Ant Pruitt
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Pixel XL By Google: Review

The Google Nexus line of phones are long gone from production. This worried me initially as I'm a fan of Nexus devices and have used them for quite some time. I say "Nexus" as in "the vanilla version of Android" on nice hardware. Google has now decided to focus not only on the Android software, but the hardware it's run on. Enter, Pixel. The smartphone #MadeByGoogle

I was excited about this phone and the potential behind it. Allow me to share a few highlights. You can continue to read this, or you can click to watch my YouTube video version.

Phone Design

The device comes in a 5-inch screen version or 5.5-inch screen version. The design looks similar to previous HTC phones. But then again, you can only do so much with phone design today. They won't differentiate much.

image by Ant Pruitt     all rights reserved

Tech Specs

The phone I have comes with a 5.5-inch screen, a Snapdragon 821 processor, 32GB of storage, 2560x1440 QHD screen. It also has downward facing speakers. I think that's dumb, but it's not a deal breaker for me. It's a lil' more narrow than my previous Nexus 6 smartphone. The phone thickness is relatively the same as the Nexus 6. It's not a super thin phone. which is fine. Get a super thin phone and the masses will have the urge to see if it bends. (idiots) Google bragging about the lack of a camera hump is moot, in my opinion. There's no camera hump on it because it's a thicker body on the phone. All of this comes at a pretty hefty price starting at $649.  Yeah, that's a lot of cash!

It does come with a nice fingerprint sensor. It does NOT come with water resistance or wireless charging. That doesn't matter much to me even though it should with that price tag. 

Far as water resistance, just be more careful with your phone! Stop putting it in your back pocket and dropping it into the toilet. If it's raining outside, protect it!

Wireless charging may be somewhat convenient, but it's not perfect. Use the USB-C connector with ease to charge your device.

Android Version 7.1 Installed

Android is super smooth in version 7.0. Even if it weren't run on the Pixel phone, it's going to be a good experience. Android has more of a circular approach on the icon layout. Sadly, it's not consistent as third-party apps don't seem to take on this new design (yet). A long press on the Google apps brings a new menu to shortcut actions similar to how the "force touch" works on iOS. Again, this isn't consistent because all apps aren't able to do this (yet). 

The Camera

The camera is touted as being the best smartphone camera available to date. The images taken on this camera are really crispy. I'm impressed! Supposedly low-light images are a lot better. I don't buy into this because smartphones have tiny sensors and it's difficult to get nice low-light shots anyway. It's hard for DSLRs which have much larger sensors to get a great shot in low light. By default, the camera shoots stills in HDR mode. I don't like this. I haven't been able to set that to be disabled by default.  Notice the detail in this image as well as the blurry background (depth of field) the f2.0 aperture offers.

Image by Ant Pruitt   all rights reserved

The video camera shoots in 1080p as well as 4K UHD. You can shoot in 30 or 60 frames per second in 1080p. 4K is only in 30 frames per second. The video has stabilization software built in and it does a GREAT JOB. Sometimes stabilization software can over do this trick making video look animated. Not in my test. Notice in this video, my car's dashboard shakes but the main point of the video (the street) is stabilized.

Google Assistant

I list this last because I just don't know how much the masses will care about it. This service used to be called GoogleNow. I personally LOVE GoogleNow as it (with my permission) keeps up with my calendar, travel arrangements and even suggests things to do when I'm in a specific area. This updated version of GoogleNow is called Google Assistant. It's supposed to be a little more conversational and understand context. It did well in this example. 

Should You Buy The Pixel or Pixel XL?

I say "maybe." This phone isn't for everyone. There are a lot of phones are there with nice options and features for this price point. As a digital content creator, I say YES. The camera is superb. The stabilization on video is great AND you get free cloud storage for all of those photos via the Google Photos site. It's a no-brainer for someone like me. If you want clean Android, then definitely get this. If you own the Nexus 6p, I suggest waiting until early 2017 for a potential price drop on the Pixel line of phones. The 6p will have a similar experience in Android. 

Thanks for checking out my thoughts on my new phone. Be sure to share those videos and click the "like" and "subscribe" buttons. 

-RAP, II