- No microSD support
- Single, weak down-firing speaker
- Possibly bland design
Google’s Nexus series offered a mid-tier option for those looking for fastlane access to the best of Google’s Android operating system. However, Google never made their own handsets. Instead they handed the reins to other manufacturers and focused on the software. Until now that is. The Google Pixel is the first completely Google phone and they have made bold claims about what to expect.
The phone is finally out and reviews are rolling in. Does the Pixel have what it takes to compete with the big names in Android flagship phones? Let’s see what others are saying!
Reviews on the overall design of the phone are divided. One group feels the phone is bland. The other feels that it’s a perfect take on the designs of the other flagship phones this year. However, no one had issues with quality or comfortable usage. The Guardian noted, “The Pixel feels great in the hand, with nicely curved edges and flat sides that make it easy to grip and hold on to.” Android Police sided with the critics, saying, “The Pixel is a phone that seems to say "You're just going to put a case on me anyway, why should I dress up for the occasion?"
One novel feature of the design is the wedge shape to the rear cover. This eliminates the camera bubble, allowing the phone to lie flat on most surfaces. You’ll also find a fingerprint scanner on the rear which reviews loved.
Flipping around front you’re greeted with a 5-inch 1080p AMOLED panel. Reviewers loved the color balance, noting it wasn’t prone to the color saturation of other AMOLED-equipped phones. Android Police declared, “The Pixel offers an excellent display, if not one that's going to have Samsung looking over its shoulder.”
Underneath the hood, the phone has a Snapdragon 821 processor running at 2.15GHz. There’s also 4GB of RAM to keep apps moving along during multitasking. The UK’s Telegraph tested the phone for a week and said, “The device is blisteringly quick: you can zip around menus and apps with ease. The fingerprint reader responds instantly, and in five days of testing I’ve experienced no lag across the phone.” The Verge was equally positive, saying, “On performance alone, these are easily the best Android phones you can buy.”
The phone is the first to run Google’s latest Android 7.1 Nougat operating system. New features include quick menu icons, a redesigned app drawer and baked-in gesture support. There’s also the Google Assistant. Reviews were generally positive on all fronts, though the service is still new.
The Pixel doesn’t offer microSD card support, so it’s important to consider how much space you’ll need for your apps, games and media. The stock model comes with 32GB of internal storage and the high-end tops out at 128GB. However, all Pixel phones get unlimited Google Drive storage for photos and video. This might help to conserve space.
The phone’s 2,770mAh battery might seem small on paper, but reviews had no problems getting a day of use out of a single charge. Pocket-Lint noted, “With light use, our Pixel got from 07:30 to 18:00 with 60 per cent of its capacity left. For light users, this Pixel phone could even be a two day phone.” Even power users have little to worry about with support for USB-C fast charging offering a 40% charge in roughly 25 minutes.
Google made big claims about its 12.3MP rear camera and 8MP front-facing lens. Reviews seem to back up these claims. While the rear camera lacks optical image stabilization, it does include laser and phase-detection autofocus as well as two-tone flash. Reviews were positive on picture quality, ease of use and responsiveness. Android Police praised the camera, saying, “In my opinion, the Pixel is the best smartphone camera on the market. It's not just the quality of photos, it's everything that makes the camera so capable and simple.”
One additional feature you’ll find on the Pixel versus other Android phones is the built-in support. Through the settings menu you have 24/7 access to phone and chat support--complete with screen sharing--to resolve any issues you might have. Reviewers tried the service and found it worked as expected.
Overall, the only question raised by some was pricing. While the phone is priced to compete with flagship phones, reviews agreed it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. However, they also agree that what the phone does--it does extremely well. PC Magazine summed up opinions well, saying, “If software is of paramount importance to you, no other Android phone on the market can match the Pixel.”