At the Made by Google event which took place in October, Google announced two new phones. Unlike their regular Nexus phones, these were two phones made completely by Google – the Pixel and Pixel XL. While HTC is the OEM for the Pixel devices, the hardware and software control lies with the Mountain View company.

Pixel signifies a new chapter in Google’s phone history. So far, Google had the Nexus line which was made in collaboration with partners such as HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Huawei. Google had limited or no control over the hardware and had to optimise its Android OS to suit the hardware in order to provide the best stock Android experience. But something always seemed amiss.

Pixel’s birth also meant the end of the road for the Nexus line. Also with Pixel, Google has departed from the mid-range segment and entered the premium segment. A rarefied atmosphere where the likes of Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxies rule. Or do they? Let us find out with the Pixel XL.

Build and Design: 7.5 / 10

Pixel XL (6)

First things first. Yes, the Pixel XL does resemble an iPhone on first glance. This was reiterated by every other person who first set eyes on the sleeping Pixel XL. But considering it is made by HTC, some resemblance with the HTC 10, when you see the edges, is also noticeable. It comes in three colour colour variants which have interesting names: Quite Black, Very Silver and Really Blue. I am testing the Very Silver variant.

Pixel XL (1)

iPhone resemblance aside, it doesn’t take away from the fact that Pixel XL is a good looking phone which feels sturdy. The phone’s metal frame is flat, but the corners have a rounded edge. The ribbed power standby button and the plain volume rocker buttons are on the right and the nano SIM card tray is on the left. There isn’t any sort of sharp edge on the phone as such, apart from the very minor drop off from where the display meets the frame. Google has gone with a glass and metal design on the rear side, instead of having a unibody design, as is the norm in the premium segment. The only reason I can think of is that the glass top gives a better grip than the slippery metal back. Online forums speculate that it is meant for better signal reception and also assist with NFC. Visually, I don’t find it that appealing. Your opinion may differ.

Google Pixel XL (6)

The pearly white glass section on the rear side is slightly raised from the plane of the metal. It ensures that there is no camera bump, as the 12MP camera on the top left hand corner is flush with the surface. There is a circular finger print scanner in the lower half of the glass area. The antenna line is visible on the lower metallic half as well as three in the top half.

Pixel XL (5)

From the front, there is nothing extraordinary about the design. The rear does make the Pixel XL recognisable. Maybe that was Google’s idea. The design is functional. It measures around 7.3mm thick around the base and 8.6mm at the top and weighs around 168 gm, making it lighter than the iPhone 7 Plus. It is IP53 certified. That means there is dust protection but it’s not waterproof.

Features: 8 / 10

Google has kept the internals of both the Pixel and Pixel XL intact. The phones run on Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 821 chipset – which is also the chipset required to ensure the phone is Daydream VR ready. The Snapdragon 821 chipset houses a quad-core processor with two custom Kryo cores clocked at 2.15GHz and two Kryo cores clocked at 1.6GHz. These are paired with Adreno 530 graphics solution. There is 4GB of fast LPDDR4 RAM onboard. In terms of storage you get two variants – 32GB and 128GB. We got the 32GB variant for testing out of which the available storage space was 29.7GB.

Pixel XL (10)

It runs stock Android 7.1 Nougat OS which we will discuss in detail in the software section. There is a 5.5-inch display with QuadHD resolution which gives a respectable pixel density on the phone. In terms of connectivity, you get a single nano SIM card tray. There is support for 4G VoLTE, Wi-fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS with A-GPS and GLONASS, NFC. It lacks FM Radio. As for sensors, you have the proximity sensor which is conspicuous by its presence under the earpiece speaker on the Very Silver’s white front portion.

The Google Pixel XL sports a 12.3MP rear camera with f/2.0 aperture and a front-facing shooter with f/2.2 aperture. The PixelXL comes with a 3450mAh Li-ion non-removable battery. It is accompanied with a 5V/3A or 9V/2A adapter which has a USB Type C input.

Publish date: November 8, 2016 9:18 am| Modified date: November 9, 2016 9:36 am

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