Upgrades and some tasty new hardware too.
By Whitson Gordon
Be sure to visit IGN Tech for all the latest comprehensive hands-on reviews and best-of roundups.
Like clockwork, Google introduces new hardware goodies each Fall, and this year it unveiled new Pixel phones, a new kind of tablet, and a new member of the Google Home family. Here’s what you need to know about the new devices.
The Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL Get Bigger Screens, Better Cameras
Google’s own Pixel phones may not be the most popular Android devices on the market, but they are some of the best, and the third generation Pixel delivers some small but interesting changes to the lineup. While the form factor of the Pixel 3 and 3 XL is similar to their predecessors, both have bigger screens, thanks to smaller bezels on the Pixel 3 and a full-screen-with-notch design on the Pixel 3 XL. They come in three colors, though they’re less interesting than last year’s: just white, black, and a pale pink. Pricing for the Pixel 3 starts at $799, and the XL starts at $899.
Both have improved cameras, which is great, since the Pixel line has some of the best cameras on the market—you’ll find a single camera on the back of both phones, and a dual camera on the front with a wide-angle lens for group selfies. The camera also comes with some AI features that brighten up night shots, sharpen zoomed-in photos, and pick the best picture in a batch for you.
The Pixel 3 will also be the first phone to get a new spam filtering feature powered by Google Assistant, which will screen calls and transcribe them so you don’t have to worry about answering robocalls. This feature will come to older Pixels next month, too.
Lastly, both Pixel 3 models support wireless charging, which is a welcome change after its omission on last year’s model. Google’s $79 Pixel Stand adds some extra features to wireless charging when compared with standard Qi chargers, like notifications, a photo frame mode, and even a sunlight-mimicking alarm for gentler mornings.
The Pixel Slate – a Hybrid Chromebook and Android Tablet
Android tablets never got as much love as their smartphone cousins, but Google is taking a new approach with its made-in-house tablet. The Pixel Slate, which starts at $599 for an Intel Celeron version, takes a Microsoft Surface-esque approach: it’s a tablet that can go into laptop mode with a detachable keyboard cover (sold separately for $199). More interestingly, though, is the operating system: Instead of running Android, the Pixel Slate runs Chrome OS, which can now run Android apps—that way, you can get a laptop-optimized experience when you need it, and move to Android apps when you want to read on the couch.
The Google Home Hub Adds a Screen to Google Assistant
Last year, Google worked with Lenovo and JBL to make Google-powered competitors to Amazon’s Echo Show, and this year, it’s announced its own version. The $149 Home Hub is like a Google Home, but with a 7″ screen that allows you to see Google Assistant’s answers in addition to hearing them. This is particularly useful if you’re searching for calendar events or recipes, not to mention things that require a screen, like maps, YouTube videos, or photos. And, just like the Google Home, it uses Google’s Voice Match, so it’ll show results relevant to the person asking the question (e.g., events from their calendar).
It’s more than just a basic list of search results, though. When you ask for a recipe, it’ll give you step by step instructions. The Home Hub also comes with a feature called Home View, which is an on-screen interface for all your smart home devices. And when you aren’t using the Home Hub, it acts as a digital photo frame (with baked-in AI for creating albums of certain people).
Those were the big ticket items at today’s launch, and while there were a few other goodies—like USB-C earbuds, and a slightly updated Chromecast with the ability to sync music with Chromecast audio—it wasn’t a deluge of new devices. Still, we’re willing to take quality over quantity any day.
Whitson Gordon is a writer, gamer, and tech nerd who has been building PCs for 10 years. He eats potato chips with chopsticks so he doesn’t get grease on his mechanical keyboard.