Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL are the most recently announced smartphones that are succeeding the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P launched this time last year.
There is a lot of good and not so good stuff with these phones, so in this Top 5 I will give you my separate lists on why you should and should not get these phones compared to others available.
Please note that these lists are not in any particular order, but rather in general.
Reasons TO get the Google Pixel
These new Google Pixel phones have almost identical specs to any other flagship Android smartphone released this year.
Both phones include 4GB of RAM (which I think is a first for two phones from the same lineup. E.g. iPhone 7 = 2GB, iPhone 7 Plus = 3GB).
It includes the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor where most phones today have the 820, which means it is marginally more powerful and likely is the reason that this phone is DayDream compatible.
DayDream is Google’s new Virtual Reality (VR) platform that is like Android for virtual reality.
The platform is called DayDream and apps and games can be made for it and you need compatible hardware to get the best experience possible.
Google Pixel/XL are both the first devices that are certified DayDream compatible which also work with the DayDream View VR Headset announced at the same event as these phones, which cost US$89 or AU$129.
Android 7.1 At Launch
Android 7.0 Nougat was recently released but 7.1 is already coming out, which highlights two things to me.
- This device will get it before anyone else as Google will release it on these phones, then a copy of this Android OS to manufacturers then the slow and tedious process of updating them will start.
- If they release a dot now, it shout out to me that at Google I/O in 2017, we will be seeing Android 8.0 O<insert name here>.
Android 7.1 has a few changes to it with a redesigned way to get to app drawer, Google Assistant integrated, filled in bottom navigation buttons etc.
Google Assistant Integration
Google Assistant is Google’s answer to Apple’s Siri, which also includes a lot more integration, device compatibility and entering the space of Artificial Intelligence.
Google Assistant will also be available across multiple devices and they are working on an SDK so businesses and developers can integrate Google Assistant into their service.
It is also incredibly smart. When it was first announced it could scan an image and provide a worded response but now it can say “the blue and yellow moving train” as its service is getting smarter.
It is assumed that software updates will be instant from Google. If you own an iPhone and want to go to Android but want the sense of security of having the most up to date software as fast as possible, you don’t really have any choice but these new phones, unless you go for an older Nexus device.
And now it’s time for the reasons not too.
Reasons to NOT get the Google Pixel
Design/Screen To Body Ratio
In my opinion, the design seems very uninspiring and rather deja vu.
The phone almost looks like it has taken the best from the Nexus 6P and the iPhone 6/6s and morphed it together into something that just looks unfinished.
Another major thing that a lot of people do not like about this phone is the large bezel above and below the display on the front of the device. The screen to body ratio (SBR) is 69% which is average but it’s bad given that the bottom chin of the device does not even have a button there, since it is on the back like the Nexus 5x/6P.
As a basis of comparison, the iPhone 7 has a SBR of 66%, iPhone 7 Plus is 68% and S7 Edge is 76% but all have a button below the display on the front.
The Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P both have front facing speakers, but Google has taken a step backwards with this by having only a single bottom facing speaker, which makes the audio scenario like an iPhone 6s or earlier or like a lot of Android smartphones like the S7 Edge.
What is Google thinking charging the exact same prices as the iPhone for a product that is barely an improvement over the Nexus 5x/6P.
The Nexus prices last year were as follows:
- Nexus 5X: Start at AU$659
- Nexus 6P: Start at AU$899
Then we have the new phones this year (all equivalent pricing to iPhone 7/Plus with same storage sizes):
- Pixel 32GB: AU$1079
- Pixel 128GB: AU$1229
- Pixel XL 32GB: AU$1269
- Pixel XL 128GB: AU1419
As you can tell, that means each of the new phones are roughly AU$400 more expensive with barely any extra features. If I were a true Android Nexus nerd I would be super pissed off with Google right now because they have not only given uncertainty to if there will be anymore Nexus devices, but also that one factor to the Nexus phones was the slightly lower price for still a great device, of which is not the case anymore.
No Expandable Storage
No Google or Nexus device that I am aware of (or for the longest time) have has a microSD card slot in it.
Phones like the S7 Edge and Note 7 have just added this back into them, because of angry customer backlash which means that it is an important selling point for a lot of people.
microSD is important to a) provide more storage for your device and b) more storage for less cost.
Not Water Resistant
Google has come out and said the day after the #MadeByGoogle event that the Pixel and Pixel XL are both IP53 rated. This means it is splash proof and to a large degree, dust resistant.
As a comparison, the HTC 10 has the same rating, but the iPhone 7/Plus is IP67 which is water resistant up to 1 metre deep for up to 30mins and S7 Edge and Note 7 is IP68 which is water resistant up to 1.5 metres deep for up to 30mins.
If you use your phone a lot in wet environments or especially out in the rain, you’d probably want the reassurance of the more water resistant device to make sure your device will still work.
Mini Review on #MadeByGoogle Event:
Before I wrap up I just want to give my mini review on the event itself.
I have mixed thoughts on the new Pixel and Pixel XL as you can tell above.
The DayDream VR View headset looks really good but is a shame that it needs a DayDream device, hence a new smartphone, hence minimum AU$1100 + AU$129 for the headset itself. By the time enough people have upgraded to a compatible phone and maybe generation 2 of this comes out, I reckon this will be a massive hit.
Google Home seems really intriguing but I do question if anyone would invest in such a product for their smart-home or would rather just use their phone as the gateway to control everything.
Google WiFi is perhaps the most interesting product to me that I saw during the event, which sells the idea of placing multiple WiFi routers throughout your home that all mesh together (technical term) to create a large and reliable WiFi network for your home regardless of size. It’s a similar concept to the Eero but is about US$200 cheaper for the 3 router set. I’m actually really interested to see reviews for this.
And that is it for this post, thank you very much for reading. Are you going to buy anything from this event? Leave a comment below or on Twitter and you can follow me here and on Twitter @neilh_apps for posts like this in the future.