Google believes that the next opportunity is building hardware and software together to empower artificial intelligence, an executive said at the event — a shift in strategy that aims directly at rival Apple.
They're in the hardware game for the long run, Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of hardware at Google, said at the event.
"Since I joined Google, one of the questions I get asked most often is, 'Why should we build hardware?'" Osterloh said. "We often joke that building hardware is, well, hard. People have strong emotional connections to the products they use every day. They are an important part of people's lives ... this is the right time to be focused on hardware and software."
The phones have smartphone cameras that were scored higher than the iPhone 7, according to third-party research cited by Google. It has a 12.3-megapixel rear-facing camera and big aperture, and comes along with software that selects from bursts of images and merges pictures in low light.
On the outside, it has a combination of aluminum and glass, an OLED display, a fingerprint sensor, a headphone jack and a USB-C charger. It's available in black, silver and blue.
Inside, it sports 32 GB or 128 GB of storage. The Pixel also charges up to seven hours of power within 15 minutes, installs software updates in the background and has live customer care built in.
In not-so-subtle terms, Sabrina Ellis, director of product management at Google, also demonstrated how to transfer over data from Apple's iOS to Pixel.
The Pixel is the first phone with the Google Assistant, Osterloh said, as the company prepares for an "AI-first world." The phone is also made for virtual reality.