The first phones actually designed by Google called the Pixel and Pixel XL are finally here. Unlike the Nexus devices before, these phones aren’t just guidelines by Google that were then handed off to a manufacturing partner, but rather were completely designed by Google and just brought to fruition by HTC.
Knowing this, two questions arise immediately. One, what does Google actually think a phone should be and, two, do you want what Google thinks a phone should be?
Pixel vs Pixel XL
So I have here the Pixel XL, the larger and more popular of the two judging by which models/colors went out of stock the fastest. Despite the larger size though, there isn’t much difference between the two devices. A bigger 5.5″ screen and a 2.5k resolution on the Pixel XL and a 5″ 1080P screen on the Pixel. A larger 3450mah battery in the XL and a 2770mah battery in the Pixel. And finally, a $120 price difference.
Other than those things, a review of the Pixel XL basically covers the Pixel and vise versa.
The Pixels both have this honed aluminum body with chamfered edges that actually make them feel great in the hand with a good weight and solid feeling. The top half of the back is covering in this glass that, while unique, was probably put in here to allow for better cell reception and connectivity. The front of the device, however, looks, well, oddly familiar with two similarly sized bezels at the top and bottom of the screen. And, yes, I have numerous times tried to tap a home button that doesn’t exist because of this.
Above that though, we have one of the nicest screens available on a phone with deep blacks, and vibrant colors that pop.
All in all though, the design of the phone isn’t anything spectacular, and isn’t going to turn any heads (except that the really blue is really freakin’ blue), it doesn’t feel cheap at all and does have that premium hand feel that’s a bit harder to describe.
On the back there is also a fingerprint sensor at the bottom of the glass portion that I like a lot. If we’re honest, a fingerprint sensor on the back of a phone is going to be where your hand is more naturally than, say, at the bottom of the front. It works super fast (as like on most phones with a fingerprint sensor like this) and the only time it isn’t convenient, is if it’s laying face up on a table.
At the bottom of the device we have what looks deceivingly like stereo speaker grills that are in fact a microphone and a mono speaker instead. The sound coming out of the one speaker is loud enough though for my taste without getting distrorted as I usually use headphones when listening to music on my phone anyway.
Speaking of, there is a headphone jack at the top of the device. And I feel quite odd having to point that out, but people seem to be really polarized by Apple’s removal of it so, there we go.