Google found a winning design with the Pixel
I am a die-hard iOS fan. I’ve had every iPhone since they were released and almost every major technology device I purchase is Apple. Coming from the view of someone who is iOS all the way I can tell you that my short time with the Google Pixel has been interesting. I found the phone to be very well-designed and it rivals my iPhone 7 Plus. It’s an exceptional mobile phone and it was actually a pleasure to use.
Most of the Android phones we get I pass along to others to write about because the operating system makes me jitter in my sleep. One of my big problems with Android is that the manufacturers and carriers tend to add a lot of ‘bloatware’ to the phones. With Google, they have full control over the hardware and software and the OS shows a great improvement with Nougat 7.1. Unlike any other Android phone I’ve ever used, I received an update the second day of using it. I don’t think I ever received an update while using other Android devices so it was a pleasant surprise.
Nearly the entire time I was testing the Pixel, I compared it to the iPhone 7/7 Plus models. They are so similar in look and feel (and age) that it only seems to be a logical comparison. That being said, I do want to point out the Pixel’s specs separately from the testing phase as I think they stand on their own.
For starters, there are two models – the Pixel and the Pixel XL. Google did a nice job of mimicking the specs for both devices and basically just making the XL the bigger version of the Pixel – and not an entirely new phone. The Pixel has a 5.0-inch screen while the XL has a 5.5-inch screen. The Pixel features an FHD AMOLED screen at 441ppi and it’s made from Corning Gorilla Glass 4. In short, it’s a very durable, vibrant screen. The battery is 2,770 mAh, which translates to up to 19 days of standby time and 26 hours of talk time. The Pixel does utilize fast charging and can get up to 7 hours of use from just 15 minutes of charging.
The Pixel has 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM with the option of 32 or 128GB of hard drive storage. The processor is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821. It’s 2.15 GHz and 64-bit Quad-Core. The main camera is 12.3 MP and it features phase detection autofocus and laser detection autofocus. The Pixel captures video in 1080P HD resolution at either 30fps, 60fps, or 120fps. It will also capture video in 720P or 4K video resolutions. The phone has a barrage of sensors including proximity/ALS, Accelerometer/Gyrometer, Magnetometer, and Barometer. The Pixel charges through a USB Type-C connection and it supports WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, and NFC.
One of the greatest benefits of the Pixel is that users get unlimited storage for all photos and videos. Additionally, there is a really cool video chat feature called Google Duo that allows you to have video calls with Android users as well as iOS users.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s really dig into this review by looking at the build quality. I found the body of the smartphone to be very familiar. The front reminds me of an iPhone without the fingerprint scanner. The ‘chin’ is still there on the front of the phone and even though some people are complaining that it’s unused space, I see the non-touch screen real estate to be a useful resting place for my fingers when flipping to landscape mode.
Google placed the fingerprint reader on the back rather than the front – this is somewhat typical of other Android-based phone designs. I was very impressed with the set-up process of the fingerprint scanner. It scanned my finger faster than the iPhone and reads my print correct the first time every time. The back of the phone is part aluminum (bottom half) and part glass (top half). Also located on the back is the camera and its flash. You will notice right off the bat that Google found a way not to have the crazy camera hump that the iPhone (and some Samsung phones) has and that makes for a smoother and cleaner look. Even though the back is sleek and smooth, Google did not attempt to hide the antenna line at the bottom of the phone. Apple took care to move the antenna line on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus so that it is less noticeable.
The underside of the smartphone has one speaker port and a USB-C port for charging and syncing. The second speaker area looks like a speaker but it’s not. The USB-C post is a nice touch for the phone. At the top, you will see the good old headphone jack everyone is missing on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Personally, I was glad to see the headphone jack removed from the iPhone design, but I know that others still want it. Those people will be happy that Google included it here.
When you hold the Pixel next to the iPhone 7 they feel and look very similar. The weight of the Pixel is (143 grams) where the iPhone 7 weighs in at only (138 grams). I found that when holding both the iPhone 7 and the Pixel that the iPhone felt like it weighed more but the specs don’t lie. The small diffidence in weight would be hard for anyone to detect.
When it came to comparing the Pixel’s speed to the iPhone, it was a close race to call. When opening YouTube, the Pixel opened the app faster, but the iPhone played videos better. Safari won for fastest Internet Browser and the iPhone won for the best Instagram experience. The general camera function was pretty much a tie. I think the iPhone 7 Plus has one of the best displays in the market, but the colors on Google’s Pixel really stand out with its AMOLED display.
Speaking of displays looking, at the photos and video I’ve taken with the Pixel I find them to look beautiful. The camera takes wonderful photos and to be honest I was expecting to say the iPhone would just blow the Pixel out of the water but it really held its own. The Pixel handles backgrounds very well and takes super crisp shots. I like most of the shots I took with the Pixel and found them to show blacks much better than the iPhone, but there were some photos the Pixel overcompensated for with the colors and they look like someone added Instagram filters to them. When it comes to the camera you’re getting more if you buy an iPhone 7 Plus but if you’re looking for what I feel is the best camera with Android devices, the Pixel is the clear winner.
I’m impressed with this Android phone. Nougat is a solid OS and for years I’ve bashed Android. If Apple stopped selling iPhones tomorrow and Google kept on this path with the Pixel it would be my smartphone of choice at this time.