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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Google Pixel 2 and 2XL: Challenger to iPhone X arrives

Other new devices launched by Google include a Pixelbook laptop, wireless earbuds and a small GoPro-like camera

Alphabet's Google on Wednesday unveiled the second generation of its Pixel smartphone along with new voice-enabled home speakers, redoubling its commitment to the hardware business as it competes with a surge in devices from Apple and Amazon.com.

The new devices, which include a Pixelbook laptop, wireless earbuds and a small GoPro-like camera, showcase Google-developed operating systems and services, notably the voice assistant. That means usage of those devices should stoke the company's core ad sales business as buyers of the hardware use Google services like search and maps.

The Pixel 2 smartphone comes in two sizes, with comparable features, including aluminum bodies and no traditional jacks for headphones. Prices for the base model start at US$649, while the high-end version starts at $849. The phones will be available on October 19.

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Pixelbook, priced at $999, is the first laptop powered by Google Assistant and will support Snap's Snapchat, the company said. It would be available in stores from October 31.

Google Home Mini, the new speaker, is priced at $49 in the United States and would rival Amazon's popular Echo Dot. It will be available by the end of the year.

The Pixel debuted a year ago, with analysts estimating sales of more than 2 million, pushing Google to record amounts of non-advertising revenue. Google's "other" revenue category, which includes both hardware and sales of online storage services, accounted for about 12 per cent of overall sales in its most recent quarter.

Last month, Google expanded its hardware development capabilities by picking up a 2,000-person smartphone engineering team at HTC for $1.1 billion.

Still, Google has a large gulf to cross before matching the 215 million iPhones sold by Apple in the last four quarters.