Google is marketing the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones as its own, but the company realizes it won’t be able to provide all the required customer support on its own in every region. Such is the case in India, where Google has tied up with multiple companies to ensure its smartphones are widely available and customers get proper after sales service.
Google will sell the Pixel smartphones in India through Flipkart and over 1,000 retail stores including retail chains like Reliance Digital, Croma and Vijay Sales. The pre-order for the phones will begin tomorrow. For after sales service, the company has partnered with HTC India, it told Mashable India in an emailed statement.
Google says it will offer support for Pixel smartphones at 56 HTC India walk-in service centres in more than 30 cities in India. The company will also offer a toll free phone support service at 18004190655 in India. The number will be functional all days of the week between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm (local time).
“Pixel devices come with dedicated Phone support – Toll free number: 18004190655 and support hours are 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, seven days a week. We will also offer support at 56 walk-in service centres across 30+ cities in India. For after-sales support, we are partnering with HTC India,” a Google spokesperson said.
Apart from brick and mortar service centres and phone support, Google is also debuting online support directly from the phone itself, where the phone will initiate a screen sharing feature with a service representative. This could come handy in troubleshooting common issues users face.
Unlike with Nexus brand of smartphones and tablets, Pixel is being marketed as “made by Google”. Google is also assuming more control over how these phones are sold and supported in different regions. In the United States, for instance, it is providing after sales support for the Pixel smartphones. With Nexus smartphones, its manufacturer partner was tasked with offering repair and other services for the phones as well.
While pre-orders for the Pixel smartphones go live tomorrow, they will ship by the end of the month, coinciding with Diwali festival.
In news that should make anyone who’s experienced an Apple Maps fail a little less angry, Bloomberg reports that unnamed sources say that Apple is taking steps to overhaul its Maps service.
The report’s sources claim Apple is building a new team of robotics and data-collection experts with the directive to use drones to capture and update map information. Up to now, Maps data has been collected by a fleet of street-bound cars, so taking to the sky would immediately expand the effort.
The drones would be especially helpful for up-to-the-minute road monitoring for accurate traffic information, an area where Apple Maps has lagged behind Google Maps. The data collected will be sent to Apple teams, which will be tasked with updating the app for the highest level of accuracy possible. According to Bloomberg‘s sources, at least one person from Amazons Prime Air division has been brought in for the work.
But do we really want a bunch of flying Apple cameras patrolling the skies across the country? The company will have to abide by the Federal Aviation Administration’s commercial drone-use regulations, which Apple committed to when they were rolled out back in August.
Those regulations might make the drone initiative in cities near impossible, since flying over people and buildings are two of its strongest prohibitions. But in countries where there aren’t commercial restrictions, Apple can fly all it wants.
Along with the drones, Bloomberg‘s sources said that Apple is also developing new Maps features for use indoors and for its in-car navigation service. In a move that went largely under the radar last year, Apple acquired Finnish startup Indoor.io, a deal now confirmed.
On paper, Google, Apple and Samsung’s flagship phones appear to have the same cameras: 12 megapixels on the back. The front cameras differ in resolution: 8 megapixels for the Pixels, 5 megapixels for the S7 Edge and 7 megapixels for the iPhone 7.
But as I’ve said a million times and I’ll say a million times more: megapixels (aka resolution) aren’t everything. Having more megapixels doesn’t make a camera necessarily better. Resolution matters, but if it’s at the detriment of image quality and performance, what’s the point?
To me, the best phone camera has to be a few things:
Fast to autofocus and capture: Because you don’t want to miss a shot.
Produce realistic colors with wide dynamic range: Because reality is not a comic book
Produce sharp details with little image noise: Because details matter.
Take great low-light photos: Because we like the dark and we like photos in dark places.
The iPhone 7 checks off all of these. Its cameras and image quality are well balanced across the board. The iPhone 7 Plus also has a fancy dual-lens camera that gives it 2x optical zoom and a fancy Portrait mode. Samsung’s Galaxy S7/S7 Edge is better with low-light performance and the camera is faster to launch and autofocus, but it also saturates colors more.
The Pixel and Pixel XL’s cameras falls somewhere in-between the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7. They’re super fast. Images look incredibly crisp and have great dynamic range and low-light performance is damn good. So what’s not to like? I’m not a fan of the oversaturated colors, but that’s just me.
I left all camera settings on their defaults. In the past, I’ve always turned off HDR on all smartphone cameras before shooting with them, but I’ve now had to change that testing method since most people never bother to fiddle with them.
Not only that, but phones rely heavily on software processing to help produce the final photos. HDR+ is so vital to the Pixels’ final image quality that my reviewers guide actually warned me that turning it off would result in poorer-looking photos and slower camera performance. Yikes!
As such, all photos below were shot with HDR set to auto. I couldn’t tell you which ones actually had HDR on or off and I don’t really care because what you see is what the camera considered the best shot.
Way warmer tones
The Pixel cameras’ biggest weakness is color reproduction. Android is doing so much processing to the images that all the colors end up artificially pumped up and oversaturated. I’ve noticed it’s a common symptom that plagues most Android phones like the Galaxy S7 and LG G5 and OnePlus 3.
How is it that in 2016 no phone maker can match the iPhone’s realistic colors?
I personally don’t like the saturated colors. They don’t look real. Skies are always way too blue. Yellows are too deep. Reds all blend into each other. I’ll take photos with lifelike colors over saturated colors any day.
But if you’re into the boosted colors or crank up the saturation in post anyway, you’ll love the Pixel’s pictures.
Compare these two photos below. Just look at how much bluer the sky in the upper right corner is and how much more yellow the building is.
Here’s another example where the blues and yellows are dialed up on the Pixel:
Turning off HDR+ mutes the saturation to some extent, but not by much. And turning HDR+ off on the Pixels isn’t worth it since the camera start to lag a little.
Though most photos are way warmer than on the iPhone, sometimes the rear camera goes cooler for some reason. There just isn’t much consistency for white balance:
But, at least the dynamic range is wider on the Pixel XL. The details on the fountain grass (that’s the fuzzy plant) are softer on the Pixel XL compared to the iPhone 7, but look at how vibrant the purple leaves below it look. The same leaves in the iPhone 7 photo look totally dull in comparison.
Wider field of view
Compared with the iPhone 7, the Pixel XL’s camera has a wider field of view thanks to its wider angle lens.
In English, it means you can fit more into a photo. The Pixel XL’s wider angle lens makes it a more versatile camera for landscape photography.
It’s perfrect for taking photos of tall landscapes, like the Bank of America building below:
The Pixel XL and Galaxy S7 Edge have roughly the same wide field of view:
Both photos look pretty sharp on their respective phone displays. It’s only when you view them at 100% crops on a computer monitor that you can really see some of the differences in sharpness.
Honestly, the differences in sharpness are so minor, nobody but a nerd like me would care.
Here’s another comparison showing how much more the Pixel XL cameras can capture:
And another close-up crop showing the barely noitceable sharpness differences:
Strong selfie game
As for selfies, I think the Pixel XL does a better job than the iPhone 7:
My skin looks smoother and healthier in the Pixel XL selfie since it’s brighter:
Shoots well in low light
The Pixel XL performs quite good night shots. As expected, photos are a yellower than the iPhone 7:
You can click the below comparison to see how the Pixel XL stacks up against the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7 Edge:
Notice how the sky is more washed out on the Pixel XL photo and the Galaxy S7 Edge turns all the bricks on the building in the left red:
The Galaxy S7 Edge preserves sharper details of the Empire State Building, but the image noise is greater, too:
See that building just between the water tower and that skinny high-rise condominium on the upper right? The Pixel XL brings the green color out best, but the rest of the image is kind of a wash.
Impressive video stabilization
While the camera attention is almost always focused on still photography, the Pixel XL boasts impressive video recording capabilities. Like most smartphones, it records at up to 4K resolution.
That’s nothing special. What is crazy is how well the camera stabilizes video. Phones like the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7 rely on optical image stabilization (OIS) to compensate for shake in different directions, but the Pixels uses electronic image stabilization (EIS) to outstanding effect.
EIS is normally inferior to OIS, but not so on the Pixels. Through software even the shakiest footage appears smooth even smoother than the iPhone 7. Here’s a video stabilization comparison between the Pixel XL and iPhone 7 (both originally shot in 4K and then downsized to 1080p):
Best smartphone cameras ever?
I don’t think so, but they’re so damn close. The color saturation bothers me too much, but again, that’s personal preference. And that’s fine, too, because if you prefer the artificially amplified colors, then the Pixel cameras will be perfect to your eyes.
It feels like a total cop-out to say this, but we’ve reached a point where the differences outside of color reproduction between flagship phone cameras are so negligible that most people will be very happy with the image quality.
We’re all benefitting in the end. Android cameras have finally caught up to the iPhone with comparable performance and picture quality. Years of competition have pushed all phone makers to innovate harder and faster and now we’re all winning because we don’t have to look at crappy photos and videos.
First smartphone designed by Google from scratch ticks many boxes, but isnt quite the stellar world beater some might expect
Google has finally launched an own-brand smartphone, the Pixel, to challenge Apple head on and provide a premium Android experience with the hardware tailored to the software by the people who actually make it..
The new smartphone succeeds Googles Nexus line of devices and the company claims that the Pixel is now 100% Google, unlike the Nexus devices where Google provided the software and had some input into the devices but not total control. The Pixel phone joins the Pixel C Android tablet and Chromebook Pixel as Googles first in-house devices.
The verdict is out on Google Home: It’s awesome. (2:00) Not that I was expecting anything less.
At Google I/O in May, Google didn’t hide the fact that it was blindsided by the Amazon Echo. Home, as it was introduced, and re-introduced in October, wasn’t going to be revolutionary, but a catch-up.
As I wrote in my review, there are some things Home does that the Echo can’t and vice versa, but the built-in Google Assistant is already more intelligent than Alexa, and the gap is only going to widen as Google injects more smarts into it.
Of course, it’s still debatable if it’s creepy or not to put a physical Google in your home.
The other big hardware drop was, of course, the new MacBook Pro (20:26). Apple lent Lance the $1,500 model with regular function keys and no Touch Bar or Touch ID sensor to check out.
Lance thinks it’s a great value. I’m not sure on what planet a $1,500 laptop with only two USB-C ports, no SD card slot and last-generation processors is a great value. I still think nobody should buy the that model; buy a new MacBook, an old MacBook Air or the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, but not this model. It’s neither affordable nor high-end.
About the only thing we could agree on the MacBook Pro he reviewed was that it’s hot. Apple’s still got it when it comes to design.
To wrap up this week’s MashTalk, we chatted about emoji (36:36). Our Watercooler Content Coordinator Brian Koerber summed it up best when the news broke: Apple just ruined sexting.
Yep, the peach emoji now looks more realistic and more like a peach, much to the disappointment of the internet. And we got a new selfie and facepalm emoji, and many more.
You really don’t want to miss out on Nicole teaching Lance how the cool kids talk with emoji and Lance telling us how he just recently discovered the real meaning of the eggplant.
Don’t forget to leave your questions and comments by tweeting with the #MashTalk hashtag. We welcome all feedback.