Looks like Huawei isn’t the only one with its eye on the top.
Google came out swinging with its Pixel device launch on Tuesday, and its punching bag was smartphone rival Apple.
The tech giant’s new device is chock full of features, including two size options (a la Apple and Samsung’s flagship devices), an aluminum unibody in three color options, AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chip, a quad core processor, 4 GB of RAM, a fingerprint sensor, 32 GB and 128 GB memory options, an 8 mp front camera and a powerful 12.3 mp rear camera with image stabilization and quality low-light shooting. The phone also includes quick charge capabilities that give it the ability to achieve 7 hours of battery life on 15 minutes of charge.
Of course, the device is set up to run on Google’s latest Android Nougat operating system. But the Pixel also comes some other special Google features baked in, the flashiest of which are its new Assistant, compatibility with Google’s new Daydream View virtual reality headset and 24/7 customer care with a screen share option to resolve device issues.
But while the Pixel is undoubtedly a snappy device, the whole launch event felt less like it was intended to showcase the phone’s features than it was to mock Apple with its superiority.
Throughout the launch, Google repeatedly drew out comparisons to Apple’s iPhone – both explicitly and with snarky indirect (but totally direct) comments.
In a direct assault, Google boasted about how the Pixel’s camera received the highest ever smartphone score (89) from DxOMark and visually compared it with the iPhone 7’s score of 86 in a presentation slide.
But Google also gleefully lobbed shots at Apple in its launch subtext.
The company repeatedly touted the Pixel’s “satisfyingly not new” 3.5mm headphone jack feature – otherwise an unremarkable item – in what amounted to a direct call out of Apple’s decision to remove that feature from its latest iPhone device.
Google SVP of hardware Rick Osterloh also giggled as he pointed out the Pixel’s lack of an “unsightly camera bump.”
And Google wasn’t shy – so much as it was sly – about what it was hinting at with these comments.
The Pixel presentation also made it a point to show how ready it is to accommodate switchers from other operating systems (cough iOS cough) via its new Quick Switch Adapter.
Message received – even if Samsung might have been an easier target given its bungled Note 7 launch. But can Google really gain a foothold among Apple’s loyal following? Well…maybe.
In a flash poll of Wireless Week’s iPhone-wielding Twitter followers after the launch, 43 percent said they’d abandon ship with Apple in favor of the Pixel, while 35 percent said they were tempted but not sure. Just 22 percent said they’d stick with iPhone forever.
Here it’s important to note that the survey only included a handful of responses – in fact, a total of 23 as of this writing. So granted that’s an absolutely miniscule sampling (negligible, really) in the massive scheme of the global smartphone market, but I smell a rivalry brewing. The only question now is whether Google can really gather enough consumer support behind it to pull it off.