The most anticipated phone of the year:
Well, at least the one that still has a headphone jack and also doesn’t explode in your pocket. A lot of signs early in the summer pointed to Google releasing their own phone. For many years the Nexus line of phones have been the flag carrier for the big G. Unlike the iPhone, the Nexus phones were always branded with the manufacturer’s logo. The Nexus phones were produced by the likes of Samsung, LG, and HTC.
The all-new Google Pixel is the first phone designed and spec’d by Google themselves. While it is put together by HTC, it is not an HTC phone. Google controlled everything from the screen sizes to build materials to features. What they have come up with is great!
I have been excited for this phone since it was announced back in October. The feature set and the tech going into this phone was enough to make even me take notice. The inclusion of the best smartphone camera ever, a high-def AMOLED screen, aluminum build and Google Assistant built in? It was too good to resist. Unfortunately, I was unable to buy it at launch, so I missed out on the free VR headset, but those are “cheap” so hopefully I can pick one up soon.
Out of the simple white box comes the phone, a wall wart for charging and two power cables, one is a USB-C on both ends cable and the other is a USB-A to USB-C cable for use with the quickly becoming legacy connection.
There is a manual that guides you through initial setup and the warranty guide. Other than that the packaging is clean and simple.
My friends at Chrome Unboxed did an unboxing video of the Pixel XL if you want to check it out.
Setup was easy, I just typed in my Google account username and password, the phone asked if I wanted to restore from my Samsung S6. Then it confirmed which apps I wanted to install and off it went. It took about an hour to get everything downloaded and configured. The phone never slowed down or stalled during the installation. Once the apps were done, Android 7.1.1 downloaded and installed, rebooted and been running great ever since.
I have to say this phone is fast, switching between apps is effortless and the camera is quick. It’s noticeably fast and better reacting the even my Samsung Galaxy. The extra RAM and better processors really show through in speed gains.
The screen is also beautiful. The HD screen with a dense pixel count make pictures really pop and videos have vibrant colors and rich blacks. The sound from the onboard speakers is loud but I think the Samsung’s speakers had a richer quality to them. The Pixel sounds great for watching a video with a lot of voice tracks, but the Samsung is better for music.
My Bluetooth headset connected quickly and without any issues. I have been trying to create a link between the Pixel and my Chromebook, but so far no luck. It keeps failing during the pairing process. Phone calls sound good both through the Bluetooth and through the normal speaker. I was able to clearly understand when someone talked to me, and they said I sounded good also.
This is a premium handset to compete with the iPhone 7. I have not tried the latest from Apple, but I am sure it is a fine phone. The Pixel is the current standard carrier for Android and will be the first to get the latest updates to the well used mobile OS. The fact the phone is also sold unlocked *unless you get it from Verizon, so it comes with a pure Android experience. There is not any of the normal carrier “bloatware” already preloaded on the phone you will never use and can’t get rid of.
If you are an Android user and are looking for a great handset, I recommend the Pixel. If you are an iOS user and you are tired of Apple forcing change on you, I recommend the Pixel. If you just want a smartphone to do smartphone things? Well, the Pixel would work there also. There are cheaper headsets on the market, but this one leads the pack. I will do a complete review soon, once I have had some more time with the device and really integrate it into my everyday life.
Written by Mike Giles, owner of Average Guy Tech where he makes the everyday tech more approachable to everyone