On Tuesday, Android reference hardware got its latest models. With an introduction from Google CEO Sundar Pichai, the company announced two phones and a tablet, all running Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
Left to right: Pixel C, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Chromecast, Chromecast Audio
The Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P smartphones are available for pre-order now, with shipments starting in a few weeks. The Pixel C tablet arrives before the end of the year.
In addition, new Chromecast and Chromecast Audio devices are shipping immediately.
Google took some heat last year when its Nexus 6 was priced more in line with high-end Android handsets than with the budget-friendly Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 models. They’ve shaved some dollars back down in 2015, with the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P starting at $379 and $499, respectively.
Though the two phones are different sizes and come from two different manufacturers, they share many features. Both include a Nexus Imprint sensor on the back, reflecting the fingerprint recognition built into Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Android Sensor Hub offloads processing of accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, and other sensors from the CPU to save power. One more similarity: a USB Type-C port for fast charging and data transfer.
Both smartphones also have the same rear camera: a 12.3-megapixel sensor with (comparatively) large 1.55-micron pixels, an f/2.0 aperture lens, infrared laser-assisted autofocus, and 4K video capture. In exchange for the bigger sensor, however, Google opted not to include optical image stabilization.
Developers will be able to access the fingerprint sensor as well as Google Now voice interaction within their own apps. Google Now On Tap enables context-sensitive refinement of voice commands for Android Marshmallow devices.
The Nexus 5X, built by LG, has a 5.2-inch display and the same 1920x1080 resolution as the Nexus 5. Its RAM is the same too, at 2GB, but the processor has been upgraded to a 1.8GHz hexa-core 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 plus an Adreno 418 GPU.
The Nexus 6P, from Huawei, features a smaller display than the Nexus 6, at 5.7 inches and 2560x1440 resolution. Its CPU is a 2.0GHz octa-core 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1 with an Adreno 430 GPU. It also has the same amount of RAM as its predecessor, 3GB.
Not much was revealed about Google’s latest tablet, other than its price ($499 to start), its screen size (10.2 inches), and its USB-C port. More attention was focused on its $149 keyboard accessory.
Unlike the Type Covers for Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 or the Smart Keyboard for Apple’s iPad Pro, the Pixel C keyboard doesn’t rely on a kickstand for holding the screen up. Rather, the angle adjusts continuously like any laptop. The keyboard is inductively charged by the tablet and attaches magnetically to either the front or back to protect the screen or get out of the way.
Developers can also build Chromecast support into their apps, and new hardware supports faster streaming and audio systems.
Plain old Chromecast now comes in three colors, has a small HDMI cable for adjusting the placement of the device, and supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi bands. Its network connectivity is supposed to be more stable and quick than the previous generation as well as most other streaming sticks and boxes.
Chromecast Audio connects to the auxiliary input jack of your home stereo or speakers. Multiple Audio devices can be synchronized between rooms and sound systems.
Both Chromecast devices are $35 each.
How will you take advantage of the features on the latest Android Nexus and Pixel hardware? Let us know in the comments!
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