Here we are 6 months now since the release of a new paradigm for Google – a phone designed by and sold under Google’s own branding. The Pixel isn’t your father’s Nexus device; and boy, does it show. Starting with the pricetag on down, the Pixel and Pixel XL are premium devices that are different than anything that Google has done before. Literally, as they’ve never really done a phone by themselves before. Knowing that, it’s 6 months later – how is the Pixel doing today? Let’s find out.
Design/Style – While this was originally listed under the things I didn’t like, it didn’t really bother me then, and hasn’t grown more on me now – and to be honest, the size of the bezels doesn’t really concern me. Screen real estate is sufficient, the top bezel is a non issue, and the bottom just gets me “is that an iPhone?” comments. The bezels on the Pixel and Pixel XL are still some of the most polarizing parts of the phone; seems to me that most that own or use one don’t care, those that won’t cite the bezels as a “large” part of why. See what I did there?
Performance – The Snapdragon 821 with 4GB of RAM has kept my Pixel XL snappy still, no lag issues, less reboots, and more uptime than my previous daily, the Nexus 6P. Battery performance is still great, consistent 3-4 hours SoT, with more than a day of use. With light use, 2 days off a single charge is realistic and achievable regularly. This past weekend in fact I did just that very thing. The image below is from GSAM Battery Monitor – since November of 2016, I’m averaging 1 day 12 hours off a single charge, and a bit over 4 hours of screen on time. This is more than acceptable. And would be for the vast majority of people who would own or use a Pixel phone.
Camera – It’s still a great performer (which shouldn’t come as a surprise, since cameras don’t really change) I will say that I’ve come to appreciate it more over time though, as it snaps consistently sharp images, with auto and unlimited Google Photos backup of those images. Double clicking the home button to launch the app is quick and as handy a shortcut as you’ll find on any device.
Storage – In hindsight, I might have preferred to opt for 128GB, if only for the resale value. I’ve not had any issues with running out of space, but when you talk about future-proofing your device, choosing the larger base storage option would have been the right call. Pixel devices are so scarce (of any storage option) I should have bought 2. Which is really a shame, as I’ve found it to be a great phone and I think that if more people owned it, Google would really have even more of a hit on their hands.
Misc – I’ve continued to receive regular updates, both security and otherwise. I can still remember where I was when I got my first Nougat update. It’s a comforting feeling (now that Android has matured into a polished operating system) to know that without my own intervention, I’ll have the most recent security patches and that feature updates will come almost as soon as they are available. And new features have been added via Android updates, including swipe gestures on the fingerprint scanner and double tapping the screen to wake the display.
I haven’t used the 24/7 support but it’s there if I needed to. And with the issues that some others have reported with the Bluetooth or external microphones, it’s an added perk. It’s still not IP67/8 water and dust resistant, but it hasn’t mattered to me so far. I’d still like to have it, if nothing more than be included in the next generation of Pixel device. Same with stereo speakers – they would have been nice too, HTC style with earpiece and bottom firing speaker. Alas, we are left with the Pixel we deserve, not the Pixel we need.
Rick Osterloh, head of hardware at Google, has already said there will be a Pixel 2. The original was great, and I can’t wait for an even better version. If Google is committed to making great phones now and into the future, we will have a 3rd name to mention along with big boy players like Apple and Samsung.