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Google Pixel Review

Google Pixel

Posted: , posted by Stephen S.

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Call Quality

Dial all your friends and don't miss a thing with solid voice performance

Google Pixel Review

Given the high-end radio hardware and software within the Pixel (the kit responsible for offering that super high-speed LTE Cat 12 bandwidth), it's little surprise that when tasked with basic voice calls, the phone also excels.

Maybe “excel” is the wrong word, as we're really not looking for much here but clean, intelligible call quality, but the Pixel certainly doesn't drop the ball. While the phone's size makes it a little less comfortable to use than more petite handsets, everything still sounds great, and with the Verizon SIM we tested, neither ourselves nor our callers had any major complaints.

Battery Life

It's a David vs. Goliath story as the Pixel slips past the XL in stamina

Google Pixel Review

Ready for some surprises? So far, this review of the Pixel probably hasn't offered anything too shocking if you're already caught up with our Pixel XL coverage; like we've been saying over and over, Google's done an admirable job at giving us two phones that may be different sizes, but offer very similar experiences.

While the Pixel XL got a battery that was the very same size of the component we saw a year ago in the Nexus 6P, the Pixel actually picks up a slightly larger battery than the 5X, growing from 2,700 to 2,770 mAh. But that's just a little boost; how does that actually translate into battery life when you're using the phone?

In our custom battery tests, we clocked about seven hours and forty-five minutes of screen-on time for the five-inch Pixel. Even with its big 3,450mAh battery, the Pixel XL got just about seven-and-a-half. That's right: the phone with the appreciably smaller battery lasted longer.

How does that make any sense? After all, in Google's official battery life figures, it estimates that the XL will enjoy hours upon hours of more operation in many conditions.

The charger's got a USB Type-C port - Google Pixel Review

The charger's got a USB Type-C port

That's probably very true, at least in terms of talk-time or standby stamina. But we're looking at screen-on time, and while the two Pixel phones share the bulk of the same hardware, the Pixel XL's display has a surface area that's 20 percent larger than the Pixel. We tested both phones at the same brightness level, but that's still 20 percent more area that needs to be lit-up. More than that, the screen on the XL also has nearly 80 percent more pixels to drive – and rendering all that takes processing power.

As a result, the lesser power demands of the Pixel's screen appear to completely offset the larger battery present on the XL – and then some.

Sadly, there's no wireless-charging support, but the included USB Type-C adapter is a fast-charging 18W component. From a dead battery, that gave us a full charge in almost exactly two hours. And if you only need a little extra juice, even just fifteen minutes plugged in can give you several hours of operation (though primarily in standby).

What's really cool about the charger is that it's got a USB Type-C port on it – something we can't say about many other chargers shipping with Type-C-enabled phones. That means your charging cable is fully reversible, not just up-and-down but end-to-end. That may not sound like much, but it really follows through on the dream of Type-C solving so many (even minor) legacy-USB headaches.


Conclusion


Google Pixel Review

It's been a rough few years for users who prefer smaller smartphones, and Google's last five-inch model was introduced all the way back in 2013, with the Nexus 5. But now with the Pixel, Google's really offering shoppers a no-compromise handset that's still small enough to fit comfortably in sub-giant hands.

To a large extent, the fact that we got to know the Pixel XL first makes us appreciate the smaller Pixel all the more; it's not that the XL was necessarily too big, but it's fantastic to see such a big portion of what made that phone so appealing translate to this smaller size without losing much of anything.

Of course, there's a flip side to that, and many of the problems we had with the Pixel XL carry right over to the Pixel – or in the case of the display's middling brightness, end up being exacerbated here. We still wish the phone weren't quite so expensive, though the Pixel's $120-lower price does help the smaller model feel like a better bang-for-your-buck than its big brother.

With Android 7.1 Nougat and the Google Assistant on board, there are few phones available right now that will give users already integrated in Google's ecosystem of services a better software experience than the Pixel. And when we factor in the best-in-class performance, the incredibly satisfying camera experience, and battery life that even gives the Pixel XL a run for its money, the Pixel only looks more and more attractive.

It still remains to be seen if Google can become a large enough player in the Android smartphone market to steal sales away from the likes of Samsung, but with phones like the Pixel, Google's in a better place to do just that than it arguably ever has been before.

Software version of the review unit: Android 7.1 Build NDE63P


Pros

  • Unique design with a build that feels even better than the Pixel XL
  • Snapdragon 821 + Nougat = silky-smooth performance
  • Battery life isn't just good, but could even beat the Pixel XL
  • Well-done camera makes it easy to capture impressive pics
  • Pixel Imprint fingerprint scanner put to great use with gesture controls

Cons

  • Display in need of a brightness boost
  • A little on the thick side for a phone this size
  • No waterproofing/dust resistance
PhoneArena rating:
9Excellent
User rating:
8.83 Reviews
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Google Pixel

Google Pixel

OS: Android 8.0 7.1
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
9Excellent
Display5.0 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (441 ppi) AMOLED
Camera12.3 megapixels
Hardware
Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, Quad-core, 2150 MHz, Kryo processor
4 GB RAM
Size5.66 x 2.74 x 0.34 inches
(143.84 x 69.54 x 8.58 mm)
5.04 oz  (143 g)
Battery2770 mAh, 26 hours talk time

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