Every Google Pixel Phone Release In Chronological Order

Google started off in the phone business by creating its own open-source Android operating system that other manufacturers could build their devices around. And many of them did, from Samsung to Motorola, LG to Nokia, BlackBerry, and others having made Android-based smartphones and other devices. But in 2016, Google threw its own hat into the ring as well and started making hardware around its Android operating system. Most notably, that included a device called the Pixel smartphone.

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Since then, the Pixel line has expanded to also include Chromebook laptops for students and business users, tablets, and a growing list of other related accessories and peripherals, like earbuds, stylus, and charging stand. But when it comes to phones, Google has made some pretty memorable ones to date, launching a new device – often two – every year since 2016.

Updated on October 27th, 2021 by Christine Persaud: Google continues to launch compelling new Pixel phones every year, offering its own hardware to go along with its popular Android operating system. And with each launch comes new and exciting features, from improvements to battery life to a slicker interface, better cameras, and more. With most people upgrading their phones every few years, there's good reason to do so for those still holding onto a Pixel that's quickly becoming outdated, as evidenced by the specs and features in the latest devices.

8 Google Pixel & Pixel XL (2016)

Both these phones focus on high-end cameras, and ranked highest on the trusted DxOMarkMobile test, according to Google at the time (it was eventually usurped by a device from HTC.) Among one of the biggest selling features of this device over others, along with the stellar camera, was the offer of unlimited cloud storage in Google Photos, one of the best sources for cloud storage.

The Pixel has a 5" AMOLED screen and the Pixel XL a 5.5" screen. They also differ in battery, with the Pixel including a 2,770mAh battery and the Pixel XL a 3,450 mAh. Both are water and dust resistant, powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, and operate on Android 7.1 Nougat, upgradable to Android 10 for those who might still own one. They came in silver, black, or a limited-edition blue finish.

7 Google Pixel 2 & 2 XL (2017)

One year later, Google followed up with the aptly named Pixel 2 and 2 XL, the former of which employs a 5" screen and the latter that ups it to a 6" P-OLED screen. Running on Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processors, both devices have a 12.2MP rear camera and 8MP front camera.

The Pixel 2 has a 2,700mAh battery and the 2 XL with a 3,520mAh, and both support fast charging. Both are also water and dust resistant and operate on Android 8.0 Oreo, upgradeable to Android 11. They came in traditional color options, including black, white, or blue for the Pixel 2 and black or black and white for the 2 XL.

6 Google Pixel 3 & 3 XL (2018)

Keeping with the nomenclature conventions, Google named the next pair of devices in its lineup the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. Improvements came with much higher-resolution OLED screens at 5.5" and 6.3" in size along with a more powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor.

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The cameras remained the same but Google added a second front camera with an 8MP sensor. The batteries were similar, but the phones were also now compatible with wireless charging. Keeping with the same water and dust resistant aluminum design, though a different coating, they came in black, white, or "not pink" and ran on Android 9 Pie (upgradeable to Android 11).

5 Google Pixel 3a & 3a XL (2019)

In the Spring of 2019, Google introduced these two devices, which were designed to be budget versions of the previous two phones – the Pixel 3 and 3 XL – for those who didn't want to spend as much and could do with a pared-down feature set.

The 3 and 3XL are now discontinued, but they still had pretty decent OLED screens at 5.6" and 6" in size but ran on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor with only the single 8MP front camera and 12.2MP rear camera. They each also employed a polycarbonate instead of an aluminum body. The colors of the phones were black, white, and purple-ish, and they ran on Android 9 Pie, upgradable to Android 11.

4 Google Pixel 4 & 4 XL (2019)

Later that same year, in October, Google announced a slew of new products, including these follow-up phones, though the Pixel 4 and 4XL have been discontinued as well. Featuring 5.7" and 6.3" screens, respectively, and powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, the batteries support fast and wireless charging.

Finished in matte or glossy glass back with an aluminum frame, they came in black, white, or "oh so orange." Both phones operated on Android 10, but owners could upgrade to Android 11 once that operating system was released.

3 Google Pixel 4a & 4a 5G (2020)

The summer of 2020 saw the introduction of the Pixel 4a and the 5G version followed by the end of September. The idea was that both would serve as budget versions of the Pixel 4 and 4 XL. They come with 5.8" and 6.2" OLED screens and Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G and 765G processors, respectively.

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With only a 128GB storage version (the others came with 64GB options should you want to pay less for onboard storage), they include the 12.2MP rear and 8MP front cameras, but the 4a 5G adds a 16MP ultra-wide sensor for taking great group and scenic shots. The price savings are also made possible by the polycarbonate versus aluminum body, which comes in black or limited-edition blue for the 4a and black or white for the 4a 5G, which was bested by the Pixel 5 as the best Pixel in 2020. While the 4a is upgradeable to Android 11, the 4a 5G comes pre-loaded with that latest OS.

2 Google Pixel 5 (2020)

The most recent device in the Google Pixel smartphone line-up is the Pixel 5, which was introduced at the same time as the Pixel 4a 5G. What makes it stand out is the 6" OLED screen that uses a stronger Corning Gorilla Glass (6 versus 3). It has the same processor as the Pixel 4a 5G and 128GB storage. But it has more RAM at 8GB versus the 4a 5G's 6GB.

It has the same cameras as the 4a 5G but a much bigger battery at 4,080mAh (versus 3,800mAh) that can last all day and leverage Battery Share technology. Made of attractive brushed aluminum that is water and dust-resistant, it comes in black and "Sorta Sage." As expected, it runs on Android 11, out of the box.

1 Google Pixel 6 & 6 Pro (2021)

Google's latest phones, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, which we called the "best Pixel there's ever been" in our review of the Google Pixel 6, kick things up several notches with features like the new ultra-fast and efficient Google Tensor custom chip, fluent Live Translate, Titan M2 security chip, and an ultra-wide lens on the back. The Pixel 6 sports a dual rear camera system with 50MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, and 8MP front cameras and the Pixel 6 Pro adds a third 40MP telephoto lens while also upping the front camera to 11.1MP. The Pixel 6 comes with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage in a tactile alloy frame while the Pixel 6 Pro, in polished alloy, boasts 12GB RAM and comes with either 256 or 512GB of storage.

With 6.4" and 6.7" screens, respectively, both feature ultra-durable Gorilla Glass that's more resistant to scratches, along with an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance. With all-day adaptive batteries and fast charging support that will get the phone to up to 50% battery in just half an hour (and also charge compatible Google Pixel Bud headphones), that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to new features in these devices.

NEXT: 5 Things Android Phones Can Do That iPhones Can’t (& 5 Things Only iPhones Can Do)



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