About Google Pixel deals
By Dan Howdle | Monday, November 4th 2019
In this guide
- What are Google Pixel phones?
- What models are available?
- Google Pixel 4 features
- 5G phones
- Frequently asked questions
Google release its first Pixel phone relatively recently in October 2016. Since then we are already on our fourth generation of Pixel phones, with the Pixel 4 and 4 XL. Google is by all intents working hard to gain momentum for its brand.
So far, most notably, Google Pixel phones have won notoriety for their excellent photos, combining superb cameras with excellent picture processing software. As far as high-end handsets go, Google Pixel also won't break the bank compared to the top models from Apple and Samsung. Here's everything you need to know.
What are Google Pixel phones?
Every October/November for the last four years, Google has launched a new, numbered addition to its range of Pixel phones. Google Pixel phones run on the Android operating system (also a Google product), and have since their inception used their market-leading cameras as their main selling point over and above the competition.
It's fair to say, though, that for the most part, Apple, Samsung and others have made huge leaps with their own cameras, leaving this year's Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL with little if any superiority remaining in this respect.
What Google Pixel models are available?
Although this year's Google Pixel 4 is now available, its predecessors – all of them – are still very viable smartphones. Google phones have only been around for three years at the time of writing, and that's simply not long enough for any of them to be considered beyond their sell-by date. It's worth, then, taking a moment for a little recap of the Google Pixel series thus far as regards specifications and features.
- Google Pixel and Pixel XL – Released in October of 2016 – really not long ago when you think about it – the original Google Pixel and its larger brother the Google Pixel came with a 5.0" and 5.5" AMOLED display with resolutions of 1080x1920 (full HD) and 1440x2560 respectively. Both models had 4GB RAM and options for 64GB and 128GB storage. Processing was taken care of by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, and the 12.3 megapixel rear camera came with IR laser-assisted autofocus and optical image stabilisation
- Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL – Released in October of 2017, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL again offered two different sizes of display, with Google maintaining the 5", full-HD AMOLED display of the original Pixel for the Pixel 2, but upgrading to a P-OLED display of 6" (up from 5.5" in the original Pixel), and a resolution of 1440x2880 for the Pixel 2 XL. Both models again had 4GB RAM, this time powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. The cameras on both models clocked in at 12.2 megapixels with similar features as the original Pixel
- Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL – Released in October of 2018, the Google Pixel 3 offers yet more incremental upgrades. Both the screens of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are OLED, with minor upgrades in resolution over previous models (2160x1080 and 2960x1440 respectively). These phones are getting bigger too, with the base Pixel 3 now weighing in at 5.5" diagonal and the XL a hefty 6.3" visible screen. Both models are now powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, again arriving with 4GB RAM and options of 64GB or 128GB storage. Cameras are specced similarly to the previous year's model, but there are now two front facing cameras
- Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL – Released some 7 months after the Google Pixel 3, the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are cheaper, down-specced versions of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. You'll get slightly less impressive screens, a slightly smaller screen on the 3a XL than the full Pixel 3 XL version . Slightly slower processor and so on. The idea here was to offer something with most of the functionality of the Pixel 3, but at reduced cost
- Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL – Released in October of 2019 (at the time of writing, that was this week), the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL offer more incremental upgrades in just about every respect. Screen size is even larger on the base Pixel 4 model than on the base Pixel 3 (5.7" compared to 5.5") while the Pixel 4 XL maintains the previous size of 6.3". Both run on the even-faster Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, with a 50% upgrade in memory on both models – 6GB compared 2 4GB. Storage is still either 64GB or 128GB, which has been a point of criticism on this phone, with competitors offering substantially more storage should you have a wallet fat enough to pay for it. There are now two front and two rear cameras with the latter offering telephoto capabilities
Google Pixel 4 and Google Pixel 4 XL features
Of course, you can still pick up an original Google Pixel phone, but this year it's all about the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. Here, then, let's take a little look at the features Google itself sees most fit to crow about.
- Improved cameras and software – As well as an additional 2x telephoto lens, the Google Pixel 4 also adds a number of new tricks on the software side, which allow the camera to pull off something called 'Super Res Zoom'. Unlike recent competitors like the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL do not come with a wide angle lens
- Night sight – Not a new feature for the Pixel 4, but nevertheless one that Google continues to improve. Take decent photos at night, basically, but without the need for a colour-stomping flash
- Stellar photography – Is Google clutching at straws here? Maybe a bit. This feature allows you to take photos of the night sky. The camera will take several shots back to back on a one-second exposure, then use software trickery to compile them into starscapes
- New Google Assistant – Pixel 4 has an updated version of the Google Assistant software, which allows for voice control, and can now be activated by squeezing the phone. What could possibly go wrong?
- Radar for gesture control – This new tech, built into the 'forehead' portion of the handset alongside the front-facing cameras, detects movement around the phone and allows you to control the app with hand gestures without touching the phone itself. No, we don't understand why anyone would need that either
- Face unlock – For the first time in a main-series Google Pixel phone, you can now unlock it by pointing it at your face. You could do this on the Google Pixel 3a released earlier in the year, but not on the Google Pixel 3
Google Pixel 5G phones
5G is the latest mobile data networking technology which promises upload and download speeds many times that offered by 4G. Some phone manufacturers such as Samsung and Oppo have been quick to the punch in offering 5G-capable versions of their latest phones, but not so with Google.
You won't find 5G compatibility in either the Google Pixel 4 or the Pixel 4 XL. Google's reasoning for this is that it feels that now is simply not yet the time for 5G. Though rollout of 5G continues apace in developed nations around the world, there remain no compelling reasons for users to want or need it. The lack of availability and potentially slow take-up mean that the manufacture of a special 5G edition of the Pixel 4 would likely cost Google more money than it could make. Apple is in the same position on this, shocking many with the revelation that it would not support 5G in its latest iPhone released earlier this year.
Which providers offer Google Pixel deals?
Unlike Apple's new iPhones and Samsung's new Galaxy phones, Google Pixel phones are a little more boutique, a little less common. You won't, in fact, be able to get a handset deal on a Google Pixel of any kind from BT Mobile, Sky Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Plusnet Mobile, ASDA Mobile, VOXI or SMARTY. You'll be able to get a Google Pixel 3 or 3a from giffgaff, but the provider is showing no signs of providing anyone a Google Pixel 4.
What we're left with, then, are the four actual network providers, and Carphone Warehouse own-brand provider iD Mobile. This still means you can get this phone on any network, but that you're in large part limited to the network providers themselves.
- EE – Offers the Google Pixel phones, but going only as far back as the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. It has a wide range of plans to go with your purchase, including flexible benefits and unlimited data, so long as you're prepared to pay for it
- iD Mobile – Is the in-house brand for the Carphone Warehouse and operates on the Three network. Like EE above, it offers Google Pixel phones from the latest Pixel 4s, going as far back as last year's Pixel 3 series, again offering a wide variety of plans to go along with them
- O2 – Currently, at the time of writing (during the week of the Pixel 4's release), O2 is yet to advertise its Google Pixel 4 deals. However, since it is listing deals on other Pixel phones, it will only be a matter of time
- Three – Offers all kids of deals on Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, including some with unlimited data. Older Pixel phones are only represented in the form of the Google Pixel 3 XL, of which presumably Three has left over stock
- Vodafone – Offers Google Pixel 3, 3a, Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL phones on a wide variety of tariffs
Alternative phone brands
Google Pixel phones don't quite occupy the very tip-top of the market – not in terms of raw expense at the very least. More, they might be described as upper-midrange phones. If you’re not completely sold on getting a Google Pixel phone, these are the brands that we’d consider to be genuine alternatives.
- Apple – The iPhone 11 (not the Pro) is priced similarly to the Pixel 4. It is, in our opinion, a better phone in some respects. However, iPhone means you'll be tied into the iOS operating system. If you've historically had Android phones, this means you will no longer have access to your apps, and that makes Apple's iPhones a decent alternative with certain conditions
- Samsung – Samsung's Galaxy range of Android phones are a little more expensive than Google Pixel at the top end, but boy they are truly great phones. Feature-packed, great screens, fast, reliable and easy to use. They may not wield the quite the same photographic prowess as either the Pixel 4 or the iPhone 11, but on all other fronts, these are widely regarded as among the best phones in existence
- Sony – A top end, Sony Xperia phones will cost you similar money to Google Pixel phones. We're not all that enamoured with Sony phones here at Cable.co.uk, mainly because we feel there are better options for the money. However, those of you who are brand loyal may consider the name more important than other considerations
- OnePlus – Is a Chinese manufacturer whose aim is to offer you top-specced handsets for less money. To that end, the OnePlus 7 Pro is similarly priced to the Google Pixel 4, but equals or betters its specifications, in some cases by a large margin. For example, you'll get 8GB RAM and 256GB storage on the OnePlus for the same money you'd get 6GB RAM and 64GB storage on the Google Pixel 4
Frequently asked questions
What is Google Pixel?
Google Pixel phones are Android smartphones made by search giant Google. The first Google Pixel phone was launched in 2016, with heavy emphasis on its superior photography. Upgrades have been annual and incremental, with this year's Google Pixel 4 and larger Google Pixel 4 XL giving current competitors such as iPhone 11 and Galaxy S10 a good run for their money.
Are Google Pixel phones any good?
As a general answer, yes. Form a part of the upper mid-range of phones, Google Pixel phones strike a nice balance between features and price. There are better phones in many respects, but arguably, there are no better phones for the same money.
Can I connect Google Pixel phones to my TV?
Yes. Every Google Pixel phone from the original Pixel onwards allows you to cast your phone's display onto your TV, monitor, projector or whatever. However, your TV will need to support Chromecast. If it doesn't, you can buy a Chromecast stick to plug into one of your spare HDMI ports.
Can I get Google Pixel phones SIM-free?
Yes. All of the providers of Google Pixel phones outlined in this article will sell you a Pixel Phone outright, if you so desire. You can also purchase one both directly from Google, or from online electronics retailers such as Amazon, Currys and PC World.
Can I buy refurbished Google Pixel phones?
Unlike older iPhones, older, refurbished Google Pixel phones are harder to get hold of. None of the four UK network providers are currently advertising refurbed Pixel phones, and you may have better luck if you're looking to save by buying second hand, by scanning eBay, Gumtree and other such outlets.
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