Google Pixel review: Advanced simplicity

Advanced simplicity

GSMArena team, 07 November 2016.


HTC and Google have come full circle twice since the original HTC Dream, a smartphone released on T-Mobile as the 'T-Mobile G1'. Then a few years later with the release of the Google Nexus One, yet another phone is made by HTC for Google. And now, with the Nexus lineup seemingly discontinued, the (HTC-made, as well) Google Pixel takes its rightful place as Google's own flagship offering.

Google is committed to delivering the best smartphone experience and giving the iPhone 7 a run for its money. Quite literally as the two lineups are priced identically: starting at $650 (US) and stepping up +$120 if you opt for the XL model. Tack on $100 more if you want to up the memory from 32GB to 128GB. Either way, Google will throw in unlimited photo and video cloud-storage via Google Photos.

The Google Pixel is designed to deliver a Google-centric experience, complete with perfect integration of all the services Google has to offer, as well as the introduction to Android's new Google Assistant, now more talkative, helpful, and exclusive to Pixel.

The Pixel and Pixel XL are both successors to last year's Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P. Except this year, the Pixels are identically spec'd with the exception of the screen sizes/resolutions and battery sizes, whereas the Nexus 5X and 6P had more significant differences like the hexa-core CPU in the 5X compared to the 6P's octa-core chip.

Key Features

  • Sturdy metal uni-body design with wedge
  • 5.0" 16M-color AMOLED screen of 1080p resolution, 441ppi
  • Snapdragon 821 chipset: quad-core (2x2.15 GHz Kryo & 2x1.6 GHz Kryo) / Adreno 530 GPU / 4GB of RAM
  • 12.3 MP main camera with f/2.0 phase detection and laser assisted autofocus, dual-LED flash, 1/2.3" sensor, 1.55 micron pixel size, 2160p (4K) @ 30fps, 1080p @ 30/60/120 fps, 720p @ 240 fps
  • 8MP front-facing camera, f/2.4 1/2.3" sensor size, 1.4 micron pixels, 1080p @ 30fps
  • Comes in 32 or 128GB of built-in storage
  • First device to ship with Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box
  • Up to LTE Cat12 depending on market (600/75 Mbps) / GPS with A-GPS; GLONASS / Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 MIMO / Bluetooth 4.2 / NFC support for Android Pay and Android Beam
  • VoLTE / Wi-Fi Calling / Project Fi-compatible
  • Pixel Imprint fingerprint authentication
  • 2,770 mAh non-removable battery

Main shortcomings

  • Nexus cons - no microSD slot, non-removable battery
  • Pricey for a Nexus successor
  • No wireless charging, IR blaster, or FM Radio
  • (Arguably) bland design
  • No full water resistance

Many Nexus fans were disappointed to learn that the Pixel won't be as affordable as the Nexus devices. The Pixel phones are meant to be more mainstream and to carry Google's vision of Android to everyone. It carries a heftier price tag so customers are more likely to purchase the units through carriers (though Verizon is the only one that will carry it in the US). Besides, if the Google Pixel was not priced like the iPhone, many might be quick to dismiss it for being "cheaper than the iPhone".

Google Pixel review

Battery life is definitely something we are really looking forward to testing as the 2,770mAh battery sounds a bit iffy as Nexus devices in the past were hardly known for battery performance. So that is. We really hope Google's efforts with software will yield better battery life.

In any case, the Google Pixel marks a new chapter in Google's smartphone portfolio. Many of you with a Nexus 5X (or even Nexus 5) might be wondering if you should upgrade to the Google Pixel, let's find out together if the Google Pixel is worthy of replacing your Nexus daily driver.

Reader comments

  • Pixel User

Very satisfied at how many parts are available for the pixel. Amazing custom ROM support for the relatively low price. Great product even if google has cut mainline support.

  • Anonymous

I am pixel user nearly 1.5 years. Please do not buy pixel. Its worst phone and lost cost. I bought with in one year and it has a more issues. The google service center said dont update software ,because this problem due to software update. Why we go ...

  • googler

Takes amazing photos, better than the new iphone xs max phone and the pixel is old now. Have had no issues except my text messages sometimes takes forever to send to one particular person. I dont think thats the phones fault though.