Okay, let’s go ahead and unbox this bad boy. Inside the box, you will find the Google Pixel XL, wow. This looks like a solid phone. There is a pouch with a bunch of manuals and SIM ejection tool. Pixel uses USB Type C so it comes with a USB Type C cable for connecting to your computer or charging. There’s also a USB Type C OTG adapter so you can transfer data from other smartphones or use a USB flash drive with it.
Inside the hidden compartment we find AC adapter rated for 5V 3 amps and 9V 2 amps, most likely Quick Charge 2.0 compatible. Here we find another USB Type C cable but this one is USB Type C to Type C.
That’s pretty much it inside the box. My first impressions of the Pixel XL is rather mixed. First, let’s start with the feel. The Pixel XL is a 5.5-inch device with all-metal unibody design very similar to HTC 10. It feels much heavier than my S7 Edge and indeed it is 11 grams heavier at 168 grams for weight. But the phone feels super solid, perhaps the most solid Google phone I have held. One of the biggest problems with 6P was its bend issue. With the new Pixel XL, it is very very solid. Check out JerryRigEverything’s bend test video on the Pixel XL if you don’t believe me.
On the left side you will find a nano SIM slot and unfortunately it doesn’t have a microSD card slot. However, Google does give you unlimited cloud storage of your photos and videos in original resolution including 4K videos so long as they are shot with your Pixel phone. While this is a great idea for those of us with good internet, it may not be such a good option for those of you on limited cellular plans with slow WiFi. That is definitely a bummer for those of you who grabbed 32GB version like myself but you can always grab the more expensive 128GB version or use an OTG flash drive. But on the upside, Pixel phones have GSM and CDMA radios meaning you can use it on AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or Verizon. I popped my Verizon SIM and got data and voice working right away.
On the right side you will find the power button meshed so you can easily feel it in the dark and this is made from all metal, oh effin yeah. The volume buttons are also metallic, very clicky and easy to press.
On the bottom, you will find the USB Type C port and speakers. The speakers have been downgraded to mono speakers this year and this could be a bit disappointing for previous Nexus 6 or 6P users. The sound is okay and pretty decent but nothing out of ordinary.
On the back you will see a single “G” and you can see in small print “Phone by Google” and this phone is made in Taiwan by HTC. The back is particularly unique I would say as it has two-thirds metal and one-third glass. The glass material reflects much warmers colors and you can see here it is reflecting yellow off my white softboxes, looks kinda cool. Not a fan of this design but then again, I won’t be spending most of my time looking at the back of the phone.
On top, you will find a 3.5mm headphone jack, YES!
There is dual LED followed by 12.3MP camera, sensors, and microphone. Upon my initial testing versus the Nexus 6P and S7 Edge, the Pixel XL seems to perform slightly better in low-light and auto-focus and shutter speed is quite fast. You can take photos much much quicker than last year’s 6P. Now, the Pixel does seemed to suffer from light flares when pointed directly at light sources such as LEDs while this didn’t happen on any of my other smartphones. With video, Pixel now has a gyro that will stabilize your videos, it seems a bit stuttery but this is definitely huge improvement over last year’s 6P which had none.
There is also slow motion at 120fps and 240fps. The 120fps looked real good while the 240fps seemed to degrade in quality. Lens Blur works quite well also, you should be able to easily fake DSLR shots for close-ups on Instagram.
As far as software goes, the Pixel performs beautifully, absolutely no lag while switching between apps or using the phone itself. The launcher has been updated with the latest Pixel launcher. Swipe left to access Google Now and swipe up on the arrow to access your app drawer. As traditionally with Google phones, the Pixel comes with absolutely no bloatware and these are pretty much all the apps it comes with. For those of you who appreciate minimalistic UI, Pixel will definitely satisfy your thirst.
Coolest feature on the Pixel is definitely its Google Assistant which can be activated by holding down on the home button. You can ask Assistant various things like “read me the weather for today”, “how is traffic to work”, and pretty much anything you can think of. When the phone screen is off, you can also easily activate Google Assistant by saying, “Okay Google” and ask a question.
Need help? First-time gramma to using a smartphone? No problem, you can get free help from Google via Phone or Chat in its settings menu.
The Pixel XL has a 5.5-inch 1440P AMOLED display. Viewing angles are excellent and colors are vibrant. While Pixel XL isn’t as bright as the S7 Edge, videos look great and the high resolution will definitely satisfy those of you who prefer more pixels.
Battery life should be excellent with its whopping 3450mAh battery along with efficient AMOLED screen. I should have a screen-on-time battery test soon but in my short test drive, battery seems to last forever especially with its Android 7.1 Nougat.
Overall, Pixel XL definitely is one of the best smartphones you can buy this year if you are looking for a bigger 5.5-inch device. Pixel XL starts at $769 for 32GB and $869 for 128GB model. Of course, at such high price, you have much better options like Galaxy S7 Edge SM-G935F you can get on eBay for $599 w/ microSD card or even last year’s Nexus 6P, which has better stereo speakers along with camera that’s still kicks ass. If you are looking for a good deal, I would wait until Black Friday next month where plenty 6P should go on sale for less than half the price of Pixel XL.
Also, if you are on AT&T or Verizon and would like to root your smartphone, you can grab an unlocked version of Pixel XL and use it on any U.S. network along with ability root the phone out of the box, that could be the #1 reason to buy this phone. But comparing apples to oranges, the Pixel XL seems to be a bit overpriced in comparison to many of the flagships available today. While camera performance is indeed excellent, it doesn’t seem to outperform the S7 Edge or 6P by so much that I would want to pay more money for. I should have a full review but for now these are my initial thoughts and they may change as I use it as my daily driver.
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