Pixel Phone Reviews: A 'Truly Great Camera' and a 'Home Run' for Google
The first round of reviews of Google's new Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones appeared online this morning. Most sites have come away with largely positive impressions of the devices, hailing in particular the Pixel's camera performance compared to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.
The Verge called the Pixel a "home run" for Google, noting that while it looks like an iPhone from afar, "there are a lot of differences" in design details, such as the glass shade on the upper third of the back of the phone where the fingerprint ID sits, the "subtle wedge shape" of the handset, and the lack of a camera bump.
Camera performance was a standout feature, said The Verge, which claimed it "bested the iPhone in picking up detail". In terms of speed, both Pixels were rated as "fast – noticeably faster than Samsung's Galaxy S7. On performance alone, these are easily the best Android phones you can buy". Google's failure to make the Pixel range waterproof though was considered "dumb and annoying".
This is Google's first phone, and for a first effort it is remarkably good. By almost every metric I can think of — speed, power, camera, smart assistant, you name it — it matches or exceeds the best phones available on the market today.
TechCrunch said Google had delivered a "terrific photo and video experience" on the Pixel, noting that its video stabilization works "astonishingly well". Testing the Pixel camera side-by-side with the iPhone 7 Plus, the latter was considered to deliver more accurate colors outdoors, but overall picture quality was said to be "so close that it's impossible to call, except by personal preference".
Wired said the Pixel's built-in AI was "the best voice assistant yet", while overall the device "has a look and competence of an iPhone, with a truly great camera and loads of innovative software and services".
The immediate joke everyone, including me, made on Twitter after the Pixel launch was that Google made an iPhone. Well, that's true. As it turns out, an iPhone running Android is exactly what I've been waiting for.
CNET performed a direct comparison of the iPhone 7 and Pixel's camera capabilities, and came away with the impression that the Pixel achieved brighter colors, sharper detail in backgrounds of photos and on-par low-light photography.
In contrast to the general consensus, The New York Times was less flattering in its overall estimation of Google's phone, calling the Pixel "mediocre". Photos shot with the camera "don't look as good as the iPhone's", while Google's built-in AI personal assistant was said to be "fairly dumb".
For those interested, Pixel is available in 32GB and 128GB options as a Verizon exclusive in the United States, but is also available unlocked for $649 on the Google Store. Each phone comes in "Very Silver," "Quite Black," and "Really Blue" colorways.