No Surprises at Google Product Launch

Posted on October 4, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Hardware, Mobile, Music + Videos with 46 Comments

No Surprises at Google Product Launch

As expected, Google launched its new Pixel phones, Daydream VR, Chromecast Ultra, Google Wi-Fi, and Google Home products at a press conference today. But as noted previously, details about each had previously leaked.

I had hoped to see Google discuss the future of its Android and Chrome OS platforms and the expected merger of both into a more coherent, single platform. But I guess that will have to wait. So here’s a quick rundown of what was announced, with the most important info we were missing: Pricing and availability.


As expected, Google is replacing its Nexus lineup of smartphones with a new Pixel-branded lineup, but they map very closely to last year’s devices. The 5-inch Pixel starts at $649, which is about $200 more than I’d like to see, and comparable 5.5-inch Pixel handsets will carry a $120 premium.

There are three color options, each with a terrible name—Very Silver, Quite Black, and Really Blue (which is a limited edition)—and two storage configurations, 32 GB and 128 GB (which adds $100 to the price). So… a maxed out Pixel XL will set you back $869. Yikes.

The good news? You can get two-year, 0% APR financing from Google directly, or via Project Fi. Cases are coming, but they’re not available yet.

I’ve ordered a 32 GB Pixel XL and it is set for a late October delivery. Based on past Nexus experiences, I suspect you’re looking at November, at the earliest, by the time you read this.

Daydream VR

Google’s mobile and easy-to-use VR solution looks like a more elegant version of Cardboard, but it also comes with an Apple TV-like controller that should make it far more interactive. Pricing is reasonable at $79 but availability is unclear. Right now there is a waiting list. Which I am on: I’ll be getting one.

Chromecast Ultra

As promised, Chromecast Ultra will deliver 4K/HDR streaming capabilities for just $69. The bad news? There’s a waiting list. The good news? Google Play Movies & TV is adding 4K content in November. (Yes, I’m on this waiting list too. I can’t wait to snag one of these.)

Google Wi-Fi

Google’s new Wi-Fi router system costs just $129, which is reasonable, or $299 for a three-pack that should cover most homes effectively. That’s interesting, but as with many of the other products, there’s a waiting list. I will not be getting one of these.

Google Home

Google Home costs just $129 and is available for order now, with the first units arriving in November. (I did order one.) You can also try and match your home decor with one of several colored bases, which start at $29 but are not available for order yet.


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Comments (52)

52 responses to “No Surprises at Google Product Launch”

  1. 206

    I was interested until the price...

    • 5172

      In reply to EnterMegatron99:

      Same here.  My 32GB Nexus 5 was in some ways flagship level when it came out (CPU, display, OS) and cost, I think, £329 plus postage.  I bought it because I wanted "pure Google" but didn't mind the ways in which it had cut corners.

      THREE years on, its successor is very nearly DOUBLE that price, although it has less compromises (although the battery looks pretty rubbish).

      The idea of Nexus was to bring "pure Google" to the people (and to developers).  Now theyr'e just taking it to the daft iPhone owners who spend too much on phones.

      I held off buying a Oneplus 3 until I saw the Google phones - now I'll be going to get one.

    • 1523

      In reply to EnterMegatron99:

      Really? Every cell phone carrier is going to the same model. It is not expensive in the long run. Pay the monthly fee and own a great phone. Way more innovative than a company that simple makes screen size changes.

  2. 1792

    Apple used to be the most expensive mobile phone you can buy. The price seems huge. Just looked at the UK price - about twice as much as a Lumia 950, OnePlus 3, and Nexus 6p (on Ebay today).

    Amazingly high.

  3. 442

    Yep, priced a bit too high.  They should have undercut Apple by at least $100 per device type.  Also, still no wireless charging.  But hey, it's got a headphone jack!  Eh-hem....   I will say the VR, Chromecast ultra and Google Home things look very nice.  Google seems to be understanding the truly connected home a bit better than others right now.  Should be interesting to see the involvement from 3rd party going forward.

    • 1139

      In reply to Narg:

      Yeah, I find it funny they were quick to point out there's no camera bump and there is a headphone jack...but that makes the phone a lot thicker than the iPhone 7. With the same cost as the iPhone and a lackluster design it's not interesting. I agree completely about the price cut making the device appealing.

    • 430

      In reply to Narg:

      So bummed about the lack of wireless charging...  I don't know why someone besides Samsung can't put all of the pieces together from a feature perspective.  I was seriously considering picking one up vs a (non-exploding) Note 7, but to gain the purest "Google" experience, I'd be losing a lot in the way of functionality (wireless charging, waterproofing, SD support, Samsung Pay, S-Pen).  I realize these are first-world problems, but if you're going to charge a first-world price, you need to deliver on all fronts.

    • 217

      In reply to Narg:

      Meh - we'll see how "open" Home really is

  4. 1759

    I just got an email from the OnHub team that says the new product will work with OnHub. That's pretty sweet.

    From the email:
    OnHub is getting a friend
    We love things that simply work together, so we built Google Wifi to work seamlessly with your OnHub.

  5. 217

    What an epic failure for the Pixel. Priced WAY too high, it will fall flat on its face when compared to the iPhone and the Note 7. 


    I ordered a OnePlus 3 and don't regret it. I had a feeling today was going to be a total letdown.

  6. 5511

    Wow, that is one pedestrian looking phone. Looks like a cheap $50 throw away phone. And there is no info about the screen resolution on the google site.

  7. 5486

    Pixel's sound great, but they're just too expensive. Google are heading out on a risky path by moving up the food chain. The Nexus devices offered a very good all round feature set for a sensible price, and were hugely popular because of it. Could they not offer a two-tier platform now - Nexus for the mid-range and Pixel for the high end? Makes sense to me.

  8. 5510

    I just ordered all of them.

    This is a complete digital "life" ecosystem, that not even Apple (and of course Microsoft) can't and hasn't offered. This is one step closer to having your house be something similar to the USS Enterprise. It wouldn't surprise, if Google will invent the food replicator. The Wifi seems amazing. Not just for the coverage, but the easy access to control and it's multipurpose usefulness. 

    The phone is pricey, but since Google claims that the marriage between Android and hardware will be just as close as iPhone to iOS, it will be worth it, since Google is calling all the shots. Also given the fact that no company better handles user data than Google (with full transparency and control) and the unlimited photos and videos at the highest unbeatable. The evoluton of Google NOW to The Assistant is exciting. 

    This complete ecosystem #madebygoogle is a lifestyle gamechanger, that is completely controlled by the user. The purpose of technology is to get technology to work for the user with little to no effort. 

    To quote Paul Thurrott, "this is what winning looks like."

  9. 1523

    It is not clear on their site if the unlocked phone will work on ATT's network. Has anyone used ProjectFi?

  10. 5641

    I always approach google with a view that they are tring to advertise their clients products to you so I'm wondering if there is any details about whether they will store a voice print with your google profile? I haven't seen the T&C's yet. Would be prety interesting how far their machine learning is coming on and whether they could recognise you in a room of other people.

  11. 5172

    I'm so disappointed at the price.

    I was a big fan of nexus devices but they've just left me behind with this.  In the UK, with the exchange rate, it's out of the question. One plus 3 looking good at half the price.

    The battery looks like it could be inadequate too.

  12. 5496

    Where were their tablets.

    Not being able to access Google WiFi without an app, and using ethernet, is just plain stupid.

  13. 433

    Does anybody know if the Pixel devices will be available directlyy from carriers? I'm a T-Mobile customer and while I would be willing, I would rather not pay $700+ for a handset right off the bat.

  14. 1286

    Google just basically admitted that they CANNOT and WILL NOT battle the One Plus/Axons and Low cost Android phones in the market. They have given this up and have ended the Nexus line. THis is 100% transparent to me. They could sell less Pixels and make more money and at the same time not undercut their partners. Seems brilliant to me

  15. 313

    I would have already ordered a Google Home if it was available in Canada.


    What I'm most interested in out of this are things we won't find out about today: what parts of the software things google announced are part of Android 7.1 proper, and what will be exclusive to the Pixel phones.  I'm super happy with my 6P and wont' be replacing it, so I'm really interested to see how much of the new stuff will actually make it down to my device.

  16. 2611

    Not sure who the target market is for the Pixel phones.  They offer nothing new for mainstream iPhone/Galaxy customers.  Developers who need the latest android release can stick with 2015 Nexi for another year.  Value customers have compelling $400 and less options.

    At Pixel prices I would have at least expected better water resistence.  IP53.

    • 217

      In reply to ben55124:

      It's fine if you go after iPhone and Galaxy and Note customers, but thre's no way they can compete. Stock Android plus the nice little add-ons they showed off won't be enough to sway people away from Apple/Samsung. Even their hardcore fan base will reject these. These won't sell, it's a failure all around

    • 399

      In reply to ben55124:

      The target market? People who want a flagship class Android device that doesn't explode.

      Joking aside, I think it's aimed squarely at people who buy Galaxy S devices.

      • 412

        In reply to maethorechannen:

        I can agree with that as I am a happy Note 7 (replaced model) owner but tempted by this, especially since I can get it via Verizon (work pays for phone needs.) I honestly do like the function of the S-Pen and while I have gone to Arrow Launcher, pure Android with regular updates are appealing. 

    • 5172

      In reply to ben55124:

      I think its fine that they're going after Galaxy S/iPhone owners, but they've left the Nexus people behind.

      Don't they have room to do "pure Google" further down the price table than this?  Seems a shame, I think they're making a mistake.

  17. 268

    Ordered a Pixel XL for me, and my wife ordered one too. I grabbed two of the Google Home units as well - they should nicely replace my original Echo and Echo Dot. The Google Home ones have more functionality as they will add voice command to control all of our Chromecast audio and Chromecast devices (which will be great). Have to see how the Google Home does with multiple accounts though. They (meaning all of the vendors) always screw this up. With four people in the house all with an Android phone and their own Google accounts - I wonder how this one will do? (Amazon Echo never really handled it well). When I say "add a router to my shopping list" where will it go? In the demo it looked like it wen to Google Keep (which is where I have my list now and it is shared with the family). I am interested to play with how these gizmos will work in a real house with multiple users and accounts...

    • 5195

      In reply to JerryH:

      Multiple accounts is a big thing to me, too. My wife and I are jumping the WP ship to Android. It is likely we'll be getting a Pixel version for both of us. If we get home and I ask it to do something from my pictures/videos/etc. Am i going to get my pictures or her pictures etc. She does not use any other services besides netflix etc. So I'm not worried there... but in the future that could change. Google Home has to handle multiple accounts and even, perhaps, have some sort of pass code gate keeping on some content.

      Bottom line, I want all the things presented today. The question is how much has the price kept me from doing that. I probably won't get a 128 version of the phones.... those things are expensive. I will definitely pickup the WiFi offering as I was close to going ubitquiti (spellcheck) anyway. Google Home looks cool. I may get one for my office... but for me to really go all in, the multi account thing must be tested. The VR stuff is just meh to me.

      I do wish there was a 5x style pixel phone to go along. Lower cost, lower spec's, hit that mid-market itch. I'd like to get my sons a pixel phone, but at that price they'll stick with their Kindle Fires.

      • 5172

        In reply to brianforllp:

        Yes exactly.  The price is stopping me getting a Pixel, which in turn is stopping me being so excited about all the latest Google stuff.  The mid-price budget flagship Nexus range was crucial for that.  I had a 4, 5 and original 7 and loved them all.

  18. 5519

    Pixel is too expensive.  If I have to pay Iphone prices then I would buy an Iphone.

    • 5486

      In reply to Pbike908:

      It's not just about that. Generally, you're either in camp iOS or camp Android. Saying you'd buy an iPhone just because the Pixel is a comparable price is just silly. I'd never switch to Apple (ever) no matter what price Google sell's their handsets for - there's still plenty of other choice in the Android world.

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