I've been using the new Google Pixel phone for 48 hours, here's everything I've found

Oct 18 2016, 9:46 pm

First things first, I’m just a regular everyday normal guy.

In fact, I’m probably even below average when it comes to technology. Despite using the internet everyday (nearly all day), I still know very little about it.

I can’t take you to the dark web if you ask me, after ‘try restarting your modem’ I’m out of ideas to fix your connection, and I still haven’t figured out why I need to empty my cache so often.

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That said, I still get very excited about new and shiny things. I still like to think I can tell the difference between 10 megapixels and 12. And I still use a phone every hour of every single day.

And the phone I’ve been using every hour for the past 48 is Google’s brand new Pixel XL (32GB) – the ‘Very Silver’ version.

Two weeks ago we told you all about the crazy product launch Google held, during which it revealed all sorts of goodies, including the Pixel, its new flagship phone intended to step up from Google’s Nexus iterations and start playing alongside the other premium phones (think Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and iPhone 7).

For those of you who want all the Pixel’s specs, you can find them here, and if all you’re interested in knowing, for instance, is that it’s got a Quad HD screen (2,560 x 1,440) and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor with 4GB of RAM, then you should probably skip to those specs ’cause what I’m going to talk about is a lot more useful layman.

So, here goes:

Image: Google

Image: Google

The good

It’s fast

I’m sure there are numbers in the specs that explain why that’s the case, but what’s more important to me is that using it feels fast and responsive. Because, well, it is.

Google Assistant is the best AI out there

One of the biggest updates Google made with this phone is its Google Assistant. And I don’t think I’m going over the top by suggesting it’s the best personal AI you’ll find in a phone right now. In fact, if it and Siri got in a fight it would be over in round one. Yes, you still have to say ‘Ok Google’ to open its function when the phone isn’t in your hand but that embarrassing half second is quickly overcome by the power the Assistant unleashes.

Essentially, what makes it far and away the best option out there, is the Personal Assistant’s understanding of context. Tell it to play The Tragically Hip and it will, sure. But ask it ‘Where are they from?’ 10 seconds later and the Assistant understands you’re still talking about the band and will answer appropriately.

Driving to work and remember you need to email Karen when you get there? No problem, Ok Google yourself a reminder by literally saying, ‘Remind me to email Karen when I get to the office.’ If your location services are turned on your Personal Assistant will know when you get to work and remind you to send that email. The Personal Assistant is so good in fact that you need to try it yourself to understand. Honestly, this entire post could be about all the cool sh*t it will now let you do – hands free.

The screen is pretty

Much like the speed point above, the specs behind the screen will explain why, but for the everyday user you’ll simply notice that videos, photos, and apps all pop out at you. It’s glossy, and everything’s a little saturated, but the HD quality is, well, really pretty to look at. And considering I look at my phone about 20 times an hour, that’s a nice feature to have.

The camera is excellent

Google has made a big deal about declaring this phone best in class. And with 12.3 megapixels, excellent video stabilization, and 4K video, we’re not surprised they’re saying so. But talking and using are two different things. Luckily, in this case, Google’s not wrong. The camera is fast as hell, takes great shots guranteed to up your Instagram game, and, what I like the most, takes better low-light shots than I’ve seen on a camera phone. If you’re ever out at night, you know how useful this can be – from dinner pics with friends to late night streetscapes and bar scenes.

Google Pixel Phone

Example of random street scene taken last night. Trust me, it was very dark out when this was taken.

The night mode is nice

If you’re anything like me, you use your phone in bed far too often. Switching into night mode provides a warmer (redder) screen that’s intended to be easier on your eyes so you can fall asleep faster when you finally stop scrolling through Facebook.

The battery life

This thing is incredible. I’ve charged the phone once…in two days. And it’s still sitting at 58%. And in case you’re ever in a hurry, it claims a 15-minute charge can yield 7 hours of battery life. I don’t ever go anywhere so I haven’t had to test this yet.

Google Photos

You get free, unlimited storage for all your photos and videos, stored at full resolution in Google Photos. If you’re cool with keeping your memories in the cloud, this is a game-changer. No more running out of precious GBs.

There’s a headphone jack


The bad

The ‘Home Button’ is digital

If you’re coming from an iPhone, you’ll notice yourself tapping the blank space at the bottom of the phone a lot – with no results. That’s because the ‘home button’ on the Pixel is digital, which is to say that the phone needs to be in use for it to work. Opening your phone with a finger requires picking it up or swiping up to enter your password. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but it can be surprisingly annoying when you’re used to simply laying down a thumb to open an iPhone.

The finger print ID is on the back of the phone

This one takes some getting used to, as well, it’s never been done before. You’ll find yourself using your index finger a lot more (thumbing the back of your phone is nearly impossible). If the phone is already in your hands, this is a nice feature and one that feels more intuitive to use, but again, the phone has to be in your hands first.

It doesn’t come with headphones

If you’re an iPhone user (sorry, 7s), you know how great having their pods can be for phone calls, music, etc. And that double tap to answer the phone on iOS isn’t compatible with Android, so you have to start all over again with new headphones. It would have been nice for Google to include a pair.

The ugly

It’s not much of a looker

Calling the Pixel ugly would be going way too far (but I was working on a theme here), but it’s certainly not going to make you fall in love at first sight. In fact, the Pixel’s biggest faux pas is that it’s just kind of boring to look at. There’s no magic to it, no flash. And while you might be sitting there saying to yourself, I don’t care how it looks, I want to know how it works, I expect you would have already moved onto the specs a long time ago if that were completely true.

The price

The Pixel and Pixel XL will be available in Canada as of Thursday, October 20, and are currently priced as follows (though carriers will offer their own subsidized packages), and Google is selling both models from its online store starting at $899.

  • Pixel 32GB: $899
  • Pixel 128GB: $1,029
  • Pixel XL 32GB: $1,049
  • Pixel XL 128GB: $1,179
Eric WainwrightEric Wainwright

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