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Rita El Khoury / Android Authority
If you asked me eight months ago where I pictured the Pixel Watch would be by now, I’d have named dozens and dozens of updates and new features I wanted, on top of obvious additions like more watch faces. Alas, the first six months of the watch’s existence were pretty boring, update-wise, so much so that I started wondering if Google had abandoned the project soon after it launched it. Hey, all we got was fall detection plus a couple of random features for six months!
But the pace of Pixel Watch updates was greatly accelerated about a month ago. We started seeing new apps and functions as well as better third-party developer support, until it all culminated with an important quarterly feature drop in June. All of this may be a bit late for Google’s first-gen smartwatch, but it’s getting me hyped up for the Pixel Watch 2.
Updated health and activity tracking on the Pixel Watch
We were all baffled when the Pixel Watch launched with a deactivated SpO2 sensor. The latest update has finally activated it and now my watch tracks my oxygen saturation at night and shows me the result every day for extra peace of mind.
High and low heart rate warnings also made it to the Pixel Watch with the latest feature drop, though I haven’t seen any of them yet — I suppose that’s a good thing! I hope I never need that feature, but at least I know the watch will ping me should things go haywire at some point for no reason.
Google also supposedly added automatic detection for pauses and resuming during exercise tracking, but that didn’t work during my outdoor walk last Saturday. I waited a couple of minutes for the watch to catch up and realize I’d sat down and when it didn’t, I manually paused tracking. It didn’t automatically resume when I got back up and finished my walk, so I had to manually trigger it too. The reason, I later discovered, is that you have to manually enable Auto Pause in the Exercise app on the watch, for each exercise type.
New and essential health and activity tracking features have finally made it to the Pixel Watch.
Now that I’ve turned this option on, I’m excited about it. I’ve taken a few hikes and outdoor walks and often forgotten to pause tracking during rests, which consumes battery and messes up the stats. Or worse, I forgot to resume after pausing. I’d still like the Pixel Watch to automatically recognize and live-track exercises like other Fitbit trackers, but this is a step in the right direction.
… but things are on the right path for the Pixel Watch 2
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority
If recent rumors are to be believed, the Pixel Watch 2 would launch alongside the upcoming Pixel 8 and 8 Pro in October and will feature an upgraded Snapdragon W5 series chip. Unlike the current Exynos processor, the W5 series is built specifically for smartwatches and promises to improve performance and — most importantly — battery life. That’s the biggest letdown we mentioned in our Pixel Watch review so I’d count it as a win if the second-generation watch can reach two days with always-on activated and a little more with it off.
Maybe it’s a little too late for the first Pixel Watch, but things are looking up for the Pixel Watch 2.
Additionally, Wear OS 4 is supposedly coming later this year with Material You colors and an easier backup and reset process for smartwatches. Add this to all of the features that have already been implemented and the Pixel Watch 2 is certainly looking more enticing than Google’s first effort. Ideally, I’d also like a larger size option, automatic live exercise tracking, and a temperature sensor for better female health tracking, but the glacial pace of updates is forcing me to temper my expectations.
Even though Samsung and Apple are still far ahead, I can’t use either of their watches because I’ve been wearing a Fitbit for the last decade and all my data is there. The Pixel Watch is my only option. I’d really like to see it succeed, and after months of questioning, I’m happy to see things move in the right direction.
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Pixel 4a leak details all the specs – and what’s missing
The Google Pixel 4a leaks aren’t stopping, and just because the midrange smartphone’s launch was scuppered by I/O 2023 being canceled, it doesn’t mean we don’t know exactly what to expect at this point. A cheaper iteration on the Pixel 4, Google is hoping the Pixel 4a can do what its direct predecessor, the Pixel 3a managed, and carve out a well-respected spot in the midrange.
That’s particularly important right now, because the general consensus is that COVID-19 has proved to be a nightmare for flagship smartphone sales. Shoppers are – probably wisely – keeping their wallets and purses closed, and that has seen reports of underwhelming interest in recent launches like the Samsung Galaxy S20.
Priced right, though, and with the right mixture of specs and features cherry-picked from its more expensive siblings, the Pixel 4a could find itself in a sweet spot. Although an exact launch date is still uncertain, a new leak from 9to5Google has basically confirmed all the other details we might want to know. As you’d probably predicted, there are going to be some decisions on Google’s part that don’t go down well.
As with the 3a, the Pixel 4a will have a plastic body; this time around, though, it’ll supposedly come in just a single size. There’ll be a 5.81-inch screen, slightly larger than the 5.6-inches of the Pixel 3a. It’ll use an OLED FHD+ panel, running at 2340 x 1080 resolution.
On the back there’ll be a single camera, it’s said. That will clock in at 12.2-megapixels, with both optical image stabilization and electronic, and autofocus of course. It’ll be capable of 4K video recording at 30fps, or 1080p Full HD at up to 120 fps. There’ll also be a 240fps mode, but that will be limited to 720p resolution.
The front camera is 8-megapixels and has an 84-degree lens. It’s positioned behind a hole punch in the display, rather than a notch, and word is that it’s basically the same as what you’d find in the Pixel 3a, for better or worse.
Inside, meanwhile, it’ll be Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 730 chipset with Adreno 618 graphics. 6GB of RAM is expected too, plus a 3,080 mAh battery. Two storage sizes are believed to be launching, both a cheaper 64GB model, and a more expensive 128GB version.
What’s going to cause some upset, though, is what Google has opted to leave out of the Pixel 4a. There’ll be no wireless charging, it’s said, leaving only 18W fast-charging via USB-C instead. The Android phone has Google’s Titan M security chip, but no Pixel Neural Core for photography.
Google’s Soli motion-tracking chip is also absent, which probably isn’t too big a compromise, but the Pixel 4a will also apparently miss out on Face Unlock. That’s going to be more frustrating. At least you still get a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the choice of two colors: Just Black will supposedly be joined by Barely Blue, with a very mild tint.
Choosing which features to include and which to leave out is never going to be simple when you’re making a more affordable phone, and Google’s decisions for its 2023 midranger are likely to be the stuff of argument for months to come. At least we can’t really complain too loudly about the price. Going by the leaks, we can expect the Pixel 4a to be priced from $399.
Google Pixel and Pixel XL Specs
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The Google Pixel and the Pixel XL are extremely similar phones. They share almost everything in terms of the hardware, except for the display and battery size. Google has emulated the iPhone strategy to a great extent here, from the design, specs to the pricing too. We’ll come back to the pricing later, but here’s a quick glance at the specs.
The Google Pixel comes with a 5 inch AMOLED display with a full HD resolution, resulting in a pixel density of ~441 PPI. The Pixel XL comes with a 5.5 inch Quad HD AMOLED display with a pixel density of ~534 PPI.
Google has talked a lot about the cameras in the new Pixels. Both the phones come with the same 12 MP camera with an f/2.0 aperture and Phase Detection Autofocus. The phones come with dual LED flash for assistance in low light. Video recording up to 2160p at 30 FPS is supported. On the front, you get an 8 MP snapper.
The more interesting bits about the cameras are in the software department. Google has been working over the last few months to optimize the new Pixels. To demonstrate this, the company showed off a side-by-side video recording with two Pixels – one with stabilisation enabled and the other with stabilisation disabled. The difference, in the keynote video, was staggering. How it performs in real life remains to be seen.
Coming to other specs, the new Pixel and Pixel XL come with 4 GB RAM, 32 GB or 128 GB UFS 2.0 internal storage. There is no option to expand the internal storage with a microSD card.Google Pixel And Pixel XL FAQ, User Queries And Answers
Question: Do the Google Pixel and Pixel XL have dual SIM Slots?
Answer: No, the Pixel phones do not come with dual SIM slots. You get a single SIM slot with support for a nano SIM card.
Answer: No, the devices do not support microSD expansion.
Question: What are the color options?
Answer: The devices will be available in Blue, Silver and Black color options.
Answer: Yes, the devices come with a 3.5 mm audio jack.
Question: What all sensor do the Pixel and Pixel XL have?
Answer: The new Pixel phones come with fingerprint sensor, accelerometer, gyro, proxity sensor, compass and a barometer.
Google Pixel XL – 154.7 x 75.7 x 8.6 mm
Question: What is the SoC used in the Pixel and Pixel XL?
Answer: Both the Pixel and Pixel XL come with Qualcomm Snapdragon 821.
Answer: The Google Pixel comes with a 5 inch full HD AMOLED display. It has a pixel density of ~441 ppi.
The Pixel XL comes with a 5.5 inch Quad HD AMOLED display. It has a pixel density of ~534 PPI.
Question: Do the Google Pixel and Pixel XL support Adaptive Brightness?
Question: Which OS version, OS type runs on the phone?
Answer: Both the devices run on Android 7.1 Nougat.
Question: Do the new Pixel phones come with capacitive buttons or on-screen navigation buttons?
Answer: Both the devices come with on-screen navigation buttons.
Answer: Yes, both the phones come with a fingerprint sensor.
Question: Can we Play 4K Videos on the Google Pixel and Pixel XL?
Answer: The Google Pixel can only play videos up to full HD resolution whereas the Google Pixel XL can play videos up to 2K resolution.
Question: Is Fast Charging supported on the Google Pixel and Pixel XL?
Question: Do they support USB OTG?
Answer: Yes, they both support USB OTG.
Question: Do they come with a Gyroscope sensor?
Answer: Yes, they come with a gyroscope sensor.
Answer: No, the devices are not waterproof.
Question: Do they have NFC?
Answer: Yes, the devices come with NFC.
Question: How good is the camera quality of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL?
We haven’t tested the new Pixel phones yet. Once we have done our testing, we will post more details in the review.
Question: Do they have Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)?
Answer: No, the devices do not come with OIS.
Question: Is there any dedicated camera shutter button on the new Pixel phones?
Question: What is the weight of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL?
Google Pixel XL – 168 gms
Question: Do the Pixel phones come with stereo loudspeaker?
Answer: The Pixel phones come with a single loudspeaker, downward firing. They do not come with stereo loudspeakers.
Question: Is Mobile Hotspot Internet Sharing supported?
Answer: Yes, you can create hotspot to share internet from the Pixel phones to other devices.Conclusion
The new Google Pixel and Pixel XL demonstrate that Google is stepping up its game, at least on paper. Both the phones come with the latest specs, stock Android software with a brand new Google Assistant. However, they don’t offer anything drastically different from any other phone out there. Perhaps companies like Samsung and others have innovated a lot more in both the design of the hardware as well as new software features than Google has in the new Pixel phones.
Final Fantasy V gameplay makes it the most exciting Pixel Remaster for me yet
Yesterday, Square Enix announced the release date for the Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster. While we didn’t get a trailer showing off the game or its gameplay to go along with this announcement, Final Fantasy V is a known quantity by now, and we know what to expect. Even though the original SNES game never made it Stateside, Final Fantasy V eventually came to the US thanks to remakes and compilations on other platforms. With Final Fantasy VI’s Pixel Remaster still some time off, Final Fantasy V might be the most exciting re-release to date, thanks in large part to its gameplay.
Of the classic Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy V is the one I’ve spent the least amount of time with. Even lacking deep knowledge of the game, it’s clear the main draw is its job system, which allows players to change and level up the classes of their characters. Final Fantasy III was the trail-blazer in this regard, as it was the first Final Fantasy game to feature a job system. Consensus, however, seems to be that Final Fantasy V’s job system is better than Final Fantasy III’s since it removes any requirements for changing jobs and allows players to do it at will.
I love job systems in Final Fantasy games. Final Fantasy Tactics was actually my introduction to them back in the days of the PlayStation 1, and ever since then, I’ve wondered why they aren’t part of every Final Fantasy game. The answer is probably obvious – repeat a feature too many times, and people will get tired of it – but Final Fantasy games with job systems seem to scratch an itch that others don’t.
Part of the reason I find Final Fantasy’s job systems so intriguing is that they almost feel like they’re games within games. Plotting each job upgrade path for your characters is something that can have a surprising amount of depth to it, as is trying to figure out which jobs synergize well with each other. Of course, Final Fantasy V is nearly 30 years old, which means the internet has figured out the most efficient progression for everything in the game, but there’s nothing saying you need to follow what the internet says is most efficient as you play.
The most modern implementation of the job system is in Final Fantasy XIV, which allows you to change your character class simply by equipping a different weapon. In addition, each job – or class – is leveled up independently of one another, allowing you to potentially have every class at max level on the same character. Of course, getting to that point is a ton of work, but the fact that you can try and level every class in Final Fantasy XIV with just a single character is a big part of what makes it appealing as an MMORPG.
If you’re a Final Fantasy XIV fan and you haven’t played Final Fantasy V, it might be worth checking out the Pixel Remaster when it launches on November 10th. I don’t think it’s controversial to say that both it and Final Fantasy III laid the groundwork for games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XIV.
Personally, I’m excited to give Final Fantasy V a proper playthrough after all of these years. While Final Fantasy VI is probably the Pixel Remaster I’m looking forward to the most because I consider it one of the all-time great Final Fantasy stories, I’m excited to dive into Final Fantasy V primarily because of the gameplay it will offer. Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster is out on November 10th on Steam, Android, and iOS.
Just be sure you’re buying it for the right reasons. It might be able to track your fitness, but it’s not the most accurate fitness watch you can buy. Not even close. Blood pressure monitoring is wonky too, and Samsung’s app ecosystem is lacking compared to the competition. If you’re in need of a solid Wear OS alternative, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a great choice. Ironically, just don’t buy it for the “active” features.
This device is no longer widely available. The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is now unavailable to buy from most retailers. If you are looking for an alternative device, check out our list of the
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is now unavailable to buy from most retailers. If you are looking for an alternative device, check out our list of the best smartwatches you can buy and the best fitness trackers
It may not have looked like it, but the original Samsung Galaxy Watch Active needed a refresh. There was nothing wrong with the design, but we found plenty of problems under the hood, particularly fitness and activity tracking. That’s why I was so excited to see the company release the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 so soon after the original.
We’re happy to report that Samsung fixed some of the gripes we had with the first Watch Active but left a few fitness features hanging. Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review to find out why you should buy it and why you might want to stay away.
Design and hardware
Aluminum and stainless steel models
40/44mm case, 20mm strap
1.2 or 1.4-inch Super AMOLED
360 x 360 resolution
Dual-core Exynos 9110 at 1.15GHz
Bluetooth model: 768MB of RAM
Bluetooth + LTE model: 1.5GB of RAM
5ATM, IP68, MIL-STD-810G
At first glance, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 looks to be essentially unchanged from the original Galaxy Watch Active; however, there are actually a handful of notable upgrades with the second-gen device. The watch now comes in 40 and 44mm case sizes (mine is 44mm), along with your choice of stainless steel or aluminum build materials. The stainless steel model will undoubtedly feel like the more premium device, but I can’t complain about the aluminum model I have on hand.
MyStyle customizable watch face on the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
This time around, you’ll find a speaker cutout on the left side of the case. The new speaker allows the device to make and receive phone calls (without a smartphone if you opt for the LTE model), provide audio responses, and even play music and videos right from the watch.
Overall, the speaker and microphone quality is good. I’ve been using the Bluetooth-only model, so I couldn’t test phone-free calling throughout the review period. Even so, my wife told me call quality through the watch was so good that she couldn’t tell the difference between the Watch Active 2 and my Pixel 3. Not bad.
The included 20mm quick-release straps are quite nice. They’re made of silicone and don’t collect too much dust or lint. If you’re not a fan of Samsung’s straps, you can swap them out for any ole 20mm watch strap of your choosing.
Samsung is taking aesthetics one step further with the introduction of the MyStyle watch face. Selecting this watch face will allow you to take a photo from your camera or gallery, extract the colors from that photo, and use them to create a watch face. It’s quite nice, and I’m sure this will be popular for those who need a watch face to match their outfits every day. I’m more of a minimalist with watch faces, so I usually go for the more boring black analog look.
Fitness and health tracking
Heart rate, ECG, accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, ambient light sensors
Fitness, sleep, and stress tracking
Also read: Withings ScanWatch review: A watch that’s after your heart
Samsung Tizen OS with OneUI
NFC payments with Samsung Pay
No MST payments
Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, NFC
4GB of onboard storage
2.5GB available to the user
The Samsung Health app
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 specs
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 features a circular display with a touch bezel. It also tracks your activities, such as cycling, running, swimming, and more. It even features Samsung Pay, which you can use with regular and NFC-enabled card readers.
See price at Amazon
See price at Best Buy
See price at Samsung
$180 is a good price for the Galaxy Watch Active 2. I have no problem recommending the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 to anyone looking for a high-end smartwatch on Android. Although, the Galaxy Watch 3 should also be on your list if you’re looking for a decent smartwatch too. If you already bought the Galaxy Watch Active and are looking to upgrade, I’m on the fence about whether or not you should buy the Watch Active 2. However, it is really nice having access to a speaker and touch-enabled bezel.
If you’re looking for a fitness smartwatch that will be able to record heart rate and GPS accurately, I’d suggest you look elsewhere, perhaps to the Garmin Venu 2 or Fitbit Versa 3.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review: The verdict
We’ll start our investigation with the three basics. Color, exposure, and white balance.
Google has a reputation for accuracy in this category, and we observe that all three phones are indeed similarly exceptional. All three balance exposure very well, with no obvious clipping or blocky shadows. As expected, the results here are very good across all three phones.
Very close inspection reveals slightly more saturation in the Pixel 5 in the first shot, while the Pixel 4 is a little more yellow and less orange. Meanwhile, the Pixel 3 pumps up the colors a fraction more in the second example. Comparatively, the Pixel 5 is much more reserved. In this second shot, the Pixel 4 is virtually indistinguishable from the 5, bar the slightly warmer grass tone. There are small, subtle changes on a shot-by-shot basis, but nothing major.
Our second batch shows similar results. However, the tricky HDR nature of the first image produces some more noticeable differences to the white balance and exposure. This is a slightly zoomed-in shot, and it appears that the telephoto camera on the Pixel 4 ends up with the best exposure and colors although the white balance is greener than the other two.
Colors and white balance change subtly from scene to scene, but they’re all very similar. At least outdoors.
Colors and exposure are a carbon copy between all three in the second image. The only subtle differences can be found in the white balance. The Pixel 4 is warmer this time around, and there’s a slight highlight clip on the distant wall. Meanwhile, the Pixel 5 is slightly cooler in the greens, but the brown/grey stone has a red tint. This warmer tint is noticeable in many of the Pixel 5’s shots later on too.
This last set of examples looks at white balance with indoor lighting. There are far more obvious discrepancies here. Especially as the lighting in all three shows is supposed to be identical. The Pixel 3 is clearly too yellow in the first sample, but virtually a match for the Pixel 5 in the second. The Pixel 4 is cooler in the first but warmer in the second, while the Pixel 5 overcorrects the warm lighting just a tad. The level of variety here is rather odd, but it’s the Pixel 5 that produces the most consistent and best-looking results.
High dynamic range (HDR) processing is the linchpin of Google’s photography smarts. It is therefore worth taking a closer look to see how things have changed over the years. The Pixel 3 is the only one of these three to offer configurable HDR, with its HDR+ and HDR+ Enhanced toggles. I left it set to the latter. The Pixel 4 and Pixel 5 are locked to auto-HDR, although the Pixel 5 has a new HDR Bracketing technique as of its October update and 8.0.018 camera app, which we have installed.
The first batch highlights the key difference very well. Note how the Pixel 3 actually extracts more color from the sky than the other two. The phone takes a little longer to process, but seem to work harder to avoid highlight clipping. As a result, the older Pixel 3 ends up with a higher dynamic range in both of these shots. The Pixel 5’s HDR Bracketing technique clips less than the 4 in these two shots, but it’s a more subtle difference. The color processing is otherwise virtually identical between the three. Talk about a surprise result.
With color and exposure very similar across the three phones, perhaps there are bigger differences and improvements made in the detail department. To find out, we’re going to look at some 100% crops, rather than full-frame images.
Again, the differences, if any, are very small. The Pixel 3’s HDR+ feature produces more vivid colors and a brighter exposure in the first shot. However, all three phones have very similar levels of noise, which is particularly noticeable on the shadowed flower stems. The second shot is again very similar between all three phones, with the same level of detail observable on the brickwork. However, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 5 appear slightly clearer when looking at the concrete road and hedge. That’s a slight win for the two newer models.
Taking the lights down very low doesn’t yield a huge difference either. Again, white balance is the most noticeable discrepancy, but they’re very close. The Pixel 4 is a tad too warm here, but all three shots are very similar in their overall presentation. Cropping in reveals more noise on the older Pixel 3, but the Pixel 4 and Pixel 5 are harder to separate.
I really thought we’d see a bigger difference between the three phones in low light.
Another of Google’s software tricks is bokeh blur for portrait shots. The key things to look at here are differences in the quality of the blur and edge detection of complex edges.
Moving onto portraits, there are much more noticeable differences. Especially in terms of skin tone and textures. Details are pretty much the same across all three, although the Pixel 5’s skin texture is blockier and rougher than the others. The Pixel 3 provides a more conservative natural skin tone. The Pixel 4 is the most saturated, while the newer Pixel 5 opts for a warmer, red-ish skin tone.
When it comes to bokeh, all three have some problems with edge detection around loose hairs. Although the Pixel 3 struggles the most, with notable issues blurring the foreground and pushing hairs into the background. That said, the results aren’t too bad and you have to crop in to really notice the artifacts. The Pixel 4 and 5 are a little better, but neither captures the rough edges of the hairline accurately. Changes that Google has made to its portrait mode over the years affect face textures and colors more than the quality or accuracy of the bokeh blur.Zoom vs wide-angles
There aren’t any major differences between three generations of Google’s main sensor, but there are bigger implications for scenarios where you’d want to use the Pixel 4’s telephoto or the Pixel 5’s ultra-wide cameras. Let’s start with image quality when zooming in.
Read more: Google Pixel 5 zoom test: Is Super Res Zoom enough?
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