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Google Pixel XL Review: Nexus is dead, long live Pixel

By Scorpus · 31 replies
Oct 18, 2016
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  1. Nexus is dead, and Pixel is here to replace it. It’s the biggest shift in Google’s homegrown smartphone strategy since the first Nexus launch in 2010. Google executives have assured this will be one to remember, and the company has begun an advertising campaign bigger than anything they’ve done previously for a hardware product. So what’s the big deal?

    Pixel is the first time Google is challenging the smartphone market with a product of their own. The Nexus line was always positioned as a niche / price-conscious alternative for developers and enthusiasts, designed to show off the latest features of Android; Pixel, on the other hand, is a full blown consumer product with unique features and a top-end price tag to match. Google wants Pixel to compete with the Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxies of the world, and they believe this is the hardware and software to do so.

    Read the complete review.

  2. Alex Voinica

    Alex Voinica TS Booster Posts: 46   +31

    Lots of people that are not into IT find the pure Android harder to use than a HTC or Samsung. This is purely based on my experience - they were not fanboys, they just hated that pure interface and also the one on the Motorola Moto G3, Moto E which is similar to one on the Nexus.

    I was always chasing the phone with the best camera on the market - that is why I got Note 4 back in its glory days. Now, seeing that Pixel has the best one I am not tempted to buy it, since I hate it's design, it is too expensive , has no card slot. Since they aligned the price close to iPhone, I would also expect the software support to have a life cycle like on iPhone - around 4 years, not around 2 years as it was for the Nexus line.
  3. Badvok

    Badvok TS Booster Posts: 159   +57

    Couldn't help laughing at this bit: "Is it a killer feature that should be required on all smartphones? No. Unless you’re planning to take underwater photos or like using a phone in the shower, you probably wouldn’t use the water resistance features even if you had it.". Perhaps if Tim lived elsewhere, you know, somewhere that isn't all sun and beaches, he might have heard of this thing called 'rain' than can rather too easily destroy your very expensive device. For myself, living in England, water resistance is an absolute essential on something costing as much as this does.
    gibbstar, ikesmasher and Tanstar like this.
  4. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,139   +631

    I find mSD slot and removable battery to be features of more importance than waterproofing. Your phone doesn't become a submarine and it's not even useable underwater. You can just look at it. I've had my phone out on rain countless of times and it gets a couple of drops on it nothing to worry about. It's only useful to people who drop their phones in toilets.
    veLa, m4a4 and BSim500 like this.
  5. tomkaten

    tomkaten TS Maniac Posts: 214   +123

    Very nice phone, but the price... Ouch. I'd rather get a 1+3 and a mirrorless camera for that kind of money, if camera performance was the decisive factor.

    Thanks for the quick review.
    NeoFlux and gibbstar like this.
  6. koblongata

    koblongata TS Enthusiast Posts: 49   +12

    Why is the bezel size an issue? I think it is the thinnest you can go, I am super tired of holding my Note 5 with my finger tips in fear of triggering anything unintentionally.
  7. Badvok

    Badvok TS Booster Posts: 159   +57

    You've had your phone out in rain and only got a couple of drops on it? I don't know what to describe that as but it certainly doesn't sound like rain to me.
  8. petert

    petert TS Booster Posts: 177   +49

    Imagine I put a link here which you click only to be rick'n'rolled except that he is singing: never gonna buy, never gonna buy, ... never gonna buy this crap!
  9. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,162   +831

    The best camera is the one you have at hand, and more often than not, you will have your phone with you and the camera maybe not so much.

    I hate wearing backpacks, money belts, bags, messenger bags, or whatever (When not going to work), it's just me and my pockets and I don't like to have those full either, nor a hanging in the neck tourist type of camera. Most of the small enough and good cameras that fit in your pocket have the same quality as high end phones with some features added like optical zoom, but still, not enough to spend that much either to go there (I did my research a few months back and quality gain was not seen before hitting the $600+ range of cameras).

    I'm more inclined with the first poster:
    I too hate the design, the expensive price tag and what not, not enough to change the S6 the company gave me.
  10. OcelotRex

    OcelotRex TS Maniac Posts: 411   +221

    I thought the same thing. I have a 5.7" phone with capacitive buttons on the bottom that are incredibly easy to to press in landscape mode, I.e. whenever watching media. This bezel would be great for resting your thumbs on for media or gaming.
  11. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,162   +831

    My first hands on thin bezels was with the LG G2, and oh my it was love at first sight. The big bezels make the phone look extraordinarily bulkier than it should be.
  12. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 635   +608

    Agreed. A $650+ device with a sealed battery is nothing more then disposable garbage. Because batteries do, and will, wear out over time. Sealing the battery is forced obsolescence in it's most blatant form. It's like buying a car that you cant change the brakes on.

    And no, before the peanut gallery starts saying "but but but quick charging bro!" quick charging is not a suitable replacement for poor battery life or a battery that is too small/aging. I want 16 hours of SoT like my note 4 got, which was possible thanks to the 10000 MaH zerolemon strapped to it. You simply cant do that with modern phones. Battery packs are ugly, cumbersome, and simply wear down your battery even faster (now conveniently sealed in, forcing you to buy a new phone).

    Replaceable batteries need to come back. or the price of phones needs to decrease significantly, as in phones like the pixel and s7 costing $350-$400.
  13. Tanstar

    Tanstar TS Evangelist Posts: 581   +159

    I copied that exact line to quote, but you beat me to it!
  14. Tanstar

    Tanstar TS Evangelist Posts: 581   +159

    So, ugliest phone ever made, with lots of wasted real estate, no mSD (deal breaker for me) nor removable battery (another one). Oh, and Google decides to debut by matching the highest priced phone on the market. This is going to be a disaster! I look forward to that camera and camera software making its way into a better looking, cheaper phone, with mSD and removable camera next year!
  15. OcelotRex

    OcelotRex TS Maniac Posts: 411   +221

    So all iPhones are garbage? That's a bold statement.
  16. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Posts: 7,416   +809

    Knowing Tim wasn't sold on the Pixel looks I was surprised he was so enthused with the phone's polish on software and overall feel. Slapping a great phone camera is just another of the must-haves for any flagship today, so that was a good catch from Google.

    The trend that I'm seeing is that with most $400+ phones doing well on the hardware front, the differentiation will come from software and experience over the life of the device (endurance, timely updates, and even resell value).

    Also features that matter the most are very personal choices, for example I don't care for a removable battery, my last 5 or so phones haven't had one. Conversely I couldn't stand owning a phone with a bad camera, without expandable memory (unless getting internal 128GB+ was cheap, which it never is), I also like my phone to be waterproof and use wireless charging.

    I was spoiled a couple of years ago by the Xperia Z3 that covered most of these and now the Galaxy S7 which improved upon it (except for the carrrier-dependant OS updates, which honestly suck).
  17. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 2,868   +1,190

    I can't be the only person who considers google's insanely heavy integration "bloatware" can I? apart from your itunes account in the stores and gamecenter, your itunes account mostly leaves you alone. google wants to link everything I do to it and its account. It seems to me that its more so than usual on this particular device.
    petert likes this.
  18. petert

    petert TS Booster Posts: 177   +49

    It is bloated with Google's crap. Take a newly bought nexus - comes with bloatware you cannot uninstall - some of them are utterly stupid. You are also tied into their ecosystem (I.e. you need google account to use the phone) and subjected to their weird limitations. This is the main disadvantage of Google ecosystem and no one is capitalizing on it. This is because they all dream of forcing you into using their crap - challenging the state created by google is a bad idea for their future profits
    ikesmasher likes this.
  19. Wendy Oltman

    Wendy Oltman TS Booster Posts: 129   +16

    I have been of the opinion from the start that's not even worth paying £599 thats a joke they will end up lowering the price like amazon fire phone went downhill
  20. petert

    petert TS Booster Posts: 177   +49

    Not really, just like in the case of Apple the market rules don't work for them (cause of fanboys which are gonna ignore the competition). They have a lot of "customers" and I heard you have to wait more than one month for your device to arrive (assuming you ordered a pixel). It is sad, because now we have sheeple in the Android ecosystem too - doesn't matter that the product is overpriced, crap design, and no innovation whatsoever. Pixel is an uninspired attempt at iphone 7 marketing really (although it offers less features than the iphone).
  21. OcelotRex

    OcelotRex TS Maniac Posts: 411   +221

    Here's a list of iOS apps pre-installed that would be synonymous with Google's "bloatware:" as you've called it.

    • Calculator
    • Calendar
    • Compass
    • Contacts
    • FaceTime
    • Home
    • iBooks
    • iCloud Drive
    • iTunes Store
    • Mail
    • Maps
    • Music
    • Notes
    • Podcasts
    • Reminders
    • Stocks
    • Tips
    • Videos
    • Voice Memos
    • Watch
    • Weather
    That's the design and point of this phone - the best Google integration of any Android phone. If you're not heavily invested in the Google ecosystem this is not the phone for you.
  22. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 2,868   +1,190

    These apps arent connected to your itunes account in any way, and half of them arent constantly bugging you or collecting info in the background when they arent "running."

    If I leave my location services on on my android, without any apps running, and I go out shopping or something, it sends me a notifaction asking me to "take a picture or leave a review" of where I currently am. if thats not invasive or bloatware I dont know what is.
  23. OcelotRex

    OcelotRex TS Maniac Posts: 411   +221

    The native apps for Android and iOS are both the same - native apps. Android's equivalent to an iTunes account would be a Gmail Account.

    Google has designed the new assistant on the Pixel, Google Now, and the other host of native apps on Android share information to help make life easier.

    For example: My phone knows where I live, work, and what time I commute. It sends me traffic updates every morning shortly after my alarm and suggest alternate routes to avoid slowdowns.

    Another example: I get an email for flight confirmation in my GMail account. Google Now creates me a card to show me flight status and a reminder about the flight. If I search for directions to the airport the night before in Google Maps it creates a reminder that alerts me when I need to leave the next day, taking into account the current traffic conditions.

    Some people find that "invasive bloatware" and others find it to be helpful. The very nature of this Pixel phone is the assistant which is like Google Now on steroids (from what I've read).
  24. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 2,868   +1,190

    and im perfectly fine with people wanting to use it, and I probably misspoke there - I just prefer the option to not. I never use any sort of automation on my phone so to me it just is invasive by nature; I understand it is quite useful to some people
  25. ghostf1re

    ghostf1re TS Booster Posts: 109   +42

    I'm a cop. I've had my old Note 5 in my pocket while it was pouring raining and my entire uniform was soaked. I don't wear a raincoat. I have never had issues with water damaging the phone. I'm not sure what kind of time you spend out in the rain, but unless you work outdoors in a similar fashion, you're not going to have problems. Waterproofing is not an important feature for me in terms of a smart phone and I'm always outdoors in all types of conditions.

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