Review: Google Pixel XL 1 Month Later

On October 4th Google announced the Pixel and Pixel XL, their first go at full on, #madebygoogle phones. Now you may say, 'Wait, what about the Nexus line?' Technically the Nexus line has always been a partnership deal with different manufacturers to give developers something to test their apps on what Google thought was a 'pure Android experience.' While this was how the Nexus line of phones started, as time went on they became more popular among enthusiasts and average consumers alike. I have owned 2 different Nexus phones, the LG made Nexus 4 and the Motorola made Nexus 6.

Ever since the beginning of the Nexus line, or even Android for that matter, people have been begging Google to build their own phone. Basically an iPhone of Android. Something that Google not only controls the software experience but also the hardware. The Nexus phones were never fully done by Google. The software was always a pure, unaltered version of Android. But the hardware was always heavily influenced by the manufacturing partner.

All of this has lead us to now. The Pixel phones are what we've all been asking for. Right? Now that I've had my Pixel XL for just over a month, I want to give an update on how this phone has been holding up.

Before we get started if you want to listen to my initial review, you can here. If you couldn't tell from that first review, I really like this phone. I've been saying this all along, if you want an Android phone, this is the best option. And honestly, if you're in the market for a new phone this is a great option no matter what you're used to.

The 2 biggest things that everybody always look for in a phone are camera and battery life. And this phone delivers on both of those. It's definitely not unusual for a phone to start slacking a little bit in the battery department once it's settled in and you've downloaded all of your apps. The first week of using a phone isn't always the best way of knowing exactly how the experience is going to be throughout the life of the phone. That being said, this phone has consistently given me an average of 4+ hours of screen on time, easily getting through the whole day and sometimes well into the next. The improvements that Google has made to battery optimization in Android are definitely noticeable here. Doze mode was first introduced in Marshmallow and would gradually limit background use of apps while the phone was not in use. It really helped then and they've only made it better with Nougat. The battery while the Pixel is not in use is the best I've seen on any Android and just as good or better than I've seen on the iPhone.

This is what I'm averaging with everyday use. And if I remember correctly I had just over 4.5 hours SOT that day.

The other great thing about this battery is the quick charging capabilities that come from the USB-C input. I've seen videos claiming that it still takes over 2 hours to fully charge the Pixel XL. But I've noticed that it is usually charged at around 1.5 hours. Not that that is a big deal because I'm sure most people will just plug it in before they go to sleep for the night. And if you somehow end up needing a little extra to get you through the day, Google claims it can give you up to 7 hours battery in just 15 minutes of charging. Now, that is definitely a best case scenario situation. I've noticed that it can usually get from about 10-15% up to 50% in around 25 minutes or less. Either way, charging on this phone has remained fast and that is a very nice feature.

Now onto the camera. Coming from other Nexus phones, I've definitely been left wanting in the camera department in the past. This is not the case here. Best camera in a phone I've ever used. Hands down. I will say that camera preferences are very subjective and are very dependent on the individual user. But if the camera is a big priority for you, this phone is one the top contenders. I've consistently been getting great pictures and videos in multiple lighting scenarios. The electronic image stabilization on the videos is quite impressive. Although, when trying to pan slowly it can kinda jump a little. But this isn't something that bothers me much. It's not a scenario I need to use a camera in often.

The rest of the experience with this phone has been exceptional. I'm definitely not your average user when it comes to phones. Between the apps that come pre-installed and the ones I've downloaded I have 173 apps on this phone. Which you would think would help to slow down a phone quite a bit. The 4 GB of ram on the Pixel XL combined with the power of the Snapdragon 821 make it continue to be very quick and smooth. This phone just doesn't lag. Animations are smooth, apps load quick. Obviously it is still pretty early, but this phone shows no sign of slowing down.

The Pixel Imprint fingerprint sensor is still not as quick as I would like it to be. It's not quite as quick as the Touch ID on my wife's iPhone 7 Plus. But it has gotten better over time. The only time it fails to recognize my finger it is usually my own fault, trying to move a little too quickly and my finger slides across rather then resting on the sensor. It often recognizes my finger even when I don't think it will. And it remains to keep my phone locked when I happen to place an unrecognized finger over the sensor.

One feature that Google is using as a selling point is that this phone is Daydream Ready. Meaning it will work with the Daydream View VR headset. I have yet to try this out. Because I pre-ordered this phone I received a promo code to get a Daydream View for free. And I have been waiting to use it until the Crimson color option was available. And as of a couple of days ago that color is available to order. So I did. I will be doing a unboxing and first impressions video once I get it sometime next week. So keep an eye out for that.

Overall I am still very happy with this purchase. Battery life is exceptional and the camera keeps producing some great images and videos. I would highly recommend this phone for anybody out there that is looking to get a new phone in the near future.