Google attained a peak smartphone market share of just 0.53% in the final three months of 2017, according to market research firm IDC despite the device attracting “excellent” reviews around the world, the big search Company who is now facing a barrage of questions over security issues has since seen that drop to 0.14%.
This year’s Pixel event was headlined by hardware chief Rick Osterloh as opposed to chief executive Sundar Pichai
He told a packed audience that many of the new benefits of the Pixel 3 came from being able to deliver a new version of Android and integrating Google’s services more seamlessly.
He cited the Companies virtual assistant that can now be triggered by squeezing the devices’ sides.
The standout was several photography-related features will have special appeal to people wanting to improve the image quality that a smartphone delivers, this includes a much higher-quality digital zoom than before.
The new small Pixel 3 has a 5.5in screen while the Pixel 3 XL has a 6.3in display – both larger than last year’s models.
The Pixel phones are specifically designed to integrate with Google Photos – an image storage service that was spun out from Google+ three years ago.
As several brands get into a “mine is bettter than yours” over the quality of their cameras, Galaxy S9 and iPhone XS, for example, have two back cameras, Huawei’s P20 Pro and LG’s V40 have three. Lenovo is teasing a four-camera module. Recent leaks suggest Nokia is working on a phone with five.
Google has simply added a second wide-angle lens which engineers claim makes it easier to take group shots without the need for a selfie stick. On the front is a single lens camera.
Software is automatically applied to the resulting images to correct for distortions.
Google says the Pixel 3 can capture 184% more of the scene in a selfie than Apple’s iPhone XS
In addition, algorithms originally developed for the firm’s standalone Clips camera have been integrated to automatically take photos at the best moment – for example just as subjects smile or open their eyes – to avoid the need for a button tap.
However, the firm has kept to a single rear camera on both models despite a trend among other firms to build more into their premium models.
One advantage of having more lenses is that each can offer a different focal length, letting users optically zoom in without a substantial loss in quality.
Another new feature is Night Sight which uses artificial intelligence to add colour to low light photos.
This approach contrasts with that of Samsung, which introduced a dual-aperture lens to allow more light in when required.
The executive responsible, Mario Queiroz, said Google had deliberately sought out software-based solutions.
“You can brute-force your way to functionality by putting in a bunch of hardware,” he explained.
“But I think you may be wasting hardware in that case and potentially making your phone costlier.”
New software includes Top Shot – a facility that automatically tries to identify the best image from a burst of photographs taken in quick succession.
Sunrise Mode – a feature that changes the colour of the screen to mimic dawn ahead of a morning wake-up alarm.
The new Pixel 3 phones also have the same dual-toned construction as the previous Pixels, but the plastic-feeling textured back has been replaced with a matte glass on the bottom and a glossy glass up top. This design decision wasn’t just for aesthetics; the Pixel 3 supports wireless charging now, too. The sides of the phone are shiny aluminum. It’s these kinds of small design changes that give the phones a much more refined look than last year’s Pixel phones. The Pixel 3 comes in three colors: Just Black, Clearly White, and Not Pink.
“We wanted the look and feel of these to be different,” says Ivy Ross, vice president of design for all of Google’s hardware products. Ross adds that the design team made a conscious decision to shy away from bright, shiny colors for the new phones, after determining that sand or “tinted neutral” colors were in vogue this year. At the same time, she says: “We still see a lot of demand for black phones.”
Pixel 3 will be available for pre-order today and on-shelf from November 1 at Optus, Telstra and Vodafone – as well as JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman and the Google Store. Pixel 3 RRP starts at $1199, Pixel 3 XL RRP starts at $1349 and Pixel Stand RRP is $119.