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Google Pixel + Pixel XL review

Google Pixel (2016)
(Image: © Alex Dobie / Android Central)

The quick take

The Google Pixel and Pixel XL deliver what we've always wanted from a Google Android experience: an attractive design, lightning-fast performance and unique Google features you won't find on any other phone. Meanwhile the Pixel nails the essentials, with good "all-day" battery life, cameras that go toe-to-toe with the high-end competition, and update support unrivaled in the Android space. Though expensive, and lacking water resistance, these are great phones with a long life ahead of them.

The Good

  • Speedy performance
  • Latest Android, with fast updates and thoughtful software additions
  • Excellent build quality
  • Great, fast camera that excels in video

The Bad

  • No water resistance
  • Eye-watering SIM-free price
  • Google Assistant is still learning
  • Back glass prone to scratching

The Google phone

Google Pixel Full review

The "Google phone" has been a long time coming.

The rumors of such a device — a true Google smartphone to directly take on the iPhone — predate Android as we know it today. In the years it took for the OS to rise to dominance, we've seen the T-Mobile G1, Moto X and various Nexus phones attempt to match up to that original promise — with mixed success. Only last year's Huawei-built Nexus 6P came close to living up to the hype.

It's time for a change of strategy. So here are the Google Pixel and Pixel XL, marketed quite forcefully as phones "by Google." No co-branding, no compromises. Two size options for what amounts to a single high-end Android experience, presented with new and unique software features from Google that won't come to other phones anytime soon.

The Pixels go hand-in-hand with Google's evolution into something more than just a search engine. In Sundar Pichai's October 4 presentation, it was very clear what the move to an "AI-first" computing environment meant for the future of the company. The new Google Assistant is a big part of that, and a major pillar of Google's hardware push, building upon the past several years of predictive search and voice interactions. At the same time, Google has made some bold software design changes, painting a clearer picture of its vision of Android.

The Pixel phones are a bold product, one that competes with not just Apple, but Google's own Android partners. The price tag is a far cry from the wallet-friendly Nexus products of yore. And the exclusive software experience is sure to grind the gears of fans and Android manufacturers alike.

So has Google at least made a good phone this time? Read on to find out.

  • 5-inch Full HD / 5.5-inch Quad HD
  • Gorilla Glass 4
  • 12.3MP rear camera
  • ƒ/2.0 lens, PDAF, Laser, 1.55µm pixels
  • 8MP front camera, ƒ/2.4 lens, 1.4µm pixels
  • 2770 mAh / 3450 mAh
  • Fast charging
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor
  • Quad-core 2.2GHz
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32-128GB internal storage

About this review

We're publishing this review after six days of using Google's Pixel phones. I (Alex Dobie) have been using a rest-of-world spec Google Pixel XL (5.5-inch, 32 GB, "Quite Black" color) in Manchester, UK, and while traveling in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Shanghai, China. In the UK, we used the EE network. In China, we roamed on the China Mobile LTE network through Vodafone UK. Our review device was running Android 7.1 Nougat, build NAE63P, with the October 5, 2016 security patch.

Daniel Bader has been using a North America spec Pixel (5-inch, 32GB, "Very Silver" color) in Canada on the Rogers network. His review unit was running Android 7.1 Nougat, also with build NAE63P and October 5, 2016 security patch. Portions of this review, where specified, were written by him.

Since much of the experience of using these phones is the same, we're presenting a combined review of both Pixel and Pixel XL here, noting any major differences as we go.

Watch and learn

Google Pixel Video walkthrough & unboxing

We've got many words ahead to break down our thoughts on the Pixels. But if you're in a hurry, watch our full video review! When you're done, take out some time for our full written review below to get the full explanation of what the Pixel and Pixel XL are all about.

And if you've still got some stamina after that, stick around for Daniel's unboxing video, which goes from cardboard to setup and everything in between!

Made by Google

Google Pixel Hardware

You could easily argue that we've reached peak black rectangle in the past 12 months, and that phone designs are becoming boring as a result. It's increasingly difficult to put a screen on the front of a 5- to 6-inch metal slab in a way that actually turns heads and opens wallets. Being (in a manner of speaking) a new player in the phone hardware game, that's a central challenge for Google. But at the same time, the company has the experience of six years of Nexus partnerships to draw from. It's a newbie, but it's had plenty of practice.

A simple, pleasing design that feels like a relatively safe choice from Google.

The fruit of Google's labor is a phone that's pleasing to both the eyes and the hand, yet at the same time feels relatively safe and non-risky in design terms. Google and behind-the-scenes manufacturer HTC (you won't find its logo anywhere on the phone) follow a well-worn path: a metal unibody with subtly curved extremities, made more grippable by flattened edges, and rounded off by display-framing chamfers at the front. And although the back is mostly flat, there's an ever-so-slight, barely noticeable top-to-bottom "wedge" shape going on, with the top section being ever so slightly thicker than the bottom. In terms of overall weight and heft, it's not a totally svelte, hardly-there design. There's a certain substance to it, meaning that while it's relatively light, the overall package is nicely balanced.

The "Quite Black" model I'm using cycles between black-ish and a more muted grey depending on the ambient lighting; if you go for the lighter "Very Silver" variant, expect a traditional, bare, brushed aluminum finish with a white face and matching antenna lines around the sides and back. (The vibrant "Really Blue" is a whole other retina-searing question.)

The much-discussed iPhone similarity is kinda there, I guess, though I feel like this has been largely overstated. Sure, the Pixel's spartan front face looks a bit like an iPhone with the home button chopped off, but then there's only so much you can do with a rounded rectangle of tapered 2.5D glass. The most obvious inspiration seem to have come from phones like the HTC 10 and One X9, with a little Nexus 6P DNA snuck in. What's more, the Pixels feel nothing like their Apple-built rivals in-hand.

Scratched-up back glass is going to be A Thing with these phones.

The front face is deliberately bare, so as to not distract you from the display. And so as a counterpoint the back has become slightly more showboaty. The large glass section dominating the top third of the chassis is a controversial inclusion, perhaps made for design reasons, perhaps an engineering concession to improve antenna reception. Either way, it's a big visual differentiator in a space where most competitors look fairly samey. I'm mainly neutral on the aesthetic qualities of the glass "window," aside from the unfortunate fact that it picks up hairline scratches incredibly easily. I spotted at least two or three in just the first few days of using the XL, even while taking extra care handling it. Other reviewers I've spoken to in recent days have picked up similar abrasions (scratches are much less obvious on the white-backed "Very Silver" model, for what it's worth). So let's just say this: scratched-up back glass is going to be A Thing with these phones.

That glass area houses the Pixel Imprint (neé Nexus Imprint) fingerprint scanner, which I've found fast, accurate, and thankfully resistant to triggering in my pocket like some other phones. It's relatively large, but that, combined with its placement, makes it easy to hit with your index finger. Setup, as with Nexus Imprint, was quick and painless.

The window is also home to your NFC antenna, and like the iPhone the very top of the back section is where you'll need to waggle the phone to pay for stuff with Android Pay. That's a good thing, leaving little ambiguity about what you need to point at the payment terminal.

In other areas, a standard loadout of ports and buttons awaits — an HTC 10-like textured power key up top on the right side, above the volume rocker, a single nano-SIM tray over on the left, headphone jack up top and USB Type-C charging port down below, flanked by two speaker facades. As is smartphone tradition, only one of those grilles actually has a speaker behind it, and the Pixel doesn't do stereo audio through its earpiece like some rivals. Regardless, the quality is loud and clear at most volumes, only showing signs of distortion at the highest output levels.

The displays, both AMOLED panels, manage to impress as well. The regular Pixel packs 1920x1080 colored dots into a 5-inch panel — a perfectly reasonable 440 ppi display density — while the XL ups it to 2560x1440 over 5.5 inches, for 534 ppi. The AMOLED panels in Google's Nexus phones were decent but never trailblazing, with the Nexus 6P in particular being disappointing in bright daylight.

The Pixels' AMOLED screens are really good, and give Samsung's latest phones a run for their money.

The Pixels' screens are a big step beyond the previous generation, coming close to matching the quality of Samsung's latest phones. Even under the bright sunlight of southern China, I had no problem using the Pixel XL outdoors. (And the display looked fantastic in the comparatively gloomy UK.) The smaller Pixel's screen is equally bright, though it doesn't quite match that of the Galaxy S7 in subjective outdoor tests.

Samsung's latest panels look more vibrant, and maybe more pleasing to the eye as a result, but that probably has as much to do with display tuning as anything else.

On the inside, Google provides a loadout of leading Android hardware — Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 821, a beefed-up version of the 820 chip powering many 2016 flagships, along with 4GB of RAM. There's no expandable storage, so you'll need to choose wisely between the 32GB and 128GB options. (There's a hefty $100 premium to pay for the latter, whichever Pixel you pick.) I'm using a 32GB Pixel XL, and after a week of solid use I'm down to just under 16GB of space remaining. Your mileage will vary, and of course Google Photos can help you free up space by offloading older pics to the cloud.

A smorgasbord of top-notch Android hardware, but choose your storage capacity with care.

After the surprisingly good (but painfully slow) Nexus 6P camera, Google has doubled down on photography in the Pixels — more on that later in the review. But from a design perspective, the standout feature is the lack of a camera bump. In a year when the iPhone's photographic protrusion is more pronounced than ever, it's an easy "victory" to flaunt over Cupertino.

There is a case for saying this doesn't really matter. In fact, I'm fine with the camera bumps in the Galaxy S7 or iPhone 7 Plus. (On a glass-backed phone like the Pixel, a slight camera bump would've propped the phone up, likely countering the constant hairline scratches we've been seeing.)

Depending on whether you opt for the 5-inch Pixel or the 5.5-inch XL, you'll either get a phone that's an easy one-handed fit, or one that requires a bit more manual manipulation, but is still easy enough for anyone who's handled larger Androids.

Having wrangled a Nexus 6P in recent weeks, the Pixel XL is so, so much easier to juggle around without using a second hand. In the case of the smaller Pixel, you're getting top-notch specs in a pleasing, compact design that's considerably less slippery than an iPhone 7. That's rare thing in the Android world.

Google Experience

Google Pixel Software

Google's Nexus phones were defined by their software. Now that Google itself is in the hardware game, the same isn't quite true of the Pixel phones. Nevertheless, the Google software experience remains a huge part of what makes these Google phones.

The Pixel handsets run Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box, a new version of the OS that's so far exclusive to Google's own phones. A final code drop of Android 7.1 for other devices won't happen until December, after which we'll start to see 7.1 appear on other devices.

The Pixels ship with Android 7.1 — months before any other phones.

Android 7.1 is the first maintenance release for Nougat, adding features like "night light" mode for reducing eye strain at night, by adding an orange screen tint, and new app shortcut options through a long press at the home screen. The former builds into the base OS a feature we've seen in third-party apps for some time, and something Apple recently added to iOS. And the latter is basically a one-dimensional copy of Apple's 3D Touch implementation, letting you jump to specific areas of an app more quickly. (And it also makes moving your apps around feel a bit weird, at least until you get used to it.) Other features include minor tweaks like enhanced wallpaper metadata, letting developers and artists provide more information about the pictures on your home screen.

That's alongside all the features of Android 7.0, like split-screen multitasking, bundled notifications, enhanced "doze on the go" for battery life improvements, and data saver mode for making your allowance go further.

The rest of the new stuff in Google's phones makes up what we'll call, for want of a better term, the "Pixel experience." The UI, visuals and features you see on the Pixel phones are a far cry from the barebones Android experience of the Nexus 6P. Google has brightened up its color scheme, switched Nexus teal for Pixel blue, added a new home screen launcher, fresh icons and a handful of new apps and services.

The most important of these is the new Google Assistant, which we've been trialing in the Allo chat app for the past month or so. Essentially, Assistant is meant to be Google personified — an AI with access to all the data on your Google account (Gmail, Calendar, location, etc.), as well as Google's immense knowledge graph. In an ideal world, "your own personal Google" would always be at your beck and call, enhancing your life with its wisdom.

Assistant is, so far, very much a version 1.0 product.

The reality is that Assistant is, at the time of writing, very much a version 1.0 product. When it works, it works well — Assistant is generally smart about the way it handles questions or requests about the data Google already collects. But it can be hit and miss about things you'd expect to work: For example, "Play the new album by [band name]" in Play Music. Or "Show me my next trip." Or "Who's the guy from the Mobile Strike ads?" Or "How long does it take to get to Camden?" When it fails, usually it fails pretty intelligently, offering up a web link that would probably be helpful in the place of a personalized answer from Google's vast data reserves.

The central problem here is that the goals of Assistant are so lofty, and the scope of the things it could potentially do are so wide, that it's almost impossible to judge what it reasonably can do right now. And when it fails, there's a frustration factor — the info you needed could've been gotten more easily via an email search, or checking your calendar app, or opening Maps and checking transit times. Instead Assistant offers a vague web link saying "This came back from a search." (In a tone which implies a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ at the end of that sentence.)

And there are additional frustrations for anyone using multiple Google accounts (for example a work account), since Assistant ties into just your main Google account at present.

For Assistant to be the killer app that Google wants it to be, this mixed success rate needs to be improved upon. Still, there's a ton of potential, and Google is surely going to refine its AI over the coming months.

Where Assistant really impresses is with its speed and speech recognition. In a week of using the Pixel XL, I've yet to have a single query misunderstood, and Assistant is always ready to go instantly, waiting behind a long press of the home key. What's more, the new action for getting to Screen Search (formerly Google Now on Tap) gives the impression that that feature is faster too. The intelligence and information retrieval may need to improve, but the experience is promising.

Speed is also a big part of the overall Pixel picture. As well as having the latest Qualcomm processor, the care taken to tune performance and enhance touch responsiveness is evident in every second of use. These phones absolutely fly, to such an extent that even the iPhone — with its big, swooping, silky animations — sometimes feels like a laggard. We'll have to see how that performance holds up over time, but at week one it's pretty clear — there's nothing out there faster in the Android world.

Google Assistant is sometimes useful but often dumb, and very much still learning how to assist.

The handful of visual customizations in the Pixel UI bring some of the biggest changes since the beginning of Material Design. Front and center, you've got the new Pixel home screen launcher, which does away with the iconic Google search bar (after all, Google is way more than just Search now, right?) and rearranges the app drawer to live behind an upward swipe of the favorite apps tray.

App icons are smaller across the board, and Google will display the current weather at the top of the main home screen, assuming you have location history turned on. It's not a million miles away from the Google Now Launcher, but it is different, and feels slicker and more modern. Google Now still lives off on the left, under its new name as your personal Google "feed."

Other visual flourishes can be found in Android's soft keys, which now look a little different — filled-in icons, save for the home icon, which is now encircled to indicate the presence of Assistant. (Tap it and you'll get a neat little pulse of colored orbs in the Google primary colors.)

And for better or worse, most Google app icons (and in fact many third-party app icons) are now circular. Circular icon support is part of the Android 7.1 spec, but the implementation in these early days is patchy at best, even among Google's own applications. Take Gmail for instance, which uses the regular grey and red envelope icon on a white background. Or Maps, which crops the full-sized Maps icon to fill a circular cookie cutter. The look isn't entirely consistent, and that's before you open your app drawer to reveal a mess of squares, circles, rounded rectangles and other shapes of different sizes. Google's end goal is a more unified gallery of app icons, like the iPhone has had since Day 1, but it's going to take us a while to get there.

It's also early days for app shortcuts — right now the feature letting you jump to specific areas of your apps with a long press is basically unsupported outside of a handful of Google apps.

Other handy features include gestures in the new "Moves" menu, which let you swipe down on the fingerprint scanner for notifications (a feature borrowed from Huawei), double-tap the power key for camera access (borrowed from Samsung and others), and double-twist the phone to jump between the front and rear cameras (hello Moto, and also in the latest Nexus camera app). And built-in customer support in the Settings app is a feature many power users will dismiss, but something which surely forms a central part of Google's longterm plan for Pixel devices. It's all part of Google's push to make the Android experience more friendly to a mainstream, non-tech-enthusiast audience.

The Pixel's unique new live wallpapers are gorgeous and highly compelling.

And that polish extends to some phenomenal live wallpapers, just when we thought Google might've forgotten about this feature, first introduced way back in 2010. Along with a selection of gorgeous static wallpapers and live-updating "daily" wallpapers from various categories, Google has gone all-out with a selection of jaw-dropping animated offerings.

Live Earth gives you a subtle satellite-style 3D overview of notable places, including a live view of the Earth itself, centered on your current location, shaded to reflect the day/night cycles, and updated with realtime clouds. Or for a more abstract approach, Live Data lets you show geometric animations reflecting the current time and weather. That includes the default "Aurora" animation, which animates soothing colored gradients based upon the weather, temperature and time of day.

This is all stuff you wouldn't find on a Nexus, were Google still making them. The Pixel offers a freindly, approachable Android UI that goes beyond just delivering a responsive, bloat-free, fast-updated experience.

Previous Nexus phones have been "pure Android." The Pixel phones are different — they're "pure Google." Some of the changes between the two are subtle. Others, like Assistant and the new icon scheme, hit you right between the eyes. It'll be fascinating to see how the relationship between this new Google phone and rest of Android plays out in the months ahead. For now, the Pixel is off to a great start with some genuinely useful features, and a prized place as king of the hill for Android updates.

Pixel pics

Google Pixel Cameras

It's been just a couple of years since Google was genuinely bad at smartphone cameras, but the company is learning (and improving) at a rapid pace. The Pixel phones pack a 12-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash, laser autofocus and 1.55-micron pixels behind an f/2.0 lens. If that sounds familiar, it's because the Nexus 6P also boasts all those specs.

But let's be clear about a few things: to start, this is an upgraded version of the sensor from the 6P (Sony's IMX378, as opposed to the older IMX377.) And that gets you native phase-detection autofocus and SME-HDR technology for faster HDR exposures. All this stuff, combined with a faster processor and improved tuning, elevates this year's Google camera to new heights.

Google's new camera can stand proudly alongside the GS7 and iPhone 7.

For the first time, Google has a camera that can stand proudly alongside the Galaxy S7 and iPhone 7. I was skeptical about the lack of OIS, but between the upgraded sensor, the beefier CPU and ISP (image signal processor) and some welcome software tweaks, Google has a highly impressive camera setup. Captures are quick, there's plenty of fine detail in a wide variety of lighting conditions, and Google's Auto-HDR+ trickery produces photos with excellent dynamic range in situations where many rivals stumble. Colors are punchy, but not excessively saturated. And even in challenging lighting conditions, such as dark restaurants at night, a good amount of fine detail and color detail is preserved.

We'll have a direct comparison with the Samsung Galaxy S7 coming up soon, but on the surface the main difference is in how the phones handle low light shots. Samsung tends to capture sharper looking images, through with a yellowish tint and some loss of color, while Google's photos are a little softer, but with more accurate colors.

The Pixel's camera is mind-blowingly fast, and takes better-looking pics than the Nexus 6P.

Like the rest of this phone, the camera is mind-blowingly fast. As in, so much faster than the Nexus 5X and 6P it's not even funny — especially while focusing and taking HDR+ shots. If you're used to stabilizing shots and carefully timing things just right to get great photos on the 6P, prepare to get even better-looking images with zero shutter lag on the Pixel. There's still a short pause before you can view your photos in the gallery, but processing times are significantly quicker too. And at the same time, the Pixel's camera is far easier on the battery life than its forbearer.

Google's redesigned camera app gives easy access to modes like Panorama, Photo Sphere (360-degree photos), Lens Blur effects (since that's suddenly all the rage again, and slow-mo video.

Speaking of video, you'll be able to record at up to 4K resolution with gyroscope-based software stabilization — a new feature that is possibly the single most impressive thing the Pixel can do. In an almost magical way, the phone manages to scrub out unintended jitters in moving shots, and the results are never clearer than when filming with the phone in one hand, on a ride through bumpy rural roads. In reality, the viewfinder is bouncing around all over the place, yet the resulting footage is silky smooth. The spell is briefly broken when the software tuning overcompensates for intentional motion, sometimes leading to artificial-looking pans and sudden movements. Even so, the Pixel makes for a highly impressive video camera.

The gyro-based video stabilization is so good it seems almost magical.

One small camera bugbear to report: like some other phones with laser autofocus, the Pixel sometimes aggressively favors focusing foreground when maybe it shouldn't. An easy way to show this is to try taking a picture out of a window, or shooting video through a car or airplane window. The laser autofocus all too often wants to focus on muck on the window as opposed to the scenery outside.

On the front, the 8-megapixel selfie camera also benefits from HDR+, evening out exposures and producing surprisingly decent shots even in relatively poor lighting. The front camera sits behind an f/2.4 lens, which isn't the brightest we've seen in a selfie shooter, but Google's lens blur feature helps out to some extent, artfully blurring backgrounds while leaving your mug in the clear.

One fortunate/unfortunate omission depending on your proclivity for digitally enhanced selfies: There are no built-in beauty modes to be found here.

So is it the best smartphone camera ever made, as Google claims, holding its DXOMark score of 89?

That's going to depend on how you use it. In many situations I still favor the Galaxy S7. But Just the fact that this discussion is a discussion is a measure of how far Google has come. There's no doubt in my mind that this is a top-tier phone camera, and will remain one in the year to come.

Pixel power

Google Pixel Battery life

You're looking at a 2770 mAh battery in the small Pixel, or a 3,450 cell in the larger XL model. In the former case, that's a little on the small side. (But then again, the same is true of the phone itself, and its screen resolution.) In the latter, the XL's fixed cell is about in line with high-end Android phones of that size, like the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge.

In both cases you're likely to get a decent, full day of use out of the Pixel and Pixel XL, though the XL fares a little better on heavier days.

The XL never failed to get me through a full day of regular use, with a typical day getting me 14 to 16 hours off charger with 4.5 to 5 hours of screen on time. That's with mixed use across LTE and Wi-Fi, and approaches what I've gotten out of the Galaxy S7 edge earlier in the year. Unremarkable for a high-end Android phone perhaps, but the major difference I noticed with the Pixel XL was how it weathered heavy use that much better than many rivals.

The camera, for instance, didn't tank the battery anywhere near as much as the GS7 or LG G5, to say nothing of the battery-guzzling Nexus 6P. The same was true of using the XL in areas with patchy or rough cellular coverage — where some of the year's earlier flagships would hemorrhage power, the XL didn't get as hot to the touch, nor drain through its battery as quickly.

A solid day of use, with high-powered, intensive tasks less likely to tank your battery.

Daniel Bader has been using the smaller Pixel for the past week, and has found its performance generally good, though more susceptible to battery drain from heavy usage.

On the smaller Pixel's battery life

By Daniel Bader

I had no shortage of anxiety going from a phone with ample battery life, the Moto Z Play, to one that was considerably smaller and less capacious. Fortunately, the Pixel managed to last an entire day most of the time, reaching the dreaded "red exclamation point" between 11 p.m. and midnight.

These were days that I was pushing the phone pretty hard, too, which leads me to believe that once things settle — in my life, and with the phone — it will last a bit longer. That said, there isn't much breathing room for a really busy day, or an errant app using too much juice in the background. As I type this, it's 5 p.m. and I'm down to 40% with just over four hours to go. That's the fundamental problem with a phone like the Pixel: despite the improvements made to Doze, and efficiencies gained from the Snapdragon 821's 14nm process, a 2770 mAh battery just isn't enough to comfortable end the day in the black.

As long as you're willing to top up the phone once or twice a day, even for a few minutes, the smaller Pixel's battery life should be fine, but if you're a truly avid user — and who among us isn't? — then the Pixel XL, or a diminutive battery pack close at hand, is probably a better option.

Both Pixel models support quick charging through the USB-PD (USB Power Delivery) standard, with the bundled plug and cable charging at up to 5V/3A or 9V/2A. The move up to 9V quick charging allows a dead Pixel to return to life (around a half charge) faster than last year's Nexus 6P, while the crossover in charger specs means the Pixel will happily charge rapidly with a 6P or 5X plug.

Finally, it's worth noting that the Pixels (like the last Nexus phones) use a USB-C to USB-C cable to charge with the bundled adapter, so it might be worth investing in a few spares cables, since most Android phones still use a USB-A connector in the power brick.

Big or small?

Google Pixel vs. Pixel XL

By Daniel Bader

Google's Pixel has made me fall in love with small phones all over again. Before we get into which one you should consider, let's go over the two main differences between the two devices: the screen size and resolution; and the battery.

The first is not important: both phones have high-quality AMOLED screens, and are plenty dense for most people. The Pixel's 1080p resolution gives it a density of 440ppi, which is lower than the larger phone's 534ppi, but unless you're really scrutinizing you won't notice the difference. And while I haven't spent a lot of time with the XL, I noticed a small amount of color fading when holding the Pixel at off-center angles, a minor criticism common in AMOLED screens. Still, the Pixel's screen is vivid, responsive, and stunning, with saturated colors and perfect blacks.

Google's Pixel has made me fall in love with small phones all over again.

The second, battery life, is certainly more important: the Pixel has a cell 25% smaller than its larger counterpart, which probably doesn't scale linearly given the XL's higher screen resolution. You shouldn't expect a 25% difference in average uptime, but it probably won't be too far off: if you use your phone a lot — and primarily for media consumption and gaming — the Pixel XL is a better choice. Another reason to go for the Pixel XL: Nougat's multi-window multitasking mode is much more comfortable to use on the 5.5-inch display of the Pixel XL.

But let's go back to my original statement: The Pixel has made me fall in love with small phones all over again. After using devices that often took two hands to comfortable handle and safely operate, I found myself constantly elated to regain the natural ability to use the Pixel with just a thumb, three fingers wrapped around the back with a pinky to steady the metal chassis.

Even more liberating is the knowledge that the smaller Pixel, aside from the two main differences listed above, is identical to its larger counterpart, and could be considered a flagship in its own right. The phone is incredibly fast: I have never used Android like this, and there is something joyous about being able to do all this on a one-hand-friendly handset.

Bottom line

Should you buy a Google Pixel? Yes

The Google Pixel XL is my new daily driver. As for the smaller Pixel, I know it's going to take a lot to tear Daniel Bader away from this compact Android powerhouse. (Ed: True.) Both are excellent smartphones which we can wholeheartedly recommend, even with their sky-high price tags. The question of whether a smartphone can be worth $700 to $1,000 in 2016 is a debate altogether. But if any phone is worth that amount of cash, the Pixels are. Just as that same argument can be made for the iPhone 7 or Galaxy S7.

The chassis is attractive, though some may say it's not as bold as Samsung's glass and metal designs. The software is fast and mostly good-looking. It's always going to be up-to-date with the latest Android software, and exclusive tricks from a new and highly ambitious AI-focused Google. The battery easily lasts a day, and charges quickly. The camera matches the Galaxy S7.

The main argument against the Pixel, besides its price, comes down to the one or two high-end features it's lacking. Both the iPhone and GS7 boast water resistance. The Pixels do not. There's also the question of whether the camera — which is already great — would be superlative with the addition of OIS (optical image stabilization), which is increasingly seen as table stakes for flagship smartphones.

I can't think of a better phone to buy going into 2017.

On the other hand, the Pixels' status as Google phones, with the backing of a major platform holder, allow them to ship with Android 7.1 months ahead of rivals, and pack exclusive features like Google Assistant which, though imperfect at present, will undoubtedly improve throughout the long life of these phones.

With Pixel, the company finally delivers on what we'd wanted all along from a Google phone. With each cycle of Nexus handsets, it used to be a question of "What would they screw up this time?" We're far beyond that with this new, singular vision of what a Google Android phone should be.

And I can't think of a better phone to buy going into 2017.

See at Google

Pixel XL review: A U.S. perspective

If you're looking to see where the Pixel XL fits in terms of the U.S. market, Andrew Martonik has you covered with a full review. Whether you want to know how it fares on various carriers, who can get you the best deal or how it compares price-wise to other phones in the States, we have you covered.

Google Pixel XL review: A U.S. perspective

Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.

  • Wohoo!
  • Wow, fastest Review already up, needs a big First leading the title.
  • Now I'm even more eagerly awaiting my shipping notification!
  • Same here! Got overnight shipping, can't wait!
  • I actually just cancelled my order for a 5" 32GB. Picked up an unlocked Galaxy S7 last night. Got tired of waiting and in the end decided I really need IP68 and prefer expandable storage. I will envy y'all with the latest OS and USB C, but I think I made the right call for me. Enjoy your Pixels, and long live Android!
  • You got tired of waiting for your Pixel pre-order but waited 8 months to pickup a S7? LOL
  • I'm guessing he was in need of the phone now not 8 months ago.
  • You don't get what he is saying. Do you?
  • Finally a review!! just need to read it now :)
  • Great Review now if the store had more available.
  • Yeah they really sold out quickly. Especially the XL. Really would love to see a quick restocking from Google.
  • Andrew can you do a quick LTE-Advanced speedtest on the Pixel? I want to see how the chip performs.
  • Welcome to the Play Store after a device release, "out of Stock" I think Google's always scared they are going to be stuck with thousands of devices, so they constantly due small orders every month.
  • Sorry, but I can't take any review seriously when the reviewer calls this device gorgeous. It is anything but.
  • I tend to agree with Alex on this one. Obviously not everyone is going to see it the exact same way — that's why phones look different from one another, to appeal to different people.
  • I agree we don't see thing the same way. You think my wife pretty but I like your wife better in some point:). most people like the Galaxy Edge but I don't, most people like iphone because the Apple logo and iphone looks good but I don't becasue I got the money don't need iphone to show off. before switched to Galaxy I had iphones for many years and still keeping Iphone 4s just because it looks gorgeous. I had Galaxy s3, s4 and Galaxy s5 now I love the S5 so much and I stop buying new model, in fact I love so much I bought a new S5 for back up. oh one true fact you guys need to know when phone gets older it does drain battery faster. and LED display does burnt out a little. I am using the old battery for the new Galaxy S5 the display is little brighter and same old battery last 2 more hours .
  • My wife had an S5 and she hated it. I had a Galaxy Note 3 and could see how bad the S5 was. The software implementation was terrible. Her phone used to do weird things that I had never experienced with the Note 3.
    She ended up going back to iPhone and I switched to LG.
    She is very happy now. My LG V10 is amazing.
    Do your self a favor, switch to LG G5, V10 or V20.
  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.... which is the only explanation for why my wife married me. Lol.
  • We're in the same boat
  • I thought he said the live wallpapers were gorgeous not the design of the phone
  • I agree it looks pretty meh in pictures, but I haven't seen one on the material plane, so I'll reserve judgment.
  • It is a ugly a$$ device. Those bezels are unnecessary. And why the half glass back..
  • So something can crack no matter which way it lands when dropped.
  • I looked all over the internets for you review. I couldn't find it. I guess that's because you don't actually have the phone. I'll put a little more stock in comments by the tons of people who've actually held the device and used it, as opposed to just staring at pictures. The general consensus is that it looks and feels great in the hand.
  • He doesn't describe the phone as gorgeous anywhere in the article. Sort you reading skills out ☺️
  • Lol, I like how you are pretending that your opinion is fact. I find the phone to be very attractive.
  • lol. beauty is not universal. Many argue that the new iPhones are absolutely gorgeous, but I think they're pretty pedestrian. Many hate the way the Nexus 6P looks when I think it's one of the best looking smartphones ever made.
  • Agreed. That 2 tone back is hideous.
  • Double post.
  • cbrines: You right "gorgeous" is a work to high for this cellphone, the double texture in the back look like not good design. For me one of the best definition of the gorgeous cell phone is a new chines ZTE Nubia Z11 have a huge of innovation much better camera and better sound take a look on the website (its not a commercial) just a sample
  • Beauty in the eye and all that. I think it looks fantastic. Now the galaxy range.. Boy they are ugly phones and yes I mean that.
  • I just really wish this phone could make my like my S7 any less. I don't see any reason to. Nice phone over all though I will admit.
  • You have you S7 in your hand so you didn't see any reason; Use this phone for a day before judging it.
  • I probably wouldn't upgrade to this phone if I were already using an S7, or any other 2016 flagship, either. If I were using an S6, on the other hand...
  • Has a slight Negative tone for what ultimately amounts to a great device. Even the positives have a slight negative spend. I'm left confused. Anywho..... The things I like most... Camera, battery life, and fluidity of the UI seem to be on point. The "AI", which to me has always been better than SIRI and equal to Cortana, seems even better than before. Sound like a Go!
  • If they had just gushed over every single thing they would attract the "fanboy" tag, so they can't win either way. Seemed like a fairly balanced account to me.
  • Just what I was thinking. Well done that man
  • I guess Google Assistant would be better than any of other assistants in near future. And they should give it a name.
  • It has a
  • Why all of a sudden everyone is writing "anywho" instead of anyways and anyhow?? Did I miss something?
  • It is the new "buzzword" in the nerd world. Mostly used when the writer wants to make the reader understand his/her comment is made in a relaxed/calm manner
  • Alex, can you please comment on headphone audio volume/quality? Other sites are reporting EXTREMELY low volume thru the 3.5m jack.
  • Bader did both the iPhone7 and Pixel review. He's a master of both the dark side and the light.
  • Heh, I think I'm a master of looking at things from a very centered perspective. I recognize the advantages of both iOS and Android.
  • Daniel is the LED notification light multicolor and does it work with Lightflow?
  • Yes it's multicolor. Haven't installed Light Flow yet ...
  • You the man Andrew! Biscuit for you.
  • Installs just fine. haven't been using it, obv, but testing it out it seems to work as intended. It's just a standard notification LED :)
  • Oh you have one too Andrew? Nice. Think it will become your daily driver?
  • Lightflow isn't compatible with Ambient display. It makes the display constantly turn on. Light manager, however, is compatible. I would use light manager. None of the reviews I have seen have even tested the LED light which is one of the main things I need in a phone. No pictures and no videos of it are available anywhere. It's annoying. I am glad it has been answered in the comments at least. It's also annoying that none of the reviews mention the FM radio. I am sure there is one present but it is most likely disable for some arbitrary reason. Yet, no one takes 60 seconds to test it.
  • ^ well said.
  • That's why I think your opinion holds a lot of weight.
  • He's a regular Revan!
  • After the Nexus 4 and any other phone that has had a glass back I knew scratching would be an issue. A single tiny piece of sand will do it regardless of how strong they say the glass is. Gorilla glass 20 would not prevent a scratch from sand if it is glass when it is invented. I really don't understand why they went that route instead of simple antenna lines like the HTC A9. It looks better and it more durable. For the price it should have been saphire.
  • +1000 Why anyone would put glass on the back of a phone I'm sure I'll never know..
  • Exactly my thoughts. The Samsung Galaxy S7 design wise is simply stupid. Glass on something we will eventually drop? Is already enough we have to deal with the glass screen (a risk which a glass screen protector can diminish) but front and back? I am no Designer but a good design cares about looks AND practicality... Cheers
  • In what way is Galaxy S7 Edges or regular S7s designt stupid? They look stunning and unless u use it reckless it wont break. I had my S7 Edge for 2 months now and 0 scratches and 0 drops, while Pixel seems to be very prone for scratches
  • I wasn't referring to the Pixel but to a proper full metal phone (or plastic, for that matter) like my HTC M8 or the HTC 10. Let´s do the following: you drop your S7 (chances are you will someday) on the sidewalk and I drop mine also. Let´s see what you think then.
  • Because it looks pretty?
  • Nope. Looks ugly. Try again
  • Wireless charging you genius! Why do u think iPhone and HTC can't manage wireless charging on their all metal phones?
  • What do you people do with your phones? My s6edge plus is over a year old. When not in use I keep it in a flexible glasses pouch, but other than that it has no case or screen protection, I don't treat it roughly, but nor do I go overboard with regards to looking after it. Yet the only scratches it has are ones on the front that are invisible during normal use. They can only be seen when I shine a bright torch at the unlit screen.
  • I don't know, man. I used a Z3 Compact for about a year without putting a case on it, and the glass on the front and back were pretty much pristine by the time I moved on to my current phone. I gave it to my girlfriend to replace her dying 4S, and within three months it looked like someone had using it as a shuffleboard puck. I'm not overly careful with my phones, and she's not overly clumsy with hers. **** just happens with these things sometimes.
  • Because that way Google can claim they fully designed the hardware even though this is essentially a clone in terms of the shell of the a9.
  • Magical!
  • Sounds like Google made a decent phone. If only it looked better, had waterproofing, and had an SD slot (yes I know Google will never do an SD slot). I'll stick with Samsung for now but maybe v2 of the Pixel will be something that could tempt me to switch.
  • I'd go far beyond saying it's "decent" — it's the best Android phone I've ever used.
  • But still lacking basics all other high end phones have. It's simply not current with 2016 standards from what I can tell by looking at specs and watching/reading reviews. Should have been half the price and not exclusive to one carrier. Piss poor ideas from Google on this.
  • What basics does it lack?
  • My last three phones have had wireless charging (and now FAST wireless charging). I'd say that's a modern-day basic that's missing. After three phones, I've invested a lot in wireless charging that I am not ready to just throw in a drawer!
  • I'll trade waterproofing wireless charging for a lightning fast UI any day of the week. So would most people who weren't already married to Samsung.
  • or Motorola, or LG,....
  • I'm saying this as a pretty big Google fan, but in all fairness the Galaxy S7 does have those features, plus the cheaper price. Google missed a trick when trying to compete with Apple - the best competitor was Samsung.
  • Dr b ^^Samsung troll^^
    Nothing more, nothing less.
    Nothing to see here, move along.
  • The video review says the UI is on par with Samsung, not faster. In addition to the things you mentioned water proofing etc, the s7/edge also has expandable memory, and the Best screen in the business. It also has had google's assistant through Allo for well over a month so i'm not sure why that feature is so hyped up for the pixel. All in a smaller package with an equally large screen, with a bigger battery. The s7 range also has a stellar camera that nothing i have seen from the Pixel beats.
  • BS-Most sites say the Pixel is the new king of smartphone cameras
  • I've never wirelessly charged my s6 and don't think I ever will. Why would anyone want wireless charging on the pixel when it charges so fast without it?
  • A choppy UI and lousy ram management. ;)
  • ^^Samsung troll^^ nothing more.
    All the features you don't have you just write off because you're a Samsung troll.
  • Water proofing, more balanced ergonomics, worthy price.
  • A decent IP rating, OIS, wireless charging, expandable storage,etc.
  • Lacks waterproofing, that's it.
  • Wireless charging.
  • Touchwiz. #jokes
  • You only got one song and all your comments, and that is that you don't like TouchWiz, big deal.
  • I bet you touchwiz all the time
  • Lol. Never saw that one.
  • it's not exclusive to one carrier. One carrier is just selling them directly. You can use it on any carrier if bought from the Google Store.
  • Thank you, I didn't know that. Still too expensive for what it is though.
  • Andrew, you emphasize way too much on software if you think this is the best Android phone ever.
  • Is waterproofing really that big a deal at the end of the day? How many times have you gotten your Samsung wet? I know we all want the latest and greatest, which does mean waterproofing, but how practical is it really?
  • I have been saying this for awhile. The whole "a phone is not waterproof" really shouldn't be a deal breaker. Most phones 2 years ago weren't.
  • My bad, I don't live in the past. But seriously at these prices they could afford to include some basics like ip 67/68. I don't even understand why anyone would defend Not including it.
  • I'm not defending not including it, I just don't see it as a huge feature. Again, it shouldn't be a deal breaker. If Galaxy devices and the iPhone weren't waterproof, you wouldn't care.
  • But they are and this is competing in the same price range so... Believe me, I WANT to like this phone and I want to see it's pros, but in comparing it to other offerings at this price point I'm not seeing ANY reason to buy it.
  • What phones are you comparing? The v20 doesn't have the sd821, the note 7 explodes. Only other option is the iPhone.
  • SD 821 is already obsolete
  • Exactly!
  • Use one in the shower and you'll understand why people that have water resistant phones want it in all their future phones.
  • This is why we can't have nice things. I'm in the shower to shower, not play with my phone.
  • Do you never listen to music or news in the morning? This is one of those don't knock it till you try it features.
  • Lol! I don't think that means what you think it means ;)
  • But now some phones are. And it can make huge difference in whether to dry it or send it in for repair. Your choice.
  • For me Waterproofing is almost a must considering i always risk dropping it in water in my work ;)
  • So what did you do prior to waterproofing?
  • Then i had to be extra careful, im careful even today but i doesnt need to worry if the accident would happen.
  • Probably went through a lot of phones...
  • I feel like if the Pixel 2 is not waterproof we will have an issue. Waterproofing only became a thing on mainstream phones this year and it still isn't standard.
  • To me it is, I've gotten it wet plenty. I have a hot tub and I like to browse the forums or read while in there. Gets pretty wet when the jets are on, not to mention accidentally dropping it in the water occasionally.
  • A couple of years ago, it wasn't. At this point, for phones at this price level, I think it should be expected.
  • Absolutely.
  • Most of last years flagships were not waterproof. People are just now spoiled with it now that most of this years flagships have it. Same goes for MicroSD expansion. I think Google did good with allowing full res. backups for free to compensate for the lack of SD storage.
  • Try jogging with a non water proof phone in your trouser on a hot summer evening. And you will know the importance of waterproofing in a 700$ phone.
  • Not sure what the big deal is either. I've been using smartphones since blackberry's were blue, and I've never once needed water protection. Then again I take care of my $600+/- electronics. What I do expect is for my $600+ device not to lag or feel choppy. I'll take that over waterproofing any day of the week.
  • You only downplay the importance of water resistance because you don't and can't have it. It is important and worthwhile, if you ever actually spend any time outside.
  • Like wireless charging, it was a useless gimmick when Samsung didn't do it. Now it's the best thing ever because someone else said it was. Go back and read the comment history of most folks saying it. I have. It's hilarious.
  • You're really asking how practical being water resistant is......
  • Give it up. SD cards are old news.. Never gonna happen on a Google device
  • Wow. You sound like a Google gobbler.
  • Nice !
  • Can you unlock the bootloader?
  • Yes, unless you buy it from Verizon.
  • PCMag says different. "Even though we tested a Verizon Pixel, the bootloader was not locked. That means rooting and installing ROMs is possible; that should allay some fears about Google turning the Pixel into a closed realm."
    Hopefully this is true with the customer versions and wasn't because it was a review unit. Mine arrives tomorrow.
  • The Pixel makes me excited for next year's model. I usually pass on first iterations of tech but even more in this case with the many features missing to compete directly with the competition this year (water resistance, wireless charging, expandable storage - even iphones have water resistance now) especially at that price tag. It sounds from the review that the overall experience is great and likely to get some new fans. In any case I'm glad with what Google is doing.
  • Isn't this like the 8th iteration of a Google phone? Just because they changed the name doesn't mean they haven't made a phone before.
  • Actually it does. They haven't designed a phone from the ground up before. The Nexus line was different - oem's pitched designs to google, and then the chosen oem produced it. This phone was designed by google.
  • It is made by HTC and designed by Google. This isn't their first rodeo.
  • Then Google needs to fire their designers and hand the Pixel over to the Nexus team.
  • You can wait for next year's if Google doesn't get bored and orphan this project like it does so many other initiatives. Seriously, they're like an adolescent with out of control ADHD. If Pixel had been created as a separate company under Alphabet, I would believe in it. I don't think they'll ever do what it takes to make it truly successful under the Google masthead.
  • Very well put.
  • My fear exactly. I'm sitting here ready to upgrade and it's between this and IP7+. I went with IP6s+ last year because I was just tired of a subpar Android experience.
  • got to have this phone.
  • No. You have to have food but you want this phone.
  • Excellent review. So glad I've ordered mine and will be here in a day or two!
  • Mine is poised to arrive the week of Thanksgiving. Silver XL 128GB
  • Then you can give thanks to Google!
  • Phew! Thank goodness for that. Ordered one on launch day and what with all the negative comments was getting slightly concerned that it was worth the money. Such a positive article means I can carry on getting excited for delivery this Friday!!!
  • The XL was all set to be my reluctant replacement for my much missed Note 7, up until they announced the price.
  • It's a top of the line phone, what did you expect to pay?
  • No it's not.
  • Yes it is. What about it is not top of the line?
  • Meagre storage on the base model with no SD card support, no wireless charging, lack of waterproofing.
  • Indeed, Once you get used to wireless charging, it's hard to lose it. Especially if, like me, you have invested a decent amount of money into multiple charging pads and car mount etc. Too convenient to give up now. Maybe next years model will have it.
  • Wonder what a top half metal and bottom half glass pixel would've looked like. They could have stuck wireless charging in with that design. I honestly don't think Google is ever going back to wireless charging until someone invents a way for metal back phones to wirelessly charge.
  • With fast charging built in, the masses don't care about wireless charging
  • You speak for yourself, do not claim to speak for the masses.
  • Disagree
  • Off the top of my head: No water proofing
    No 64gb
    No OIS (not convinced it doesn't matter yet)
    Back glass scratch magnet (admittedly probably won't matter with a case)
    No wireless charging
    Price I'm sure there's more, but it's lunch time and I'm hungry!
  • Yeah manufacturers don't care about wireless charging nor should they. If I have the option of not plugging in my phone or getting a full charge in 30 min, I'll take a full charge. Every single review has shown amazing pictures and videos. Water proofing also doesn't seem to be as big a deal either, especially when they offer 2 years replacement coverage with every phone. Storage is moot since pixel owners get lifetime limitless storage at full res for pictures I had a nexus 4 and never had a scratch on the back. And with all these premium features it's going to be in the game price range as a galaxy and iPhone
  • What "premium features" does the Pixel offer? I'm honestly curious.
  • The Project Fi seems like it's a pretty good service. Although it not a "premium feature" it will get the fastest updates and the most dev support.
  • the Nexus 5 still has better dev support than any Google phone that followed it up, even Android 7 took only a mere week to be ported.
  • Everything that you claim is not a big deal is simply because you cannot get it. Lol.
  • Very good review!
  • Alex, Great article. You obviously spent time to research the pros and cons in depth. I thought I knew all there was to know about the Pixel, but there were some surprises for me.
  • Like what? That it scratches easy? That should have been a given.
  • Love the video stabilization test - can't wait for the 20th
  • Lack of water resistance and only two years of OS updates at that price makes it a non-starter for me. If I am dropping that much on an Android direct from Google, I'm not willing to make sacrifices on hardware or software when the Galaxy S7 has the water resistance at the same price and the new iPhones have water resistance and three years of updates at the same price. I was willing when they were charging cheaper prices like on the 6P, I expect more when they are charging iPhone and Samsung prices though.
  • Great, so don't buy it. Go get an iPhone
  • Thanks! I did!
  • Waterproofing isn't a big deal to me. But to others sure. I just find it funny how people make such a big deal about it and it JUST started to be a thing in the regular Galaxy & iPhone. Don't act like it's a no brainer to have it. iPhones get updates, but lack features from each iteration because the phone can't support it. Google guarantees 2 years but we all know it'll be more. Does Samsung guarantee updates longer than 2 years?
  • Seriously. I've never even had a waterproof phone, and guess what? It hasn't been a problem. At all.
  • Before having a smartphone, you didn't have a smartphone. It had never been a problem... Once you've had such a cool feature, you can't say you don't care about it anymore.
  • The S7 looses its waterproofing very fast is you bend it even a little bit in your pocket and you don't even know it till it's to late. I like the all inclusive Google insurance.
  • Yeah, ok, whatever shill.
    Also, if you want to call coverage all inclusive, it needs to include loss and theft, you know, like verizon.
  • I'm still waiting to meet someone that keeps a phone more than two years.
  • Great design by Google, I wish they placed the Google logo inside the fingerprint sensor area.
    This would be the best android smartphone in the near future surpassing Samsung.
  • I think that now that Google is the and all be all with the Pixel line vs changing OEMs every year or two, we will get that control and continuity that we have wanted. The software has for the most part been consistent on Nexus devices, but the hardware was the variable. Now that problem is solved. We get a true answer. Can't wait for my Very Blue Pixel next week to arrive. That'll be my personal phone, with my 6p being my work phone. Great review, just wish they had sent you a blue model.
  • An advancement in some areas, but it doesn't have all the bases covered for a modern flagship at an outrageous price. Google knows there are enough tech nerds out there who want the latest hardware and will ignore the pimples. As there's no perfect flagship, the $400 and under devices is where the smart (read: tight) money should go. I think the Moto Z Play has the priorities right, for me.
  • I don't ignore pimples. I pop them!! Lol
  • I'm really considering the second gen. Pixel as my next phone. Can't justify the upgrade right now. Excellent review. Really liked the collaboration and liked the video production too.
  • 2 days! 2 days! I was super happy with my Note 7 until batterygate. Looks like I can be happy again!!! yay!
  • Looks like a very solid device that performs very well in daily use and has a very good camera to boot. I still think it's a bit on the pricey side for what you're getting compared to some of its rivals, but people see different values in devices like these. If you really like what Google is doing this year, I think you're gonna enjoy it. I may not be big on it, but I really hope it does well, for the sake of competition and also HTC's wallet.
  • I have one main problem with the Pixel, and I'm sure it's trivial to most, but I've gotten really used to the stereo speakers on my Nexus 6P. Used to as in, I wonder why all phones beyond the 6P wouldn't have this feature. For their size, they sound fabulous. Why the Pixel didn't adopt this layout, I'm unsure, but for this reason alone, I'll stick with my 6P for now.
  • +1. I have an n6 (and n9) and feel the same way, especially with those bezels. Very perplexing decision and a move backwards, to me anyway. Also wish the xl was 5.7...
  • To be fair, the 6P's battery useage is SUBSTANTIALLY improved with the latest update.
  • If it weren't for the Frankenstein looking glass back, it'll be a nice looking phone. I guess they had to camouflage the iPhone look.
  • They crammed a Ferrari into a Yugo body on it. What's next.. Useless full glass backs and useless edged screens? The way the phone works looks pretty good so far..
  • Ahhh, the cries of the left behind nexus fanboys.
  • Excellent review Alex, well done
  • In terms of software updates, the only comparable phone is iPhone.
    I get why some folks continue to gravitate to Samsung, but it's their preference and that's that.
    The price is the only deterrent for me at this point, but it appears Google did a fine job here regardless of the state of my wallet.
  • This phone is pretty boring for me but I'm excited to see where Google will take the pixel line.
  • Great review, but Will wait on how the V20 final product will play out
  • Call me crazy, which I probably am, but one of the reasons I'm having a hard time leaving Samsung is because I friggin love Samsung Pay. Being able to pay on pretty much any machine with MST is very cool.
  • Agree! Actually the only thing that is keeping me on Samsung is Samsung Pay, Too frickin convenient of a feature to give up. Which is why the Pixel XL will just be a secondary device for me.
  • I'll miss having Samsung Pay as well, but in most situations I encounter where the card reader is accessible to the buyer (pharmacy, grocery, department stores), they accept NFC payments. I do wish this technology was more widely adopted.
  • You must not be in the US.
  • Back glass is never a good idea, IMO. I don't care if it is Gorilla Glass 5. I am putting a skin and a case on that as soon as I get mine.
  • Overpriced, ugly, nothing to impress me. I can buy two phones with equal or better functionality compared to one of these. I believe it will ultimately fail much like the new Moto phones.
  • Pre-sales from Google would say otherwise.
  • Everything Google sells sales out. That's what happens when you intentionally don't produce enough to increase hype.
  • Yup
  • I don't know why you call the smaller version compact. It's bigger and thicker than the s7 and doesn't even have off screen buttons.
  • Great review, congrats!
    Andrew: What I would really really like to know is how does the normal Pixel compare with the HTC 10. Specially now that the HTC 10 price has dropped to 550 bucks. Cheers
  • Can anyone answer if the pixels have a fm radio in them?
  • If this phone had been released at a more Nexus-ish price point it would have been amazing. But at this price you are getting less hardware and some almost cool half baked software features that most other androids will be getting within the next 3-6 months anyway. I just don't see any compelling reason to shell out flagship level dollars for a phone that could have easily been released 6 months ago. Seems like if you are going to drop this kind of coin on a new phone today you are better off going with the international Samsung S7 Edge, bigger battery, water resistant, better screen, SD Card, Same or lower price.
  • Which is why I don't quite understand the "can't think of a greater phone to get". This is android and we care about hardware and software. You can't really be in contention for flagship phone of the year if you can't meet flagship industry standards for hardware. I get that software and probably integration are going to be cool but there are too many options on android to base judgement on that alone. At this price point, flagships don't get points for leaving things out. Rant over
  • No SD card and to a lesser extent lack of waterproofing are a dealbreaker for me.
    And before anyone starts giving it large about how the cloud is the way forward and pretty soon all phones will only need 2gb of internal storage blah blah bleeding blah.
    Due to factors such has not having a big data allowance, ***** mobile reception in my area and having a taste in music that streaming services don't fully cater for I feel more comfortable choosing a phone with this feature.
    Shame really cos it seems like a good phone
  • Yeah, most streaming services suck a$$ when it comes to heavy metal.... Which is all I listen too.
  • "The front face is deliberately bare, so as to not distract you from the display." [I hope for your sakes this is a Google press release claim cuz this is one lame justification.] "As is smartphone tradition, only one of those grilles actually has a speaker behind it, and the Pixel doesn't do stereo audio through its earpiece like some rivals." [So a single speaker is a good thing now? And a "tradition" now, too! Wow.] "Google's Pixel has made me fall in love with small phones all over again." [So phones with 5" displays are officially "small" now. I guess that should kill complaints about phones getting too big once and for all.] "With Pixel, the company finally delivers on what we'd wanted all along from a Google phone." [The Google marketing coup de grace and nothing but BS. Anyone who ever says this to my face is taking a Nexus 6 to the forehead. There's a whole lot of exclusivity sugared over by that "we."] I'm surprised you didn't justify the cost of the Pixels with "Sure, the price is a little higher this year, but that's so you'll appreciate how important you are and how much Google Assistant loves you."
  • Lmao @ take a Nexus 6 to the face. I needed that laugh lol.
  • Excellent
  • +1
  • It's interesting how gray the glass on the front and back of this phone looks in so many of the videos and pictures.
  • Not Quite Black TM
  • One of the best I've ever seen, I can't wait to get one!
  • Is HotSpot carrier locked on Verizon ? Can an unlocked one be activated on Sprint like the Nexus ? Kenny
  • Yes! If bought directly from Google.
  • Daniel or Alex, I haven't been able to watch the video so I am not sure if you mention it there or not, but I am wondering how the ambient notifications work when the screen is off. Does it work just like the way the 6P did? Any changes to that setup?
  • Get your Note 7s phones replaced. The real and only android phone that matters is here !!!
  • How can such a phone be praised when there are phones like the S7 Edge that are now much less expensive and still better?
    The design is very ordinary, to say the least (the Pixel looks like a cheap Chinese phone, to say the truth), the display is great, but not as great as the S7 Edge's, the camera is on par with that of the S7, but battery life is not as good as the Exynos version of the S7 Edge, it seems. It lacks water resistance and a MicroSD port.
  • Because as nice as Samsung hardware is their software sucks. I used to be a huge fan had note 2-3-4 along with other models. This is Google's answer to the iPhone. I don't want Samsung voice and their calendar app their messaging apps etc. Just bloat and touch wiz.
  • I like modern touchwiz a lot. YMMV.
  • All can be removed
  • Then don't use them, but you know that. You just wanted to spout off.
  • I agree completely. Reviewers should be more objective with expectations of hardware and software when the phone is priced like a flagship. OEMs get butchered when they leave key hardware options out and here we are giving Google excellent reviews in spite of that. At the expense of coming off as a Samsung fanboi but they aim to be stellar in both hardware and software. I don't quite get how these are not Nexus 7 and 7p with assistant baked in and a price bump
  • Shhhh. Not supposed to point that out. It's a secret.
  • I think we should be objective and ruthless when it comes to software, and companies who are really bad at it should have a DO NOT BUY attached to their reviews.
  • I won't be ready for a new phone until about this time next year. Hopefully they will have come down in price by then. I think I would have to choose the XL. My eyesight up close is just getting too bad to go to a smaller phone.
  • You can't think of a better device? How about the mate 9 deluxe.
    This phone is ugly as hell, overpriced and lacks a micro sd card... It has iPhone written all over it.
    The charm of nexus devices were the price point and vanilla Android. If you're gonna spend this kind of money get a v20 or go with the next Huawei device.
  • Any phone done by Google, as in the Nexus line and even the Moto line, have NEVER had SD cards
  • I really like how you all did this review with adding certain notes about things that are different when it comes to the different sizes, such as the battery life. Great review. That small Pixel is kind of tempting now.
  • Personally, for my use preferences I can't get past the hardware choices and pricing without an sd card ....iphone look on the front, the too high price for the 128gb version and lack of water proofing and wireless charging that my S7E has spoiled me with. I realize wireless charging is not offered by hardly anyone but Samsung, but Hoping that Pixel XL2 will address at the waterproofing, looks and storage choice issues because the software functionality seems fantastic.
  • The google marketing budget should get all the sites excited.
    Getting great reviews the only thing negative spoken is no real water resistance.
    That should lead to the next pixel coming with.
    I have the pixel launcher and google assistant installed on my s7 edge and it runs quick. Google assistant is fast but currently it only seems a bit more useful than google now
  • Wish it had wave to wake or some type of feature like that for when the phone is sitting on your desk
  • "Ok Google, Make me a phone" LOL. Good one Alex. Love the image too. Okay now back to actually read the review....
  • Nice review on the XL. Damn i was going to pass but want to try this out after Andrew's review. Does it have wifi calling on ATT like my iphone and S7 Active? That would make a difference for me.
  • Probably not. AT&T can't turn on that feature unless you buy the device from them, which you can't.
  • I talked to a rep who said it would have WiFi calling and visual voice-mail.... I'm not going to hold my breath though.
  • As much as I still enjoy my Nexus 6P, is it wrong for me to be envious to those that managed to pick up a Pixel XL? :p I even tried to talk my wife into getting it after her disastrous time with the Note 7, but it just wasn't out soon enough for her to switch over (she ended up getting the S7 edge). Putting in Google Assistant (Thank you, XDA!) and other features might temper my envy, but I'll stand firm on sticking with my 6P...for now. :D
  • I wish I had your will power. Already thinking of pitting my 6P on Swappa. Maybe sleeping on it a few night would help...
  • My willpower isn't THAT strong. :p I do toss back and forth on whether I should make that jump. I tend to get phones in two-year cycles: Nexus One, Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, Nexus 5, Nexus 6P, while my wife goes through phones nearly annually...should be the other way around!
  • Just waiting on some good cases to come out. Hopefully a wireless charging case from Nillkin or whoever. Then I'll pick one up
  • Well done Google. Make everyone else take notice. I went with a GS7E for various personal reasons but I will definitely look at a Pixel for my next phone (in comparison to whatever replaces the Note 7).
  • Good to hear the camera is just as fantastic in real use, and really good news on the screen brightness. Bezels are still a negative and no wireless charging. Urrg. Will wait for the Galaxy S8 announcement in Feb and make a decision at that time. Hopefully by then the pixel price will be reduced or there will be a temporary sale. Great review, thanks!
  • Should us 6P owners upgrade or wait a year?
  • What i don't understand from the video review is that you say you can't type to the assistant but can't you just use "Allo" and type to the assistant that way? Unless you just meant you can't type to the assistant through the shortcut.
  • Interesting concept. No doubt about it.
    Reviews by people on G payroll strikes me as dubious.
    Don't get me wrong; I ordered one.
    Still, gave S7 to my wife, hope not to regret it.
  • I'm going to have to pass on the Pixel. Don't get me wrong, I really want it more than any other phone on the market, I just can't justify spending the money on a new phone when my Nexus 6P is only a year old. Unless I win the phone through some online promotion, I'll be stuck waiting for the Pixel 2017... sigh...
  • nice review Alex... well balanced. I think the google assistant (Siri, Cortana and Alexa too ofcourse) is only good for english speaking countries... and too much emphasis is given to it in reviews. To the rest of the world these assistants are more or less useless. i dont want to speak to my phone at all... let alone in english.
  • Didn't know Verizon is doing a "free Daydream headset" promotion for preorders. Hmm...I was just going to go to the store and buy it in person.
  • Your research on this mobile is cool...!!! Iam very much excited to see many more features for the next pixel generation..!! Wish I Could have One..!!!
  • You won the lotto! You're the 200th comment! You won a free pixel from AC central staff!! J/k
  • I'm still trying to understand the appeal of this phone, or why so much of the tech media is rushing to hype it. I don't get the partial glass back plating. It's as though it's the only feature that distinguishes the Pixel from the iPhone, only the Pixel is, quite frankly, uglier. The specs aren't great. Not only does it not have significant water resistance, but no wireless charging, either. That's a non-starter to me. So much about a smartphone is how you routinely use it. Well, I routinely use a wireless charger on my S6 edge. And, quite frankly, no other major flagship smartphone manufacturer has this feature. Not sure why, but I think they're missing out — big time. Google Assistant? Not sure what it adds. More optimized software? It depends what's being optimized. Lifetime high-res backups? That's not a feature of the phone, but an add-on service that Google could provide to any phone if it wanted.
  • As long as the Google name is on this device, I'll have no part of it.
    They can mine other people's data instead. And I should pay $800 for the privilege?
  • I'm sticking with my S6 but I'd get a S7 over this phone without thinking it twice.
  • +100
  • The Pixel competes poorly with Samsung, LG, Lenovo, or even Apple - but charges a similar price. That said, even after Google drops the price to a less egregious $500 in a couple of months, it still will be a poor value compared to OnePlus 3, Axon 7,etc. Perhaps the Pixel 2 will get it right, but the current Pixel phones are singularly unimpressive to me.
  • personally can't stand the design (the general impression I'm getting from the internet and people I know is that I'm not alone), looks like HTC may have had some input there
  • I'd be interested if I didn't already own a 6P.
    I see no reason to upgrade. The 6P is fine and is only a year old.
    At the prices phones sell for how, I'm on a minimum two year cycle.
    At $300 I was a new phone every year. At $649 + $89 for protect, it's now two years.
    I can't see paying $100 more for just an upgraded device. The Pixel XL is is $850 with protection and 128GB. I'll pass and see what's on the market next year.
  • Very annoyed that Google are prioritising their own Pixel devices before even releasing 7.1 to the AOSP. What happened to the "firewall" between Android and Osterloh (the Pixel division)??
  • Only existed in fantasy land. Lol.
  • Why shouldn't they prioritize their own devices? Google is at a point where they can afford to piss off some Android OEMs, and they can certainly afford to piss off some fanboys because those people are only a minuscule fraction of Google's user base. Who cares, other than they themselves? Google needs to take control of the OS and provide a UX that is distinctly theirs, integrates their services optimally, and delivers good support without being beholden to OEM shenanigans. These phones aren't even that good (I'd buy an S7 over a Pixel any day of the week, because it's simply a superior product through any through - hardware and software, for that matter), but I don't understand your complaint. Really, get over it.
  • The original commenter was referring to Google's own statement that the Android development team and the Google Hardware division would be kept separate and preferential treatment would not be shown, which we all knew was bullshit. I hope this helps answer the question from the OP that you do not understand.
  • 7.1 came to AOSP before the pixel launch as promised.
  • I have a smartphone, it's 3 years old. It does everything I want so why buy this? Ok it has a few bells and whistles that I don't really need anyway, so what? It won't improve my life at all. I think people should realise that throwing so much money at phone makers is ridiculous. It doesn't take long for the top notch smartphone to be worth sod all and yet people keep repeating the cycle over and over.
  • People gravitate towards the latest "shiny thing" that comes through the pike, whether they really need it or not. Apple has done a very good job doing that year after year, so Google is now following a similar roadmap with their suite of products (Pixel, Home, Wifi, etc.).
  • I just can't do it... aesthetically displeasing, no microSD, no always-on display, no wireless charging, no true hardware OIS, etc. I mean, I'd pick it over an iPhone any day, but there are several Android (even some Windows) flagships I'd choose over the Pixel.
  • Google is really trying to have their cake and eat it too here. Part of the reason people are willing to pay the Apple premium is to not have Google snooping through their data, and to be treated like a customer rather than the product. I'm OK with Google mining my data, but I'm not OK with also paying the Apple premium. They need to pick one or the other - walled garden at a premium, or mine everyone's data to generate ad revenue and stop trying to profit on the hardware. They're trying to double charge, and I'm not double paying.
  • You make a very valid point. Really.
  • ARGH! No mention of audio quality. Audio has become a big deal now, and it needs to be reviewed. Qualcomm says the same DAC that is in the HTC10 is in the Pixels. So, how is the quality? Can it handle hi-rez? How is it through headphones? Please.....
  • Alex says the audio is HTC 10 level on Twitter.
  • Oh, good, thanks
  • Wow! The review doesn't make a single comparison with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7!!! Is this new pretender as good? Apparently we don't want to know. History belongs to the victors, eh.
  • Nice phone, overall, hopefully version 2 works out some shortcomings. (OIS,water resistance, stereo speakers, wireless charging, and to a lesser extent, expandable storage)
  • Headphones jack. Don't forget headphone jack. The way every big smartphone manufacturer is considering dropping this feature, I am Google won't be left far behind.
  • solid review. I plan to go to Verizon on Thursday and pick one up. I hope they have black 128gb in stock. Probably should have preordered...
  • Before you make a final decision, please do check ZTE Axon, OnePlus 3 and Huawei Honor 8. At least pay a visit.
  • Thanks for the advice but I don't want any of those phones. I've read plenty about them.
  • Huuge chin and bezels WITH on-screen buttons... What the what?!
  • Basically the only thing this phone has over the S7 Edge is the software and no bloatware. The hardware is not as good. 1. Screen not as good.
    2. Physical design is uglier than the S7 Edge and Iphone 7..
    3. No waterproof.
    4. No wireless charging..
    5. Bezels much larger. Huge chin for no reason.
  • Please, this pixel is far from gorgeous. Hope it works better than it looks.
  • When you look up wasted space in the dictionary a picture of the Pixel's bottom bezel is next to it.:D
  • Hahaha
  • They could've at least put front-facing stereo speakers on the thing, like on the 6P. Then those bezels would've been somewhat justified.
  • Nah, I'll go for a Samsung Note. It'll keep ya warm in the cold winter.
  • Why does every review of the Pixel talk about how "expensive" it is? I don't see reviewers complaining about how expensive the Galaxy S7 is, or the iPhone 7... Google (or HTC) built a solid, competitive flagship to go toe-to-toe with Apple and Samsung, and yet everyone seems to expect them to come in at a lower price point. WTH? I think they ALL should bring the prices down some (that's a separate rant), but until they do, why shouldn't Google charge what the other guys are charging if they're bringing it just as hard as the competition?
  • Because they (Google) are NOT bringing it as hard as competition.
  • Why? Because no SD card support or waterproofing? I could care less about those, and I see a lot of great features in the Pixel that no other phone has. So, I will agree to disagree with you.
  • What great features does Pixel have that no other phones has?
  • Best camera on the market
    Google Assistant
    Unlimited free full-res photo backup
  • We don't know about the camera yet, assistant and photos can be had on any phone... What else do you have? Even if the camera was the best and you couldn't get the others on other phones, it still wouldn't offset all the other basic missing features.
  • the Google Assistant will make its way to other phones, true, but assuming DXO knows what they're talking about that still leaves the best camera available, and the unlimited free full-res photo backup is a PIxel exclusive feature. As mentioned above, I could give two licks about the features others are whining about, so to me it still presents a best option for the price.
  • No TouchWiz (and I've tried and handled it plenty), standards compliant Type C implementation, and faster updates straight from Google... That's enough to swing me over, even the HTC 10 as a halfway option would be more appealing, I wish the OP3 was smaller. I actually LIKE wireless charging, bought into it early on with my N5 when most were still calling it gimmicky and Samsung required a separate battery lid... I'll live without it tho. Got three pads and I'll probably leave two out to keep using with my N7 for now. If my N5 wasn't getting pretty long in the tooth I'd probably wait for Pixel 2 or whatever, I would've upgraded last year but the N5X underwhelmed me. I think Google's getting lucky with timing between people upgrading and the Note battery debacle.
  • One question. Will Michael Fisher review Pixel phone or not?
  • I like it
  • Yeah I can't really agree that a 2016 phone that lacks:
    - OIS
    - expandable storage
    - wireless charging
    - waterproofing is anywhere near the best Android device on the market.
    These ugly af iPixels lack all of that. And don't even get me started on the crappy OIS-less camera. No amount of digital trickery can compensate for the lack of hardware stabilisation when taking a photograph. Sony has proved that time and again year after year. These iPixels stand no chance against the S7. Even against the G5 they pale.
    These are phones for Google-fanboys only. Just like the Google Pixel tablets were. Consumers have vastly superior offers on the market. This may be Google's vision for Android...but their vision is a nightmare. Thank God for other OEMs. If I had to accept a phone with so many compromises, I'd rather buy the Xperia XZ. Same crappy camera but at least it has better hardware design, waterproofing and expandable storage.
  • Agree. This phone makes even the iPhone 7 and 7+ look super premium and excessively forward thinking/innovative by comparison. It's almost like comparing a Galaxy S7 to a OnePlus 3. The only attractive thing about this phone is the Assistant, and I wouldn't pay for that. I'd rather wait to see if it comes to other devices. If not, no big deal. It's not like I use it much, anyways. I'm not giving up iMessage, FaceTime, immaculate integration with my iMac, better services support on my Windows Notebook, superior quality apps, and twice the support lifecycle for this bucket of mediocrity.
  • Only 2 years guaranteed software support!!!! On a phone costing this much??? Not what I'd call "Long Life" !! Would I like to try one...Yes. Will I buy one with my own money....No.
  • and by not forcing Qualcomm to open source the drivers they are stuck with a max of 3 years.
    Even if they wanted to go further, there is no way for Google to provide support after 3 years onwards.
    Custom roms, like with the Nexus 5 will go further, but not the kernel and driver support from QC -.- which is a shame.