Although Google has been pushing Android phones under the Nexus brand, these phones are basically designed by Google partners such as HTC or LG or Huawei running a completely stock version of Android. Google now wants to get into the game by not only designing the hardware, but also tweaking Android to it’s liking. The result is the Google Pixel. I received the 32GB Pixel XL in Silver color from Google and after playing with it for a couple of week, here's what I think about it.
Let’s start with the packaging- which is very nicely put together and at a level similar to Apple. Opening the box reveals the Google Pixel neatly sitting on the left with a flap next to it hiding the charger and a USB Type C cable. Lift the phone and you find another USB cable with a Type C connector on one end and a type A on the other along with a dongle. I'm not quite sure why all of that is needed but extra cables and converters are always nice. There is no headset inside the package which is surprising considering the Google Pixel costs as much as any other premium phone, all of which come bundled with one- sometimes a very good one.
Coming to the design of the Pixel, it has a very polarizing effect. While some of the people I showed it to liked it, many didn't. I wasn’t much impressed. The front looks very generic- like an iPhone knock-off from a mid-tier Chinese manufacturer while the part glass and part metal back looks like the designers couldn’t quite agree on which material to use. Within the Android space, there are much better designed phones from the likes of Samsung, Huawei and even HTC- the company that manufactures the Pixel. Also, the Pixel isn’t water/dust proof- something common in high-end phones of today.
The Pixel XL measures 154.7 x 75.7 mm which is slightly smaller than the iPhone 7 Plus but offers the same 5.5-inch screen size. That being said, the Huawei Mate 9 Pro is smaller than the Pixel XL and yet offers the same screen size and a better design.Where the Pixel loses some points is on thickness. At 8.5mm, it looks a bit chunky. At least Google uses this to it's advantage by placing the camera entirely within the chassis to prevent any bumps found on new phones.
Coming to the features, the Google Pixel can only accommodate a single SIM card. You cannot expand on the built-in storage through an SD either so I highly recommend getting the 128GB model instead of the 32GB model. A fingerprint sensor sits on the back that is reasonably fast while a USB Type C port is present on the bottom and a 3.5mm jack on top. On the front the Pixel XL has a 5.5-inch AMOLED panel which not only helps extend battery life but also displays richer colors. The screen resolution is QuadHD or 1440 x 2560 which is also the current standard amongst high-end of Android phones.
Specs-wise, Google has equipped the Pixel XL with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC and 4GB RAM. This variant of the chipset features a quad core processor with two kyro cores running at 2.2GHz and the other two at 16.GHz. It also has the Adreno 530 GPU. This makes the Google Pixel fast. Really fast. During my couple weeks of testing it proved to be faster than any Android phone I’ve test and right on par with the iPhone 7.
The reason that Google Pixel so fast is because Google has optimized the software for it and this puts Google in a unique position to offer something no other Android manufacturer can- a complete integration between hardware and software. Every other Android manufacturer needs to design their apps and UI on top of Android. Google, on the other hand, makes Android and can thus put a polish on the Android experience that can’t be replicated by others.