Google Pixel review: The high-end Android you’ve been waiting for


Google’s Pixel is exactly what the Android ecosystem needs to compete with the iPhone in the high-end smartphone space in terms of quality, performance and reliability.

The device is a finely tuned, reliable melding of hardware and software, a strategy Apple has adopted since the iPhone’s inception. More importantly, the Pixel and Pixel XL are built from the ground up by Google, in terms of both design and software, a key element Nexus devices — which are now dead — desperately needed.

When it comes to the Nexus line, a Google initiative that consists of my favourite smartphones of all time, contrary to what some might assume, manufacturers like LG and Huawei handled about 90 percent of the design process.

With the Pixel’s creation, the entire development of the phone has been handled by Google. The company even reportedly eventually has ambitions to design its own proprietary chipsets in the same vein as Apple and Samsung. The phone’s manufacturing is handled by HTC, a fact Google intentionally didn’t mention during the device’s reveal, in the same way Foxconn makes Apple’s smartphones and tablets.

This is a huge step for Google and a shift that moves the tech giant in line with Apple as an end-to-end hardware manufacturer, with devices like the Google Wi-Fi router, Google Home and the revamped 4K-capable Chromecast Ultra acting as further proof of the company’s new hardware direction.

This new strategy is not without its faults, however. As Apple’s walled-garden slowly crumbles with the company opening up various aspects of iOS, such as iMessage and Siri, Google is building its own partially closed version of Android with the Pixel. It’s unclear what result the phone’s release will have on the broader Android ecosystem, particularly given Samsung’s recent Note 7 recall fiasco.

Will the Pixel’s high-end build quality push Google’s manufacturing partners to step up their game like Microsoft’s Surface line did when it initially launched? Or will it instead ruin the open nature of Android, making an already disparate operating system even more confusing for the average consumer? These are questions that are nearly impossible to answer right now as the Android operating system enters uncharted waters with the launch of the Pixel.

With all that said, however, let’s dive into the actual device.

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Pixel Specs

  • Android 7.1
  • Aluminum body
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, 2.15Ghz Quad-core processor
  • 5.0 inch, Full HD 1080 x 1920p pixels, 441 ppi with Gorilla Glass 4
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB or 128GB internal storage
  • 12.3-megapixel camera (1.55um big pixels f/2.0, 4K video recording)
  • 8-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Fingerprint sensor, Gyroscope, Proximity, Ambient Light
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 2,770 mAh battery with fast charge
  • USB-C, Nano SIM slot
  • 143.8mm x 69.5mm x 8.6mm
  • Weight: 143 grams
  • See Google’s band list
  • Colours: Silver, Black, Blue

Pixel XL Specs

  • Android 7.1
  • Aluminum body
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, 2.15Ghz Quad-core processor
  • 5.5 inch, Quad HD 1440 x 2560p pixels, 534 ppi with Gorilla Glass 4
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB or 128GB internal storage
  • 12.3-megapixel camera (1.55um big pixels f/2.0, 4K video recording)
  • 8-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Fingerprint sensor, Gyroscope, Proximity, Ambient Light
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 3,450 mAh mAh battery with fast charge
  • USB-C, Nano SIM slot
  • 154.7mm x 75.mm7 x 8.6mm
  • See Google’s band list
  • Weight: 168 grams
  • Colours: Silver, Black

Divisive looks

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Visually, both the Pixel and Pixel XL are divisive devices. The phone’s uni-body metal design is minimalist, though it’s difficult to deny that the Pixel doesn’t share aesthetic similarities with current and past iterations of the iPhone. While I agree that at first glance the Pixel looks like it was manufactured from spare iPhone parts, I’d argue that the same can be said about almost any modern smartphone.

The Pixel’s slightly curved glass and sides give the phone a sleek profile. Its antenna bands are covertly placed on its top, with one also located on its base. An interesting Gorilla Glass 3 backing houses the Pixel’s fingerprint sensor, rounding out the design.

Despite having a great feeling weight to it (168g with the XL and 143g for the Pixel) and an overall air of refinement and quality, the phone will still feel chunky to some, especially when compared to recently released Android devices like the Moto Z and the dearly departed Note 7, though the later comparison isn’t exactly fair given what a disaster Samsung’s latest flagship has become.

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Specifically, the Pixel and Pixel XL measures in at 8.5mm thick. To put the thickness of Google’s flagship in perspective, the iPhone 7 comes in at 7.1mm. While 1.4mm doesn’t sound like a significant amount on paper, placing the Pixel beside the iPhone 7, Note 7 or even the Moto Z, there’s a drastic difference in girth. Even when comparing this Pixel to last year’s well-received 6P, a phone that’s 7.5mm thick, the Pixel feels considerably larger.

With that said, I warmed up to the Pixels’ thickness, especially after recently spending a few weeks with the Moto Z, a phone that I felt was perhaps a little too thin for its own good. To its credit, the chunky nature of the Pixel actually makes the phone feel more solid and durable than its contemporaries.

Where the Pixel’s design falters is its large bezel, especially given its home, back and multitasking buttons are located on the screen. There is a significant amount of black space located just under the Pixel’s display. While large bezels are common on Android smartphones, the Pixel’s feels especially large. It’s as if the phone was meant to feature physical buttons, but Google opted to drop the feature at the last second.

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It’s worth noting that while the buttons are located on the display, it’s difficult to accidentally press them like it was with the HTC 10, a phone that the Pixel unsurprisingly shares design language with. And finally, in a very Apple-like move, a Google ‘G’ sits on the Pixel’s rear under the fingerprint scanner, just in case you forgot who created the device.

Overall, I’m a huge fan of the Pixel and Pixel XL’s design, though I will admit I wasn’t at first. As I’ve spent more time with the the phone, however, its look has grown on me, though it’s difficult to deny that beyond its glass backing, the Pixel doesn’t have a standout, unique visual cue.

Under the hood, however, is where the Pixel does pack a more reliable and standout punch than any Android device before it.

Specs that push Pixels

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Between the 5-inch Pixel and 5.5-inch Pixel XL, I’ve spent most of my time using the Pixel XL; I prefer smartphones with bigger displays and the larger form factor of the XL speaks to how I use my device on a daily basis. Specs-wise, the only difference between the two smartphones other than size, is screen resolution, with the Pixel coming in at a 1080 x 1920 pixels and the XL measuring in at 1440 x 2560 pixels.

The AMOLED display featured in both phones is bright, vibrant and one of the best-looking screens I’ve seen featured in an Android device, rivaling the Note 7’s impressive glass. Videos, games and browsing the web all look spectacular on the Pixel.

The Snapdragon 821 rounds out the Pixel’s hardware features, with 4GB of RAM and either 32GB or 128GB of storage, with a 3,450mAh battery in the XL and a 2,770mAh for the regular sized Pixel. While many of these specs are now the standard for high-end Android devices — though the Pixel is one of the first devices to feature the Snapdragon 821 — my time with Google’s phone has been a notably flawless experience. The phone is able to play high-end games, rapidly switch between apps, shoot video, snap photos and most importantly, browse the internet, all with a level of smoothness I have not experienced before with an Android device.

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While some of this fluidity is likely the result of the Pixel’s Snapdragon 821 processor, it’s also because this is the first Android device where the software and the hardware has been designed in unison. Issues that often affect high-end Android phones like screen lag or typing not being able to keep up with my fast moving fingers, are problems I haven’t encountered with the Pixel, at least not yet. The Snapdragon 821 also actually runs much cooler than the Snapdragon 820 in my experience.

The Pixels’ power button and volume rockers are solid and placed on the right side of the phone. It’s fingerprint scanner, which sits on the rear like the Nexus 6P and 5X, is responsive and in my experiences, works under almost any conditions, even when my finger is slightly damp.

The Pixel isn’t IP68 waterproof like the iPhone 7 and instead “IP53 water ingress,” which means it can withstand the occasional splash, but can’t be submerged under water. For some, water resistance is an expected feature with a smartphone in this price range, so this could be an issue.

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Battery life measures in at roughly a day with the XL, though in some cases I’ve managed to avoid charging the phone until the next morning. While the Pixel features a smaller power source, I’ve found battery life to be comparable across both devices. The ability to charge up to seven hours of battery life in just 15 minutes through the Pixel’s proprietary quick charge technology, is useful as well.

Additionally, and most importantly for some, the Pixel and Pixel XL still feature a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, a fact Google placed cheeky emphasis on during the device’s reveal.

Pixel perfect camera

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As the name ‘Pixel’ suggests, one of the Pixel and Pixel XL’s marquee features is its new camera. On paper, it may look like the Pixel’s camera features the same specs as last year’s Nexus devices — a 12.3 megapixel camera at f/2.0 aperture and 1.55 μm sized pixels on the back and an 8-megapixel front camera — but in reality, Google’s boasting about its impressive DxOMark seems to be true.

It’s not as if the 5X and 6P featured bad camera technology, but as the months wore on, devices with better photography capabilities like the S7 and iPhone 7 hit store shelves, making the once impressive Nexus shooter seem older than it really was.

The Pixel’s camera performs excellently under low-light and natural light, though the phone’s lack of true image stabilization seems to sometimes cause issues, especially under low-light conditions. These focusing problems rarely occurred, but sometimes when trying to snap photos quickly while jostling the phone around, the resulting shot ended up blurry. Google claims that some level of image stabilization is handled through the phone’s gyroscope, but in my experience, I found it didn’t always work very well.

With so many high-end smartphone cameras snapping great photos in 2016, it’s difficult to say where the Pixel falls. Comparing shots with the iPhone 7 Plus, my favourite smartphone shooter, reveal that under almost all conditions, with the exception of low-light, the Pixel can certainly hold its own.

On the plus side, both the Pixel and Pixel XL feature EIS video stabilization, a new feature Google showed off during the phone’s unveiling that makes videos look like the were shot with the phone placed in a gimbal; yes the video stabilization really is that impressive. I’d even go so far as to say that at least at first glance, EIS stabilized video shot with the Pixel rival the video that comes out of Panasonic’s upcoming Lumix G85 micro four thirds camera, which features 5-axis body stabilization. The Pixel’s image stabilization is very impressive and the kind of feature that’s only possible when the software and hardware of a device are designed to operate in unison.

The ability to backup all images in their original quality for free via Google photos, a feature that’s exclusive to the Pixel, is also convenient and extremely useful.

Google Assistant destroys Siri

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With the voice-assistant AI wars slowly heating up, one thing is already clear: Google Assistant is significantly ahead of Apple’s Siri.

While the Pixel and Pixel XL are the first devices to feature Android 7.1, Google has also launched new offshoot features, which it says are exclusive to Pixel devices for the time being. Anyone who’s played around with Google’s Allo will be familiar with Google Assistant, a voice-activated assistant that scours the phone’s screen for search terms and responds to user questions, similar to previously launched Now on Tap.

What makes Google Assistant different, however, is its conversational nature, which makes it significantly more contextual than Google Now or Now on Tap. Assistant is always collecting data from Google’s various services, including apps like Gmail, as well as Chrome web browsing activity. While this is likely a privacy issue for some, giving up your entire life to Google’s Skynet gives access to the first virtual assistant that I’ve actually found useful.

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Saying “Ok, Google” springs the assistant into action (you can also swipe up from home button to activate Google Assistant). A new window pops up in the lower section of the screen and a speech-to-text conversation tool launches. You’re then able to ask Google Assistant questions like, “Where is the nearest Starbucks?” to which the AI will respond with Google Maps-specific locations where you can purchase overpriced, fancy coffee. Where things get interesting is what you’re able to do next.

For example, if you happen to have a follow-up question related to when that Starbucks location closes, simply tap the screen again and ask when that location will set to close. You don’t to clarify that you’re still talking about the same location; Assistant is smart enough to follow a conversation.

While similar functionality is built into Google’s Allo app, having Google Assistant always-listening and available with a simple voice command or swipe, has made me actually use an AI for the first time. I’ve found it very difficult to come up with a question that Google Assistant doesn’t have some sort of answer to and I’ve never been able to say the same about Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana or Amazon’s Alexa.

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Furthermore, rather than respond in a robotic voice like Siri, Google Assistant displays a text confirmation that your question has been received and that the task is currently being accomplished. Responses are also speedy, significantly more so than Google Now and all in, Google Assistant is able to answer questions faster and more accurately than Siri.

Google obviously has prowess in the search space because it’s behind the world’s most popular search engine and it seems like the company is finally harnessing that power through its mobile operating system in a way that makes sense. If Google Assistant is able to find an audience, it’s possible it could replace standard Google searches in a couple of years; yes, it really is that good.

Polished Pixel launcher

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Google Assistant integration isn’t the only exclusive feature the Pixel is getting, the phone also includes a brand new Android overlay. While some have criticized the Pixel’s circular icons, I feel like they add a much-needed level of polish to Android’s sometimes confusing operating system.

The ability to swipe up to launch the dock is also a great decision on Google’s part and I’m surprised that one of its partners, particularly Samsung, didn’t implement a similar feature years ago through its own launcher.

While Android has always been a pretty operating system, the rampant skinning often done by manufacturers, particularly companies like LG, Samsung and a string of mid-range OEMs, have resulted in an operating system that never had a clear, concise identity. Sure, stock Android has always been the clearest vision of what Google wants its mobile operating system to be, but it’s always felt like the company was holding back with devices like the 6P and 5X in order to give its partners a blank slate.

With the Pixel, that hesitation to add new exclusive features and a cleaner aesthetic direction are gone. How this changes the broader Android ecosystem remains unclear, but in the context of the Pixel, this is a welcome shift.

High-end price tag for a high-end device

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The Pixel and Pixel XL are high-end devices with expensive price tags, with the latter fact coming as a shock to many fans of Google’s now-dead Nexus brand. Whether or not the cost of admission and significant price increase over the 6P and 5X are worth it will come down to what you value from a smartphone. I’d contend that while both the 6P and 5X were great devices, they’re severely lacking in certain areas, particularly build quality. So while the Pixel and Pixel XL are expensive, starting at $899 CAD and $1,029 CAD respectively, this cost puts the phones in line with the devices it’s vying to compete with like the S7 and iPhone 7.

If you’re looking for a more affordable device with a mid-range price and high-end specs, there are great options out there. Smartphones like the OnePlus 3 and even the Axon 7 instantly come to mind and it’s not as if these devices are going anywhere when the Pixel launches.

With the Pixel, Google is making a clear grab for the high-end smartphone market, with its sights set directly on the iPhone and to a lesser extent, high-end Android handsets from manufacturers like Samsung and LG. The included transfer cables, which allow users to easily transfer data from an iOS devices running iOS 8 or higher, directly to the Pixel, is yet another example of Google’s overarching goal with the new direction of its hardware division.

While the Pixel and Pixel XL might not be the smartphone for everyone anymore, the high-end devices are exactly what the Android ecosystem needs right now. Make no mistake, the Pixel is the Android device you’ve been waiting for.

The Pixel is set to be available on October 20th through the Google Store as well as at Canadian carriers.

Pros

  • Sleek looking and feels high-end
  • Google Assistant is great
  • Circular skin adds a level of polish to Android
  • Reliable melding of hardware and software

Cons

  • Expensive, especially in Canada
  • Not water resistant
  • Design may be too simple for some

Second opinion

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Igor Bonifacic

The Pixel is the five-inch smartphone I’ve been waiting for Google to make since I first dipped my toes into the Android ecosystem with the Galaxy Nexus back in 2011. The company has created a palm-sized smartphone that isn’t a compromise; the Pixel features impressive internals, a bold new take on Android, and, at long last, a camera that is not a liability in all but the most favourable lighting conditions.

As with all Android devices, we’ll have to wait and see how the Pixel performs down the road (lest it be forgotten, Android lag is still a very real thing), but after one week with the device — far too little time, I admit — I’m happy to report the Pixel is a joy to use. Unlike the Nexus 5X, which suffered a number of performance-related issues that no amount of software tweaking by Google seemed capable of fixing, the Pixel is snappy, and I’ve yet to see any apps crash or hang up.

Similarly, Assistant has also been a revelation. In the past, I’ve seen little utility in personal assistants like Siri and Cortana, but with its ability to correctly parse speech and infer context from previous queries, Assistant has won me over. I can see it becoming a favourite feature of many future Pixel users.

Granted, unlike the Nexus 5X, the Pixel costs $899, $450 more than the $449.00 I paid to get my 32GB Nexus 5X last year. Given its less than stellar looks, some may end up scoffing at the price, but given how few small high-end smartphones there are out there, particular in the Android ecosystem, this is the 5-inch smartphone to get.

Related: Pixel and Pixel XL unboxing

Igor Bonifacic also contributed photography to this review. 

Comments

  • carswell

    No optical image stabilization + no waterproofing + a look that’s ho-hum from the front and ugly from the back + a stratospheric price tag = the high-end Android phone we’ve been waiting for?! Are you guys fanboyz or what?

    • The lack of waterproofing sucks, but other than the Xperia line, it’s rare for a high-end Android device to feature IP68. The camera takes great pics, probably better than the iPhone 7 Plus, it’s just the lack of image stabilization becomes an issue under rare circumstances.

    • MrQ

      Galaxy flagships are also IP68

      And OIS works/comes in handy for every picture, it is not limited to “rare circumstances”

    • neo905

      Except the Pixel takes great pictures the majority of the time based on early reviews I have read. So the instances it wouldn’t would be rare.

    • MrQ

      OIS helps with camera/hand shake, slow shutter speed, not image quality

    • neo905

      I know what it does. In reviews I’ve read so far the camera has gotten high marks and it performs better than phones with OIS for videos and stills. OIS isn’t the end all and be all.

    • Zbiba

      The important thing is the end-result, maybe it would have been better with OIS but the fact that it doesn’t have it doesn’t seem to hurt the quality of the picture and videos nearly enough to make any fuss out of it

    • I’m not saying is isn’t useful, I think you’ve misunderstood. OIS is dope and extremely useful, but with the Pixel, I didn’t miss it at all, not until I tried to shoot in really low light. Whatever magic Google has done with the Pixel’s software has made OIS not a necessity.

    • thereasoner

      It’s the high quality VR sensors that can pull double duty to help enhance EIS for the cameras with adjustments up to 200 times per second.

      A smart move by Google to place them in the phone instead of their VR headset like Samsung did.

    • monsterduc1000

      “OIS is dope and extremely useful, but with the Pixel, I didn’t miss it at all, not until I tried to shoot in really low light. Whatever magic Google has done with the Pixel’s software has made OIS not a necessity.”

      Except in low light situations.

    • Yes, that is what the comment says lol.

    • monsterduc1000

      Ha! But not really. In one sentence you say you didn’t miss it until a low light situation arrived, but in the next you say you don’t need it at all due to software optimisation. So I’m just wondering which is it?

    • thereasoner

      Actually “really” low light conditions, probably something that can be addressed in future software tweaks I would think.

    • perfectlyreasonabletoo

      “Galaxy flagships are also IP68” and are prone to explosion.

    • MrQ

      S7/S7 edge?

    • Collin dubya

      what good is a phone being waterproof if it explodes?

    • MrQ

      There are other Galaxy phones too, you know?

    • Sean-Paul

      Dumbest response ever. Must be an iPhone fan boy.

    • Deadly Disco

      lol like 1% of the phones sold had an issue, the rest is so blown out of proportion and exploding is not the same as a bomb going off, they mean the case was ruptured. But i agree Samsung is taking the lead in trying to replace the phones, apple ignored their issues with the iPhone 5 and 6 for like a year, then instead of offering a replacement for their iPhone 5 with the battery issues, they ignored it and swept it under the carpet until all of their user base complained and they faced lawsuits, then they issued a recall. But only if the devices were from a specific batch.

    • Smanny

      Patrick you didn’t mention anything about Daydream VR which is embedded in this device (both hardware and software).

      Are you going to review Daydream VR separately?

    • Indeed I am. I couldn’t really talk about Daydream in this review because, well, I haven’t tried it yet (other than a few minutes at Google’s keynote).

    • Deadly Disco

      if you want water proofing put it in a ziplock bag.. LOL Iphone took 10 years to come out with theirs

    • Brett Allard

      Some of these are subjective… Unless you plan on swimming with your device it’s not a deal breaker for most.

      The look itself is fantastic (perhaps it looks identical to a Honor 8) I don’t understand how you think the back looks ‘ugly’ when everything that LG released in the last year looks more plain then a bowl of oatmeal!

    • fred

      Waterproofing is a must now that both Samsung and Apple have it on their flagship. No excuse. Maybe you don’t plan on swimming, and you might not plan in dropping it in the water by accident, but that may happen nonetheless. Ruining a $1000 device that could not have been ruined.

    • Brett Allard

      So because Apple and Samsung have a feature means that every other manufacturer has to follow through with the same?

      If you decide to go swimming with your device in the first place that’s your own stupidity..using your phone in the rain or Dropping your phone in a toilet and or puddle is a more realistic example as I myself have done so in the past.. However IP53 is more then enough protection to prevent these accidents from happening.

    • Mike Simpson

      The marketing-driven reality is that hyped-up specs drive design just as much as actual consumer needs do. I’ve never put much value on waterproofing because I’ve never felt it necessary. In a market where there is little actual room for innovation but one manufacturer is always trying to make their phones look better than their competitors’, however, anything new that can be made to seem important will become a big feature. As a result, other manufacturers competing in the same price bracket will have to include it in their designs so it doesn’t look like their have skimped on features. Apple demonstrated this a few years ago when the most
      conspicuous design ‘improvement’ they could market on several successive
      iPads was how much thinner each one was than the last one. We now know where that might have led us with the Note 7.

    • fred

      IP53 is not enough for a drop in the water. It doesn’t mean it will fail, but there is no warranty it will survive.
      And swimming with a phone is not stupid it’s useful to be able to take pictures in the water.

    • thomas nguyen

      yes. “let me take the phone and take pictures in the water” is something that is certainly spoken by everyone.

    • fred

      it is, when you get out of your basement

    • thomas nguyen

      haha, the majority of Canada lives inland, where the closest water system is either your bath or a lake, and 1/4 of the year it’s frozen over, and mostly it’s not a water system where you would be jumping into, or clear enough to take said pictures.
      sure it’s good for vacationing and taking pictures of the coral reef, but that is a small fraction of the people actually going.
      maybe you should rethink the criticality of taking a picture in the water vs. real life expectations and usage.
      maybe for you it is a hit or miss, but for others, it’s plainly shows that it’s a nice to have, but not a make it or break it decision

    • fred

      I think a lot of people in Canada goes on or near a lake from time to time. A phone you can bring when in canoe is nice and useful. And yes, people do drop their phone into the bath.

    • thomas nguyen

      maybe it’s me, but I don’t need a phone in the bath.
      as for being on / in a lake, that’s a great scenario, but again, the amount of people that use that feature is miniscule compared to the people that spends their time going from home, to work, to the store, and back at home.
      I stand by my point, it’s a great feature to have, and as much as people want it, it is not critical to the functionality of the phone.
      it’s like arguing all phone needs to have a bumper or a rubber exterior built into the phone because it helps with the phone being damaged / broken when dropped. sure there are people and scenarios that can justify it being developed, but it’s not critical to the way the phone functions.
      But of course, if you or anyone is in a market for a phone with those specific features, I can see your expectation being lost, but as far as I can tell, there are phones out there that can do what you want. It’s just where do you compromise? You can’t have everything in every phone 😀

    • fred

      I’m sure those who drop their phone in the bath by accident didn’t need their phone in the bath to begin with, but there it is nonetheless

    • Brett Allard

      Except it’s not so useful when you actually do drop it in the lake and are unable to retrieve it after lol..

    • fred

      it doesn’t have to be deep. I dropped a phone in the lake and recovered it.

    • What about a toilet or sink?

    • fred

      If both Apple and Samsung do it, it becomes an expectation. It means it’s no longer a plus to be IP67/68, it’s a minus if you aren’t.

    • Brett Allard

      That’s the problem with Consumers and ‘expectations’ people want everything for less clearly you are one of those that fall into that category.

    • fred

      Exactly, I want the best for my money.
      No phone is perfect. But I still think no IP68 is a big mistake for a $900 phone in 2016. For me it is the 2nd biggest deal-breaker (after the pricing).

    • Brett Allard

      Unfortunately there aren’t many devices that have joined the IP68 crowd other then the Samsung/Apple devices.. That right there tells me you would never consider any other device other then those that are listed as IP68.

      Pricing aside (everyone has a different budget) I’ll take the better processor and Camera over waterproofing any day..(i know I’m not in the minority)

    • fred

      First Apple is IP67 instead of IP68. Not as good, but can be good enough for many users.
      There might not be many devices with IP67 or better, still, the major flagships have it (Galaxy S7 and iPhone 7). Google is trying to position itself against these two flagships (similar price). Is the camera and the processor so much better on the Pixel compared to these two? Better enough to out-weight the lack of waterproofing? Fortunately Google has other advantages like a pure OS, better updates (better than Samsung) and a more open, less vendor locked-in OS (better than Apple) otherwise it wouldn’t sell.

    • Brett Allard

      The snapdragon 821 is much better then the 820 and benchmarks prove it.. The camera is also proven as better then the IPhone 7 plus. (at first I had a hard time figuring this out as it seemed quality were both similar)

    • fred

      The 821 is an overclocked 820. It’s a marginal improvement not worth 6 months wait over the Galaxy S7.
      The camera seems great. But again, is it worth 6 months (half a generation) over the S7? Don’t forget the Pixel will compete against the future S8 for half of the year.

    • Brett Allard

      You are wrong.. It’s clocked at the same speed as the 820. This is one of the things we were shown during demo testing!

    • fred

      You can underclock the 821 to the 820 speed. Qualcom still says it is designed for higher clock speed.

    • Brett Allard

      You can!? How about as is?

    • Brett Allard

      Bottom line you buy a pixel device.. It’s clocked st the same speed..

    • Brett Allard

      your reasoning is somewhat irrelevant.. As time goes by you could say the same thing about the S8 when the next (Pixel) big device comes around the corner assuming the processor and camera etc are better. If people can wait until September/October for the new IPhone (Which usually stomps every android device on the market at the time of release) the same can be said about almost any other device release.

      Keep in mind not everyone Pays full price for thier devices and contract upgrades differ month to month from person to person.

      Bottom line your not going to wait 6 Months for a new device if your in the market for one right away. If this was released say February and the S8 is just weeks around the corner then I would agree with you 100 percent.

    • fred

      The thing is, the Pixel/Nexus October release has historically been closer, generation-speaking, to the previous Galaxy S release than the next one.
      This one is no different. Other than the pure Google experience, I’d rather have a Galaxy S7 in April than a Pixel in October.
      The S8 is going to have the next snapdragon or Exynos. The Pixel has an incremental update (SD821) not worth 6 months.
      Put it this way, the S7 is still a good buy. The Pixel also is, but won’t be when the S8 will be released.

    • Brett Allard

      That’s the inevitable Which is still 6 months away! So say you want a device now and your contract is up do you wait the 6 months or go ahead with the next big thing? What if you could never get your S7 in April but now you have that opportunity?

    • fred

      I don’t know I don’t like contracts

    • NoWayHosEH

      The 821 runs cooler then the 820. I would rather let someone else use the new chip. How do you know if the pixel won’t be competitive when the s8 comes out. Sammy now is going to make sure it works and they may not to the extreme with extra stuff. Personally I am done with samsung and their crappy after purchase service.

    • neo905

      What about that 720P screen on the 7. Should Google have gone backwards with that? How about the lack of Quick charge on the iPhone. It takes forever and a day for that thing to charge it’s tiny battery. You can’t just cherry pick the features you like and ignore areas they are falling behind. I will be charging the phone and looking at the screen far more than it will be getting wet.

    • fred

      Good points, the iPhone has a bad display for a flagship. And the connector and chargers for the iPhone suck too.

    • BetelgeuseOrion

      you are wrong, the iphone 7 is 750p because they have to one up the bare bottom garbage android devices.

      they still fail though, even cheap phones for $279 CDN (zenfone 3 laser) has 1080p

    • neo905

      Really dude? 720 or 750p. Spec wise it’s still trash. Let’s not quibble here. Next thing you will be saying the Pixel XL is really 5.46″ not 5.5″

    • thomas nguyen

      that is where you’re wrong, just because other does it, it doesn’t mean that it is now a standard.

    • fred

      when that “others” is the two market leaders then yes, it become an expectation

    • thomas nguyen

      I don’t know. I think that logic applies to many things, but this isn’t. Samsung released this in the galaxy s5, sony released this in their last few, they targeted niche people. It is just now that it hit Apple that this has become an “expectation”.
      Where do we draw the line? Motorola and Apple released phones without headphone jack, if every phone now loses that jack, is that expected because an industry leader does it? how about the removal of the SD Card, is that now considered an expectation?
      Water resistant is not critical in a phone, unlike ports, so really maybe your expectation of certain “features” only pertain to you or a small portion of the people.

    • fred

      Well if Samsung removes the 3.5mm hack then yes, I think it would be wise to check if there is one included when buying a phone. But lack of feature is not the same as a feature. water resistance is a feature. Not having a 3.5mm jack isn’t.

    • thomas nguyen

      But same logic applies, just because some manufacturers does it, it should not be expected others will, especially when considering features or lack thereof

    • NoWayHosEH

      Then go buy them. That’s the beauty of choice.

    • Zee

      I currently have a Sony Xperia Z3 which is waterproof, when I initially got it I took it to a swimming pool to “show off” with my family who were all very impressed. After that I really didn’t need the waterproof feature ever again.

    • Brett Allard

      That’s kind of how I see it as well… I mean sure it’s a cool feature but how often is the average human being going to take thier device ‘swimming’?

      It’s a pro to have it included in your device but not a deal breaker of a con where I would change my mind about buying it.

    • Zee

      If it’s that important to you, then someone should just go get a waterproof phone. For me it was “cool” but not needed.

    • gommer strike

      Waterproofing is now the standard on phones that reach the $800 – 1000 mark. So no, not everyone has to do it, just because Apple/Samsung/Sony have. Let’s remember that Sony and Samsung had this feature on their phones for *years* now. The Galaxy S5 debuted in 2014 with waterproofing, for instance.

      It’s Apple who was slow and late to the party. Well finally they have waterproofing(and officially so, not “soft” water resistance as was on the iPhone 6s, which didn’t count as a feature), and now that they do – the biggest players in field who play in the most expensive high-end space, have it.

      If your phone is midrange-priced and no waterproofing? Forgivable. One Plus 3 has no waterproofing, and it really doesn’t matter. You can buy two of those for the price of a single iPhone 7/Galaxy 7/Pixel. Phones like the Axon 7, and many other phones in the $400 – $600 don’t have this or that – and it’s totally fine.

      But if you want to play in the $800+ space – the lack of features(yes, even though just because iPhone made it cool) is all the more magnified.

    • Smanny

      You still cannot swim with any device with IP67/68. If you do swim with it, then you will take a major risk and could break your warranty.

    • fred

      No you don’t. Under 30 minutes the device must survive.

    • NoWayHosEH

      But samsung don’t have timely updates all the time and I would trade waterproofing for direct timely updates. Now wireless charging I wish it had but not a deal breaker. Hopefully it will be in the next one.

    • Deadly Disco

      not water proofing, water resistant and not for an extended period, its like up to 5′ of water but try leaving the phone in it for 30 mins… then this water proofing really doesn’t work well. Additionally, smart people who actually are smart don’t get their phones wet, for those who drop it in the toilet or drop it in the water on the street, those aren’t smart people. if you want to use your phone in the rain. Put it in a zip lock bag LOL, or like a smart person, wait until your under a canopy or something…. sheez. Oh and dont use it in the rain, unless of course your under an umbrella

    • fred

      IP67 means the phone must survive under 1m of water for 30 minutes…

    • Yup, totally subjective. I get why people hate the look of the phone and in fact, I wasn’t a fan of it at first. Once I got it in my hands though, it quickly grew on me.

    • Brett Allard

      Patrick I have a question.. Did you ever get a chance to test out the 3.5mm Headphone jack for audio quality?

    • I did! Audio quality with the speakers is decent, but not iPhone 7 level. The headphone jack is fine and performed the same as any other device.

    • Brett Allard

      I found the speaker quality average.. However I never did test out the 3.5mm Headphone jack. Here’s another question.

      You say it’s on par with other android devices. Yet devices like the V20, HTC 10 and the Axon 7 have amazing sound quality due to having a built in amplifier.. I doubt it’s comparable to either of those devices but is it say S7/note 7 quality?

    • Zbiba

      The S7 is known for having a very average dac. In fact it’s (the snapdragon variant) worst then the S6. I’m also looking for some info about the dac, I’m hoping it’s of the same caliber as the HTC 10.

      I think I’ll wait for the Galaxy S8 reveal, then I’ll decide which phone to upgrade to. I feel the Pixel has one too many compromise for the price.

    • Brett Allard

      I found out through a few sources that there is very little degradation and volume levels are above average… The best device to compare said audio quality would be the IPhone 7 which itself is quite good (Not class leading but more then acceptable as a portable audio device)

      I’m hoping by next Friday when I have the device in hand I can do better testing.. As of right now information is still limited.

    • Zbiba

      Alright, let me know what you think about it

    • Alex Perry

      I have a $800 credit on my Rogers account from my Note 7 saga. The people at the store are RAVING about the Pixel and all I can think about is why someone would pay $1100+ for this phone.

      No Waterproofing, No SD Card Slot, No Best in Class Screen, No Best in Class Battery Life.

      I know I picked a “exploding” phone but buying a Pixel at this point would be paying the same price for last years phone.

    • Brett Allard

      Except the screen is pretty darn close to ‘best in class’ if you had time to use one like myself and the few others this would perhaps change your mind!

      At this point the only real downsides are in fact the IP53, lack of expandable memory and no image stabilization.. Having the best in class processor and camera must not mean alot these days.

    • thomas nguyen

      the EIS lives up to it’s name, it’s fantastic based on a few reviews.

    • Brett Allard

      I was actually blown away.. Truth be told I thought we would be viewing lacklustre screens.

    • thomas nguyen

      I think on paper too many people see the lack of OIS as a make it or break it, but the replacement far exceeds the expectation of people using it, as well as in direct comparison.

    • I’d go so far as to say the Pixel’s screen is just as good as the Note 7’s.

    • NoWayHosEH

      AND don’t forget the non carrier dependant updates. That has real value, at least to me and that is what I like about the apple iphone.

    • David Lynch

      The lack of waterproof and dustproof is the lone reason I won’t trade my Note7 for it. My previous phone was a Note5 – removable battery and no proofing – and it clogged with dust after 2-years of constant biking and running with it on dusty trails. Other than that, Google is now competing with the top phones. Well done on them.

    • Waqqas Khokhar

      You mean your previous phone was a Note4?

    • thomas nguyen

      Nope, note 5 is a real thing. They skipped only one number this year.

    • Nathan

      He means that the Note 4 had a removable battery, The Note 5 didn’t

    • thomas nguyen

      Ahh, gotcha

    • David Lynch

      Yes, my mistake.

    • thomas nguyen

      apparently the EIS performs much better than the OIS of even the nexus 6p. Water resistant might be a detractor, but really I had a phone for the past 7 years without a need to use it in the bath/shower, so this isn’t a total loss.
      The other thing you stated are purely aesthetic and your value of the device as a whole (possibly comparing to the nexus line). This phone is on paper and in practice comparable to other phones in the price bracket. Now if it lags in the next month, that is still something that needs to be considered.

    • thereasoner

      EIS+VR sensors that can make adjustments up to 200 times per second in place of OIS works very well according to reviews and video I’ve seen. Plus no camera bump as a bonus!

    • And only two years of updates

    • Deadly Disco

      says the iphone lover 😛

  • Ipse

    “These are not the droids you’re looking for ”
    OK, maybe I’m dating myself, but the point is people were waiting for a Nexus-type phone, mostly high end but with a reasonable sticker price. Google copied a page from Apple’s book and threw it at us.
    More cons:
    – camera is not so great in low light…DxO must have conveniently left that testing as summary as possible
    – can’t unlock bootloader? What’s then the differentiator worth of a Google phone”?
    – no wireless charging in this day and age? I ONLY use this method and probably not alone
    – of course no SD card…splurge on the 128GB, won’t you

    • gremlin0007

      Agreed! What initially attracted people to the Nexus line was the price vs specs. The Nexus 5 was an amazing price vs spec’ed phone. Then it got more and more expensive for avg specs down the line. They definitely went Apple style…but Apple’s marketing skills are spectacular.

    • The phone is great in low light as long as you keep the camera steady. This is where the lack of image stabilization comes into play. I’ve never had an interest in wireless charging because to me, current wireless charging technologies aren’t really “wireless.” No Nexus device to my knowledge has ever included an SD card slot so I’m not sure it’s fair to expect it with the Pixel, though I do hear where you’re coming from with that one.

      I think what people are missing about this phone is how smoothly it runs. Seriously, it’s been a flawless experience in the little over a week that I’ve had it. This stems from Google handling both the hardware and software for the Pixel. This might be a page from Apple’s book, but it’s definitely a good page to copy, especially in the high-end space. There are phones out there that meet almost all the requirements you mention in your comment, Google just isn’t interested in making that device anymore. They’re doing after a different market.

    • TouchMyBox

      The Nexus One had an SD Card slot. 🙂 (and a laughable amount of useful onboard memory)

    • Did it? I had no idea. I imagine it’s likely the only Nexus device to feature one.

    • Zach Gilbert

      We also have to remember, this isn’t a Nexus. So it isn’t really fair to compare it to one. Just like it isn’t fair to compare an iPhone to an Android device. They are both awesome devices and that means that not one is perfect for everyone.

    • monsterduc1000

      “This stems from Google handling both the hardware and software for the Pixel”

      HTC handled the hardware, since they actually built the phone.

    • Devhux

      HTC only built the phone (like Foxcomm builds iPhones). The design is all Google

    • monsterduc1000

      Really? Because isn’t it Samsung that supplies (and I’m pretty sure designed) the screen, Qualcomm that designed the SD821 in it, Sony that designed the camera… so on… so forth… I think the only thing Google actually did was add that very ugly looking piece of glass on the back.

    • thereasoner

      That applies to many OEMs phones really. The Pixel is still all Google with absolutely no input in the hardware/software choices made from the assembler chosen, in this case HTC.

  • Christopher Robert

    Holy Bezel….and still not a Note 7

    • There’s a button on the back that transforms it into a Note 7 🙂

    • thomas nguyen

      yup, same button will activate a self destruct sequence similar to inspector Gadget.

  • Unorthodox

    If I ever wanted an iPhone, I’d buy an iPhone. Google lost it’s ways. The open space is turning into another walled garden, this time assisted and in future controlled by AI. Good luck with that. I’m feeling claustrophobic.

  • MXM4K

    I’m sure this phone is fantastic if you’re willing to pay the price for it. For those of us who enjoyed the Nexus experience over the years, keep an eye out for the other manufacturers to come up with comparable phones in the near future. There’s a void in the premium mid-tier vanilla Android space now. I’m sure it’ll get filled soon. Until then, I’m rocking my Nexus 6P for a while until it starts running slow, then I’ll flash custom roms to give it a breath of fresh air when the time comes.

    • I think that space is always going to exist and there are already great phones that fill that void like the OnePlus 3.

    • Techguru86

      Oneplus can never seem to manage the hardware and software in unison, I’ve seen side by side reviews where the O+3 gets destroyed in testing, camera, wifi testing.

    • Yup, that’s the biggest issue with a lot of Android device and something the Pixel doesn’t suffer from.

    • thomas nguyen

      the Zenfone3 too is a good option.

    • Devhux

      …. That will be lucky to see Nougat (don’t hold your breath, if the Zenfone 2 or any of the ZenPads are any indication)

  • HiKsFiles

    I keep on reading Google Assistance is far beyond what Siri is capable of.
    Is this affirmation only valid when using English or is Google Assistant just as powerfull, say, in French?

    From experience, expectations rapidly meet disapointment when the default “English mode” is not used in many smartphone newest functionnalities/technologies…

    • That’s a great question that I have no idea the answer to. I’ll have to reach out to Google.

    • HiKsFiles

      Thanks! If you ever get an answer, please let us know.

      A strong argument in Siri’s favour is that she’s just as good (or bad, depends on your point of view héhé) in French as she is in English. The same can’t be further from the truth with S-Voice for example. It’s just plain unusable in French. Maybe in fr_FR, but most definitely not in fr_CA !

      Cheers!

    • Brad Fortin

      The part of the retail packaging for the Pixel that has to do with the Assistant currently states “La version française arrivera bientôt”, right above what I imagine is a similar message in spanish.

    • HiKsFiles

      Still, the question remains : when it’s released, will it be as “powerfull” as its English counterpart!? 😉

  • Philippe Paquet

    Patrick,

    “5.0 inch, Quad HD 1080 x 1920p pixels, 441 ppi with Gorilla Glass 4”
    I think you meant Full HD, right 😉 ? Only the XL is QHD.

  • EWZ

    Obviously, a lot of Nexus-lovers are screaming about the price point for this new launch, which is a bit ignorant as they are only focusing on the name rather than the specs and dev cost of – like you said – the hardware/software integration.

    Patrick/Igor, at this price point (I don’t care that it’s coming from Google, or formerly was Nexus), do you think the value is worth the price of admission? If having to select between the Samsung S7 and G’s Pixel – since they’re in the same price point – which would have more value for the price? Which would you select? Thanks!

    • I’d always go with the XL, just because I like larger phones. The Pixel is expensive, especially the XL, but it’s the best Android phone yet in terms of reliability and performance. It depends on what you value in a phone really.

    • Zee

      Patrick which carrier are you using it on and can you do an LTE speedtest?

    • I used it with koodo, but I can run a test soon and let you know.

    • thomas nguyen

      when comparing the normal usage from the pixel vs. PxL, is there a noticeable difference in speed and usability?

    • I mostly used the Pixel XL, but didn’t notice a difference in performance between either device.

  • AppleBerrySandwich

    Waiting for a price drop in the new year when my contract is up.

    I’m pretty sure I’m in for a Pixel XL – Love what I am reading on these phones. I love Apple’s refinement, I hate the closed Eco system. This phone is it!

  • Frank

    The Pixel sure looks like a good phone especially it’s specs and I don’t think anyone who’s being honest with themselves can completely disagree. The problem with the Pixel is at it’s current price point other Android flagships from Samsung, HTC, LG and others all have extra features, whether it be Waterproofing, wireless charging, quickcharge 3, SD slot, camera OIS or Audio DAC which makes them more interesting and a better value for the money. Those missing features didn’t bother users with the Nexus line because of it’s pricing, it was simply a matter of compromise for the best cost/value ratio. With the Pixel, the game has changed and from where I’m standing the value just isn’t there.

  • southerndinner

    Nice review for a fairly overpriced phone. I wish I could replace my Note 7 with this but the lack of waterproofing, SD card and an even remotely compelling design makes the a total nonstarter for me

    • Surveillance

      Waterproofing is overhype if you ask me. Most incidents involving water has the owner quickly scooping it up and drying it off.
      But could you imagine these phones running IOS10 out of the box?

    • southerndinner

      Waterproofing is absolutely not “overhype”. It’s how many phones get damaged.

    • Warren Chang

      That completely depends on who you ask because I have never once thought my phone needed to be waterproof. I have never owned a car, rent occasionally, so I’ve had to walk or take public transport and I’ve traveled in quite a few rain showers, mostly without an umbrella because I’m stubborn that way and never have I had a phone die on me from water damage. Most of my phones get replaced through age despite them going through all kinds of hell from the elements from freezing cold, thunderstorms, sandy beaches and unbearable sunny heat. For me waterproofing is just not something that have ever concerned me and I have yet to meet anyone who has lost a phone from water damage and I have alot of tech geek friends who buy phones.

    • thomas nguyen

      that is true, but so is dropping the phone. a lot of the cases it’s due to misuse, that is why we now have insurance company out to replace your phone because people don’t understand how to properly take care of their stuff.
      Don’t get me wrong, similar to insurance, rarely ever needed, but you’re glad you had it when you do. I don’t believe it is critical that every phone needs to have this.

    • I’d say the Pixel is a great replacement for the Note 7 (I’m still lamenting the loss of my Note 7).

  • I understand why Google went upmarket – there is too much good competition in the mid-range and budget sectors plus it is hard to make much money at that end of the spectrum, especially now that markets are getting saturated and there is so much more choice, which means that any one brand can’t expect to sell huge numbers – better to sell fewer phones with a higher profit margin. However, I think the high end of the market is a dying breed because so many mid-priced phones have high end specs these days. Also, competing against Apple is a losing proposition because Apple has a monopoly on iOS while no one has a monopoly on Android, which makes all Android phones much more price sensitive. Good luck Google. I won’t be paying that kind of cash with so many great phones around the $400 mark. Gimmicks like assistants, high end cameras or audio, secondary screens, force touch, 3D displays, etc, are not real value propositions to me.

    • Brett Allard

      I agree with you 100 percent on this statement.. This is why I went Upper mid range this year for both my mobile devices.. I’ll take excellent performance and build quality over gimmicks that ultimately inflate the price (Even if these gimmicks are ultimately useful and practical)

  • beyond

    it’s kind of fugly

  • Mike Simpson

    It sounds like a high-end phone but like the Samsung S7 Edge, those specs don’t excite me. I exchanged the S7 Edge I had for a Note7 mostly because the added benefit of the stylus justified the price. The S7 Edge felt nice, looked nice and was slick but it was still just a phone to me. Still, I’m now having to look at some considerably cheaper options to replace the features I miss on the Note7 and I am curious to find out, having tried some high-end phones, if I notice a significant drop in the quality of the user experience. If so, I’ll be even more convinced that phones like the S7 Edge, Pixel and iPhone are more about fashion than functionality.

  • Budrow 420 Ltd

    If I had a few drinks I could possibly take this phone home for the night. It looks too much like my ex – and I have a lot of baggage in my old relationship with her. My ex was an iPhone btw. I’m sure it is a great device – and I do understand why Google is going right after Apples market. With the OP and the Axon and others that are offering high specs at low prices – Google is smart to go after the big dogs. I will hold out for the Pixel 2.

  • JD

    Huge bezels. That’s what you get for basing a “flagship” on some POS midranger A9

    • Mike Lovell

      What this guy said. ^

    • thomas nguyen

      Huge bezel is due to the symmetry required for “daydream” to fit in the accessory, the screen had to be centered. and the lower bezel is huge due to the top bezel requiring all the sensors.

    • JD

      Daydream can suck a dick

    • thomas nguyen

      I’m sure some people may use it for certain things, that being one of them.

    • thereasoner

      Lol !

  • JD

    The Pixel is an uncompromising Nexus but a compromised flagship in everyway down to its bloodline and maker.

    • thomas nguyen

      interesting take, what do you mean by that? I don’t know if I read that as a positive or a negative.

  • Bob Loblaw

    $900 CAD before taxes just for the 32 GB. Ridiculous price for minimal storage. Looks like you need more GB…. here’s an excessive amount for an even more ridiculous price!

    No thanks. Call me when we have affordable phones in Canada again.

    • thomas nguyen

      Guess this is the last time you will get a phone call! 😀

    • thereasoner

      Actually, the storage for full resolution video and pictures is unlimited :-), that sure as heck is going to free up tons of space on my Pixel.

    • Bob Loblaw

      Who knows how long that will be. Google could change the terms of service at any moment and you’d lose access to “unlimited” storage. Take a look at what MS did with Onedrive.

    • thereasoner

      That would be suicide for the Pixel brand and it’s brand new. I don’t see it happening, it’s an important feature that sets it apart from the others . They may have to cap it at some point but I expect Google to continue to beat the others in free storage regardless.

      That and One Drive was never more than 15 GB free and Google has already been giving that and more free for years already. I’ve got 17 or 19 free GB (can’t remember) from Google already having picked up extra just for checking my security settings when prompted. It’s getting full however so this Pixel deal will be great for me.

    • Andrew

      Not everyone’s comfortable storing their photos on the cloud. Personally, the only thing I let my phone sync online are my contacts. I keep everything else local, and like it that way. That’s why I purchased a 128GB Nexus 6P.

      $900 for 32GB is definitely excessive. The phone’s specs are impressive (though the lack of waterproofing and stereo speakers are very noticeable oversights on a phone asking such a premium price), but in terms of value for money this is a HUGE step down from last year’s 6P.

  • joe2disqus

    i would title this phone as “high end” in terms of pricing not in terms of features and materials used…

    • thomas nguyen

      why do you say that?
      what about the materials and features are missing?

    • joe2disqus

      I am sure you would get to know if you read all the comments further down below. 900 cad for the 32 gig is too much ask for the hardware that they have just delivered, “greedy google”.. If they continue to go in this way then there is no doubt that the pixel branding will be gone in few years..
      Here are the negatives imo,
      – no OIS (for better low light photography)
      – mediocre display (poor sunlight visibility)
      – little older gorilla glass which is less sturdier
      – no stereo speakers
      – no expandable storage
      – ugly bottom chin
      – no Ir blaster and etc…

    • HelloCDN

      Agreed. Google has a lot to learn in terms of product marketing their supposedly premium products.
      None of these are big omissions, yet all of them add up enough to question spending $1049 plus tax on a “premium” product that doesn’t even come with headphones in the box…

    • thereasoner

      – OIS is for stability NOT low light. The Pixel cameras have excellent stability thanks to a combination of EIS + VR sensors that check up to 200 times per second. Also, reviews are showing great low light performance thanks to the extra large pixels used in these cameras.
      – the displays are also reviewing well, not the brightest but more than adequate for outdoor use.
      -GG4 is fine, GG5 just came out
      -the other stuff is replaced by the Pixels own exclusive features like AI Assistant, free unlimited storage, 24/7 on device support etc.

    • Brad Fortin

      OIS is for both, isn’t it? The improved stability allows for longer exposure, which results in better low-light shots.

      Technically EIS only works during video but they’re doing image stacking, where they combine parts of multiple images, so I’m sure they have an EIS-like algorithm working to align and and stack the images correctly.

  • Erik Tyler

    I think the circle icons were a huge visual mistake, especially when 3rd party apps remain rectangular. There’s no consistency at all (although you claim there is?). A bad mix of circles and standard icons. Also, most icons are just shrunken versions stuffed into a circle, instead of redesigns (like maps or the calculator). Seems like a halfhearted effort and a real shame…

    • thereasoner

      I use folders to organize all the common apps I use so it works for me. The last thing I want to see is an iPhone like wall of icons.

  • NoWayHosEH

    A lot of people are stuck on just having more and more features in there device. What I am really happy about is the more frequent updates direct from Google with no carrier interference or phone manufacturer bloat ware which causes lag even on top spec phones. Though I do wish it looked better but I don’t buy a phone to make a fashion statement, I just want it to work and work fast.

  • RichHomieGuan

    honestly i think majority of us are just stuck on the pricing, i mean regardless of whether apple or android is better, the reason why i didnt get an iPhone is because it was too damn expensive… again i can never justify spending over $1000 on a phone even on contract phones these days are expensive lol

    • thereasoner

      There’s a lot of great alternatives with flagship like specs at more affordable prices. The Axon 7, Honor 8 and One Plus 3 are calling out to you.

    • RichHomieGuan

      I’m currently using the OP3 lol after I saw the pixel pricing I decided returning my OP3 was longer needed

  • Not for you

    Couple of questions/points:

    – How usable is the regular pixel for one-handed use? I found the 5X too wide for this, and returned it after a week
    – How slippery is the pixel compared to other metal backed phones? I’d prefer not having to use a case as that adds bulk.
    – I don’t see any comment on how well ambient display works? Has it gotten any better over marshmallow? I’d imagine it works great with an AMOLED screen.
    – Please tell me the device in Igor’s video is the XL – it looks way to big for one-handed use

  • JammerMan79

    No micro SD, no buy…

    • Lil’ Cwyin’ PC ChinnBoi

      128 not enough…?

    • JammerMan79

      Nope… I have one phone with 90gigs used between internal and external and a second phone with 135 gigs used (combined)

    • Lil’ Cwyin’ PC ChinnBoi

      Oy gevalt!

  • GordyDevice

    How come there was no mention of the lack of memory expansion via SD card and a removable battery. These two items are high in my selection of my next phone. SD card can be loaded up with media when traveling in no network zone, which is more common in cottage country. Replaceable battery, they wear out more frequently or refuse to charge, a battery change is cheap and quick.

    • thereasoner

      Google didn’t do that with the Nexus brand either, that said, I’m looking forward to the free unlimited storage for full resolution video and pictures. That will surely free up a ton of space on my phone.

      Also, others were saying that a USB stick can be used in examples like you mentioned for loading up content.

    • Mr_Smoosh

      Google has been very clear that the Pixel is not a Nexus, the price tag should be evidence enough. The brand change was a missed opportunity to add an SD.

      There’s also no such thing as ‘free’ cloud storage in a world with data caps, not to mention areas with no coverage in our large country.

    • thereasoner

      Use a USB stick for SD card, the free unlimited storage is going to be of great use to me.

      That said, I’m not against SD cards but I’d rather they wait for the new high speed UFS cards that are coming so we won’t see any lag.

    • Mr_Smoosh

      Now why would I use an USB stick on a phone to have it sticking out, bending, breaking or just coming out, when I can buy a competitor’s phone with an SD for the same price or cheaper? The inclusion or exclusion does not affect your cloud storage, leaving options for others out certainly does.

      This is the same argument used against removing headphones jacks. I’m not using a work around for no gain. There’s alternatives. Google should’ve known this.

    • thereasoner

      Current SD card tech can cause lag, USB is a work around yes but for those who want to load up content like videos for the cottage, the option to do so can also be done on USB. Obviously on board storage is best, even better if built in as opposed to SD card so Google has a 128 GB option for those who want it.

      I would suggest that the Pixel, or any previous Nexus device from Google for that matter was never targeted at users like you who must have SD card support anyways because, after all, Google hasn’t offered it for 8 or so years. So Google isn’t really taking anything away but they are offering free unlimited back ups of all your photos and videos but for Pixel users only.

      I’m sure that Google knows the pro’s and cons of the current SD card tech and I’m sure that they also realize that some of the most popular phones sell quite well without it, including my GS6 or the HTC One M7 I had before it.

    • Mr_Smoosh

      Fair enough. I just figure if they’re not differing themselves on price, then they ought to differ in other areas.

      Full disclosure, I was very excited for this phone, and would buy the 128gb XL, but I’ve read the audio is lackluster and music is my top criteria. I don’t care about storage speed.

    • thereasoner

      They did differ in other areas imo. They are the only ones with the AI Assistant built in, 24/7 on device support, free unlimited back up storage and the new SD 821 chip. The cameras are fantastic from the reviews I’ve seen and they benefit from those high quality VR sensors on board working with the cameras excellent EIS. As far as I know Google is the only one doing that as well and as a bonus there’s no camera bump like those on phones with OIS instead.

      I only heard that the music playback is similar to any other headphone jack supported device unless you’re talking about the phone speaker itself, in which case so long as it’s loud enough then I’m happy.

    • Mr_Smoosh

      Agreed on most of your points. Support if a tough one, only time can answer that. Google has shown itself to be a pretty fickle company with how they abandon products. The idea of real android support is undoubtedly the big draw for many though.

      For audio, it’s the DAC. I’ve read it’s pretty quiet. I have an htc m8 as my outgoing benchmark.

    • thereasoner

      Googles phones are here to stay though so I don’t see them being abandoned. As for the support, I agree that it will be a selling point though I and many other tech knowledgeable people won’t have much use for it. I can see people like my tech illiterate Aunt constantly harassing Google Support with simple questions like “how do I share this picture” ect. so good for those who don’t know or are new to smartphone tech to have that convenience. That and if there is actually a problem with the device or software then the screen share feature should come in handy as well I suppose.

      I’m excited to get mine, just got a shipping notice a few minutes ago, hopefully it’s in my mail box by Friday! Can’t wait !! 🙂

  • Bill Tsats

    “Google’s Pixel is exactly what the Android ecosystem needs to compete with the iPhone in the high-end smartphone space in terms of quality, performance and reliability.” …. Credibility lost immediately.

    • thereasoner

      The phone looks to be living up to the hype in all the reviews I’ve seen so far. Can’t wait to get mine!

    • Bill Tsats

      No doubt its a nice phone… However the opening statement implies that the iPhone is the benchmark of mobile phones.

    • Brad Fortin

      The iPhone kind of is the benchmark, or is at least one of the most popular to compare against, when it comes to those criteria (quality, performance, reliability), especially performance.

  • monsterduc1000

    Just grabbed an Lg G5 off of Kijiji for $400, less than half the price of the Pixel and it has everything the Pixel doesn’t. OIS, removable battery, expandable memory, IR Blaster, FM Radio, Higher Res screen (vs regular pixel), Dual camera, Not underclocked processor (Snap 821 underclocked to match Snap 820?… Weird!) etc., etc…

    Only thing I miss is the Amoled screen of my Nexus 6, but I do love the increased outdoor legibility from the crazy bright G5 screen.

    Just sayin’ 🙂

    • NoWayHosEH

      So what’s the point of your post? Trying to justify your purchase??

    • monsterduc1000

      Yup. Got a better phone for half the price ????

    • nekkidtruth

      Better is entirely subjective. 😉

  • Haxor99

    Pass

  • Ken

    Any reason the review doesn’t mention the unlimited full resolution video/photo backup feature that was mentioned at the Keynote?

    • No reason other than it slipped my mind. The feature is great and another +1 for the Pixel. Thanks for the reminder.

    • joe2disqus

      Not sure if I or everyone get this correctly, but I believe that the unlimited backup feature is only for the photos/videos that is shot on pixel…you cannot backup any other media from your phone at original quality .. I might be wrong

  • Brad Fortin

    This may be the first Android phone I want to purchase for actual use (as opposed to testing). If only it were a bit more affordable and available in a smaller (<4.5") size.

  • Lil’ Cwyin’ PC ChinnBoi

    I would be more than happy with an HTC built device; who remembers the original Desire line?
    Why did the Nexus line stop…?

    • Karen Walker-Lavery

      Loved my original HTC Desire. Have yet to find another I enjoy as much as that one.

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  • mike m

    total BS. no phones in stores.. no 128 in CANADA for 4 weeks

  • Rabid Rotty

    A single bottom firing speaker like the LG Nexus 5, and not being a true Pixel device, throws me off of this. For it to be a True Pixel, it lacks the Pixel light features and was not directly built by Google. It was built by HTC

  • Lil’ Cwyin’ PC ChinBoi

    I would like to thank the person responsible for the photograph of the delightful bed of succulents upon which the phone was positioned.
    For far too long the tech world has ignored these marvellous, ground-dwelling, botanicals.
    Oh, and the plump feline toting the cellular device also brought me considerable pleasure.

  • jay

    everything GOOGLE/APPLE does makes sense in there way. why the iPhone 7 still have a bad display or why the pixel is not waterproof? in three weeks nobody is talking about it anymore and moved on. don’t think a lot people will ask for waterproof phones is more about OS experience good camera and display. iPhone 7 does not sell at all(plus does) and why is that? it is not an upgrade at all. with the pixel i believe people think it is to expensive because we used to these 400$ price tags.

    after all we do not know how regular customers think but we as tech heads think different.

  • @patrick can you do a test of the Pixel and the Pixel XL to see if they used different speed of memory for the lower one like they did on the iPhone 7 it’s like 4x slower memory on the 32GB

  • Jon Duke

    They copied so much, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they opened it and found a A10 chip.

    • Do you really think so in today’s day and age. Like how much different can you make a phone? Everything is a rectangle slab, it’s a little silly no one even tries to do a different design!

    • Jon Duke

      Nope. LG phones don’t look like iPhones nor Samsung yet they are a rectangle. I hate when people use that stupid argument. There are many ways to not look like an iphone. If I shut off the screen of a Pixel phone and put a circular button at the bottom., 100% of casual users will think it’s an iPhone. There’s no reason for that to happen ever. Small differences like Samsung’s rounded rectangle button instead of a circle are what makes their phones different for iPhones. That’s all they need to do.

      Also, the top and bottom bezels are ridiculous.

    • I get what you are saying but it doesn’t look like an iPhone then because it doe snot have a round button at the bottom and the screen is not edge to edge. So how is it that it looks the same other then shape?

    • Jon Duke

      I see your point. If everything is in the details then you suggest that this is like the basic template and say Apple added the button to it while Google kept it basic. Fair enough. I agree. I still don’t like their design choice but you point makes sense.

    • thereasoner

      Really, if you want to be honest, then even the iPhone design is not Apples, they copied so much from the HTC One M7 and Samsung Ativ S that they are easily the least original iPhone designs ever made by far !

    • Jon Duke

      Haha true. I just like to point at iPhone as an example because people listen more when you kind of defend their beloved apple.

    • Dustin Clark

      Just shows the intelligence of the iPhone user community.

    • Jon Duke

      Not sure if you are for or against iPhone with your comment but whichever it is, the community doesn’t design the phone for Apple so people copying the iPhone doesn’t give any indication of the level of intelligence of its community.

  • Dustin Clark

    I’ll stick with my Nexus 6P. Nothing really that compelling with this device.

    • Inmento Riku

      Except for the storage of photos and videos,

      The support,

      A well working AI that puts even Data to shame. (If you don’t get the reference, Star Trek: Next Generation)

      And even a sleek look with Android 7.0(Or is it 7.1 I forgot)

      Oh plus the memory options.

      It’s not for everyone, but those options would be enough for me.

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  • Inmento Riku

    The Pixel seems to get a lot of love and hate from well informed and well not informed people. Being a person who has used both Apple and Android, I can say for certain that the Pixel looks better than all the phones I’ve had so far. Also while reading all the reviews I could within a 4 hour period, most of which was spent going through these comments, I think the Pixel is a great alternative. People should remember that the full price we see here can vary depending on if you wanna buy the phone full out, or go on different contracts/plans the prices change. As an example, I’m with Bell and for 90 bucks a month the phone costs me 400. For the 70 buck plan, the phone costs me 500, so the prices do lower just not the way we want them too.

    This phone, for me, is something I will upgrade too when I have the chance.

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