Last week the world saw the official launch of Google’s much-anticipated Pixel phones; the Pixel and Pixel XL. The arrival of the Pixel phones marks the death of the Nexus line with Google officially stating that it has no plans of continuing the Nexus line.
Understanding Google’s goal
The launch of these phones, explains Google’s path towards building better hardware. Over the years, it has become essential that Google gains control over the hardware because there are limited Android phones that have the capabilities to showcase the best of Google services. Most Android phones mess up by developing their own version of software making it hard to compete with the high-end phones like that of Apple. Hence, Pixel is a result of a need to make great hardware and ensure horizontal culture of building great software across all platforms.
Google has dominated the search engine market for almost 18 years now, and someday soon there will be a need for a better paradigm for using the internet. This is another reason why Google has unveiled an entire, interconnected hardware ecosystem. Google in past has made a lot of hardware, but now with the launch of the Pixel phones, it is tangential to Google’s core mission: search.
Comparing the new phones to iPhones even though is a cliché, but unavoidable. Pixel phones carry similar prices as the iPhones, even have a similar design, and even use marketing that pokes fun at the iPhone.
Design and build quality
The Pixel handsets are manufactured by HTC and are about as high-end as an Android phone can get. With a Snapdragon 821 SoC, 4GB RAM, 32 or 128GB storage, they have one of the best cameras ever fitted into a smartphone. They also happen to be the launch devices for the latest Android version “Nougat” and the exclusive owners of the new Google Assistant voice command system and the first Daydream VR-Compatible phones.
Both the phones have AMOLED screens – a 1440p display for the 5.5-inch version and 1080p for the 5-inch version of the phone, covered by a Gorilla glass. The Pixel has an Aluminum unibody design with a glass back panel.
The Pixel Display
Pixel brings the perfect blend of hardware and software on one Google-made device. On Pixel,
Android runs smoother and better. There’s no longer an icon for the app drawer, but you can still see all the apps running with a single swipe from the bottom of the screen. This unclutters the main interface too.
The Google search bar is hidden too. In order to access the Google search bar, one should tap on the G logo in the upper corner of the phone. There is a new caller ID screen with a black notification drawer, blue brightness slider and the blue accents throughout the OS that are exclusive to the Pixel.
Android now has a native night mode called Night Light. It removes blue hues from the screen to help the user sleep. There is also fingerprint gestures on the device, so one can bring down the full notification drawer with two swipes. Android 7.0 has introduced better functionality to the OS and version 7.1 enhances the same.
The Google Assistant
The idea with Assistant is that you can talk to it as you would to a person. Simply say, “OK, Google,” and Assistant will be on hand to do your bidding, whether playing music, reading emails or regaling you with the morning’s headlines. One of the best features is “My Day,” which you can trigger by saying “good morning,” once you’ve activated Assistant. Assistant will then read out your daily schedule, the weather, and more. The best part is that it will automatically launch a playlist of news podcasts.
The Pixel XL’s 12.3-megapixel camera with larger 1.55-micron pixels is outstanding. It takes splendid shots that rival the Galaxy S7 Edge, LG G5, and iPhone 7 Plus. It focuses super quickly and processes the automatic HDR+ mode with incredible speed. Several features in the camera app are exclusive to the Pixel, such as a manual exposure slider, focus lock, tap-to-focus, and white balance.
When it comes to video, the Pixel can take 4K videos at 30 frames-per-second, though the new feature is the gyro stabilization technique. It grabs gyro data about 200 times a second for so you end up with a smoother video. Videos are indeed smooth and shake-free.
With an already excellent camera comes an unlimited full-resolution Google Photos storage in the Photos app. It’s a Pixel exclusive and unlimited photo storage means you should be fine with 32GB of storage on the Pixel XL.
Pixel’s Battery Life
Google made a lot of the battery life on its Pixel phone, as well as how fast it charges. The Pixel XL will supposedly last for 130 hours of audio playback (up from 110 hours on the smaller Pixel) and 14 hours on Wi-Fi and 4G (up from 13 hours). One criticism was that the phone became hot when charging, but nowhere near as much as when we were charging the Pixel.