Sunday 23 October 2016

Google Pixel XL Review

Google Pixel XL

Pixel XL is the first phone to be designed and made by Google. Here is the review of the Google Pixel XL.

After years of working in collaboration with other manufacturers, Google has finally designed and built its own smartphone.

Dubbed Pixel, the new smartphone replaces Google's famous Nexus brand – and has its sights aimed squarely at the latest flagship offerings from Apple and Samsung.

The US search firm has launched two devices, the Pixel and larger Pixel XL, which both boast a stunning screen, fast processor, top-notch camera and unfortunately – a ridiculously high price tag.


Google Pixel XL

Sadly the Pixel isn't going to come top of the class for ground-breaking design.

Yes, it's got an expensive-looking aerospace-grade aluminium case but, from the front, you could be holding any generic Android smartphone.

Compared to Samsung's stunning Galaxy S7 Edge, the Pixel looks a little bland and it's unlikely to turn many heads when you take it out of your pocket.

That being said, during our time with the Pixel its simplistic design has started to grow on us and one thing is certain – this is undoubtedly a premium device.

With its metal shell, Google's new call maker feels solid, comfortable in your hand and definitely built to last.

To help the Pixel stand out from the ever-growing crowd, Google has added a touch of glass on the rear of the device.

Google Pixel XL

On first impressions we did wonder why it was positioned there, but we've actually grown quite fond of the two-tone design.

The frosted glass also houses the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner which not only unlocks the phone but also allows you to interact with the screen – a bit like a laptop trackpad.

Currently these interactions are a little limited, with only the notification and settings menu able to be summoned with a quick swipe across the fingerprint scanner.

It's a shame Google hasn't included the ability to swipe through photos or web pages but this may could be added at a later date with a software upgrade.

We don't mind the home button on the back of the device and it doesn't take long before blindly tapping your finger on the fingerprint scanner becomes natural and intuitive.

The rear-mounted design also means you'll be forced to resort to the frustrating slog of tapping a numerical, text or pattern password whenever you use the Google Pixel on a table, or mounted into a holder for your car.

Google Pixel XL

And with no button on the front, you get a large empty chin beneath the screen which to our eyes looks like something was forgotten during the design process.

One final criticism of the Pixel is that fact that Google hasn't made it water resistant.

Both flagship smartphones from Apple and Samsung are able to survive a brief swim in the bath this year, which makes the absence of water resistance on the Pixel more egregious.


Google Pixel XL

Google's Pixel packs a screen good enough for any blockbuster movie and we've been left hugely impressed by this AMOLED display.

If you opt for the standard Pixel you'll be treated to a 5inch screen, while its bigger brother gets a pin-sharp 5.5inch Quad HD display.

Unlike Samsung's newest devices, there's no edge-to-edge design, but the Pixel packs plenty of punch with content looking crisp, clean and bursting with colour.

Google has also included a mode called Night Light, which improves your ability to read the screen in dimly-lit conditions.

Google Pixel XL

It's similar to Apple's Night Mode and certainly helps reduce eye-strain if you enjoy catching up with your fix of Facebook before bed.

Google may have copied Apple with this feature but it's a shame they haven't taken some advice from LG and Samsung and given the Pixel an always-on display.

But the LG G5 and Galaxy S7 have screens that display information when the phone is off and it's a feature we'd like to see on more devices.


Google Pixel XL

Google has made a big song and dance about its camera, boasting that it is the best smartphone snapper on the market. The thing is, they might just be right.

Pictures taken on the Pixel look incredible – particularly impressive considering the small size of the lens.

When the light is good, photographs taken on the Pixel look crisp, colourful and packed with detail.

This device is also good when the sun sets, with low-light shots also looking good.

Another nice feature is the ability to add depth of field to your images via the Lens Blur function.

It works well and you lets you create some phenomenal images.

However, using this feature does compress the image – the results are perfectly fine to upload onto Instagram, but you'll notice some pixelation if you start blowing them up for canvas prints.

For selfies, there's a 8-megapixel front-facing camera which takes decent snaps.

Switching between front and rear cameras can be achieved via a twist of the phone which works well but ultimately, is a bit of a gimmick.

Video can also be filmed in Ultra HD 4K and electronic image stabilisation is included to keep your footage wobble-free.

Everything you shoot on the Pixel gets automatically backed-up to Google Photos with the firm now offering totally unlimited storage for free.

That gives you brilliant peace-of-mind, and forgives the Google Pixel for its lack of expandable storage via microSD card – something Samsung reintroduced with the Galaxy S7.

Battery Life

Google Pixel XL

If battery life is the most important feature there's some good news as the Pixel packs plenty of power.

Battery life is impressive and Google's phone will easily plough through your daily fix of Facebook, emails and WhatsApp chats.

When things do run low you can fast charge the battery in 15 minutes using the USB Type C charger supplied in the box.


Look away now if you were hoping for a bargain.

The Pixel is not a budget smartphone and you'll need a healthy bank balance to afford one.

Prices for the 5-inch Pixel start from £599 and rise to £819 for the top-of-the-range XL.

Contract prices aren't much better with deals starting from around £42 per month and an upfront cost £80.

Final Verdict

After a few doubts, we have become quite smitten with the Pixel.

Google's first phone is friendly enough to make feel anyone at home with Android.

From its great camera, free back-up, and helpful assistant – everything about the Pixel tries to make your life easier.

But for all its greatest the Pixel has got some issues.

The design is slightly dull, it's not water resistant and there's no expandable memory.

It's also massively expensive, especially if you go all out and buy the £819 Pixel XL with 128GB of memory.

Google has however made a fabulous first phone and if you can stomach the price, the Pixel is almost perfect.



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