Google Pixel XL Long Term Review: The Best Android Package

Google took a new direction recently by putting down the Nexus lineup aside. And that brings up a new series from Google, the Pixel. The Nexus 6P did a great job last year at a great price. But Google wants to take the Nexus lineup to a new level with a sheer quality in the products just like Apple does with their iPhone. But is the Pixel the best Android phone ever? Is it better than the iPhone 7? Let’s find out what Google has to offer with the Pixel at the price of an iPhone. Let’s go ahead and start the Google Pixel XL Review.

DESIGN

You won’t believe but the Google Pixel actually looks like an iPhone from the front. It’s just like a slab of metal with curved edges and a rear that tapers ever so slightly to help it sit better in your hand which hides up the camera bump as well. The glass and metal at back don’t look good at all in the pictures. But in reality, it feels much better and a little bit slippery at the same time. The metal slips off from the hands but the glass grips it up at the same time.

Overall, it’s very comfortable to hold the Pixel XL in hands even though being big. The iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, feels like a hulking beast device and unmanageable in the hands at the same time. The Pixel XL feels so light compared to other flagships as well. Branding is kept to a minimum, which is rare for an Android phone. There’s only a “G” logo stenciled on the back. HTC may have helped Google to build the phone, but there’s no mention of it anywhere.

I still love having the fingerprint sensor on the back in all situations apart from when the phone is flat on a desk. I’m very much used to that with other devices as well. The down firing speakers did upset me for some time but getting used to it wasn’t a headache. The one thing that I found problematic with the design was durability. I used the Pixel and it was like going to fall. It happened to me around two times. So, I better recommend you to get a case over it since Rs. 70,000 isn’t less at all. One problem that arises here is that the Pixel XL isn’t IP67 waterproof like iPhone 7 or the S7 Edge, instead, it has IP53 waterproofing which can handle dust and some amount of water into it.

In overall, the design feels much better than in pictures or paper. I would say it’s one of the good designs I saw last year.

DISPLAY

The Pixel XL comes with a 5.5-inches Quad HD (1440 x 2560) AMOLED display which is great to look at. Apple’s flagships tend to render color more accurately, while Samsung’s are much brighter and vivid. I’d say that the Pixel XL sits somewhere in-between. Anyways, the perfect balance of the colors and saturation on the Pixel XL reproduces colors as they should be seen. There’s a point when the sunlight visibility isn’t on point compared to others at the same price.

It’s normal these days to have big phones in your pocket without any hassles. So, Pixel XL wouldn’t disappoint you as well. The display is very good in terms of everything in overall.

PERFORMANCE

The Performance is the best part about the Pixel. The phone runs on Snapdragon 821 which is the fastest till now. The phone has a 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage as standard out of which 24 GB is available. You also have the option to have 128 GB variant as well but the lack of 64 GB doesn’t look good.

Whether it’s opening apps, browsing the web, playing games or just jumping between home screens, the Pixel is the smoothest Android experience around. Even though it runs on the Snapdragon 821, the processor is underclocked, unlike the OnePlus 3T which is overclocked.

When it comes to the benchmarks, the Pixel can’t beat either the Galaxy S7, iPhone 7 or the OnePlus 3 itself. But benchmarks aren’t always true. They keep varying. These scores don’t relate at all to the how the phone performs in real life.You probably wouldn’t notice the individual occurrences, but you’ll certainly notice them after a few days.

SOFTWARE

When it comes to the software, Pixel tops most of the devices out there. Just like the iPhone, Google can now have a control on both the hardware and software completely for better results. Like the Nexus phones before it, the Pixel is all about showcasing what’s best about Google’s software. The big new addition here is Google Assistant. Google Assistant competes directly with Siri and Cortana. And in my usage personally, The Google Assistant beats off Siri and Cortana in 90% of the cases. And moreover, Google Now is integrated into more Google devices so that you have a whole intelligent connection among devices to make the concept of IoT (internet of Things) as much as true as possible.

Long press on the slightly refreshed middle soft key and the Google Assistant pops up. Like Now on Tap, it will scan your screen for relevant contextual information, bringing up times and cinema information if you’re talking about seeing a film, for instance. But now you can talk directly to it: ask it the weather, to set an alarm, show you directions to work and so on. And it will spew out an answer much faster than Apple’s Siri.

Pixel Launcher is actually a pretty big departure from the Google Launcher on the Nexus 6P. It does away with the app drawer for a transparent pane that you swipe up from the bottom and replaces the iconic Google search bar with a pill-shaped widget that pretty much does the same thing, just in a smaller way.

Unlike Nexus phones, I wouldn’t actually call the software running on the Pixel and Pixel XL “Stock Android”. Google has overlaid its own launcher on top of Android 7.1 and this is another way the Pixel hopes to stand out from the crowd.

CAMERA

The camera is the place where smartphones are competitive on to the point. On the DxOMark, Pixel beat the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the iPhone 7. And as always you know, Benchmarks doesn’t reveal the complete truth. You need to use it to get a better idea on the particular thing. The 12.3 MP camera takes some of the most detailed shots I’ve ever seen from a phone camera, especially in good light. The pictures are really well-detailed, the bokeh effect, colors, and low-light photography is better than they look on paper.

Part of the reason this camera is so great is because of how speedy it is. Nexus phones used to struggle with slow camera apps, but the Pixel doesn’t. Double-tapping the power button takes you straight into shooting mode, and things don’t slow down thereafter. Auto-focus is near-instantaneous and it’s accurate too.

The lack of OIS doesn’t make the Pixel apart from others, its EIS does a much better job at stabilization than most of the other smartphones. And Google can tweak it anytime with software updates as well. You also get free full-resolution backups with Google Photos for all your snaps and even 4K video.

On the other side, the 8 MP front-facing camera takes some decent amount of selfies. It’s just like a smaller version of the rear camera. For the first time, I was actually loving to take selfies.

You should really check out the samples below to get a complete idea on what I’m talking about.

Rear Camera

Front Camera

BATTERY

The battery life on the Google Pixel XL was stupendous. It’s one of the few things that sets it apart from the smaller model. Tucked inside is a non-removable 3,450mAh cell – 50mAh smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and it can easily make it through the day and into the next without any issues.

The battery also charges up real quick with Quick Charge technology but it still lags behind Dash Charge from OnePlus. A full charge from 0% takes about 1hr 20mins. It managed to go from 20% to 90% in only 35 minutes.

Battery wise, I have no complaints at all with that. I’m actually liking the battery life.

VERDICT

If you take a look at the price tag, The Pixel XL is priced at Rs. 69,000 for the 32 GB variant whereas the 128 GB variant at Rs. 76,000. Considering that to the point, apart from a new look of Android to see or the camera, the Pixel doesn’t have any special or extra feature to show off. If we take the S7 Edge, it comes with an edge display which is great to look at. The OnePlus 3 or 3T, on the other hand, has a 6 GB of RAM. It isn’t perfect, though: a lack of water-resistance and a microSD stand out when you’re comparing it to other similarly priced phones.

Yes, it is possible to get a great Android phone without spending Rs. 69,000, but in the Pixel XL you have the very best of what’s on offer. I think you can get a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge at 20,000 lesser price tag or two OnePlus 3Ts at the price point of Pixel XL. I wouldn’t recommend a Pixel XL right now and would recommend waiting for the Pixel 2 instead.

Again, if I have to recommend Pixel to anyone, it would be the people who are mostly interested in tech and doesn’t want to compromise performance and want to get the latest update and the greatest from Google.

Sajid Shaik
the authorSajid Shaik

A graphics designer and illustrator who has tech as primary interest at peeks.

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