The first few hours with the Google Pixel XL

It’s not often that Google outs their very own smartphone. And by very own, we’re talking about one that bears their own stamp of approval, a device that they ascribe to embodying the current state of the art. Today, this phone is the Google Pixel.

Unveiled to much fanfare during their 4 October ‘Made By Google’ event, this phone marks a waypoint in Google’s smartphones strategy. While they have in the past had their formidable Nexus line that came to be known as the company’s interpretation of an ideal Android smartphone, the Pixel takes this up several notches and reinforces this direction. With this phone, the company has–for the first time–controlled the entire chain of events that go into the creation of a device. Google has brushed a line that has until now been stoically defined by their rival Apple–a line that links both the device hardware and the operating software; the two elements that embody a phone’s experience.

Diving in

The box itself is quite understated–a bookcase design comprising an outer shell from which an inside compartment slides out. Opening this reveals the phone, which at first glance is larger than your average 5.5-inch device owing to the noticeable space above and beneath the screen. It’s comfortably narrow width does make it easy to hold though. The matt metal finish (specifically called ‘Very Silver,) the chamfers, and especially the glass that envelopes the camera module and fingerprint sensor at the back all exhibit pristine build quality.

Getting the phone up and running is quick–a few screens after first power on and you are prompted to connect the Pixel phone to your earlier device. That done, all data gets copied over seamlessly–it took me under two minutes to move about 2.2GB of local data from my existing device.

Once set up, I dived right into its key features–to start, Google Assistant. Long-pressing the on-screen home button brings up Google’s all-new AI assistant. Off the bat, I didn’t perceive any big difference compared to the earlier Google Now but it did appear a lot quicker, with information and search results showing up on screen in neatly laid out tiles. Searching for “the nearest ice cream shop” and “upcoming flights to Goa” worked quite well.

I also fired off several shots on its all-new 12.3 MP main camera, and the results looked stellar. Besides shooting a couple of landscapes and still life shots, the ‘Lens blur’ feature worked to especially great effect. Of course, I couldn’t help but compare it with the shots I’ve been taking with the new iPhone 7 Plus. However with these cameras being as hugely capable as they are, I was hard pressed to pick a clear winner in such a short time. More will be revealed when I put it through a wider variety of lighting and photography situations.

Android Nougat, which powers this new phone, appeared lag-free even after firing up several apps and tossing in a few–albeit brief–bouts of gaming with the likes of Machinarium and Asphalt 8–clearly its fast Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB of RAM held it in good stead here.

There’s more to be revealed in this phone as we dig deeper and stack it up against its formidable Apple counterpart. Be sure to check out our ongoing coverage at

Quick Specs

  • Screen: 5.5-inches AMOLED, QHD (2560×1440) resolution (~534 ppi), Gorilla Glass 4

    Key hardware: Quad-core 2.15/1.6GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, Adreno 530 GPU, 4GB RAM, only 32/128GB internal storage

  • Camera: Rear: 12.3MP rear with PDAF, laser AF, EIS, 1.55 um pixels, f/2.0, Front: 8MP front f/2.4
  • OS: Android 7.1 Nougat
  • Network: GSM (850/900/1800/1900)/FDD and TDD LTE
  • SIM: Single Nano SIM
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC
  • Weight: 168 gms
  • Battery: 3,450mAH
  • Other features: Fast charging (7 hours of use from 15 mins), USB 3.0 Type C, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Price: Rs 57,000 (32GB)

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