Google unveiled cheaper Pixel smartphones after the company’s line of premium handsets failed to sell in large numbers.
Slower processors and cheaper materials helped Google price the Pixel 3a with a 5.6-inch screen at $399. The larger Pixel 3a XL has a 6-inch screen and costs $479.
That’s roughly half the price of the company’s existing Pixel phones, before recent discounts.
The search giant announced the new phones at its I/O conference in Mountain View, California, after previewing the devices to Bloomberg News a week earlier at its headquarters. This is the latest effort by the Alphabet Inc unit to jump-start a consumer hardware business that has struggled to compete with industry giants Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co.
Google unveiled a slew of other new technology, including updates to its digital assistant, increased privacy controls and a new smart speaker.
The event was also disrupted by an airplane flying over
the outdoor amphitheater to protest the company’s impact on local news. The launch of the 3a line comes days after Alphabet Chief Financial Officer
Ruth Porat told Wall Street analysts that the premium Pixel handsets didn’t sell well in the first quarter.
Google executive Brian Rakowski said the cheaper devices are designed to fill in for people left behind by the rising price of many high-end phones. “We can adapt, and this is a good example,” he added.
The 3a and 3a XL displays aren’t as advanced as those on the high-end Pixel smartphones. But in a test, the screens weren’t noticeably inferior. They look nearly identical to the current Pixel 3 line, save for a few key differences:
The new phones have a poly-carbonate back instead of glass or metal. The handsets lack wireless charging. The main processor is a slightly slower Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor. They have 64 gigabytes (GB) of storage, but lack the 128 gigabyte option of the more-expensive models. There’s one camera on the front instead of two, which means Group Selfie mode isn’t available on these devices. The Pixel Visual Core, a Google chip for processing photos, is missing.
Google unveils Nest Hub Max with larger screen, video chat
Google unveiled a new smart speaker with a larger screen, better sound and video calling, part of a broader push to get its digital assistant into more homes.
The internet giant showed off the $229 Nest Hub Max at its I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California. The new device has a 10-inch screen, up from the smaller version’s 7-inch display. The new model also adds a high-resolution front-facing camera that can be used for video calls and as a Nest security camera.
Google is naming the device under its Nest brand
several months after the company folded the smart-home unit into the company’s larger hardware division. The smaller model of Google’s smart speaker with a display, currently priced at $129, is being renamed the Google Nest Hub. It was previously called the Google Home Hub.