There’s a new player in town. Introducing the Pixel, the first smartphone 100% made by Google. The Pixel offers the look and competence of an iPhone, with an excellent camera and lots of cool innovative software and services. With Samsung suffering the expensive death of the Galaxy Note 7 and Apple’s recent release of the iPhone 7, Google’s offering of the Pixel puts them in prime position to battle for the spot of ‘best smartphone on the market’. But is the Pixel even the best Android smartphone on the market? And how does it actually compare to its competitors? Let’s find out.
Google has called their first tailor-made smartphone ‘Pixel’ for a reason, and that’s because of the emphasis on the camera. And it is a damn good camera. Almost perfect. In fact, the Pixel’s camera was given the highest-ever rating of any smartphone by one of the industry’s most trusted camera testing sites. The Pixel has a 12.3MP camera, featuring an f/2.0 aperture and big 1.55 micron pixels. The camera is fast, focuses extremely well, and the colours are eye-poppingly vibrant. Close-up shots appear sharp and refined, and far-away shots remain impressively detailed. You don’t get the zoom or soft-focus features of the iPhone 7 Plus, but that doesn’t really matter. All of your pics and vids automatically go into Google Photos, where the Pixel offers you unlimited free storage for full-resolution video and stills.
Pixel is the first phone with the Google Assistant built in. Say ‘Ok Google’ or touch and hold the Home button and your Assistant is ready to help. Assistant is an AI bot that uses machine learning and Google’s vast search database to answer all kinds of questions you throw its way. It can schedule reminders, look up facts, search places to eat, set alarms, give directions, and translate phrases. Assistant can also offer help with what’s on-screen in any app you’re currently running. So if your friend texts you to meet up at the nearest coffee shop, you can just say ‘go there’. Assistant makes everything faster and easier. Just remember to use it.
DISPLAY & HARDWARE
The Pixel and Pixel XL are nearly identical, but the latter has a bigger, sharper display and a more powerful battery. Both are sleek, polished, and well crafted. And yes, the Pixel does look very similar to the iPhone. (Coincidence? You be the judge.) But the Pixel is wedge-shaped, which keeps the camera flush and removes the iPhone’s ‘bump’. As for hardware, the Pixel’s only standout feature are the large, round, rear fingerprint reader and the glass panel that takes up about a third of the back. One drawback is that the Pixel isn’t waterproof, which is a shame, because waterproofing is a spec we now expect from the latest high-end smartphones.
The Pixel is now available to purchase, with a price tag of $650, and $770 for the Pixel XL. You can get the phone in blue, black, or silver, with 32 or 128 gigs of storage. The Pixel uses the newest Android operating system, Android 7.1 Nougat, and receives software and security updates directly from Google. So if you’re looking for a new smartphone, and aren’t attached at the hip to Apple, then buy the Pixel.
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