Google combats Apple with new 'convertible' tablet and more

Google combats Apple with new 'convertible' tablet and more

DETACHABLE: The Pixel C features an optional keyboard that doubles as a cover and connects magnetically


    Oct 01, 2015

    Google combats Apple with new 'convertible' tablet and more


    GOOGLE fired back at Apple on Tuesday with a pair of new smartphones, a "convertible" tablet and other gadgetry ahead of the year-end holiday shopping season.

    The California tech giant unveiled two new Nexus smartphones with enhanced features including fingerprint sensors and improved cameras aimed at the high end of the market dominated by Apple and Samsung.

    Google said it was partnering with South Korea's LG for its 5.2-inch screen Nexus 5X, and with China's Huawei for its "phablet" sized 5.7-inch Nexus 6P.

    The 5X has a 1,920 x 1,080 pixels full HD LCD screen with a pixel density of 423 pixels per inch (ppi). The 6P has a sharper 2,560 x 1,440 pixel quad HD Amoled display with a pixel density of 518ppi.

    This means the new Nexus phones' screens are sharper than Apple's recently launched iPhone 6s (326ppi) and 6s Plus (401ppi).

    Both Nexus handsets will be sold unlocked, with Google hoping to capitalise on a trend in the United States and other markets, away from smartphone subsidies as part of long-term contracts.

    "We care about making sure there are affordable, high quality smartphones for users around the world," said Sundar Pichai, the Google product chief, who is slated to head the company's largest unit under a reorganisation announced earlier this year.

    The phones, which aim to showcase the Google Android operating system, were available for ordering in the US, Britain, Japan and Ireland, with more countries to be added next week, Google said as it unveiled the phones at a San Francisco media event.

    The Nexus 5X starts at US$379 (S$539) for the 16GB model in the US and the 6P starts at US$499 for the 32GB model.

    The devices will feature the new Android operating system known as Marshmallow, which allows for fingerprint sensors for unlocking and helps authorise purchases made through Android Pay, the one-touch payment app on Android devices that competes with Apple Pay.

    Marshmallow will be available to existing Nexus customers from next week.

    The phones are priced below the premium devices from Apple, such as the new 4.7-inch iPhone 6s (US$649, 16GB) and 5.5-inch 6s Plus (US$749, 16GB), and similar offerings from Samsung, which also run on Android.

    With the Nexus-branded devices, Google is able to control much of the hardware and software in a manner similar to Apple, which has its own operating system.

    "We try to push the next generation of computing forward; to do that we build hardware," Mr Pichai said of Google making its own branded devices.

    The new software allows for a voice-commanded Now On Tap virtual assistant to be summoned by holding down the home screen button.

    Google makes Android mobile software available free to device makers, but created its Nexus line to showcase the capabilities of the operating system.

    While Android is used on some 80 per cent of smartphones worldwide, many devices use older versions of the software with carriers often slow to release upgrades.


    The Pixel C is the first tablet built ground-up by Google and is seen as an alternative to the iPad Pro, unveiled earlier this month, and Microsoft's Surface, both of which have detachable keyboard covers.

    The "C" in the name stands for "convertible" because it features an optional keyboard that doubles as a cover and connects magnetically for laptop-computer style use.

    "We think the Pixel C tablet and keyboard experience really unlocks ways to play and be productive across one device," Google's Andrew Bowers said while showing off the new hardware.

    The Pixel C tablet will be available in time for the year-end holidays, at a starting price of US$499 for the 32GB model with the keyboard priced at US$149, according to Google.

    Gartner analyst Werner Goertz saw the new Google offerings as aimed mostly at the consumer market, and playing catch-up with devices launched by rivals.

    "The major innovation was around the Pixel," the analyst said after the presentation.

    "Everything else was pretty much catch-up. I was hoping for a little more disruption."