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Google Pixel and Pixel XL Review

by Felix Omondi
Google Pixel and Pixel XL Review

It has been weeks of rumors and leakages, but all that can now be put to rest. Yesterday, Google unveiled the first smartphones it has ever made; the Pixel and Pixel XL. The fact that they were said to be the first smartphones made by Google attracted a lot of attentions to the devices; stakeholders were curious to see how different a Google device will be from the other Android OEMs.

During the unveiling, Google had first to make one point loud and clear; they took full charge of the Pixel and Pixel XL design. This time round, they did not commission a third party OEM to make their devices, like it was the case with the Nexus line of devices.

About the Pixel and Pixel XL

Technically, these two devices were built by HTC, but Google takes full credit for the design, thus the ‘Made by Google’ branding. So what tucked underneath these phones?

The main difference between the Pixel and Pixel XL are their size and screen resolutions, the former being a 5-inch 1080 display and the latter a 5.5-inch Quad HD Panel. That is the only thing different about these two phones.

They are both powered by the latest Snapdragon 821 chip and running a special version of Android Nougat OS. One that that comes with the Daydream VR platform that was dubbed last summer at the Google I/O.

The Pixel name, “has always represented the best in hardware and software, designed and built by Google, said Rick Osterloh, the recently hired Hardware Chief at Google.

Key Features:


They are both made of an aluminum body with a glass window at the back covering the camera, flash, and the fingerprint sensor. The bigger Pixel XL comes with a larger battery capacity of 3,450mAh while the smaller Pixel has 2,770mAh. They both have an AMOLED display, 4GB RAM, USB-C, Bluetooth 4.2 and comes in variants of 32GB and 128GB internal storage. Google had to make a strong point out of this one; it comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Google Assistant

Yes, Google baked in Allo, its recently launched digital assistant. By touching and holding the home button, or only say ‘hot word,’ Allo will jump into action. Google demoed how Allo can be useful, by asking it to bring up pictures taken while at a particular place or from a particular time in the past. You can also ask it to play whichever music in your playlist and like a genie in a bottle, you wishes shall be granted. It also integrated with Google Now as a Tap functionality. By swiping upwards, the screen fills with information about say names of restaurants alongside other relevant information like reviews and address. Then the bot functionality kicks in, whereby you can make reservations by voice prompts only.


Well, Google was far from being humble or subtle about the specs on its Pixel phones. In fact, they were boasting that Pixels have “the shortest capture time on any mobile camera ever.” If it is relevant, the DxOMark gave the Pixel and Pixel XL rear camera a rating of 89, which is the highest rating ever. However, that benchmark cannot be said to be the most consistent and authoritative measure of good performance out there. Nonetheless, these phones come with a 12.3MP with large 1.55-micron pixels and a f/2.0 aperture on the rear. They also have an intricate gyroscope-based video stabilizer on board but lack an optical image stabilizer for still images.


Just like with Nexus phones, the Pixels will be getting the latest Android updates as and when they are available. Google says the paid close attentions to what users on the move want; fast charging with up to 7 hours of battery life under just 15 minutes of charging. To provide you with better customer service, Google has also baked in the OS, a 24-hour live phone support. Users can always get in touch with a tech support operator who can also see exactly what on the user’s screen and thus better able to assist with any troubleshooting.

Made for Virtual Reality

The Pixels have been made for mobile VR; they are the first Daydream-compatible smartphones. Google has also released a $79 Daydream View headset to be used with the phones. The headset has an inbuilt motion controller to make it all the more precise; Google says you can even draw with it. To keep the headset away, the controller tucks inside it for safety.


The larger Pixel XL base model with 32GB ROM goes for $769 and $869 for the 128GB ROM. While the smaller Pixel retails at $649 for the 32GB ROM variant while the 128GB goes for $749.

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