Google announces new Pixel phone at San Francisco event

By Features Reuters

Alphabet Inc's Google on Tuesday announced a new "Pixel" smartphone at an event on Tuesday, the company's latest effort to sell consumers on a Google-branded device and to challenge Apple Inc's iPhone at the high end of the $400 billion global market.

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The new phone starts at a price of $649, and Google is working with exclusively with Verizon Communications in the United States, Google executives said.

Analysts predict the San Francisco product launch will also showcase other Google hardware initiatives, including a voice-controlled speaker system called Home to challenge Inc's Echo device, and a virtual reality headset.

Google hardware chief Rick Osterloh announced the Pixel phone shortly after the event began, adding that the camera was the best available on a smartphone. The new phone can get a 7-hour charge in 15 minutes, the company said.

Pixel phones will come in black, blue and silver and will have 5 and 5.5 inch (12.7 cm and 14 cm) screens.

While most vendors other than Apple use Google���s Android operating system, the company has for years toyed with various approaches to building its own hardware without alienating manufacturers.

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Google has sold Nexus phones since 2010, but the devices have gained little traction in a market dominated by Samsung Electronics. Shares of Alphabet were up about half a percent in midday New York trade.

(Reporting by Julia Love, additional writing by Peter Henderson; Editing by Bill Rigby and Alan Crosby)