Last fall, the Google Pixel finally made its debut after months of speculation. The Pixel, is the first phone built entirely by Google. The design team at Google worked tirelessly to bring a true Google experience into both the hardware and software of the Pixel. Everything was crafted to reflect the premium experience that Google has wanted to put out yearly, but never quite perfected. Nexus phones were always met with praise, but seemed to lack a truly premium vibe. Most of the time, the devices themselves were built well, but not on the level of the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy.
This led to Google teaming with HTC to develop a truly premium smartphone. Using top of the line design principles coupled with Google’s top-tier software, they were finally primed to compete with the big dogs. The problem with that though, is that Google seemed to lose its identity along the way. Gone were the days of really unique, edgy designs and in their place, were cues seemingly taken straight from Google’s biggest competitors. The phone looks almost strikingly similar to an iPhone, sporting sleek, chamfered edges and chunky bezels. The smaller Pixel’s bezels are slightly bearable, but on the Pixel XL they are a giant eyesore. The back of the phone is relatively bare, with the exception of a small glass panel, and the Google logo. Initially, I didn’t have any qualms with this design in particular, but the more I use the phone the less I like how it looks. When compared to newer Android devices, the Pixels look feels really bland and uninspired. Especially considering the move towards bigger screens and smaller bezels, the Pixel falls further into the ugly side of things.
The single biggest feature of the Google Pixel was by far, the camera. Google made sure to make a really big deal about it when they announced the Pixel, and with good reason. The 12MP camera on the Pixel is still one of the best available on a smartphone today, by a long shot. The camera was always the weak point of most Nexus devices, and I’m glad Google was finally able to put together a great sensor. In fact, both front and rear cameras take absolutely stunning photos. There were times that I’d snap a quick selfie with the front camera, and it would turn out better than the same photo taken from other phones main camera. Even after six months, there’s not been a camera yet to challenge the quality of photos and videos that the Pixel produces.
The Pixel was also the first Android device to have Android 7 preinstalled. With it, also came the introduction of the Google Assistant. The Assistant almost always outperforms Siri and Amazon’s Alexa when it comes to both simple, and more direct commands. With more and more of the devices in my life becoming automated and interconnected, speed and responsiveness matters, and with the Google Assistant, everything just seems to work well. With everything I’ve thrown at my Google Assistant, I can typically get a response or an action completed in less than two seconds. The coolest part of all of this is that I don’t just get a response from the Assistant. I generally will get more dialogue in addition to my answer, making each interaction feel like a mini conversation.
While the Google Pixel may have its detractors, but in the grand scheme of things, this truly is the Android phone we’ve been asking for. Even though the phone looks like a bar of soap with an amazing screen, the Pixel simply outperforms every other phone I’ve had, up to this point. Regardless of how much I may pan the look of this phone, the truth is – it’s a really great phone. Google really nailed it with the Pixel, and with rumors of a Pixel 2 hitting shelves later this year, I’m really excited for the next chapter in this phone family.