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Google phones are a must have for real Android fans, offering the purest and best Android experience direct from the operating system’s designers. And while the old Nexus range had its ups and downs, Google now have their sights set on bigger and better things with the all new Pixel range. Named to match their line of tablets, and designed by HTC, the Pixels are the best Google phones we’ve seen yet. Good enough to match the Samsung Galaxy’s and HTC One series? They could well be.
Why should you want a new Pixel? Well, that pure Android experience aside, the Pixel also gets great power credentials, smooth performance, excellent cameras, long battery life, and a host of unique features to boot. It’s not going to come cheap, but then, what high-end phone does these days? And if you want the best Android around, then you’re going to have to check out the Pixel.
Key Features on the Google Pixel
In a first for a Google phone, we’re now seeing a full metal, and glass unibody build, giving the Pixel a real premium look and hand feel. Other than that, lines are sleek, and profiles are slim, and barring the small round indentation for the fingerprint sensor and camera lens at the back, this is a smooth handset that feels solid and robust in hand.
Looks aside, there is some very nice internals. There’s tons of power and plenty of RAM for great performance, there’s a sweet camera set, a larger battery, and a bunch of special features that you’ll only be seeing on the Pixel for the time being (though some, like Google’s Assistant, will be slowly making their way to other Android devices).
This is a good looking phone, and it’s got great specs too, but a Google phone is more about the Android experience, and if Android is your operating system of choice then you’ll find that the Pixel is fantastic to use, pure and smooth. Looking for a great Android phone? Then you’ve found it!
Power and Performance
Let’s talk first about performance, and Google tends not to put super high-end processors into their phones, quite simply because they don’t need them. The Android OS is slim line enough that huge amounts of power just aren’t necessary. But a quad-core processor alongside the new Snapdragon 821 chipset and 4 GB of RAM are more than enough to keep the Pixel lightening fast, and very responsive as well.
Yes, it’s Google, so yes, you’re running Android, in this case, the new Android 7.1 Nougat version. And this is one of the main selling points of the Pixel, pure Android with little bloatware to mess around with. Plus, as a Google phone, you’ll be getting updates and new OS versions long before other owners, always a good thing.
There are no concerns about performance here. The Pixel can compete against the best with no trouble at all; it’s fast, responsive and very easy to use, all in all, it’s a great user experience.
So, time for that display, and it’s a nice one. Google have moved down from the old Nexus’s 5.2-inch display to a more pocket-friendly five-inch screen on the Pixel. This seems to be a perfect size, large enough for comfortable typing, while still small enough to use with one hand and to slide into a pocket.
Resolution numbers are good too, with the Pixel getting 1080 x 1920 pixels, so around 441 PPI, real HD resolution here. This is also an AMOLED screen, so colour reproduction is excellent too, with deep blacks and bright whites.
Picture quality on the Pixel is brilliant; images are sharp, defined and clear, as well as keeping their true colours and brightness. Whether you’re watching HD video or playing mobile games, the Pixel’s display is a pleasure to look at.
Hold onto your hats, because we’re about to get a little technical here since the beauty of the Pixel’s camera set lies in the pro details. At the front, you’ve got an 8 MP device, pretty high resolution for a front camera, but it’s also got f/2.4 aperture, and a 1/3.2” sensor, which is tech speak for you’ll get great clear photos.
Around to the rear, there’s a 12 MP cam, fairly standard for the price point, though not the highest resolution we’ve seen. But again, there are those tech details, since this time you’re getting a f/2.0 aperture along with a 1/2.3” sensor. Then there’s phase detection and laser autofocus, dual LED flash, touch focus, face detection, and all the other bells and whistles you’d expect to see.
If the tech talk confuses you a little, don’t worry about it. The bottom line here is that the Pixel takes brilliant pictures. They’re clear, bright, full of detail, and even low light pics look fantastic. And if you’re a pro, then you’ll know that those technical specs are pretty special for a mobile camera.
And the Rest…
There are a few other things that deserve a mention here. Firstly, the Pixel does have a fingerprint scanner at the back for added security. And, from experience, this is one of the more reliable scanners we’ve come across.
Battery life has been improved, with a 2770 mAh Li-Ion battery promising around 26 hours of talk time per charge, so more than enough to get you through the day. Though when you do need to charge, you’re getting fast charging, so it won’t take quite as long.
Finally, as a pure Google phone, you do get some advantages. Alongside early access to updates, you’ll get the new Google Assistant on tap. Google’s version of Siri is being rolled out to other users, but the Pixel is the first phone to come equipped with it out of the box.
|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|
Google have a history of producing some very satisfactory phones, and the new Pixel is the star of the pack right now. With great performance specs, beautiful design, awesome cameras and a bunch of special features, this is the best and purest Android experience around. If you love your Android, then you’re going to love the Pixel.
Connectivity is what you’d expect: 4G, 3G, WiFi and Bluetooth. In terms of memory, this model has 32 GB of internal memory. However, since there’s no SD card slot, you won’t be adding any external memory. That shouldn’t be a problem though, since Google offer unlimited cloud storage for music and photos.
Alright, so, any complaints? Nothing too major. This isn’t a waterproof model, which is becoming standard in high end phones these days, but that’s not a huge omission. The price point is a little high when compared to Google’s previous phones, but you have to pay for quality. On the whole, we love the Pixel and think that you will too. It’s a fast, good looking little beast of a phone, and a worthy buy!
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.