Software Meets Hardware for one Amazing Phone
This is my review of the Google Pixel phone. If you have any questions, please ask. I purchased this device as I do many devices for the purpose of testing, and was fully prepared to, at the very least, not think it was a worthwhile upgrade. This year, I have purchased the Galaxy S7, the Nexus 6X, and two Nexus 6P's. And, from everything I thought I knew about the Pixel, I did not think it was going to be a device I kept around for very long. I had to say that up frond for anybody that says to me that I said I would not be purchasing the device this year. Also, this is only my second day with the device, but I feel that because I have owned many devices in the past, and because I have been an Android user for many years, I believe that I am able to provide a pretty fair and accurate review so far.
The Pixel has a 5" screen and is made of aluminum and glass. The back is metal on the bottom, and glass on the top, including the fingerprint reader, which sits towards the top center of the back of the device, and is in the shape of a circle. The camera is completely flat, and melds with the rest of the glass. On the bottom, you will find a USBC port, and a speaker to the left of that with a Mic to the right. On the right side moving up the device, you will find a volume rocker with tactile, clicky keys, and a ridged clicky woper button. On the top, you will find the headphone jack towards the top left. And on the left edge lies the sim tray. There is a pin to pop it open in the box. The device is slightly thinner on the bottom than the top, and the sides are a bit angled... it is very pleasant in the hand.
In short, the pixel is very delightful. The presentation of the big box that was easily opened with the little box secured by a magnetic flap and a bit of tape was delightful. Picking up the phone out of the top of the box was delightful. It felt and still feels very premium in the hand, more premium than my Nexus 6P actually. The charging USB C cord is thick and seems to be very well put together, which is similar to the Nexus. What is different than the Nexus though is that an adapter to connect two devices together for moving all of the info from one device to the other is now included. Also, a cable that allows for USB C to USB A is included.
When I powered on the device, I was struck with the reassuring vibration when the device powered on. My Nexus 6P does not do this, but the Pixel does. It vibrated, and then played a sound once it was booted. I thought this was a very nice touch.
I won't talk about the set-up, as that was accessible for the most part, although for some reason, the names of my Wireless network and the others around me were not announced, therefore necessitating a bit of guesswork to log in, but we got there in the end.
Daily usage and observations: The fingerprint reader is fast... faster than the Nexus, although not by a lot. The phone is lightning quick... faster than the Nexus. Sounds are changed a bit, and I found myself liking the Pixel sounds better, but this is a preference thing. The speaker is the best speaker I have ever heard from a mono speaker phone, and better than some with stereo speakers. It has a fullness that the Nexus 6P can't touch... and the volume is not terrible. The in-call earpiece speaker is great too. I found fyself struggling, at times, to understand callers on my Nexus. Also, if I put the nexus on my shoulder, sometimes the mic was covered and callers could not hear me. Both of these issues seem to no longer be issues with the Pixel. Battery life is not better... but not worse, either. This is not fair though, as I am comparing a Pixel with a smaller battery but a less pixel-dense screen to the Nexus with a larger screen and more pixels to push, and a larger battery... it would be better if I compared the Pixel and the XL, but I don't have an XL at the moment, so I won't. Touch responsiveness saw a big improvement in the latest Android update on the Nexus and on the Pixel, but that Pixel has that... I don't know how to describe it other than to calll it an extra zing. It flies. I tap on an app or an icon, and it pops right up. Whereas my Nexus would sometimes lag a bit, other times get hot or something... my Pixel so far has not exhibited that behavior, although I did get a few Chrome Canary crashes, although I am willing to bet that this was because of Canary. Signal quality is great, and it seems to switch away from bad wifi signal a lot sooner, which is better as the phone is not struggling as much to hang onto a wireless network with poor signal. I downloaded 83 apps in 7-8 minutes or so. I also downloaded over 4 GB of Nearby Explorer and over 100 MB of Google Maps while on a call in 15-20 minutes... no sweat. The assistant is super amazing, and all of Google's services really work together to make my life so much easier. Some quirks exist... Google assistant will not tell you what song is playing whereas Google Now will, but Google assistant for the most part is wonderful. Allo and Duo are built in... I don't use Duo, but I am using allo with a few friends for anyone wondering. The camera is wonderful... I noticed that it seems like I had to do much less moving around to find the barcodes on screen when setting up my 2FA solutions for my various accounts and password manager. Face detection and verbalization is great, but it was on Nexus as well. I also used the camera for an instance with Bespecular, and that worked well. Music coming out of the audio jack was quieter and a bit muttled with the Nexus... this is not an issue with Pixel. The louncher is accessible, but auto-scrolling in the app list currently is broken. The ability to invoke the notification bar from the fingerprint reader is marvelous... I am ofter walking around and trying to use my phone with one hand... I don't always have two fingers available to slide down notifications. I do wish that Talkback could use those moves... the ability to invoke custom actions with a slide down or up on the fingerprint reader would be cool I think... but that is a small thing.
Conclusion: That is all I can think of for now, but please ask me any questions that you might have, and I would be happy to answer them.
As this device is Google's phone, it includes features that google includes on its devices including Talkback, magnification, switch access, mono audio, and more. The device is accessible, and Talkback can be started by pressing and holding two fingers on screen as soon as the chime sounds to indicate the device has booted for the first time. Other accessibility options can be set by tapping on the accessibility button on first boot as well. Pixel launcher is accessible, however at this time, auto-scrolling when flicking does not work as expected.
This is one device that has wowed me... I can say that it is easily the best and most well-rounded Android device I have ever played with.