Google Pixel XL review
XL the Google Pixel experience
With only a minor increase in monthly line rental, there should be nothing holding consumers back from choosing the Google Pixel XL.
Display - XL
The first major difference that we find on the Google Pixel XL is a larger 5.5” AMOLED displayed. This gives the user an extra half inch of screen to enjoy and its inclusion only adds 11mm to its height and 6mm to its width. The thickness of the phone remains the same at 7.3mm at the edges and 8.5mm at the middle.
The biggest point to take notice of here though is that the bigger display also has a better resolution, which will let users enjoy more of websites, documents, videos and photos. Up from FHD, the QHD display on the Pixel XL has a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, which equates to 534 pixels per inch.
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This is a huge 25% increase on the 441 pixels per inch offered on the Pixel. The display is highly practical with 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protecting the phone from knocks and drops. The ability to produce true blacks enhances the visual experience, which is also great to share with less than 40% brightness loss at viewing angles of 30 degrees.
Design - Aluminium, textures and Really Blue
The Google Pixel XL has an aerospace-grade aluminium unibody and easy-to-grip curved edges. On the back, two textures have been used with a smooth surface for the upper half, while a rough textured finish has been applied to the bottom half.
The Pixel XL is available in three colour choices. The Very Silver and Quite Black give rather standard looks but the Really Blue is vibrant and makes a real statement.
Hardware - Snapdragon 821
The Google Pixel XL has a very fast 2.15GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 octa-core processor with 4GB RAM. This basically means that the processor is fast enough for even highly-demanding tasks, such as displaying virtual reality content.
A single speaker is located at the bottom, for unmuffled music playback and three microphones give excellent background noise suppression, during voice and video calls.
Phone Set Up
Getting started - Quick Switch Adapter
The majority of Pixel XL buyers will already have an old smartphone and Google has recognised this and included a Quick Switch Adapter to aid in transferring over content.
The Quick Switch Adapter gives a physical connection to an old Android or iPhone. When connected, the Pixel XL will confirm what content the owner would like to transfer over, such as contacts, photos, videos, calendar events, SMS messages, iMessages and music, and then complete the transfer automatically.
Two memory versions of the Google Pixel XL are available for storing content and apps. The first option is to have a 32GB internal memory, while the second option really ramps it up with a 128GB internal memory.
Security - Pixel Imprint
The Pixel Imprint back-mounted fingerprint scanner offers excellent security and fast unlocking. Pixel Imprint also adds some functionality to the scanner that allows the user to swipe down across the sensor in order to access notifications.
User interface - Google Assistant and Android Nougat
The Google Assistant has been built into a smartphone for the first time with the Pixel XL. The Google Assistant has been designed to encourage natural dialogue with the phone, which is far easier than typing.
The assistant can perform a wide array of tasks. Some of the most common includes getting answers, managing everyday tasks, setting reminders, playing music, watching videos, checking artist tour dates, making intelligent photo gallery searches, checking flight itineraries and finding addresses with navigation.
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Google’s latest Android Nougat 7.1 operating system powers the Pixel XL and Google has confirmed that owners are guaranteed to get at least two years of OS upgrades and three years of security updates, from the phone’s launch date.
Google Duo is pre-loaded and this video calling app can be used to talk to friends who download Google Duo on their own Android or iPhone. One of Duo’s more interesting features is that you can see who’s calling before you answer the call, with a live video feed.
Camera & Video
Photography - The highest rated smartphone camera
According to DxOMark Mobile, the Google Pixel has the best smartphone camera they have ever tested, with a score of 89. This high score has been achieved because the 12.3MP camera, and its large 1.55µm pixels, make it excellent at taking photos in bright light and low light, even at 10 Lux or below.
One of the best things that we have spotted with the Google Pixel XL is that the Pixel HDR+ feature is the default shooting mode. No longer having to turn on HDR for every photo saves a ton of time. The feature works by taking multiple photos at different exposures and it then combines these multiple RAW images to create one enhanced photo.
Camera features aren’t in short supply and includes Pixel Lens Blur, Pixel Panorama in Fisheye Mode, Pixel Photosphere and Pixel Smartburst. Phase detection autofocus and laser detection autofocus ensure that focus is achieved quickly, yet accurately through the f/2.0 aperture.
Video can be recorded at either 4K, 1080p or 720p qualities, which is handy for balancing memory against quality. Unlimited photo and video storage is offered by Google on the cloud, making choosing the 32GB model a realistic offering.
An 8MP selfie camera is also built in and this has 1.4µm pixels and a f/2.4 aperture.
Power - XL battery
The Google Pixel XL has an XL 3,450mAh battery, which has 25% more capacity than the battery on the Pixel (2,770mAh). The increase isn’t just absorbed by the larger display and actually boosts performance all round, with an extra hour of internet or video use.
The battery has been designed to lasts all day or offer extreme standby times of up to 23 days. The battery should offer up to 32 hours of talk time, 14 hours of internet use, 14 hours of video playback or up to 130 hours of music playback through headphones.
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Fast charging is also another key offering and 7 hours of use can be gained from just 15 minutes of charge, delivered by the USB Type-C 18W charger.
Next review: Huawei Honor 8
Written by: Michael Brown