9 things you need to know about the Google Pixel and Pixel XL

In three words: they're looking great

World, meet the Google Pixel and Pixel XL.

Google unveiled its new flagship smartphones in California today and the early word is that they look pretty sweet. 

Here's everything you need to know about them.

1) There are two of them

Yes, we've already given this one away in the headline: Google's new phones are the Pixel and Pixel XL.

Like the Apple iPhone 7 and 7 Plus the main difference between them is one of size, with the Pixel rocking a 5in, 1080p screen while the Pixel XL gets a whopping great 5.5in 1440p display. That's not super-high-res in Android terms, but on the plus side both are AMOLED, which should make them nice and colourful.

Beyond their screens, the differences are less pronounced than on Apple's phones: the Pixel XL also has a bigger battery, 3450mAh to the smaller phone's 2770mAh, but otherwise they're identical.

2) They've got great cameras

Both phones get the same rear camera, and Google reckons it's one of the very best on the market. But then it would say that. There is some reason to belive it, though, because imaging metrics and benchmarking company DxO has already awarded it an 89 rating, higher than any other smartphone snapper on the market.

Why so good? Well, its combination of 12.3MP sensor, large 1.55-micron pixels and f2.0 aperture lens should mean it excels in low light and detail, while Google's talking up a host of software skills such as its new HDR+ shooting mode. Unlike standard HDR offerings, this combines multiple short exposures to improve the lighting across your images, and Google claims there'll be no shutter lag when using it. Indeed, it'll be enabled by default, so Google must be pretty confident in its abilities.  

The Continuous Stream feature also sounds interesting: this takes a burst of pictures, then selects the sharpest. We've seen this done before, so how useful it will be depends on how swiftly it works in practice. We shouldn't forget the front camera either, which is a fairly-standard-these-days 8MP effort.

Google hasn't forgotten video either - both phones can shoot 4K footage, and Google showed a demo onstage with its intelligent video stabilisation feature in action. This appeared to turn your standard drunk-man-on-a-bouncy-castle shot into something that looked like it had been recorded by a graduate of a deportment school. We'll report back on how good it is in reality once we've given it a try.

3) They'll both be super-smart

The phones are the first to come with Google Assistant, a new AI helper that's replacing Google Now while offering more of the same - only much, much smarter. Assistant looks more than capable of keeping up with advances in Siri and Cortana, and responds smartly and naturally to voice requests.

Again, we won't know how good it is in reality until we've used it ourselves, but in the demos onstage it proved a whizz at context-aware requests, for instance giving you search results for a restaurant, then when you asked it to book a table knowing that you were referring to the same eaterie you'd just been searching for.

The Pixel and Pixel XL will also be Google’s first smartphones to arrive with Android 7.1 Nougat, the latest version of the operating system, pre-installed. This has a number of special Google tweaks that haven’t previously been seen on early Nougat devices, such as a new launcher, plus a home screen tab that, when 'pulled', brings up Google search.