Google Pixel 8 Pro is an iPhone 15 Pro in disguise? Tech titans in big face-off
Could the Pixel 8 help Google get ahead of Apple in the race to become the best smartphone in the market? Or is it really just an iPhone in disguise?
After months of anticipation, Google finally took the wraps off its Pixel 8 series at the Made by Google 2023 event on Wednesday, October 4. It is Google's latest entry into the smartphone race, and perhaps a late one, with the aim to offer the best smartphone in the market - a race that is joined by several competing brands such as Apple with its iPhone 15, and Samsung with its Galaxy S23 series.
Google's flagship Pixel devices
This year's Pixel 8 and 8 Pro are closer in price to Apple's counterparts, have similar flat-edged screens and can make payments with face identification. Alphabet Inc.'s Google introduced its new lineup Wednesday — including fresh smartphones, watches and earbuds — and raised the starting price of its phones by $100 each.
The Pixel 8 Pro matches the iPhone 15 Pro at $999, while the Pixel 8 costs the same as the iPhone 14 at $699. The new prices reflect the upgraded displays and cameras used in the latest devices, which are still “punching above our weight class,” according to Google product manager Patrick Hennessey, suggesting that consumers are getting more for their money.
mobile to buy?
The Pixel rollout is Google's latest attempt to make a dent in the market. Though its Android operating system runs the majority of the world's smartphones, the company's own hardware accounts for just a fraction of sales. In the US, Google had 3% of smartphone shipments during the second quarter, according to Counterpoint Research. That compares with 55% for Apple.
Google has sold phones under its own brand for more than a decade, but the introduction of the first Pixel in 2016 deepened the effort. Despite the phones struggling to gain commercial traction, Google's camera and AI features have stood out. Last year, the company expanded its lineup with the Pixel Watch, building out its hardware ecosystem.
Apple, the trailblazer in pushing smartphone prices up, recently raised prices again, taking its latest iPhone 15 Pro Max to $1,199 by discontinuing a cheaper storage capacity. Google has slightly improved its market share with cheaper models, which it typically releases in the middle of each year. In Japan, the company's market share was six times bigger this summer than last, as it stole cost-conscious users away from the iPhone.
The new Pixel phones have updated cameras, adopt displays with flat edges — as Apple has had since the iPhone 12 in 2020 — and come with the promise of seven years of updates for the operating system and security. Internally, they use the third generation of Google's in-house Tensor processor, which includes dedicated hardware for image processing fine-tuned by the company.
The Pro model has a 6.7-inch screen, matching Apple's largest display option, while the lower-end version has a 6.2-inch screen. That display is slightly smaller than the 6.3-inch screen on last year's comparable offering. Both new phones have increased brightness, and the basic model also improves the refresh rate. That allows for smoother scrolling and better gaming graphics.
Google is also touting that its face unlock feature now has improved security. The Mountain View, California-based company will now let it unlock banking apps and confirm transactions, matching Apple Face ID features introduced in 2017.
The Pixel 8 Pro has a matte back, another element that's similar to the design of the latest iPhones. And it adds a temperature sensor that works on objects and foreheads. Google said it's talking to the US Food and Drug Administration about getting the feature certified.
The new Pixel Watch 2
Google's new Pixel Watch 2 adds a faster Qualcomm Inc. chip and a new aluminum frame that makes the device about 10% lighter. The watch has an improved heart rate monitor, rapid charging and a skin temperature sensor, as well as fall detection and the ability to quickly call emergency services — features found on the Apple Watch.
The device will cost $349 without cellular features and $399 for versions that can tap into phone networks and make calls without an attached phone.
Pixel Buds Pro
The company's Pixel Buds Pro wireless earbuds, meanwhile, are getting a software update that matches some of the features found in Apple's latest AirPods Pro software. That includes clearer calls and noise reduction for the person on the other end of the line. There's also an automatic pause on music playback when a wearer begins speaking and improved latency in games. And there are two new shades: white and blue.
With inputs from Bloomberg.
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