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Saturday, December 3, 2016

[Opinion] 5 things I love about the Pixel

So I've had the Pixel XL as my daily driver for a little more than a month now, and couldn't be more happy with it.  And it appears to be a home run for Google, as Fortune recently reported that analysts anticipate and almost 6 billion dollar revenue bump over this year and the next from Pixel sales.  While some will argue that that's only a drop in the bucket in terms of overall sales figures (compared to iPhone sales, and that is correct) for Google to have sold around 3 million of its new handsets in such a short time since release is a good sign for the search giant's burgeoning mobile device business.

Having said all that, I wanted to give a quick follow up of the 5 things I enjoy most about being a Pixel owner, and perhaps help convince some who might be on the fence about purchasing the device.  All this assumes you've already read our Pixel XL review, but if you haven't, start there.  Then read on...

5 Things I love about the Pixel XL

  • Size & form factor:  the feel in hand of the device is great.  Its weighted correctly, the solid aluminum chassis has a solid feel to it without being overly heavy (168 grams, or 5.93oz) and the chamfers around the edge give it a easy to hold corner surface.  Its big without being BIG, and the bezels on the top and bottom recede when you're actually using the device in landscape.  While its only a slightly smaller footprint than the last Google flagship in the Nexus 6P, the slight reduction in width and height makes this 5.5" display device much more of a one handed experience (and that's a good thing)
  • Display: the size is good, at 5.5" overall (slightly less viewing area with the bottom portion taken up by the on-screen keys) and the Quad HD AMOLED panel makes colors pop and blacks deep and true.  Its great for watching darn near anything multimedia, especially streamed video.  The viewing angles are good and if there was one nit to pick, it would be the...nits.  Of brightness.  Its a little dim for viewing in direct sunlight, but fortunately this isn't something that happens for me that often.  The display is definitely a solid performer.
  • Camera:  as has been mentioned in just about every review of the Pixel devices, the camera (with a Sony IMX378 sensor driving it) is a very solid performer, and among the best available in a mobile smartphone today.  It launches quickly, focuses quickly, and snaps the photos quickly.  HDR+ processing generally returns a high quality image (with the vibrant punchy colors common in HDR processing) with good detail in both good light and low light areas.  I've personally taken some very good images in low light, and have only experienced any difficulties when trying to catch focused images of constantly on the move toddlers.  If you want an above average all around performer in your phone's camera, this is the one to pick.
Photo courtesy the Verge
  • Battery life:  this is an area where the Pixel XL truly shines.  Battery life is impacted by a number of factors - your signal strength, usage and type of usage, and brightness settings (just to name a few) - but for me, I can get through a normal day without even a thought of running out of juice.  Even days when I am taking quite a few photos, the battery will hold strong during down times/idle times, and its not uncommon for me on the weekend with light to moderate usage to go 2 days between charges.  And rapid charging via the USB Type-C will buy you some extra time if you are worried you'll be away from a wall for a longer than normal period of time.
  • Speed/fluidity:  the Pixel XL has a combination of the latest Snapdragon processor from Intel (the S821) and the Android 7.1 Nougat operating system, which has been optimized specifically for the Pixel devices.  And man does it show.  Animations for launching apps, opening the app drawer, scrolling between home screens, everything moves with a responsiveness that is noticeably missing on many Android devices.  The clamor of those who scream that "Droids don't work like iPhones do!" are probably going to be surprised that the Pixel phones do exactly that.  Couple that will updates for 3 years and Google's commitment to monthly security patches as well, and you've got a software experience that is going to be tough for any other phone maker to match.
Those are the 5 things that I love the most about being an owner of a Pixel XL.  If you own one as well, and have some thoughts, make sure to leave a comment below.  Cheers!

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