Google Pixel XL: Review

Written by: Stephen Sanchez

Tech | Dec 7, 2016

Google Google Pixel Google Pixel XL smartphone

I'm not going to lie. Google's very own hardware, the Pixel XL, has a great specs sheet that gives every competitor a run for their money.

It is also an ugly phone.

The front is bland. It's dull to look at and will make you dwell deep into your subconscious as you realize how empty and unfulfilling your life has become. It looks like just another Apple rip-off, only without the Touch ID panel at the bottom.

Flip it around and that's where you'll find the fingerprint sensor - which has made its appearances on LG, Huawei, and Asus devices. You'll also find an ugly discoloration of glass about a quarter way downward from the top of the device. It is, in truth, unsightly (no matter what other people might say).  No matter how the Pixel XL looks however, it is still a juggernaut; a first attempt in Google's onslaught to take over the smartphone industry.

This is a time to be excited about phones: the Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Huawei P9, and the OPPO F1s are great devices, all of which look a little bit better than the Pixel XL. They also feel amazing in-hand, with the Pixel XL being better by a slight margin. It's a little heavier compared to the others, but that's a testament to how durable and solid it was built.

What I love about the Pixel and the Pixel XL is they both have vanilla-flavored Nougat. That means we have full access to Google's Android 7 OS look and navigation without the tampering by other manufacturers. No bloatwares, no similar apps that come with the stock Android, and no attempts to look different. It's just plain Android 7 and it looks damn good.

In terms of camera phones, nothing has impressed me more than Apple and Samsung. Huawei's P9 and P9 Plus come in real close, but I'm still trying to figure out whether the cameras are truly impressive or if I'm just getting this cognitive bias because of the battle cry "co-engineered with Leica". That says a lot, but that isn't to say that the P9 and the P9 Plus's cameras aren't freakishly amazing in their own right. The Pixel XL's camera, on the other hand, takes a big bite out of Apple and blows Samsung up. It processes images fast and brings out the sharpest detail. The camera truly is a thing to behold.

The Pixel XL runs with a 2K screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, and 4GB RAM, so there's no shortage of power in there. It is a behemoth and is tailor-fitted to work with Google's own VR headpiece, the Daydream - which tramples every phone manufacturer's attempt at making an entry-piece VR by simply being comfortable and gentle as you wear it.

The Google Pixel XL is, at its best, a chimera. Something freakishly powerful yet lacks substantial identity. It seems as though it was put together based on theoretical experiments, those which would Mary Sherry wish she had included them in her Frankenstein novel.

This is both a wonderful attempt and a bold step forward by Google. We can be certain that they will gear up for another Pixel release next year, which only brings more exciting promises for the future.

About the author: Stephen Sanchez

Stephen is the source code of awesome. He loves to tinker with stuff that buzz.

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