Onstage at the Google I/O keynote this morning, Google VP of Hardware, Rick Osterloh has announced the latest hardware in the form of the Pixel 3a and 3a XL and the new Google Nest Hub Max.
The new hardware will be launched as part of a rebrand for the Google Hardware division under the Nest brand. According to Google this will simplify their branding message – something Google has been very much in need of.
Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL
As expected Google has entered the mid-range market with the new Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL. The phones will be launching in 13 markets around the world including Australia from today.
The new Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are affordable, but bring many of the great features from the higher end Pixel phones to the mid-range. There is of course some specs missing with Google changing the shell of the phone from glass to a polycarbonate, and there’s no wireless charging or Ingress Protection – but it should be right if you use it briefly in the rain.
The phones still include a good hardware spec with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of on-board storage included.
While similar in a lot of specs, the phones do differ with a 5.6” OLED disply on the Pixel 3a and a 6” OLED display on the Pixel 3a XL. A 3,000mAh battery on the Pixel 3a and 3,700mAh battery on the 3a XL will give the phones all day battery life when coupled with Google’s adaptive battery controls in Android and the 18W charger will give you up to 7 hours of use from just 15 minutes of charge.
Of course as a Pixel phone it’s the photos that we’re interested in. There’s great camera hardware on the mid-range Pixel 3a phones, including the same 12MP rear camera sensor as the higher end versions.The front-facing 8MP sensor is only a single lens, but gives you access to the customisable portrait mode included on all Pixel phones.
Google is also bringing their highly effective Night Sight feature to the Pixel 3a, letting you take bright, vibrant photos at night with no flash.
While the Pixel 3a phones are ‘missing’ some of the features of the higher-end models, the phones do include a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Of course the software on Pixel phones is a very attractive feature and the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL have the same software update guarantee offering 3 years of both feature and security updates, as their more expensive siblings.
Nest Hub Max
The Nest Hub Max is a larger version of the Home Hub which Google launched last year.
With the larger device Google has included more software features and hardware, including a large 10.1” display, dual 10W front-facing stereo speakers and a 30W subwoofer and a camera.
While the original Home Hub had no camera to ensure privacy, Google has thought long and hard about the introduction of the feature to the Nest Hub Max. There’s several ways to ensure your privacy with the Nest Hub Max including a physical switch on the rear which disconnects both the camera and microphone when you want it to – there’s also a green light next to the camera on the front which lets you know when it’s on.
Google has used the introduction of the camera on the device to introduce a new feature called ‘Face Match’. Face Match is like Voice Match but for your face, with Google detecting your face and showing you relevant information such as your calendar, weather and commuting details when you look at the device. For security conscious, Face Match is processed locally on the device and recognises you and displays your information including
Having a camera lets you use their video conferencing software – Duo – to make video conferencing calls from the device to iOS and Android phones and any PC running Chrome.
Nest Hub Max can also be used as a Nest Cam for additional security, making use of Face Match to detect who is around and sending alerts when someone it doesn’t recognise shows up. You’ll need a Nest subscription to make use of some features, but it’s a handy live feed into your home if you need one.
The Nest Hub is also a great digital photo frame and Google has added a new feature which lets you share a photo using your voice directly from the Home Max.
Where can I get them?
Google will be beginning sales of the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL in Australia from today with the phone going on-sale in retailers JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman and Officeworks, as well as through the Australian Google Store.
The Pixel 3a sell for $649 while the Pixel 3a XL will sell for $799 in three colours: Clearly White, Just Black and a new colour: Purple-ish.
The Nest Hub Max is coming to Australia (as well as the UK and US) soon. Google will begin selling the Nest Hub Max from ‘this winter’ in two colours: Chalk and Charcoal for $349.