Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL: Everything you need to know

For Android enthusiasts, the Pixel ended years of hopeful speculation about when Google would grace the market with a premium phone. Android's open source nature has done a lot of good in the world, but one can't help but wonder how things would be now, if eight years ago, Google decided to go the Apple way and make the OS an exclusive platform to its line of devices.

Of course, Samsung has sunk its teeth neck-deep into the smartphone market, but before the Pixel, Apple didn't have that formidable competitor that would pose a challenge in both hardware and software design. The Nexus range came close, but while renowned for ushering in new versions of Android yearly, these phones did more to popularize the manufacturers' brands than Google's.

Now that the Nexus name is no more, the Pixel is as significant a device as the first iPhone. And despite competition from other high-end Android devices, it has won the hearts of many as perhaps the best blend of smartphone hardware and software there is, currently.



The Pixel is the latest result of a more than half a decade old friendship between Google and HTC. But unlike the first Nexus, this time the design was conceptualized and developed by Google.

The smartphone is available in two sizes - the 5-inch main variant and the larger 5.5-inch Pixel XL. Both phones have been carefully built to be elegant and sizeable, while not being overly flashy. Moreover, the outstanding harmonization of glass and metal, as well as near-perfect ergonomics, make the Pixel one of the most comfortable devices to hold. And despite bigger, the Pixel XL doesn't feel too unwieldy for one-hand use.

Critics have had one or two small points of concern with the design, however, such as the 3.5mm headphone jack (yes, it's included) being positioned at the bottom rather than the top of the phone.

Also; albeit stylish, the divisive glass that covers about a third of the back panel encasing the camera and fingerprint sensor is a fingerprint magnet and scratches very easily.

Nevertheless, the above issues are easy to live with. Overall, Google has done a magnificent job with the design.


It would be ludicrous for Google to name their flagship the Pixel and not fit a high-quality display. Lucky for the company, we have nothing but pleasant tings to say about the phone's screen.Customers prefer 5-inch displays for providing a splendid mix of portability and size, and no phone does it better than the Pixel.

The Super AMOLED panel boasts 1080p resolution, which offers pin-sharp clarity and exemplary picture quality. And since it's AMOLED, the whites are clean, and the black are deep, resulting in a vivid and vibrant color scheme.

On this display size, 1080p works best. It's lighter on the GPU and friendlier on the battery, making the phone excel in both performance and power efficiency. However, the recent hype surrounding VR technology and the upcoming Daydream View headset has led to many reviewers questioning whether this resolution will be a tad too little to compete with rivals like the Samsung Galaxy S7.

But that's where the Pixel XL comes in. With its 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED display, the larger smartphone will be perfect for VR.


Despite the outer differences, both the Pixel and the Pixel XL pack the same internal hardware. Going by benchmarks, they've been among the fastest handsets since their release last year.

If you've gone through the phones' specifications, you probably think that they owe this superb performance entirely to the Snapdragon 821 processor and the 4GB RAM combo; but the real champion here is software optimization.

When in its finest form, the OnePlus 3T is arguably the most powerful smartphone around. But despite having the same CPU as the Pixel and the Pixel XL, combined with a whopping 6GB of RAM, the phone still experiences random stutters and weird slowdowns from time to time.

Because Google has fitted its latest Android version onto its own devices, the two phones offer optimization that's only rivaled by the most recent crop of iPhones.

The Pixels handle demanding games comfortably, with no drops in frames regardless of the title you're playing. That said, storing a healthy number of games can be a challenge unless you buy the 64GB or the 128GB option. Since there's no memory card slot, the entry-level 32GB is bound to run out sooner or later.


The two Pixel phones have been consistently ranked together with the iPhone 7 Plus and the Galaxy S7 Edge as having the best cameras ever fitted on mobile phones. And while the other two give Google a run for its money, the complete experience is what makes the camera on the Pixels the preferred choice.

 12-megapixel might seem modest, and specs like a dual-LED flash, laser autofocus, and 1.55-micron pixel sensor are now fairly standard among high-end smartphone cameras, but what sets this one apart is a faster processor and better software, which makes it phenomenally quick and overly adaptable to varying environmental conditions.

HDR+ is on by default, and it produces photos with exceptional dynamic range, giving them a feeling of detail and depth that no rival can manage. Colors are more vibrant than the iPhone 7, but less saturated and more true-life than the S7.


Battery Life

As expected, the 2770mAh cell in the Pixel competes favorably well with other devices in its class. However, the phone juices out faster when subjected to strenuous activity, such as heavy gaming and HD video streaming. The Pixel XL fairs a little better in this regard, but both phones are ultimately better than the iPhone 7.

Additionally, the phones charge up very quickly, thanks to Quick Charge support, which gets the battery from dead to full in a little more than one hour.


Final Word

Google's latest smartphone offerings are awe-inspiring pieces of technology, and based on what’s available on the market only a few of the best Android smartphones come close to matching the standard it sets. Sure, some competitors come with more attractive designs, water resistance, micro-SD card slots among other add-ons. But the fantastic software and reliable performance make the Pixels remarkable choices.

And because they are currently Google's first priority, buying them will guarantee you faster access to future Android updates.

Rajat Kapoor
Rajat Kapoor is a self confessed tech geek. Always up to date with what's going on in the tech world, he is currently pursuing MCA and prefers Android over iOS. You will see his articles here and we do hope that you find them useful and informational.
Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL: Everything you need to know Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL: Everything you need to know Reviewed by Rajat Kapoor on 10/07/2016 12:05:00 PM
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