Google’s First Ever Phone, Is It Worth It? (Pixel XL Video Review)

Android 7.1 Nougat

Android 7.1

Now, because this is an Android phone directly from Google it is running plain, vanilla Android. Which, if you know me at all, I always prefer. On top of that, this is the latest version of Android, called Nougat or 7.1 and it brings some minor changes to Android along with it.

The app launcher, which is normally an icon you tap in Android, is now a dock of five icons that can be swiped up on (anywhere, by the way, which is actually a nice large target when holding the phone with one hand), to reveal the app drawer. Also, Google now has its Google search bar replaced with a G icon you can tap to get to Google Search or swipe over to get to Google Now and your cards.

Google Now

Aesthetically, icons are now circular and folders have this look of being peepholes ripped in the background which I like and there is now a native multi-window feature that allows you to put two apps on the screen at once which we’ve seen on other Android devices, just added by the manufacturer instead of baked into Android. I personally never use this as it’s faster, maybe more natural from habit, to just tap the multitasking icon and jump between them anyway.

Google Assistant

One of the most talked about software features and what is essentially why Google says they decided to design their own hardware is their new AI called Google Assistant.

Google Assistant

Google Now, Google’s voice assisted software, has been around on Android devices for some time now and it’s hard, at least at this point, to really tell what the huge difference is between it and the newly christened Google Assistant. There are some easily apparent things, the fact it can be summoned when the screen is off and not plugged in, the speed of it is improved, it’s more conversational in it’s tone with things like jokes, poems, and a more realistic timbre and tone to it.

Now, the idea being that over time it will use its inherent AI and machine learning abilities to remember past conversations, learn about you, and be able to do a lot more as well but frankly, I find it’s not quite reached the potential that I know it will eventually.

Google Assistant Tone

Yes, it can use context of previous questions, i.e. asking “if the Cubs are playing” then immediately asking “who their pitcher is” will give you the pitcher of the cubs compared to asking Siri the same set of questions will give just confuse it since it doesn’t know who “their” is referring to. But I expected it to be able to do things like remind me to call someone when I got home, and other things I imagine a real personal assistant could do and it seems to not be able to do those things –even though, I’m sure that’s coming.

The truth is it probably needs a few updates and will get them as more people are using it and then this is really going to come into it’s own, I imagine is when Google Home is release and you are able to dictate to the assistant to turn on the lights when you get home, since it’ll have your location from the phone and home controls via the Google Home and various hubs. More on all of that though, when my Google Home finally arrives.

Google Home

In the meantime, it’s definitely on par with Siri if not a bit ahead in a lot of aspects so not a big issue, but just not breakthrough feature. At least not yet.

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12 thoughts on “Google’s First Ever Phone, Is It Worth It? (Pixel XL Video Review)”

  1. It’s an iPhone ripoff. If I wanted an iPhone I would invest nearly a thousand dollars on an iphone. The things that make Android phones better, like expandable storage, or simply getting a solid device that does everything an iPhone does at half the price, are missing with this Pixel line. Its not the phone for me, with so many options out there that can perform as well or better than Pixel phones at far less cost. Sheesh the last Nexus phones are almost as good, for half the price.

    1. Yeah, I agree the price is a bit steep. I mean, finally a good camera on a “Nexus” device which I’m super excited about. Great processor, etc. but I have a feeling they made the price what it was just so they could be “on par” with iPhones –so they aren’t viewed as less than. We’ll see how it sells, I suppose.

  2. Simply too expensive. And double standards in reviewing phones are irritating. Htc 10 was crucified for not being watterprof and not having so called WOW factor. Pixels are glorified inspite offering the same or even less than 10. Simply disgusting. Htc 10 for 550 is much better buy.

    1. Did you watch my review? And my review of the HTC 10? Don’t compare my review to someone else’s and call it a double standard. Two different perspectives –and I try and keep mine consistent 😉

      I actually liked the way the HTC 10 looked and waterproofing wasn’t becoming a common feature back then so who cares (even now it’ll take a while for it to become a standard feature).

      1. I didn’t see you’re review of htc 10 before, and today I looked for review on this site, it doesn’t exist. Only few for rooting and one before you even had it, pre review kind. But anyway, double standards are present on most reviews of pixels I’ve seen. Reviewers just seem to be scared to criticize pixels. Their abnormal price, non existent htc audio quality, DAC, amp and htc enchantments (was google cutting edges and expenses with not requiring htc to build in their audio? Is 3.5 on them pure marketing and antiapple commercial?) Why 64gb model is missing? Did Google copied only apple iPhone look or google is copiing apple strategy completly? Is move to put glass on part of the phone that ppl will touch the most, wise? Practical? Is really fingerprint on their back better and more natural then in the front? Are pixels smoothest and fastest Android phones if op3 opens apps faster and s7 edge smoother and faster in games? Why should one pay 850$ for pixel xl if htc 10 is 550? Are fast updates, beta google assistant and few tweaks worth 300?

    1. Nexus devices were guidelines given by Google to a manufacturer and then that manufacturer designed the phone around that. The Pixel, on the other hand, was a phone the Google actually designed, then handed the specs to HTC and said build it. Does that make sense?

      1. How about the T-Mobile G1 aka (HTC Dream) ? Last I checked Google designed it, then handed it over to HTC and said build it! Pixel maybe a remake but not the first.

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