This is the Pixel XL. Google's first attempt at its own smartphone, with its own hardware to go with their Android Software. Most of you are probably already familiar with the backstory so let's not waste any time and unbox the new Google Pixel XL. Then I am going to show you how I set up new phones from scratch and do a mini "What's On My Android?"
So the Pixel comes in a very minimal, all-white, slide out box. Sliding out the box and cutting the sticker will reveal your phone on top with the necessary accessories on the bottom, like your warranty information guides, your USB C to USB C cable, a wall adapter, a USB C to USB A cable and a corresponding USB C adaptor.
The setup process on the Pixel is a bit different than what we have been used to in the past with other Android devices. The Pixel does offer the ability to transfer information from one phone to another using the included USB C cables and adapter. Once you get everything all hooked up, you will have some options on what you would want to copy from your old device to your new one. It also recognizes that iMessage should be turned off in order to receive texts from people when switching to Android, which is a major problem still for people making the switch. As previously mentioned, the rest of the setup process is relatively similar and easy to do. Simply follow the instructions on the screen.
The Pixel's 5.5" form factor is definitely on the smaller side of the other flagship phablets and was actually smaller than just about every phone like the LG V20, Nexus 6P, iPhone 6s Plus, and was about the same size as the S7 edge and a bit larger than the HTC 10, which we all know is what this phone is loosely based off since HTC had some help with the creation of the Pixel. The Pixels 5.5" QHD AMOLED display is probably one of the best I have seen on a smartphone and might be just as good as the one found on the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge.
The rest of Pixel's design is not the most innovative but it is familiar, which might help attract more than just the tech heads and Nexus fans. Google is trying to go for the everyday consumer who wants an Android phone. In a way, they want this to be their iPhone.
The Pixel is super comfortable to hold in hand and button placements are in acceptable areas. The back of the phone is probably the most interesting part of the design concept in which they went with a metal and glass backing. The fingerprint and camera are surrounded by this glass backing while the rest of the back is aluminum with a simple Google G logo for branding. Speaking of the fingerprint sensor, it's very fast and also carries a couple of additional features.
Android 7.1 actually has quite a few new features sprinkled throughout the UI. The first one being the ability to swipe down on the fingerprint sensor to bring down your notification shade. You can also do a few more quick gestures like double tap the power button to launch the camera super quickly and twist your wrist to switch between selfie mode. Speaking of the camera, I have seen what pictures have looked like coming off of this camera, and I am excited to get out and try it, but just the two snapshots that I took during filing the video already look really, really good.
The home screen got an updated launcher, the Pixel launcher, which was practically leaked a couple of months back. The new look is cleaner and more sophisticated. One thing that takes some time getting used to is swiping up on the app dock to access your app drawer.
Another awesome feature added in is the ability to long press certain apps and access some new quick shortcuts. You can also make shortcuts of those shortcuts. For example, if I want to text a certain person, I can long press the message app, and my most recent contacts show up. If I long press on my wife's name, I can drag an app icon of that particular shortcut on my home screen and now launch into our conversation with a simple tap. This works for various apps right now and it will absolutely be something that I would want to utilize more.
The most interesting and the most marketed feature of the Pixel is the new Google Assistant. I won't spend too much time on this right now because I didn't get to test it out for too long but I will say, just after a couple of questions and interactions, this is already looking like the most intuitive and more useful personal assistants that I have ever used. Being able to ask questions about a cast of a movie and then being able to get follow up responses because Google Assistant is contextually aware of our conversation is super useful and easy to use.
Finally, there are a few things that I do when I setup an Android phone from scratch. Of course, the obvious thing is to download some of the apps I absolutely need to get by in the next few hours or days until I can find some additional time to download the other apps. These apps include my smart home apps of choice like Hue and Nest, social apps like Instagram and Twitter, YouTube Creator Studio so I can answer comments and view analytics, Trello, and Slack to keep things organized for the channel and website, and of course some sports apps and Spotify. I usually like to have only two rows of apps on my home screen and then a clock or date widget but for right now I am sticking with the stock Pixel launcher look. I usually add a second or third page of widgets with my calendar widget to view my upcoming events.
In the settings menu, there are a couple of settings that I ABSOLUTELY have to turn on in order to make my new Android phone just the way I like it. These things include turning the adaptive display off, turning on do not disturb schedule with notifications, and my personal favorite, turning on developer options and cutting the animation times in half to get that extra snappy and buttery feeling when operating the device. It just makes the device feel faster and it's something I have been doing for a very long time.
So that's it, for now, guys, so far, I am absolutely impressed with the performance of this phone and love the display but I am still a little disappointed in the boring hardware and design.
Please let me know what you want to see in my full review by sounding off in the comments below.