The Pixel XL features top-of-the-line specs to introduce Android 7.1 Nougat to the world. This VR-capable phone has a fast processor, smart AI software and a superb camera, all sandwiched into a funky design.
- One of the best phone cameras around
- Streamlined Android software
- Google Assistant is promising
- More expensive than a Nexus phone
- Peculiar design and no always-on screen
- No stereo speakers or waterproofing
Update: Google Pixel availability remains scarce. We’ll tell you how to get one, judge its Daydream VR features and talk Android 7.1.2 and Android O in our updated review.
The Google Pixel XL, along with the Google Pixel, is the first phone ‘made [almost entirely] by Google’, and it’s the best way to experience the latest and greatest that Android software has to offer.
The Google Pixel XL is sized and priced to compete with the elegantly designed Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (that’s the one that doesn’t explode) and iPhone 7 Plus– and Google has picked the perfect time to launch a brand new entry on our best phones list.
Right now, with Apple’s headphone jack-less iPhone 7 irritating longtime fans and Galaxy Note 7 cancellation disappointing users, and the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus costing more than ever, Apple and Samsung’s customers may be looking elsewhere for the first time in years. So let’s zoom into this Pixel XL, to see if it’s as good as all of the hype claims.
You’ll notice that these are the exact same prices as for the iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, and LG V20 launch prices in the US, so Google is simply following an unfortunate trend.
There’s also no 64GB in-between internal storage size, and no microSD slot for expandable storage to make 32GB more tolerable. You have to go big if you’re recording a lot of high-resolution video.
- Premium – but peculiar glass-and-metal – design
- No camera bump on the back whatsoever
- Not waterproof, and no stereo speakers
Google called the Pixel XL design ‘bold’ during its initial announcement, noting that the back of the phone’s glass-and-metal makeup gives it “personality and character.”
- Bright and colorful 5.5-inch AMOLED display
- Better for VR than the 5-inch Google Pixel
- No rise-to-wake or always-on screen
The Google Pixel XL further proves why AMOLED displays look the best for smartphones, thanks to its colorful and bright screen that outclasses LCD panels every time.
It’s vivid and ready for virtual reality on a budget, the latter being one key reason we’d suggest you upgrade from the normal-sized, 1080p Google Pixel. If you’re into VR, big phones and more battery life, this one’s for you. If not, save your money.
- Pixel XL lasts a day and a quarter
- Longer battery life than the Pixel
- Charging with USB-C adapter can be a pain
Google has packed a big 3,450mAh battery into the Pixel XL – and that was a good decision, because the bright and pixel-dense 2K resolution can really drain the phone if you’re not careful.
Interface and apps
- Unlimited cloud storage for photos and videos
- Ready for Google Daydream View with Android 7.1
- Battery life information and Google Allo are too hidden
The Google Pixel XL shows that it’s ready for the future with Android 7.1 Nougat, along with the promise of operating system updates for the next two years and security updates for three years. Case in point, it already has Android 7.1.2, which is mostly comprised of bug fixes.