Google Pixel and Pixel XL – No Nexus concessions, but iPhone prices

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The Nexus smartphones can count on a lot of attention in users. The Nexus 5 has acquired a legendary status and although not everyone was initially completely convinced of the Nexus 5X due to the somewhat high initial price for Nexus concepts, the now attractively priced smartphone is firmly in the top five of the most popular devices in the Pricewatch. . The Nexus 6P is also still in the top regions of the popularity list, after various Samsung and Apple devices.

Two new Google phones were presented tonight and as the rumors suggested, Google has killed the Nexus series. The company wants to make a fresh start and the concept is therefore different from Nexus. For example, the Nexus devices were often competitively priced and you sometimes sacrificed something for that, such as camera performance and battery life with the Nexus 5. However, the Pixel phones are priced just as high as the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, so you also get absolute top performance, without compromising on hardware or build quality. But whether the Pixel, despite the nice specs and probably performance, can make Nexus forget, is the question.

As mentioned, Google has introduced two smartphones: the Pixel and the Pixel XL. The differences between these two are very small. The Pixel has a 5-inch screen with a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels and the Pixel XL has a 5.5-inch screen with a resolution of 2560×1440 pixels. The battery capacity of the Pixel XL is also logically somewhat larger. Below you can see an overview of the specifications of both devices compared to last year’s Nexus smartphones.

Device Pixel Nexus 5X Pixel XL Nexus 6P
Screen 5″
Dimensions 143.8×69.5×8.6mm
bezels 33.12mm
Soc Snapdragon 821
Adreno 530 GPU
Snapdragon 808
Adreno 418 GPU
Snapdragon 821
Adreno 530 GPU
Snapdragon 810
Adreno 430 GPU
Memory 4GB 2GB lpddr3 4GB 3GB lpddr4
Storage 32/128GB 16/32GB emmc 32/128GB 32/64GB
Cameras Rear: 12.3Mp, 1.55µ, f/2.0
Front: 8Mp
Rear: 12.3Mp, 1.55µ, f/2.0
Front: 5Mp
Rear: 12.3Mp, 1.55µ, f/2.0
Front: 8Mp
Rear: 12.3Mp, 1.55µ, f/2.0
Front: 8Mp
Battery 2770mAH 2700mAh 3450mAh 3450mAh
Price at release About 759 euros From 479 euros About 899 euros From 649 euros

Another difference with the Nexus phones is that Google now offers its own direct support for the Pixel smartphones, where you can speak directly to a Google employee. This is visible as a tab in the settings menu.


Our first impression of the build quality of the Pixel smartphones is very good. Although Google claims to have designed the phones all by itself, HTC has manufactured the devices. After our first pottings, they seem to have done a good job. The buttons feel solid and are not too easy to press, and the metal housing is very sturdy. On the back of the devices, the glass part at the top is particularly striking. This is partly an aesthetic choice, but it also serves to improve the reception of the antennas. The fingerprint scanner is also located on the back. It responds quickly, although we have experienced a faster scanner.

The Pixel and Pixel XL are comfortable to hold due to the rounded sides at the back. The handle is somewhat comparable to that of a recent iPhone, but the device is somewhat thicker. Perhaps also because of the slightly thicker housing, the camera does not protrude, which is always nice. There is no room for a second SIM card or a micro SD card in the housing.


In terms of hardware, there is also something interesting to report. The Pixel smartphones both run on a Snapdragon 821-soc from Qualcomm. This is normally clocked a bit higher than the Snapdragon 820, which we found in high-end devices that came out in the spring, such as the HTC 10 , LG G5 , Xiaomi Mi5 and OnePlus 3 . However, the clock speed of the two faster cores of the Snapdragon 821 in the Pixel simply run at 2.15GHz, just like the Snapdragon 820. The slower, more efficient cores are also clocked the same as the SD820, namely at 1.59GHz. The Pixel phones are not the first with the soc. For example, Asus was the first with the chip with the Zenfone 3 Deluxe and Xiaomi’s Mi5s Plus also runs on the Snapdragon 821.

In practice, the Pixel smartphones work very quickly and smoothly, and we experienced no hitches during our hands-on session. We do not expect that from devices at this price level. The Pixel phones also have an OLED screen, which gave a good first impression, with good viewing angles and a neat color reproduction to the naked eye. OLED is a prerequisite for Daydream and the Pixel phones are therefore the first devices to support Google’s virtual reality platform. So you can put the Pixels in the also announced Daydream View glasses. However, the Pixels will probably soon no longer be unique in that, because more devices with support for Daydream will soon arrive, according to Google.


As mentioned, Google has a different approach to the Pixel line than to the Nexus phones. This is also reflected in the software. This one is no longer strictly stock Android, as it now has its own Pixel launcher. Somehow that is a bit strange, because Android as it is intended by Google will get an extra Google sauce. The Pixel Launcher is only for Pixel phones and is not coming to Nexus smartphones for now according to Google.

The phones run on Android 7.1 and it does indeed look different from the Android Nougat we recently discussed in our review . For example, all icons are round and you now open the app drawer by swiping from the bottom up from the bottom part of the screen. Shortcuts have also been added to apps, which you bring up by long pressing an app.

The software features dedicated to Google Pixel mainly focus on photography. For example, Google introduces Smart Storage, which means that you always keep space on your phone by removing old photos and also app data that are already stored in the cloud from the device. There is also Smart Burst, where a lot of photos are taken quickly if you hold down the shutter button and the best one is selected. Handy, but we have known these functions from the competition for some time. A more distinctive feature that you get with the Pixel smartphones is that you can store infinite original quality photos and videos in Google Photos and we think that will come in handy for many.

Something that further sets the Pixel smartphones apart is Google’s new smart assistant, aptly named ‘Assistant’. A preview of this could already be found in chat app Allo and the Google Home device will also receive the same assistant. You can summon Assistant by saying ” ok Google .”‘ or by long-pressing the home button. As with Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, it is possible to start a conversation with Google Assistant. The smart assistant understands the context in which something is being said. Unfortunately, we were unable to properly test Assistant at the Google event, as it was too noisy for that. We did see that the assistant has a fairly deep integration with Google’s search engine, which probably means that a lot is possible. Unfortunately, the smart assistant only speaks English for the time being.


Purely on specifications, the camera has not improved much compared to the Nexus 5X and 6P. The Nexus phones had a Sony IMX377 sensor and the Pixel phones probably have an IMX378 sensor. Last year’s Nexus devices took nice photos, as both reviews showed, but lacked optical image stabilization. Unfortunately, the Pixels do not have that either, although electronic stabilization is present for video, where the input from the gyroscope is used to digitally stabilize the image.

The camera app can be started by pressing the power button twice and that goes smoothly. Printing is also fast and the Smart Burst mode is fast. The latter sought the best photo in the series every time we tried, as intended. Given the specs of the sensor, we don’t expect miracles in low-light conditions, and we’re very curious to see how it stacks up against the S7 and iPhone 7. However, the results in less well-lit areas of the room weren’t bad at first glance. For example, we had no trouble capturing people walking in moderate light.

In DxO Mark’s Mobile test , the camera scores 89 points, which is the highest score of all smartphones at the moment. That score would be due to Google’s image processing and algorithms. The HDR+ feature is enabled by default; the camera takes several photos in poor lighting conditions and then combines them automatically. This should result in less noise and less motion blur, while both light and dark parts must be well exposed. As always with previews, it is difficult to investigate whether everything is really the case.


With prices at the level of the iPhone 7 devices, we don’t think there should be any concessions to the hardware, the performance must be top-notch in every area and we expect a smartphone to have something extra compared to the competition. Strictly speaking, the Google Pixel phones seem to live up to that. Yet we feel we are missing something; namely secretly that little bit extra. While Google’s smart assistant is currently exclusive to the Pixel phones and the free Google Photos storage is a nice extra, for example, many other features, such as Smart Storage and Smart Burst, aren’t exactly unique.

In our experience, there is just a little too little innovation to justify the high prices. For example, the competitors sometimes have a double camera or are water resistant, but Pixel mainly relies on software innovation. Although there are certainly interesting features and even though the performance is fine at first glance; we doubt that’s enough to persuade consumers to spend that much money for these ‘best of Google’ smartphones.

The Pixels will not really take the place of the Nexus devices. Although there was often something to criticize about a Nexus, the price often eased the pain. After all, the Nexus devices also had important advantages of the Pixel phones, such as direct updates and fast software. Still, the Pixel’s performance is promising and we look forward to testing the camera’s performance to see if it’s as good as suggested. For Google, we fear that the majority of people would rather spend a few hundred euros less for a Nexus than an iPhone price for a Pixel.

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