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Google Pixel XL review

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Comments (34)
  1. Thomas Maher says:

    still waiting for pixel xl black 128gb one to come out of stock. I currently have galaxy note 4 and being forced to upgrade to new phone to move to verizon

  2. bradavon says:

    “People love that about stock Android vs an interface like Samsung’s
    TouchWiz. You’re not going to be bombarded with too many unnecessary
    apps – what’s here, you’ll actually use.”

    You’re kidding me?

    Google bloats out there phones just as much. Google produce a lot of Android apps and Nexus/Pixel phones are full of them.

    I disabled loads of Google apps as I was using other services already.

  3. M3EEKS says:

    Ambient Display is crap…if it works, which it usually doesn’t, just like on the 6P. There are third party apps in the play store that can decently mimic Moto’s Active Display, rise-to-wake, or always on

  4. benjamin owuye jagun says:

    I’d sonner pick an iPhone or almost any other Android phone rather than this disappointing phone due to its price and lack of important features like OIS and water resistance.

    1. Stuart says:

      Oh man, you have just hit the nail on the head. Also the signal isn’t that great, especially compared to the s7, which is a huge deal for those of us living without a lot of coverage.

      It is an amazing competitor to phones of 1-2 years ago. Either it is priced ridiculously or it lacks features. Or both, depending on how harsh you want to be. Annoying as I have been waiting with a crappy 4S for this moment, I was sure Google was going to nail it first try!

  5. Andy says:

    Hmmm still not enough to tempt me to hand back my Note 7. Screen is too small, design is just plain ugly and the software is at least 12 months behind touchwiz. Such a shame. Still waiting for the S8 then.

    1. Thomas says:

      The fact that your Note 7 could KILL YOU should definitely be enough to tempt you into handing it back… They have organized a total recall of all Note 7 phones. GIVE IT BACK

      1. Andy says:

        Oh jesus!! You really don’t get it. NOT A SINGLE EUROPEAN HANDSET HAS GONE WRONG!!!! I am in Europe, the problem is with the snapdragon powered versions which are only in the US and Asia. What a mug.

        1. Thomas Maher says:

          problem is battery jsut get europeon version as china battery seem to be good

  6. phissith says:

    You are too generous. Pixel XL is AMOLED Screen with newest 821 and new google assistant. That’s it! Oh better camera, as it should be with every new alteration of phones. How is this any better than LG G5? SD card, removable battery, module, dual camera, 2k screen, all metal, remote control, always on screen….etc.

  7. Paul Kissel says:

    I need a new phone. I’ve always used Android. I waited for Apple and Google to present their best offer. The Pixel might be the best Android phone but it doesn’t seem like the best choice if you aren’t married to Android.

    Perhaps in a couple of years Google will have created a phone with feature parity to the iPhone at still roughly the same price point. Perhaps Google will one day provide the same level of long term OS support that Apple provides today. And perhaps over time Google will convince me that the Pixel brand is not just another of its “experiments” that will be cancelled when Google decides to try something else.

    Until then, if I’m going to pay a boatload of money either way for a phone, the iPhone just seems like a better value. I guess this is so long for now Android.

    1. Andy says:

      Sorry feature parity? The iphone lacks any discernible features at all, they were so desperate for ideas for PR they had to call the new home button a feature when its nothing but an inconvenience. If you need features the only way to go is Android I’m afraid. Apple will do what they have done since their 2nd year of production, nothing unless someone else does it first.

  8. RaminNoodles86 says:

    I was so ready to have a go at Matt Swider and jump on the “lack of consistency” bandwagon for his 4/5 score when the Pixel was rated 4.5/5. But after reading your responses to other questions asked, I can see why it’s scored 4/5.

    Wish more of your colleagues answer community questions like this.

    Fortunately I have a Nexus 6P which i’m perfectly happy with for the next 12 months – so i’m more looking forward to Pixel XL 2.0. I’m confident they’ll fix the majority of the gripes you mentioned with this phone. My concern is on whether they’ll keep the same design and create an “S” version like Apple does. I would love a fresh design so it stands out from the crowd a little more like each Nexus had – but can’t see that happenning.

  9. Max says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the Ambient Display feature cause the screen to wake up if you pick up the phone as well as receive a notification? How is this different than a “rise-to-wake” system?

    1. Matt Swider says:

      Hi Max. It’s different this year. The Ambient Display only lights up the phone when you receive notifications (totally dependent on an event out of your hands, and not user interaction – that’s different and unhelpful vs past years). The system setting even says “Ambient display, wake screen when you receive notifications” with an on/off toggle. Nothing about triggering it through motion (confusing naming, right?). Thus, picking it up does nothing this year, no matter how much I jostle this phone.

      All of this contrasts with everyone else’s screen-on techniques. I can trigger a competitors display with rise-to-wake (Apple), hand-waving ActiveDisplay (Motorola), and I don’t even have to do anything for an always-in display (LG and Samsung). It’s one of my biggest gripes about this phone. The display is otherwise lovely.

  10. Paul Ricci says:

    Another copycat device.

    1. Thomas says:

      But a bloody brilliant one 😉
      All phones copy each other these days

  11. Alexander Gromov says:

    5.5 inch screen with QHD resolution – boring. Has been with us for the last 2+ years. Same as my Note 4 with smaller (less useful) screen. 1 extra GB of RAM – OK. Anything else?

    Except non-bloated version of Android OS it’s an small, incremental update to my Note 4.

    A 5.96 inch 4k screen – that would be nice

  12. Ichi says:

    no microsd no dice

    1. Crunchy2k says:

      Scan Disk has a line of thumb drives one can just plug into any usb micro or standard slot on a phone or computer. I have only removed my SD card twice in the last four years on any phone. It is still a nice option to have.

      1. Ichi says:

        i dont think having a dongle sticking out of the usb port 24/7 is what I want versus having a microsd card just being installed hidden.

  13. Nigel Stronge says:

    Think the rating of 4 is a bit low- it should be at least a 4.5 – waterproofing wasn’t a mark down for any phone until apple did it. The pixel size of the camera sensor more than makes up for F2.0. Stereo speakers are a bit of a waste of time when there’s only 4 inches of separation between them.

    1. Major Sceptic says:

      Seems like a fair rating to me , after taking two of my current phones into a store today to compare with the pixel phones, despite their being good and doing what google wanted of them to do very well ,
      They just didn’t do what I wanted them to do very well ,
      and that is be flagship smart phones that supplies certain flagship convenience’s .
      Basically I went to the store hoping to walk out with a new expensive phone with bells and whistles , but walked out with a cold feeling .

      Google being king of the software one would think could afford to weaken from its penchant for having limited features in its devices and have an always on display at least .
      I know , it is a small thing , but galaxies have it , even my flawed g5 has it. Moving on.
      No front facing speakers ?
      the previous Nexus had them on a cheaper device , why not at least on the pixel xl ?
      No SD card , it’s just a small convenience feature that some of us like to have , is it a deal breaker on its own ?
      no , but you add all these little things up that other phones have , that are also equipped with good cameras , and other features which also cost less ,
      it is an instant turn off.
      4 is a very reasonable mark if you ask me.

      1. Nigel Stronge says:

        Never really had a need for a SD card (was always a cloud storage fan) but I suppose if it’s what your are used too…I got a pixel today and have to say I’m very impressed (boy is that camera fantastic) I’ve had galaxy, Nexus 4,5,6 played with the one+ and use apple devices in work (iOS is so not my cup of tea) but the pixel is so far the device I always wished the others were. As close to optimum as I’ve found. There’s probably no perfect device for everyone but this is the best for me.

        1. Major Sceptic says:

          I’m glad your enjoying it mate , I have no doubt it’s a really good device , but for some of us it seems a bit undercooked .
          All the best to you .

    2. Matt Swider says:

      Hi Nigel Stronge. It’s a great phone, it’s just missing a few features that I think phones at the same price level are able to offer.

      -I’ve become addicted to raise-to-wake/always-on screens. This has become a big one for me in my daily routine
      -Water-resistance would have taken some of the worry off of handling this near any sort of water/sand.
      -Stereo speakers aren’t about surround sound for me, but for accidentally covering up the bottom-firing speaker in landscape mode when I’m trying to watch a quick video or playing a game that requires two hands. The cheaper Nexus 6P has it, so…
      -Camera was great. Didn’t have a problem with that (outside of occasional lens flare). Google’s EIS proved to be just as capable as OIS in my tests.
      -My only issue is that the camera app is somewhat lackluster. To be fair, I have the same issue with Apple’s barebones camera app.
      -Unlimited cloud storage is a plus, but I’d rather have a microSD card slot to be honest for offline files. I haven’t even filled up half of my Google Drive storage yet. I’ve definitely blown past 32GB on my phones before.
      -For the US crowd, Allo needs to be expanded and this needs to be sold at more than one carrier store before people here can afford it. No other major Android phone at this price level has the same restriction.

      I hope that helps explain the review more. It’s a really great Google-made phone debut. I just think there’s room for improvement in the above areas. The theoretical Google Pixel XL 2, with an even smarter Google Assistant – and with even half of the issues I pointed out addresses – is poised to be 5 stars in 12 months time.

      1. jewgong says:

        I’m not wondering when these reviews became what the reviewer wants in a phone and what will be actually helpful to the general public?

        I’ve made comments on phone reviews on this website previously which have been slammed by mods and the reviewers themselves as being much to specific to my personal tastes rather than what ‘everyone else’ would actually use a phone for.

        I agree with Nigel, you seem to be taking what apple do as a baseline when the iphone has no always on screen, stereo speakers, micro SD or for that matter unlimited cloud storage, just to list a few things its lacking.

        The lack of consistency in reviews is astounding.

      2. Major Sceptic says:

        I just read your post , mine came out very similar.
        While I do like my 6p , I always thought it should have had more bells and whistles , if you have never had any flagship devices before , you would probably not miss the extra features ,
        the 6p is a good device , but fairly basic in its bells and whistles , and I was hoping as a consumer with the newer more powerful hardware it would be a cinch for Google to maybe add one or two more, but alas .

      3. Nadav says:

        It is really great that you answer the questions. Thanks.

      4. Mikhail says:

        Hey Matt Swider, thoughts on why this one is 4/5 and the Pixel is 4.5/5 despite nearly identical specs?

        1. Matt Swider says:

          Sure, Mikhail. I think you nailed it right in the question. It’s $120 (£120) extra for the same specs. I do like more screen real estate, but I also greatly value one-handed typing on a comfortable 5-inch screen that’s plenty big for most people.

          It has a 2K resolution for the forthcoming Daydream VR capabilities, but you have to be into VR (but not into VR enough to have purchased an Oculus or HTC Vive), and the Daydream platform has yet to take off (it may be a while before it really does get a nice library – a while like by the time you get your next phone). The bigger battery is the only really big plus, but at $120, that’s a hard sell.

          Apple and Samsung do something I actually *don’t* like in that they save all of the good features for their phablets. I used the iPhone 7 for two weeks at launch and it felt awesome to be out and about – really doing stuff – and still be able to type away with one hand. But I traded it in because I really wanted to test out the dual lens camera.

          If someone asked, I’d be more likely to suggest the Google Pixel and save $120, unless they were really, really into VR (but again, not *that* into VR that they’d have an Oculus Rift).

          Hope that helps explain our thinking.

          1. Mikhail says:

            i appreciate the quick reply. I see what you’re saying, but don’t quite agree that it should be 0.5 stars lower. To the consumer, screen size is another feature. many will find phones that are too large for one-handed use or too small a screen a dealbreaker. in the XL’s case, $120 gives you size + battery + resolution + VR ( if you’re into that).

            i dont like that phablets get extra features over their smaller counterparts either, but i typically see larger phablets get rated slightly better than the smaller phone despite the price gap, even when the added features are minimal. For example, by your comment i would presume that the iphone 7 plus would score 0.5 stars worse than the regular 7 if the only difference was the screen size and battery, but Techradar pegs the 7 plus 0.5 stars *better* than the 7. is the wide angle lens and bokeh really a full star improvement for the avg user?

            sorry if that comes off as argumentative, just want to better understand your methodology. it just feels off that two phones that are nearly identical aren’t rated the same. i think $120 for a bigger screen, larger resolution, better battery life, and a higher VR experience is reasonable and not worth docking .5 stars for.

  14. Marc Debenham says:

    just because it isnt priced at a discount is a negative? Just being priced against the other top end phones isnt a negative it the performance merits it. Also how is the design a negative? its pretty much the same design as its competitors with a slight differentiator

    1. Matt Swider says:

      Marc Debenham. I think it’s informative to point that out, especially to longtime Nexus users we’ve heard from who were planning to upgrade but were shocked at the price. It’s now in a totally different league instead of presenting flagship-level specs at a fraction of the cost.

      re: its pretty much the same design as its competitors. Yes! All of its competitors, including those with glass AND aluminum builds – a weird menagerie of a phone design.

      What gets me more about the design is the fact that it ditches the dual speakers found in the Nexus 6P (that was cheaper) and isn’t waterproof when even Apple is doing that in 2016. So it’s not just the look, as much as I think it’s odd looking. It’s what the design is missing, too (and more so, I’d say)

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