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Though Google don’t build their own phones they’re heavily involved in the design process in cooperation with different manufacturers. And after the success of HTC’s Nexus 6P last year, Google have once again turned to HTC to design their newest Pixel range of phones. Sold as a pure Android experience, the regular Pixel is set to compete against the likes of the Samsung Galaxy line. Is it a contender? It could well be, since this is one of the best Android phones we’ve seen.
Why should you invest in a Pixel? Sure, it’s got good looks, but it’s also got great performance, awesome cameras, and some sweet special features. More than that though, it’s a pure Android phone, lacking in bloatware and with access to Android features that other users simply don’t have (or have to wait for). It’s going to cost you, but if you want an awesome Android phone, then it’s going to have to be the Pixel.
For the first time we’re getting a full glass and metal unibody build on a Google phone, which means the Pixel both looks and feels more premium than the older Nexus line. It’s sleek with a slim profile and sharp edges, the back is smooth other than the indent for the camera lens and fingerprint sensor. And the hand set feels very robust, sitting solidly in the hand.
Aside from those looks there are some nice tweaks internally as well. You’re getting more processing power, more RAM, better cameras and some nice little extras. Plus, there’s the fact that you get new Android features faster than anyone else, given that this phone comes direct from Google.
The combination of looks and performance is always a good one in a mobile hand set, and the Pixel definitely has that and more. It’s not the cheapest hand set around, but this is a solid investment, and one that even demanding customers are going to love.
We turn first to performance, which is a key factor in your buying decision. Google generally don’t put super powerful processors in their phones, simply because the slim line Android operating system doesn’t need them. Here you’re getting quad core processing, 4 GB of RAM, and the new Snapdragon 821 chip set. Combine those things and you’ve got a fast, responsive phone, even when multitasking.
Rather obviously, this is an Android phone, and it’s running the new Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box. You get customisation, flexibility, and intuitiveness, but since this is a Google phone you’ll also get OS updates before anyone else, as well as special features, like access to Google’s new Assistant, which others will have to wait for.
If you want a phone that’s fast and that can do anything you need it to do, then you’ve found it. And the pure Android operating system lacks the bloatware that can slow other phones down. Performance is, to be blunt, superb.
Google’s last phone, the Nexus 5X, had a 5.2 inch display, but this time the manufacturer have minimised the screen, shrinking to a simple 5 inch display. This really is the ideal screen size, since it both gives you plenty of typing room, and fits nicely into the average pocket. And you can easily use the Pixel one handed as well.
In terms of resolution you’re getting true HD, with 1080 x 1920 pixels, so about 441 PPI. Picture quality is sharp and well defined here. Add in the fact that this is an AMOLED screen, with excellent colour reproduction, and you can see that you’re getting great screen credentials.
Whether you want to watch HD video, play games, or simply surf the web, the display on the Pixel is very, very good indeed. Colours are true and natural, and images are well defined.
Alrighty, so, we all like taking pics with our phones, and the Pixel will help you out with a great camera set. At the front there’s an 8 MP cam, perfect for selfies and video calling, and if you’re a pro photographer then know that you’re getting an f/2.4 aperture along with a 1/3.2” sensor, for great, clear pictures.
Moving around to the rear and there’s a 12 MP camera, which isn’t as high resolution as some top end phones, but is more than satisfactory. Again, for the pros, there’s an f/2.0 aperture along with a 1/2.3” sensor here. You’re also getting phase detection and laser autofocus, touch focus, face detection, dual LED flash, panorama mode, and all the other features you’d expect to see.
In short, the Pixel takes great pictures. Images are clear, with plenty of detail and great colour reproduction, even in low light conditions. So if pics are your thing, then you’re going to really love the Pixel.
We do need to discuss just a few more features here, though the Pixel is packed with extras. There’s a fingerprint scanner on the back for added security, and this is one of the more reliable scanners that we’ve seen, with very few false read outs. Plus, that back placement makes it easy to use.
You’re getting improved battery life as well, with a larger 2770 mAh Li-Ion battery that promises up to 26 hours of talk time per charge cycle. When charging time does come around though, you’re getting fast charge tech for shorter charging times.
Lastly, this is the first phone to be built around Google’s new Assistant, which is Google’s answer to Apple’s Siri. That gives you convenience, easier searching, and a whole host of other things that can be done simply by speaking or sending the Assistant a text.
|Technology||GSM / CDMA / HSPA / EVDO / LTE|
|Dimensions||143.8 x 69.5 x 8.5 mm (5.66 x 2.74 x 0.33 in)|
|Weight||143 g (5.04 oz)|
|- Splash and dust resistant|
|Type||AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors|
|Size||5.0 inches (~69.0% screen-to-body ratio)|
|Resolution||1080 x 1920 pixels (~441 ppi pixel density)|
|Protection||Corning Gorilla Glass 4|
|OS||Android OS, v7.1 (Nougat)|
|Chipset||Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 821|
|CPU||Quad-core (2x2.15 GHz Kryo & 2x1.6 GHz Kryo)|
|Internal||32/128 GB, 4 GB RAM|
|Primary Camera||12 MP, f/2.0, phase detection & laser autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash|
|Features||1/2.3" sensor size, 1.55µm pixel size, geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR, panorama|
|Video||2160p@30fps, 1080p@30/60/120fps, 720p@240fps|
|Secondary Camera||8 MP, f/2.4, 1/3.2" sensor size, 1.4 µm pixel size, 1080p|
|Alert types||Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones|
|- Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic|
|WLAN||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot|
|Bluetooth||v4.2, A2DP, LE|
|GPS||Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS|
|USB||v3.0, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector|
|Sensors||Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer|
|Messaging||SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Mail, IM|
|- Fast battery charging|
|- MP4/H.264 player|
|- MP3/WAV/eAAC+ player|
|- Photo/video editor|
|- Document editor|
|Battery||Non-removable Li-Ion 2770 mAh battery|
|Stand-by||Up to 456 h (3G)|
|Talk time||Up to 26 h (3G)|
|Music play||Up to 110 h|
In the past, Google have produced some excellent devices, and the Pixel is no exception. Combining great performance, great looks, great cameras, and some nice little extras too, this is a fantastic Android device. If you’re looking for a top end Android phone, then the Pixel really should be your top pick.
In terms of connectivity you’re getting the usual, so WiFi, 3G, 4G and Bluetooth. Internally you’ve got a massive 128 GB of storage space on this model, though there’s no SD card slot so you won’t be adding in any more. However, Google do give you free, unlimited storage for music and photos, so space shouldn’t be a problem.
So, any complaints? Not really. Most top end phones we’re seeing are water resistant, though the Pixel isn’t, but that’s not a huge deal. The Pixel is priced at a higher price point than we’re used to seeing from Google as well, but top end phones are expensive these days. We really do like the Pixel though, and we like it a lot. If you’re in the market for a great looking phone with great performance, then the Pixel is a clear choice.
by Dan Forster, Mobile Phone Expert
Dan is our mobile phone review expert helping customers make better buying decisions. With a passion for technology and taking things apart Dan single-handedly reviews all the phones listed on the TigerMobiles.com website.