones, a new Pixel-branded Chromebook tablet, as well as the Google Home Hub.

Where Google has made a hardware change is on the front camera, or cameras.

Previous leaks said the Pixel 3 would be available for preorder right after Google's event on Tuesday in all the countries where Google is holding local events, including the US, UK, and France, but also in other worldwide markets. Both Lenovo and JBL have released their own smart displays, but Google's is a bit different. The Home Hub can connect and interact with smart home devices via voice and touch controls and can control and schedule them according to your routines. The other products included the Pixel Slate and a Home Hub. Increasingly, it seems likely that whatever company gets an initial foothold in your home, that will drive future purchasing decisions. The phones also offer wireless charging. It will also display photos from your Google Photos account, making it something like a smart picture frame. Just tap on "Screen call" to find out who's calling and why, as well as other information (as prompted by you).

Live albums is a feature that automatically adds photos of people and pets to an album as you take them.

The other major product announced was Google Home Hub, a device that's something of a hybrid between a smart speaker and a tablet, which is created to sit at the center of what Google repeatedly called "the thoughtful home" (it avoided use of the word "smart"). The device costs US$599, or US$798 including the optional attachable keyboard.

The Slate has a custom "molecular display", which is an LCD with a resolution of 3000 x 2000 and 400 nits of brightness.

It's also HDR compatible - something that's becoming fairly common now in high-end devices - potentially offering better results when playing compatible HDR video, like some movies offered by Netflix. There is a USB-C port for charging and there is still no audio jack. The Pixel Slate feels like a solid piece of hardware when held, and comes with 8th Gen Intel processors and 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The price is also more in-line with a high-end computer than an iPad. There were rumors of a secret third phone, but of course, that was nonsense. To get the basic specifications of the phones out of the way, the display sizes of the OLED screens on the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are 5.5 inches and 6.3 inches respectively.

Both the front and back of the Slate get 8MP cameras - a wide angle lens is provided for video chat and improved low light performance. You will be able to switch cameras to take wide-angle selfies. The Pixel cameras were already fantastic, but Google promises improved low-light performance, smart digital zoom, and photo corrections that can help you get the ideal shot even if you pressed the shutter at the wrong time. The Pixel 3 will launch in 10 countries, up from six for the Pixel 2 a year ago.

Going from a small experiment to a polished product backed by large sales, support and technical teams has been part of Google's challenge. The Google Pixel 3 XL runs Android 9 Pie. It's a huge notch in this case to make room for the dual cameras. Compared to Vodafone's $95 plan, this nets you double the data for just $15 extra per month. It's an OLED display, as it was past year, and it fills much of the front of the phone. Google's "Active Edge" feature that lets you squeeze your phone to invoke the Google Assistant also remains. These phones are more expensive than last year's Pixels. The Pixel 3 starts at $999 CAD, while the Pixel 3 XL will start at $1,129. You will need to add another $100 to both if you want to jump up to the 128GB model.

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