It’s the Google Pixel.
This phone signals the death of the nexus line of devices and with that comes the death of the mid-range prices for great hardware.
So this new pixel has starts at £599 or $649 for the base 32 gigabyte pixel.
That getsyou a rear fingerprint sensor, 5 inch 1080p AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 821 processor,4GB of ram, 12 megapixel rear camera, capable of 4k video, an 8 megapixel selfie cam, 32or 128 gigabytes of storage and a 2750 mAH battery that charges through a USB-C portusing quick charge technology.
That’s a lot of numbers and stats.
Longstory short, it’s premium.
But it comes at a premium price.
That’s okay though.
This is by far the best Android phone I have ever used.
Whilst the phone’s design is uninspiring,it gets a lot right where other phones fail.
There’s no camera hump, the power and volumebuttons are easy to distinguish thanks to some texturing on the former and it’s notas slippery to hold like an iPhone or an Galaxy S7.
To that first point, the reason thereisn’t a camera hump is because the phone is slightly tapered, so at the bottom itsthinner than it is at the top.
No more phone wobble when it’s lying a table and it meansyou can get a decent sized battery inside the phone.
And the battery life as a result? It’s reallygood.
It easily gets me through a whole day with at least 20% left, and even from my longestdays away from the plug, it never became an issue.
But for those days where you may needto top-up the quick charge implementation over the usb-c port on the bottom, means youaren’t tethered for too long.
One benefit of designing the hardware andsoftware, means you can get apple-esque seamless integration.
This is an incredible exampleof that.
It’s the smoothest software experience I have had on a phone.
It’s flawless,scrolling and multitasking is almost surreal, there’s no hiccups or stutters, it’s butteryeverywhere in the UI.
Cleaner than anything else on the market right now, Android or iOS.
The Pixel runs the latest version of Android,Nougat, and unlike nexus devices, the software experience on the Pixel has a few additionalfeatures outside of the ‘vanilla’ Android experience.
The one I found most useful wasswiping down on the finger print sensor on the back to see your notifications.
Superuseful for one handed use, however sometimes it’s easy to active, accidentally.
Othernice features include double clicking the power button on any screen to launch the camera,which is a super quick way to get that shot, and once you’re in that camera, twistingthe phone changes into selfie mode as well.
There are other changes that are more aestheticin the UI.
New round app logos for the stock applications and the new home button animationare nice.
Opening the app drawer is now just a swipe up from the bottom of the display.
More broadly, this iteration of Nougat just takes material design to the next level, itjust looks so clean.
One feature that saves a lot of time is quicklyswitching between your two last used apps by double tapping the multitasking button,a much more convincing implementation than the dragging from the left edge of the displayon iOS.
We’re at a stage where multitasking andgaming on phones between flagships is almost indistinguishable and this is more or lessthe same, no issues to report, it’s ram management does a good job of keeping appsin memory, so they’re ready to go when you need them.
Whilst it’s Geekbench score can’tcompete with that of an iPhone, there won’t be any noticeable difference, on a day today basis aside from maybe app installation times.
One area where phones are still somewhat distinguishableare the quality of their screens, in this case the 1080p 5 inch AMOLED panel on thefront of Pixel.
The panel is great, its bright and has very good viewing angles, the displayhas rich colour that’s a touch over saturated.
It isn’t as accurate with colour versesthe iPhone 7 or Galaxy S7, but you may find the Pixel’s display is more to your personalpreference.
One thing that Google have been screamingfrom the rooftops is the Pixel having the highest rated camera of any smartphone, itsa bold claim but does it live up to expectation? Out of the box the Pixel will shoot in a modecalled HDR+, in this setting the camera is constantly taking photos at different exposuresproduce vibrant images with high dynamic range, and it works.
Colours really pop and highlightsaren’t washed out, pictures on the whole look ready post straight up on Facebook, nofilters needed.
I wouldn’t advise turning HDR+ off.
But the more interesting area is video onthe Pixel.
So it shoots in 4k, but unlike an iPhone 7 or Galaxy S7, it doesn’t haveoptical image stabilisation.
What it does instead is aggressive digital stabilisation,so this shot here outside of a helicopter is probably the worst scenario for tryingto get smooth video without a gimbal or mount.
However with the Pixel, it’s so stable it’suncanny.
There are some downsides to this, sometimes movement can look almost roboticwhen panning or moving around, which just looks odd, and there is noticeable croppingbetween what you see on screen and the finished video.
Nonetheless, video quality is someof the best, colours are accurate and the bit rate is reasonable enough to make shootingin 4k worth while.
But with all that there are some disappointingaspects of the phone.
So whilst this phone is built by HTC, the Pixel is lacking thatboom sound, because the speaker on the bottom is honestly abysmal.
HAMMOND: They’ll just look at you and thinkwhat are these two old farts doing.
CLARKSON: Seriously – HAMMOND: You have made no effort you haven’tgot into the mood for this CLARKSON: Art.
Another thing that would have been nice tosee is water resistance which is missing from the phones spec sheet, whilst not strictlyessential, more and more flagships are moving to IP67 or 68 certification.
So what is my conclusion? So I’ve kind ofalluded to it at the beginning, I love this phone.
It’s not perfect, there are someissues like I mentioned before, a potato speaker really is weak sauce and maybe i’d liketo see smaller bezels on the front, but I feel like these are things that can be improvedupon on the second iteration of this phone next year.
Despite that, if I were to picka phone of the year, the Google Pixel would take 1st place.
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