For it’s flagship device, Google didn’t skimp. They put the latest CPU (Snapdragon 821) and paired it with 4GB of RAM, and either 32 or 128GB of speedy UFS 2.0 internal storage. It’s the end of 2016, and Google tasked HTC with getting the best of what was available, and they did it. This also includes the display, which in the standard Pixel is an AMOLED display with a 1080p resolution, and in this Pixel XL jumps to a QHD AMOLED panel with 1440p resolution. Colors pop, blacks are jet black, and details are sharp. The included wallpaper picker app puts how good this display is front and center. It’s plenty bright indoors, but this falters a little outdoors in direct sunlight. I’m not an engineer, and I could post stats about how many nits of brightness the display gets, but instead I’ll say this – its a great looking display. If you prefer a display to have a more “true to life” look to it, you’ll want an LCD similar to the one found in the current generation iPhone. If you prefer the punchy vivid colors of an AMOLED display, the Pixel has got you covered.
|Left: Pixel XL, Right: Nexus 6P|
|Left: Pixel XL, Right: Nexus 6P|
With my Nexus 6P I was typically getting a full day of use (around 16-18 hours off the charger) and getting about 2-2.5 hours of screen on time (SOT) from it. While that’s pretty good, the Pixel XL absolutely smashes it, without breaking a sweat. I’m consistently hitting the 2.5 hours SOT mark after a day…with about 40-50% of the battery life left. Extrapolating that, you should be able to use the XL for a full day and achieve somewhere between 4-5 hours of SOT. For my money, that’s excellent. My day typically consists of about 2 hours of streamed podcasts, about 45 minutes to an hour of streamed video, and the usual texts/email/Twitter/Instagram/Facebook reviews throughout the day. I’m comfortable in saying that the Pixel XL should get you through a full day easily if you have similar use and are on a mix of LTE and WiFi at some point.
So what does all of this boil down to? If you are an Android person, the Pixel or Pixel XL is probably a device you would really, really like. If you are an iPhone person, and are thinking of making the switch – the Pixel is probably the phone you should choose. Its the most “iPhone-like” Android device out there – it even looks like an iPhone from the front. Google is taking the Pixel phone seriously, from the hardware and software, to the marketing, to its vertical integration with all the other forthcoming hardware products (like Google Home, WiFi, and Daydream View) Will next years device be better? Almost certainly yes, but next year’s version of everything is always better. So…there’s that. It’s pricey, but if you’re in the Google ecosystem, the Pixel and XL are probably worth it. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; I for one welcome our new Google overlords. Hopefully they are here to stay. If you’ve got any questions I didn’t answer in the review, hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @silicontheory
Lots going on next week in the world of tech, and here’s a quick rundown on what you need to know…
- Potentially a new Surface PC – desktop class computer
- Upgrades to the Surface Pro and Surface Book laptop computers
- A smart speaker alleged to be called “HomeHub” (an Amazon Echo/Google Home competitor)
- Maybe Windows 10 software upgrades as well (but Microsoft has another event on Nov 2 as well, which could dive more in depth into their latest software updates)
- Refreshed MacBook Pros with lighter chassis, an OLED touchscreen bar replacing the row of function keys, and as much as 2TB of solid state drive storage
- The new MacBook Pro could also contain only USB-C connectors, replacing the existing USB-A, HDMI, SD card, AND the MagSafe charging connections
- Updates to the MacBook Air line, (although they are expected to be relatively minor)
- According to Engadget, there’s also a report that there will be a new “13 inch MacBook” in addition to the existing 12 inch standard MacBook
- 5.7 inch QHD display, with a secondary display on top of it (for notifications and app shortcuts, among other things)
- Snapdragon 820 processor with the Adreno 530 GPU and 4GB of RAM
- 3200mah removable battery with an SD card slot that supports cards up to 256GB
- All metal chassis and dual rear cameras (one 16MP and one 8MP, for wide angle and telephoto shots) as well as a 5MP front facing camera for selfies
- For audiophiles, the Quad DAC (digital analog converter) inside the V20 promises to produce high quality sound output from the headphone jack into your headphones of choice
- The Pixel XL feels nice in the hand. The glass window on the back does take a little bit of getting used to though.
- The size of the phone does not seem to match the size of the display (at 5.5″) – it just feels smaller than it should be.
- It noticeably smaller than phones with a similar display size (namely the iPhone 7+)
- While its solidly built, it feels very light in the hand – but no bending, creaking, or flexing on the XL – its well made and it shows.
- Smooth, smooth, smooth. The newest version of Android is so polished, it almost feels slow, if you get what I mean. Commonly referred to as the “iPhone effect.”
- Depending on where you are, you might get a faster version of LTE (only available in some markets) – unclear if Southern California is one of these, but I’ve seen noticeably faster download times for installing new apps. Installation is fast as well.
- The fingerprint scanner (Pixel Imprint) is fast, and sets up quickly – the ability to swipe up and down on it to effect the notification shade is a nice touch as well.
- Swiping on the display is a pleasure. The glass is responsive, and light and smooth to the touch. Input is registered quickly and accurately as well.
- Early battery results are encouraging. Using the stock charge of 75% I’ve taken it down to 20% on LTE mostly, with about 2.5 hours of screen on time. And over 30 hours since the initial boot and stock charge were fired up. I’d say that falls in the “very good” category.
- Shooter loads quickly, and is ready to go insanely fast. Almost before you are ready to take the picture – both launching from the app shortcut and from a double press of the power button.
- Focus was good, and the detail in the pictures after taking them is fantastic (good lighting)
- The few low light pics I’ve taken so far (both with and without flash) were good but more testing to come in the next few days.
- Android Central review
- Android Authority – first 48 hours initial take
- the Verge review – Android without compromise
- Walt Mossberg from Re/code and the Verge – another point of view
- Ars Technica review – as Sean P said, “they hate everything so this means they liked it”
- Review from the Wall Street Journal – in case you want like, a grown up review
- CNet review – they’ve usually got a good video review as well
So we’ve received a few questions about the Note 7 and for those who were looking to upgrade, its now off the table (sorry Samsung) – but the question becomes, okay – now what do you buy? We’re glad you asked! Without further ado, here are some thoughts on what you might want to consider if you are wanting or needing to pick up a new smartphone this year.
|Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge|
|Photo courtesy of Droid-Life.com – the Pixel XL|
Why choose the Google Pixel XL?
Why choose the LG V20?