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Google Pixel XL Review

Google Pixel XL

Posted: , posted by Stephen S.

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Call Quality

Voice isn't dead yet, and the Pixel XL makes it sound like it never will be

Google Pixel XL Review

Given the high-end radio hardware and software within the Pixel XL (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 XL 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

Long life and fast recharging makes for a great pair – but would it kill to have wireless support?

Google Pixel XL Review

Google gives the Pixel XL a 3,450mAh battery, the same capacity as the Nexus 6P. In our custom battery tests, that translated into a little under seven-and-a-half hours of continuous screen-on time. Compared to other phones with similar hardware, that's in the right ballpark of expectations; it's nothing game-changing, but nor does it disappoint.

With careful usage, we were sometimes able to stretch life into a second day of operation without recharging, but it wasn't long before we were hunting down an outlet to make sure we kept our charge on the right side of things.

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 under 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 XL Review

The Pixel XL is a phone on a mission, looking to not only draw attention to Google's prowess as the company behind advanced smartphone software and service, but also as a company that can design some attractive, high-end, and most importantly desirable hardware. HTC may be building the phone, but Google's calling the shots, and its ambition shows.

That puts a lot on the line for Google, but for the most part it doesn't mess up anything of consequence. Sure, we wish a few extra features were present, from wireless charging to FM reception. And while the display could be brighter or better-calibrated, it's still sharp, colorful, and largely gets the job done.

Google Pixel XL Review
Maybe more importantly, the phone really feels nice and is a joy to use – and even seasoned Android fans will get a kick out of everything new in Nougat.

If there's one big thing that gives us pause, though, it's the phone's pricing: the XL adds $120 to the Pixel's already flagship-level $650 price tag, and moving from 32GB to 128 GB bumps things up $100 further still. And while $770 phones are far from unheard of, Google hasn't really established itself as a super-premium phone brand in the eyes of many shoppers.

Now, will the Pixel XL help change their minds about that? Well, like we said, it's one really quite well-done phone. But it's also maybe not quite flashy enough, nor armed with sufficient bells and whistles to justify its price in the eyes of some shoppers.

Who's the Pixel XL for, then? Really, this phone is all about Google's services, and if you're already an Android user with your pics, movies, music, communications, and all that good stuff tied up with Google's servers, the Pixel XL will be ready to hit the ground running, giving you a really tight, nicely integrated smartphone experience. The Pixel brand represents a new beginning for Google's smartphone efforts, and this looks like a great place to start.

Software version of the review unit: Android 7.1 Build NAE63P



Pros

  • Distinctive design with good build quality
  • Smooth performance throughout phone interface
  • Capable camera makes it easy to get great shots
  • Video stabilization delivers on promises
  • Nougat's changes really enhance phone usability

Cons

  • Focus issues with low-light camera operation
  • No stereo front-facing speakers (though still sounds nice)
PhoneArena rating:
9Excellent
User rating:
9.68 Reviews
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Google Pixel XL

Google Pixel XL

OS: Android 8.0 7.1
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
9Excellent
Display5.5 inches, 1440 x 2560 pixels (534 ppi) AMOLED
Camera12.3 megapixels
Hardware
Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, Quad-core, 2150 MHz, Kryo processor
4 GB RAM
Size6.09 x 2.98 x 0.34 inches
(154.72 x 75.74 x 8.6 mm)
5.93 oz  (168 g)
Battery3450 mAh, 32 hours talk time

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