Introduction


Ask a dozen people what kind of company Google is, and you'll get a dozen different answers. It's a search company; an advertising provider; a cloud-services firm; a social network; a publisher; an entertainment hub – we could go on. And while “hardware company” is pretty far from first on that list, it's a role we see Google return to time and time again, and with some markedly renewed vigor in recent years.

While we've had Google smartphones since the early days of Android, thanks to the Nexus program, lately it's felt like Google's attitude towards phone hardware has been shifting. There were a couple years of affordable phones, a return to flagship-level prices, and most recently an emphasis on phablet-sized models. But this year Google's smartphone operations are undergoing arguably their most meaningful change since the launch of the Nexus One, as the Nexus brand fades into the background, replaced by Google's new duo of Pixel phones.

Pixel brings users the same sort of unadulterated Android experience as we've come to expect from Nexus devices, as well as the same commitment to timely updates. But there's also a new emphasis on style, with both the 5.0-inch and 5.5-inch Pixel handsets sharing the same look – something we couldn't say last year for the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P. And more than that, Pixel is arriving as a showcase for new tech like Google's Daydream VR system.

What does all this mean for the actual Pixel phones? Has Google brought us some devices that have what it takes to steer shoppers away from high-profile handsets like Samsung's Galaxy lineup? Or will Pixel end up feeling more like a niche item for the tech-savvy or those who like to live on the bleeding edge – a characterization frequently visited upon Nexus phones? Let's find out, as we take a look at the larger of the two new Pixel phones, the 5.5-inch Pixel XL.

In the box:

  • Google Pixel XL
  • USB Type-C to Type-C cable
  • USB Type-C to Standard-A cable
  • USB Type-C to Standard-A (Quick Switch) adapter
  • Power adapter
  • SIM tool
  • Intro cards (hardware, thank you, Google Assistant, Play Music 3-month trial)
  • Warranty booklet

Design

An ambitious design brings us a Google phone that may well have other manufacturers feeling jealous


Crafting a smartphone these days that offers a unique look is no small feat. As some brands churn out featureless slate after featureless slate, or others find themselves repeating variations on the same standard design over and over again, a breath of fresh air can be hard to come by. But with Google's new Pixel phones, the company may have done just that.

Maybe the first thing you'll notice about the Pixel XL – and the smaller Pixel, as well, which shares the same basic design – is this glass panel consuming the upper third of the phone's otherwise metal back. We've seen smaller adornments like this before (think: the camera “stripe” on last year's Nexus 6P), but the Pixel XL pushes it to a whole new level. At first, it's a look that may inspire some push-back; after all, it's easy to think of metal as a particularly robust and premium smartphone material, while glass just seems all sorts of damage-prone.

While time will tell just how well the Pixel XL holds up to a little use (and abuse), it didn't take long for us to come around to the phone's partially glass-covered back. One real benefit is the tactile effect the use of multiple materials affords, making it particularly easy to reach into your pocket and instantly know which direction the phone's facing. And while we can't deny that the glass is more fingerprint-prone than the metal making up the rest of the back, its aesthetics have really started to grow on us.


Moving around the hardware, we've got a USB Type-C port and the phone's (mono) speaker on its bottom edge, the SIM tray on the right (with no hybrid microSD functionality – this is Google, after all), an analog headphone jack up top, and the power button and volume rocker on the right. The edge sports a hybrid design of its own, with a smooth curve transitioning to the phone's back, an angled bevel marking the move to the handset's face, and a solid, flat stripe in the center. The effect there makes for a phone that feels seriously nice to hold, while also offering a comfortably solid grip.

With all this metal, the Pixel XL has some appreciable heft to it, coming in at 168 grams. That's right about the same as the Note 7, though a bit lighter than the iPhone 7 Plus.


Google Pixel XL

Google Pixel XL

Dimensions

6.09 x 2.98 x 0.34 inches

154.72 x 75.74 x 8.6 mm

Weight

5.93 oz (168 g)

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Dimensions

6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.63 oz (188 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Dimensions

5.94 x 2.86 x 0.3 inches

150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm

Weight

5.54 oz (157 g)

Google Nexus 6P

Google Nexus 6P

Dimensions

6.27 x 3.06 x 0.29 inches

159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.28 oz (178 g)

Google Pixel XL

Google Pixel XL

Dimensions

6.09 x 2.98 x 0.34 inches

154.72 x 75.74 x 8.6 mm

Weight

5.93 oz (168 g)

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Dimensions

6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.63 oz (188 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Dimensions

5.94 x 2.86 x 0.3 inches

150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm

Weight

5.54 oz (157 g)

Google Nexus 6P

Google Nexus 6P

Dimensions

6.27 x 3.06 x 0.29 inches

159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.28 oz (178 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page



Display

Bold and crisp, sure, but other specs fall short of the mark


Like the 5.7-inch panel on the Nexus 6P, the 5.5-inch screen on the Pixel XL is an AMOLED component, returning with the same quad-HD 1440 x 2560 resolution. It's protected by Gorilla Glass 4, which has an ever-so-slight curved-edge effect.

As we'd only expect form an AMOLED display, colors are really bold, with bright, saturated hues and inky-dark blacks. White balance looks good (but not great) in our tests, but the color gamut itself is a bit over-saturated.

Brightness, however, is more middle-of-the-road, and more than once we found ourselves wishing we could crank the display up brighter while out in early afternoon sunlight – the Pixel XL is still visible enough, but a slightly brighter screen would sure help with usability.

Indoors, the situation's a lot more favorable, and users who like to read in bed will especially appreciate just how low brightness can go. And while Google doesn't offer any tweaked display modes, or tools for fine-tuning color balance, we do see the presence of a “Night Light” feature, dialing-down blue colors in an effort to improve eye comfort while viewing at night.



FEATURED VIDEO

96 Comments

2. Carl3000

Posts: 240; Member since: Oct 11, 2014

Why are iPhone reviews so much longer and in depth than any other phones you guys review? 9/10 is a great score but I'm personally disappointed in the battery life. Practically no difference from the 6P with SD810...

21. Harambe unregistered

PA's battery life is known to be bad. It basically runs a processor intensive script which just tests the CPU efficiency while screen and other components have very less weightage. There is no way in hell an iPhone 7 can outlast the S7 edge. But on PA's test it does because the A10 is more efficient than the SD820.

31. NCAAtourney

Posts: 40; Member since: Mar 15, 2016

iPhone 7 Plus = Best Phone Out iPhone 7 kills every phone in performance. Holy sh!t!!!

36. Harambe unregistered

The iPhone's GPU is worse than a 400$ Oneplus 3. What do you say about that?

40. adi90

Posts: 554; Member since: Dec 21, 2015

Yes. Iphone 4's GPU is worse than 1+3. You are correct. But you should come back to 2016.

49. kiko007

Posts: 7493; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

"The iPhone's GPU is worse than a 400$ Oneplus 3. " A. No it isn't. B. I didn't know the GPU was the only reason to buy a phone. C. What good has that GPU done for Android? Still can't run games at 50 fps. Still can't run UI tasks at 60 fps. So.....why does that give you any bragging rights? D. You just told techie that horsepower isn't everything. Then you say crap like this....smh. There's this thing called "optimization", OEMs should try it.

59. Harambe unregistered

A, Yes, it does. The Oneplus 3 does more than 20% better in sustained performance while the iPhone throttles by 40%. http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph10685/83895.png B. No, it isn't. But this was supposed to be a reply to a guy who thinks performance is the only metric to buy a phone. C. Read B. D. Read B.

105. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

kiko007 plz dont come with more lies. A. its not worst its about the same end result its only worst in benchmarking. B for some its might be a good reason if you are a gamer or into VR C. what a bunch of freaking lies i play all my game at 55 to 60 fps even super heavy game like world of tank blitz ( 57 average ) my UI is butter smooth at 60 fps as well. D. Hardware and optimization are both important. IOS is much better on the battery life by example than android and nothing bad to say it.

118. ebilcake

Posts: 1229; Member since: Jul 16, 2016

Based on what? Manhattan - GFXBench Onscreen2821 Frames (45.5 Fps) - OnePlus 3 Onscreen2959 Frames (47.7 Fps) - iPhone 7 Plus A10 GPU looks decent enough

127. yyzamin

Posts: 382; Member since: Aug 26, 2015

It outperforms every Android on the market hands down.

42. LebronJamesFanboy

Posts: 671; Member since: Mar 23, 2013

Can someone please explain why Audio Output through headphones is always so low on Android phones? I'm genuinely curious. It makes me so upset they can't get this right. The audio Output score here is ridiculous.

51. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

GSMarena is more professional on the reviews, but PA does better on presentation. I'm just here for the comment section...some people are quite the educator.

53. Hyperreal

Posts: 361; Member since: Oct 08, 2013

Well, its not true. Audio output in my HTC 10 kills my girlfriends Iphone 6. LG V10, LG V20, ZTE Axon 7 they all destroy Iphone in terms of audio loudnes and quality so I dont know what are you talking about.

65. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

I think he actually meant 'here' and 'they' as in PA...not the score of the Android presented.

131. dazed1

Posts: 799; Member since: Jul 28, 2015

Exynos S7 kills all in audio.

62. Harambe unregistered

This is just the loudness score because the maximum voltage determines the Amplitude of the analog wave output. It is just the output voltage of the DAC(Digital to Analog Converter). And the headphone output of phones made by HTC, Samsung' exynos variants, ZTE Axon, LG V series all beat the iPhone in output. Also one thing to note here is that the iPhone 7 uses an external DAC for output. So this test is irrelevant since I can push 5V of output through an external DAC from any android phone. PS: Loudness has nothing to do with the quality of the audio pushed through. My oneplus 3 is almost as loud as an iPhone 7 in output and louder than my S6. But the S6 trounces both in quality.

72. sgodsell

Posts: 7361; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

If the iPhone is the best phone out there, then why does Apple put one of the lowest resolution displays on any flagship? Oh wait, so Apple and it's Zealot's can go around boasting and bragging how fast it's graphics is. Let's see how the iPhone would do if they actually put a QHD display on their phones. Also Phonearena is still spreading lies on the minimum brightness. How the hell can a IPS display have just as low brightness as an AMOLED display. It's impossible, because the pixels are individually powered on and off on an AMOLED display. Whereas the entire IPS display is powered on iPhones. Also why is Apple looking to AMOLED in the near future. With these paid test results, why does Apple want to go with AMOLED, especially when these results show that Apples IPS displays are on par or better in most of the results.

74. omnitech

Posts: 1131; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

iPhone displays are crap. IOS is good at hiding low resolution with their icons but it's obvioysly low res. Yet the reviews ignore it and champion useless crap like greyscale. Lol

121. Supersonic

Posts: 226; Member since: May 15, 2015

Oh really? The biggest s**t is iphone7

80. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

I personally think they should do a CPU/GPU intensive test, a call test and a video playback test and combine the numbers similar to what GSM Arena does...

83. Harambe unregistered

That would actually require some brain to do, something PA authors have taken an oath never to use.

133. pego99

Posts: 121; Member since: Aug 01, 2012

PA's battery life is known to be bad.?? What is PA? Phone Arena? How does Phone Arena have a battery life?

22. MaryPoopins

Posts: 324; Member since: Jan 15, 2015

I can't comment on the Pixel, however I think most PA commenters would agree with me when I say that PA's battery test scores are complete horses**t. You can basically throw out any comments they make about battery life and get your info elsewhere.

48. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

I'm fine done

60. darkkjedii

Posts: 31029; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Why don't you get into the tech game, do your own reviews, and stop whining about PA's.

117. ebilcake

Posts: 1229; Member since: Jul 16, 2016

I wouldn't pay any attention to their battery tests, they're usually wrong.

141. chenski

Posts: 768; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

Phone arena is getting lenient with their scoring, they only gave nexus6p 87, shoulda at least be 90

3. Fona13A unregistered

Wow certainly took the time here /s

4. Trex95

Posts: 2381; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

Pixel Xl= IPhone 6s Plus with on screen buttons.

5. maherk

Posts: 6873; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

That's an insult to the iPhone, this looks like a cheap clone of the iPhone

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Pixel XL
  • Display 5.5" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12.3 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, Quad-core, 2150 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 3450 mAh(32h talk time)

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.