Google Pixel, launched on October 20, 2016, is Google’s first attempt at making its own phone. It is the best way to experience the latest and greatest Android OS has to offer. The phone debuts Google Assistant – a context understanding AI integrated into the Android operating system that is often more functional and intuitive that Siri and Cortana. The Pixel ships with Android 7.1 Nougat (N), at that time, Google’s latest iteration of Android. The phone will replace the Nexus line of devices, which means, like the Nexus line, Pixel phones will always ship with the latest version of Android and will always be on the latest version until its life cycle comes to a halt. The Pixel comes in two sizes – reviewed here – and the Google Pixel XL, which is the big brother out of the two featuring a 5.5″ display panel.
- 5-inch, 1080p display
- Snapdragon 821
- 4GB RAM
- 32 or 128GB storage
- Android 7.1
- Google Assistant
- Pixel Launcher
- 2,770 mAh
- Headphone jack…
- Daydream VR ready
- Manufacturer: Google
- 12MP and 8MP cameras
- USB-C and fast charging
- Review Price: $153,000 – Guyana Dollars
Design and Built
Google didn’t deliver when it comes to the Pixel’s design. The phone is shaped like a wedge, a little thicker at the top and becomes thinner as it reaches the base. The device is sturdy and feels premium no doubt, as you would expect from an HTC built phone, but its design is what hinders it from scoring higher on our charts.
Holding the pixel front, you simply cannot miss the inordinate amount of bezels. Makes you want to wonder what Google was thinking. The top and base features excess amount or bezels, much like the iPhone. I think Google could have used that extra space for some front-facing speakers. At the back of the device features metal and glass, which I’m personally not a fan of. I’m worried it might scratch easily.
Google Pixel still carries a 3.5 mm headphone jack, unlike Apple. It’s roughly the same size as an iPhone 7, just a little taller and marginally thicker.
Its 5″ display panels provides great colours and contrast, and with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels (441 ppi), you can be assured of great picture quality. The pixel display is fantastic and comfortably one of the best right now. There are no signs of pixelation, even at close distances. Really and truly, you’re not going to be viewing your phone at that angle. There are no jagged edges on icons and fonts. Its the same tech as in the Samsung Galaxy s7 and because its AMOLED, you know its going to have pop in colours.
Lets get to the point, the Google Pixel is the fastest, most fluid smartphone I have ever experienced. That’s all thanks to Android 7 Nougat – we will get to this in a bit. The phone just flies, from basic day to day usage to opening resource-intensive apps like Asphalt 8. There is no sign of throttling, but the device does get a little hot – but which device doesn’t? At the same time, not so hot that would deem it unusable.
The Adreno 530 GPU does a great job at rendering graphics, the game-plays are consistently smooth. Qualcomm said the chip will deliver 40% improved performance against its predecessor, Adreno 430. So far, it seems to be delivering just that.
Android 7 Nougat is packed with tons of features. With every iteration of Android, Google has always refined the operating system a tad more. This time is no different, Android 7 nougat is even more polished and is extremely speedy. We can safely say that the infamous Android lag is officially over, at least in my opinion, since I have not experienced any so far.
Here are some biggest features in Android 7 Nougat to get excited about:
The Samsung Galaxy Notes have had split screen multitasking for a while, now with Android 7, its baked right in. This is essentially crucial for Android and Google since it was a pressing issue last year with its Pixel C tablet. The split screen-mode works on all Android devices – both phones and tablets. Its accessed by pressing the task switcher button on the right. The screen will immediately be divided into two where your currently used app will slide to the top, allowing you to select another to take place at the bottom.
The app-switcher now has a trick in that, you double tab it to bring up your previous running app. Which is a nice touch for users who constantly needs to go back and forth. Thirdly, there is also a clear all button to clear all apps in memory. So, no more do you have to singularly close individual apps.
The settings app has undergone a massive revamp. Android now gives you suggestions on recommendations and notifies you when a particular setting affects you such as battery life and data usage. I find it useful since couple times I left on data-saver, which did not allow my other background apps to take advantage of my WiFi internet. They also save you time by giving you options right here to toggle rather than menu-diving.
The settings app also looks modern and sleek. Icons are noticeably smaller and rows are cleaner with a tad smaller fonts. You get a small exert under each item to give you an idea on what settings are behind each category.
The notification shade has also undergone a welcomed revamp in Nougat. Things are tighter visually, and a full-width design with smaller icons, making a more efficient use of space. You can now expand twice successively to see more information and take action.
Notifications are far more functional too, you can now long-press on each to control how you receive alert from the app. Another neat feature is the ability to quick reply straight from the notification tray from apps, like messaging and gmail.
On Previous Android Marshmallow, you needed to swipe down twice to access toggles. On N, the initial swipe to access the notification shade, you will notice icons lining at the top to toggle on and off things like WiFi, Bluetooth, torch, etc.
With the launch of Android 7 Nougat came VULKAN API, the Vulkan API (Application Programming Interface) is a graphics API that developers will user to exploit device hardware when coding. Android previously used OpenGL ES – a rival API.
The main difference between Vulkan and OpenGL ES is that Vulkan has less overhead, allowing greater control over the device resources. This could result in better performance and less optimization on specific GPU types.
N also ships with a new compiler, JIT (Just-in-Time), which means that data required for apps will be compiled on demand rather than AOT (Ahead-of-Time). This provides a 75% faster app installation across the board, Google said.
Android Nougat also ships with a new version of DOZE, which puts the device in a kind of hibernation when its left on standby for a while.
The Google Pixel features a 12.3MP rear camera which scored an 89, currently the highest rating on DxO. This means that it is rated higher that the iPhone 7 or Galaxy S7. On day to day use, however, the camera does live up to its hype. As a result of an extremely low shutter lag, the burst mode can take up to 15 pictures in one second. Pictures are bright and clear and colours pop, although not artificial. The camera doesn’t over expose either. I find that lens blue is sometime inconsistent.
My terrible experience with the Google Pixel
I bought this phone in early January this year and I absolutely loved it – I still do. But unfortunately, one morning I woke up and grabbed my phone and to all avail, the phone was not coming on. I then proceeded to do the standard diagnostics; putting the phone in recovery, etc. Turns out, that wasn’t happening. I was stuck in a boot loop. At that time, I was abroad on Vacation so I had no phone to snap a few pictures of that beautiful country.
When I returned home, I immediately contacted Google who then agreed to send a replacement. Lo and behold, the microphone on this new Google Pixel phone is not working.
I do not know if I’m just bad lucky or if in fact, this is a commonality of the Pixel. From my research online, it seems like a lot of users are experiencing similar problems with their Pixels. Google’s customer service is great and there are no struggles on getting a replacement. I guess I am just bad lucky to get a defective replacement too. If you’re going to get a Pixel Phone now, I am sure Google has replaced all the defective units and fixed the problems via a software update. However, just keep this in mind.
All this aside, would I recommend this phone to anyone else? I will do so in a heart beat. This phone is amazing and the experience you get is one that is rare. Maybe because I am a fan of stock Android.