At their ‘Launch Night In’ hardware announcement Google has unveiled their new Pixel phones, including the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a (5G). They’ve also announced their new Nest Audio smart speaker with Google Assistant, and a new Chromecast powered by Google TV, a rebranding of their Android TV platform.
Although they announced the new Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a (5G) at the launch of the Pixel 4a back in August, we finally have the official specs, and launch details.
The Pixel 4a (5G) and Pixel 5 will launch with the recently released Android 11.
Both phones share some features including design with a punch-hole notch in the display for the selfie camera and will use the same Snapdragon Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor paired with Qualcomm’s integrated X52 modem for 5G support.
Google pushed the use case for 5G with new features like HD Screen sharing on Duo video calls. Google also showed off their game streaming service Stadia running on the phone – unfortunately there’s still no news on when Stadia will launch in Australia.
The Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a (5G) also use the same front and rear camera system with a dual pixel 12.2MP main sensor with Optical and Electronic Image Stabilisation paired with a 16MP sensor behind an Ultra-Wide angle lens with a 107° field of view.
The camera has been updated with new features like HDR+ with bracketing, and new Night Site in Portrait Mode which allows the subject to stand out, even in low light. There’s also a new editor mode for Portrait in your existing pics in Google Photos to let you add ‘studio-quality light to your portraits’.
Google is also adding more video options (finally!) with three new video stabilization modes: Locked, Active and Cinematic Pan.
There’s bigger batteries in the new phones, but you also get a new Extreme Battery Saver mode that lets you select what apps can stay on and which apps gets switched off.
As the names suggest the two phones are aimed at different audiences with the Pixel 5 a more premium offering, while the Pixel 4a (5G) is a more budget friendly option.
The Pixel 5 comes with an IP68 rating with a body made of 100% recycled aluminium as a move to reduce waste. The front has a Corning Gorilla Glass 6 covering a 6-inch FHD+ resolution 90Hz OLED display with an 8MP selfie camera in the punch hole notch.
For the Pixel 5 you get 8GB RAM, 128GB of storage and a 4,080 mAh battery which supports 18W fast charging, as well as wireless charging including reverse wireless charging.
Pixel 5 is available for pre-order now on the Google Store, as well as through Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks and Harvey Norman for $999 AUD in two colours: Just Black and Sorta Sage (Green). The Pixel 5 will be available on October 15th.
Pixel 4a (5G)
As the more budget friendly option, the Pixel 4a (5G) is made of polycarbonate and loses the 90Hz refresh rate, but comes with a large 6.2-inch FHD+ resolution OLED display covered in Gorilla Glass 3 and the same 8MP selfie camera in the notch as the Pixel 5.
The phone has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, with a 3,885mAh battery inside which supports 18W fast charging, though no wireless charging.
A big design plus for the Pixel 4a (5G) is the inclusion of a headphone jack which audiophiles will enjoy.
Pixel 4a (5G) is available to pre-order for $799 in ‘Just Black’ from the Google Store, Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks and Harvey Norman – with an expected arrival date in November.
Google’s latest smart speaker is a replacement for the original Google Home smart speaker with the full Nest makeover, which Google began with the Nest Home Mini launch last year.
Google going for sound quality with the new Nest Audio incorporating a 19mm tweeter for consistent clear vocals and a 75mm mid-woofer to really bring that bass.
Just like Pixel 5 uses recycled aluminium, the Nest Audio speaker is made from 70% Recycled Plastic, same type of sustainable covering as used on other Nest smart speakers.
The new Nest Audio is available to pre-order now on the Google Store and JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, and The Good Guys for $149 AUD each in Chalk and Charcoal colour options. The Nest Audio speaker will be on-sale from October 15 with Officeworks and Vodafone selling from this date as well.
Chromecast with Google TV
The last ‘official’ Android TV device from Google was the Nexus Player which went end-of-life in 2018. Today Google has unveiled their new Chromecast, but instead of simply being a dongle that plays streams to your TV it’s getting the full smart TV treatment, with a remote and menu system.
The new Chromecast runs Google TV, a sort of rebrand of Android TV, which isn’t to be confused with Google’s now defunct smart TV platform which Android TV replaced in 2014.
The new Google TV will be the new name of the Android TV platform moving forward and comes with a new interface focused on getting you the content you love. There are some functional inclusions like your Watch Wishlist will now show up on the Google TV interface, and you can add more to the watchlist from your phone while you’re out on about and it shows up on your new Chromecast.
Though it runs Google TV, the new Chromecast with Google TV is still a dongle which acts just like previous Chromecasts plugging into a HDMI port on your TV. The new Chromecast supports 4K HDR at up to 60 frames per second and Dolby Vision, as well as letting you cast content to it from your devices – it simply adds the benefit of on-board apps, and a remote.
The remote, a much requested feature from Chromecast users for years, is fairly basic with a simple D-Pad at the top with Home and Back buttons for navigating the menus in Google TV.
There’s also a Google Assistant button which will let you access voice search, letting you ask Google Assistant to see results from across your favourite apps, including YouTube, Netflix, Disney+, Stan, 9Now and ABC iview, among others.
Google has included a dedicated button each for fast access to both Netflix and YouTube. There’s also a power and input switcher buttons, and volume rocker on the side for controlling the TV.
The dongle itself has a softer look than a Chromecast and will be available in a range of colours including Snow (White), Sky (Grey) and Sunrise (Red).
The new Chromecast with Google TV is now available to pre-order from the Google Store for $99 AUD and will be at JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, OfficeWorks, and The Good Guys starting from October 15. Google Store is keeping the Sunrise and Sky colour options as Google Store exclusives, as is a bundle with 6 months of Netflix for $139.99.
Launch Night In
You can watch the entirety of the Google Launch Night In event – it only goes for just over 30 minutes – on the Made by Google YouTube channel.
We’ll have reviews of all the new Google gear up in the coming weeks.