Google Pixel Review

Google Pixel Review aka HTC 10 Google Play Edition

Google’s first official phone made by Google. Specifically taking a look at the Google Pixel XL for this Google Pixel review. This Google Pixel review will cover specs, likes, dislikes, along with who this phone might be for. In a nut shell, the Google Pixel is basically like what was the Google Play Editions. HTC was the company Google worked with to make this phone. Apart from some minor differences, the Google Pixel is the HTC 10 Google Play Edition.

The Google Play Edition was a stripped down version of a particular phone. In the past companies like HTC would offer a version of their flagship without bloat, OS skins, etc. The Google Pixel very much identifies with how the Google Play Editions used to be like. Now this isn’t a bad thing, but feels a lot like a re-branding than a new line of phones. I will say this though, the Google Pixel is a much better phone than the HTC 10. Perhaps what the HTC 10 should have been like?

google pixel review

Google Pixel Specifications

For this review, the Google Pixel XL will be the focus. The only difference between the Pixel and Pixel XL is the battery and screen size. And well, of course, the price.

LTE Advanced With 50% faster peak speeds in more than 450 cities from coast to coast.
World Device Works in over 200 countries
Standby Time – Up to: 23 days
Usage Time – Up to: 27 hrs
Camera 12.3 MP
Front Camera 8 MP
Width 2.98 in
Weight 5.92 oz
Height 6.09 in
Depth .34 in (top)
Screen 5.5” WQHD 534ppiAMOLED, 2.5D Gorilla Glass 4 >75% Active Area
Battery 3450 mAh
Operating System Android Nougat 7.1
Storage 32GB or 128GB (Subject to availability)
Colors Quite Black, Really Blue or Very Silver (Subject to availability)
SAR SAR Head: 0.89 W/Kg@1g, Body: 0.56 W/Kg@1g
Hearing Aid Compatibility M4/T4
Network 3x Carrier aggregation; CAT 9 (450 Mbps DL/50 Mpbs); CDMA: BC0/BC1; LTE: B13, B4, B2, B5;
Global Network LTE (Global) B3, B7, B20, B28; GSM Quad B5, B8, B3, B2 (850/900/1800/1900Mhz) UMTS Quad B5, B8, B2, B1 (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz);
Processor Snapdragon 821; MSM8996 pro AB Quad Core 2+2 Kryo 2.15GHz / 1.6GHz
HD Voice Experience HD Voice, Video Calling and Simultaneous Voice & Data. Enable Wi-Fi Calling and make calls anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection.

Google Pixel Likes

Build Quality – HTC has been known to have superb build qualities ever since the HTC 7. The full metal body, chamfered edges, and sturdiness have always been appreciated. All those elements translate into the Google Pixel. It’s a solid phone and adds value to the device.

Best of Android – RIP Nexus. Nexus used to be the phones counted on getting the latest version of Android. For the most part that will remain true for a little while. Now the Pixel takes that crown. To get the latest version of Android first, the Pixel is what is needed. Android 7.0 is by far the best version of Android. They finally included simple features that should have been part of Android from the start such as the restart option and clear all in the recents view.

Android 7.0 also is very fast, functional, and has practical features to help make the user experience smooth. Google Assistant replaced Google Now to take on the competition Apple’s Siri. In many ways Google Assistant is better than Siri. It predicts actions, is conversational, and will help answer just about anything you need to know.

Google Pixel review

Camera – The Pixel sure can take an awesome photo and video. When there is no halo or jerk motion when it’s trying to correct movement with the EIS. I’ll get into this issue further down. The Pixel’s camera can produce some amazing results. There are times I am amazed at the low light shots I’ve taken. Selfies are another level of quality.

As far as video quality goes, the visuals are easy on the eyes.

Google Ecosystem – This is the first phone other than Samsung to take on Apple head on. I think Google is on a good track to be able to become Apple’s biggest competition. The Pixel along with Android itself, is what Android should have been like to start with.

So many times I have seen where people get a bad taste of Android from a low end device and paint Android with a broad stroke thinking all Android phones are the same. Android has come a long way and today there are some Amazing choices. The Google Pixel is made by Google, which is Android. There’s no other company branding, twist, or version of Android to interfere.

Google Assistant is exclusive to the Pixel, which is a huge part of the new Google ecosystem. Other elements like Google Allo and Duo are available on both Android and iOS.

google pixel review

Customer Support – Unfortunately, my Google Pixel XL was plagued with the horrible halo effect on the camera. From reading other’s experiences, it seemed as though not every Pixel has the halo defect. Therefore, I used the customer support tab on the Pixel to RMA my affected Pixel. The process was wonderful. I was able to handle everything through the customer support tab. I loved being able to handle the issue on my phone using the chat.

Unlimited Full Resolution Photos & Videos Backup – Anyone can take advantage of unlimited storage on Google Photos, but not at full resolution. 4k video included. This is a nice perk of owning a Pixel. Just make sure you’re connected to WiFi to avoid eating through your data.

Phone basics – When you want a phone to be phone, you want it to do the basics well. The call quality is great, visible screen in all lighting conditions, buttons work well, etc. No issues with the basic phone features.

google pixel review

Google Pixel Dislikes

Camera – It’s no secret there are Pixels out there that struggle with a halo effect that cripples the quality of photos and videos. Hopefully, either your Pixel isn’t affected or Google will soon carry out their promise they can fix the issues with a software update. There were times I was trying to take a simple pic and I had to constantly move the camera around to avoid the halo. SUPER annoying! I don’t know how this halo defect made it past inspection…

Even though the EIS (electronic image stabilization) has an amazing ability to smooth out any shakiness, it still gives this jerking motion by over-correcting while panning or moving in directions other than straight ahead. Again, when it works it is great, but the jerks can ruin the video clip. Until this is fixed, OIS is still better than EIS.

Between the halo defect and EIS over-correction, I have not had these issues on any other device.

The camera app needs more. It lacks time lapse, pro mode, etc. It’s time for Google Camera to come fully loaded. I should not have to download another app to accomplish modes and features desired. Way too basic of a camera app.

Not Fully Loaded – Let me explain and I hate to bring up the price more than once for a review, but when you’re paying for such a high price, you want to get your monies worth. That simply is not the case with the Google Pixel.

  • No wireless charging
  • No SD card support
  • Not water resistant
  • Camera lacks full features
  • No 64GB variant

Fingerprint Sensor – The fingerprint sensor works 100% of the time, but not a snappy as I would like. It seems to unlock to the home screen hesitantly. I’m also not a fan of the sensor being placed on the back. I know it’s a personal preference, but the sensor being on the front works better for me. It’s where I naturally place my thumb. While at work my phone is laying down. It’s nice to place my finger on the sensor and interact with notifications. The same goes for car mounts. It takes extra steps to unlock the phone’s screen when the sensor is on the back.

google pixel review

Chinny Chin Chin Chin – Bluntly put, the chin of the Google Pixel is a waste of space. There could have been more screen space, home button/ fingerprint sensor, front facing speaker…something. Instead it’s a blank slate of nothing.

Price – This goes without saying, not the first place to complain, and makes it hard to justify spending the money on the Pixel. Writing this review and ending up with more dislikes than likes, makes me wonder if the price matches the value.

Another thing to consider about the price is that the Pixel starts out with 32GB of internal storage. There is no 64GB variant and the next tier is 128GB. 32GB can get me by, but I like to have at least 64GB. The Pixel lines right up with the new iPhones with pricing. Also my Note 7 with 64GB of storage, expandable storage, and all the bells and whistles costs just about the same as the Pixel XL 128GB.

Icons – The Pixel has a great looking display, which is an opportunity for the content to shine through. However, the icons are made in a circle form making the icons look small. This is totally a preference issue, but something to consider. In the past the stock icons have looked a lot better, but now I am inclined to install Nova Launcher (which has the Pixel long press shortcuts anyways) and have custom icons in place.

Speakers – The speakers are not horrible by any means, but knowing that HTC made this phone and Boomsound tech isn’t installed was very disappointing. The phone is also not water resistant giving no excuse for not having high quality speakers. Placement is another issue. Like mentioned above, the chin is big and has plenty of space for something like front facing speakers. Once you’ve experienced front facing speakers you’ll appreciate the quality that comes from the placement. It only makes sense to have the sound come at you and not away from you.

google pixel review

Another issue with the placement is that it increases the chances of covering up the sound. Most of the time I do not rely on the speakers for listening to music, but I do for watching videos and playing games. There have been plenty of times I had to readjust my hands to uncover the speakers while watching videos and playing games.

Microphone Quality – I’m the guy that uses my phone to record voice-overs for video announcements. It has been the quickest and most effective way to get the job done. Samsung has been the best recording phone from my experience and Motorola coming in at second. The Pixel does not have good audio recording quality. It’s tingy and high pitched. Audio editing apps can help fix some of the quality, but with phones from Samsung I was able to use the audio without editing.

Confusing Ads – It’s all good to partner with companies for whatever business benefits, but people have been utterly confused thinking that the Pixel is only available from Verizon. Well, that’s because the ads literally say that. It’s not true. Yes, it is the only carrier selling the phone, but the Pixel can be bought from Google Store and Best Buy as well.

As a matter of fact, a friend of mine bought a Pixel from Verizon because that is what the ads gave the impression as. Once I let him know the Pixel can be bought from Google, he canceled his order so he could get it from Google instead. His preference was to buy directly from Google, not a carrier.

Messaging Apps – There’s too many. Google has Hangouts, Allo, Duo, and Messenger. Why can’t we have one? Hangouts in my opinion needed to simply get an overhaul, because it pretty much was a one stop shop.

Google Pixel review

 

Who is the Google Pixel/XL for?

Android Purest – Nexus has been the best way to get the latest version of Android for many years. Now the Pixel is the way to go. Nexus is still a good way to get the latest, but not the best. It’s a hard pill to swallow for Nexus fans though.

Simple – For years iPhone has had the reputation for being the easiest phone for average or below average users to accept. I’ve disagreed with that reputation and the Pixel gives more reasons to say that anyone can understand how to operate Android. The Pixel is the most basic version of Android and is rather self explanatory concerning every day usage of a phone. In my opinion, iOS can be confusing on many levels, especially the settings options. Android is simple to use and easy to explain. Anyone can use it.

Daydream VR – VR is gaining ground in popularity. Game systems are starting to step in the VR world now as well. As far as smartphones go, VR has been just OK. Daydream is taking VR to the next level. In order to have Daydream, you’re going to have to have compatible devices. Pixel is one of those devices. I can’t wait to try it and see for myself (I’m still waiting for my promo code from pre-ordering the Pixel through the Google Store). Hats off to Verizon for getting VR headsets to customers sooner.

Google’s First Phone – This is the first time I have had the chance to get a company’s first phone when it was released. In a way, it’s like owning the first iPhone. The Google Pixel will be a phone I will keep for the long haul and be able to say I still have Google’s first phone.

google pixel review

Final Thoughts

The whole time I have used the Google Pixel XL, it’s felt like I have had an HTC 10 Google Play Edition. Not a bad thing, for the most part. But it’s not been an amazing experience. It’s pretty good phone. Just not enough to justify the price point. The Pixel XL is a phone I will keep and use for a long time though.

This is the first time I have had the chance to get a company’s first phone. To me it’s like owning the first iPhone or Nexus. It will become an iconic device for me.

Typically, by this time of year all major phones have been released and I end up going back to a Samsung device. Normally because I appreciate using Samsung Pay, YouTube Live Streaming, camera quality, etc. To me Samsung phones are great daily drivers because they are fully loaded phones that have many practical useful features. That’s not saying I don’t like other phones or there are great other options. The Google Pixel will ride out it’s course until I come across the next device worth carrying as my daily driver.

This phone gives me such a strange opinion. If I were to get rid of it, I feel I would miss out. BUT if I keep it I feel like I am still missing out on features other phones provide…

Purchase Links

Google PixelVerizon | Google | Best Buy | Amazon

Google Pixel XLVerizon | Google | Best Buy | Amazon


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Josh

Editor & Chief at Bane Tech
Addicted to tech, smartphones, & gadgets! I share my experience about them!
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Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/BaneTech
Josh
Follow me

Josh

Addicted to tech, smartphones, & gadgets! I share my experience about them! Reviews, guides, & more! Techies - Geeks - Nerds! Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/BaneTech