Google's $649 5" Pixel 2, $849 6" Pixel 2 XL smartphones want to be your main squeeze, without a headphone jack
Google's second-generation Pixel smartphones, geared to compete with Apple's iPhone 8 and iPhone X, boast a new squeeze feature, where users can invoke the handset's assistant by applying pressure to the handset's bezels. And in a growing trend established by Apple's iPhone 7, the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL do not have a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack.
Unlike Apple's iPhone 8 lineup, both the 5-inch Pixel 2 and the 6-inch Pixel 2 XL boast the same features in each model.
"We don't set aside better features for the larger device," said Google VP Mario Queiroz in a clear dig at Apple, earning laughter and applause from the audience at Wednesday's keynote.
Preorders start today, and for a limited time each Pixel 2 purchase will come with a free Google Home Mini, priced at $49.
Squeezing the phone, in a motion known as "Active Edge," now invokes the assistant. In an onstage demo, Google showed how a user could simply squeeze the phone and then speak to it to take a selfie, allowing the task to be accomplished by using just one hand.
In another stab at Apple, Google bragged that its own "portrait mode" on the Pixel 2 accomplishes a similar effect — with a higher score of 98 from DxO — with just one camera lens, unlike the two lenses on the iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus. Apple's smaller iPhone 8 and its single-lens camera not have Portrait Mode.
Google also showcased how both hardware and software optical image stabilization offers much smoother images with less motion blur. In a demonstration, footage of a person on a motorcycle was smoothed greatly from the original, unfixed capture.
A portion of Wednesday's unveiling also focused on new augmented reality tools capable with the Pixel 2 lineup — a clear response to Apple's own ARKit, which launched for iPhone and iPad last month on iOS 11.
The handset features an "exclusive preview" of Google Lens, which recognizes objects and places in images and automatically returns search results.
In another demo, Google showed how the new phone will constantly listen for music to let users quickly see what is being played. Notably, the song is recognized through on-device machine learning, as Google says no data needs to be transferred back to the company for this to be accomplished.
Such information is shown through an always-on display in a low-power mode.
On the back, the Google Pixel 2 also has a centered fingerprint reader. Apple continues to offer Touch ID on the home button on the front of the iPhone 8, while Face ID will supplant the fingerprint reader on the iPhone X.