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Finally, Google is ready to pit Pixels directly against the iPhone

Is Google planning to steal the thunder from Apple's big AI launch?

Published onJune 26, 2024

Google Pixel vs Apple iPhone
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

It’s official: The Pixel 9 series is arriving in August. That’s a whole two months earlier than the Pixel’s typical October launch window, marking a major departure from the usual timetable. While only Google knows the reasons for speeding up the release, I’m convinced it has a lot to do with finally taking a proper fight to Apple, which is due to launch its iPhone 16 range in September.

As is the buzzword this year, AI will undoubtedly be the key battleground and Google no doubt thinks it can steal Apple’s thunder. The iPhone 16 series will debut Apple Intelligence baked into iOS 18, which includes notification summaries, AI image generation, and leverages a partnership with ChatGPT to extend Siri’s capabilities. That’s good stuff for iPhone owners, but hardly new features for Pixel fans, who already enjoy similar AI features and a range of photography tools Apple won’t match.

Google undoubtedly has even more features to unveil alongside the Pixel 9 range that’ll put substantial daylight between it and Apple. Pushing these features out ahead of Cupertino’s new iPhone also secures Google’s place as the AI market leader and sidesteps any potential criticism of a reactionary move by launching afterward, which wasn’t a good look for the brand’s AI team when OpenAI burst onto the scene.

Pixel hardware is as good as ever, while AI and updates make it a true iPhone competitor.

Pipping Apple to its AI key announcement is a bold, aggressive play, but software alone won’t be enough to stand out. Apple excels at making robust hardware too, but thankfully, Google’s Pixel lineup is now a truly competitive force. Previous-gen teething issues like poor networking and overheating have been (mostly) ironed out, while the brands’ photography capabilities and AI hardware give it a unique selling point. Pixel is the best it has ever been, and Google’s software ecosystem and long-term support are top of the class. If there’s a time to try and challenge Apple’s dominance, now is as good as it gets.

Will you buy a Pixel 9 when it launches in August?

7653 votes
Samsung Galaxy S24 vs Google Pixel 8 hero standing
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

On the flip side, an earlier release schedule also puts far more daylight between the Pixel 9 and next-gen Android phones that pop up towards the end of the year and land in consumer hands in early 2025. For example, Samsung’s Galaxy S25 series won’t hit shelves until around the end of January, most likely, giving Google five or so months to bask in the limelight before the next big Western alternative comes along. Thanks to Galaxy AI, Samsung is Google’s biggest AI competitor in the Android space and arguably stole a lot of the Pixel’s AI thunder at the start of 2024. With the launch invite emphasizing “the best of Google AI, Android software, and the Pixel portfolio of devices,” you can bet the 9 series aims to stand out on this front. Plus it will have Android 15 well before other phones launch with it or see an update.

An early launch also puts daylight between the Pixel 9 and next-gen Android rivals.

In addition, the Pixel 9 could probably use a bit of breathing room against the Android spec monsters that are due to arrive towards the end of 2024. The Pixel 9’s Tensor G4 processor looks like a minor upgrade that’ll keep it competitive with current-gen smartphones. However, next-gen Android models powered by Qualcomm will see a significant shift with custom CPU cores inside the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4, and MediaTek is rumored to be looking at another huge multi-core behemoth. While we don’t know the specifics yet, these could propel Android handsets to a new level of performance that could overshadow the Pixel lineup’s already so-so processor parts. By arriving in August, the talk will be on how the Pixel 9 stacks up against the iPhone 16 and existing Android phones, with less emphasis on waiting to see what’s in store for rival next-gen powerhouses.

Google appears to be setting up for a major push with an early Pixel 9 release, which will pile pressure on Apple and its Android rivals. The best news of all, of course, is that we get our hands on the latest and greatest Pixel sooner. It’s just a couple of months until we can see if the more compact Pixel 9 Pro lives up to its potential. Bring on August already.

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