It's Google I/O week, and while the annual developer conference tends to focus on software updates, today Google unveiled a couple of new hardware products as well: the mid-range Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL smartphones, and a Nest Hub Max smart display.
The new Pixel phones are Google's attempt to get a foothold in the more affordable part of the smartphone market. They keep some of the best bits of the Pixel 3 phones launched last year, including a powerful camera and speedy software updates, while cutting back on performance and materials (these handsets use a plastic rather than a glass backing).
The less capable Snapdragon 670 chipset is powering these newer phones, rather than the Snapdragon 845 inside the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, and the screen resolutions have been knocked down slightly as well. There's no notch here, with the 5.6-inch Pixel 3a and 6.0-inch Pixel 3a XL very similar in terms of design.
Crucially, the same 12.2 MP camera that's in the flagship 2018 Pixel phones is also here, so you should get photos that are just as impressive – and unlimited high-resolution storage on Google Photos is included as usual. You might need that storage as well, with just 64 GB on board and no memory card slot.
Google has even brought back the 3.5mm headphone jack if you don't want to use the USB-C port. These phones can run for 30 hours between charges, Google says, with fast charging giving you seven hours of use from just 15 minutes of charging time. As these are Pixel phones, you're guaranteed to be first in line for Android updates, including Android Q.
What's most important about these phones, however, are the prices: US$399 for the Pixel 3a and $479 for the Pixel 3a XL. That's way below what you'll pay for top-end flagships, so we'll have to wait and see whether phone buyers consider the compromises worth the savings. The phones are on sale now in selected markets, including the US, in black, white, or a light purple color.
Google also had time to unveil a new smart display as well, the Nest Hub Max. It's a bigger version of the Google Home Hub, stretching the size to 10 inches and adding a camera and better audio quality. It also reflects a rebrand for Google's smart home products, which will all fall under the Nest banner in the future.
The new Nest Hub Max offers some clever tricks, including face recognition so it can show you personalized information when you're looking at it, and the way you can raise your hand to instantly pause video or audio playback. The new device will cost you $229, and goes on sale later this summer.
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