Google releases affordable versions of its Pixel smartphone

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Google’s Pixel smartphone just got a whole lot cheaper.

The search giant on Tuesday unveiled affordable versions of its flagship smartphone that clock in at half the price of its current models — and less than half the price of the cheapest flagship phone, the iPhone XS.

It was seemingly an admission by Google that it has been unable to spark interest in its premium phones, which have been slow-sellers compared with Apple’s iPhones and Samsung’s Galaxy line of devices.

The new Pixel 3a, which Google revealed onstage at its annual I/O developer’s conference, starts at $399, compared with the Pixel 3, which was released last fall and started at $799.

The cheaper phone will have only one front-facing camera instead of two, and it will be stripped of any wireless charging functionality, Google said.

Google also revealed that it was ending its exclusive carrier relationship with Verizon, making the Pixel available on T-Mobile, Sprint and other networks.

In another hardware move, the tech giant said it would rebrand its “Home” hardware — including the Home line of smart speakers — as “Nest,” reflecting the “smart” thermostat maker it purchased in 2014.

It also unveiled Google Nest Hub Max, a successor to last year’s Google Home Hub, a smart speaker with a large touch display. The $229 device will arrive later this year and features a camera with facial recognition technology.

The I/O keynote also saw Google show off the latest developments in its artificial intelligence technology, including an update to its Google Home smart assistant that makes it able to rent cars automatically through voice commands.

The new skill, which Google demoed on the National Car Rental Web site, is the latest evolution in Google’s push to make its virtual assistant more capable than ever.
Shares of Google parent Alphabet fell 1.3 percent, to $1,174.10.

With Post wires

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