Google Pixel – Build, Camera, & Specs [REVIEW]

Google Pixel Smartphone Photo

For a very long time many have pitched the iPhone as superior to Android because of the control of both the phone itself and the heart that drives it all, the operating system.  This however is no longer the case with the surprise launch of Google’s very own Pixel and Pixel XL branded devices.  So, have they done it? Have they silenced the neigh-sayers?  Let’s take a deeper look.

Google Pixel Build

The Build

  • High quality materials consisting of glass and aluminum
  • Glass shade scratches easily

The Google Pixel is often labeled as boring, but no matter what you think of the looks themselves, it screams quality.  With an anodized aluminum body and gorilla glass 4 this phone is definitely trying to fight at the highest weight-class, right along side the iPhone and Samsung phones.  Of course, there is more to the build than just some metal and glass.  Both the Pixel and Pixel XL carry the same specs with the exception of two, but we will touch back to that later.

Around the front there is a beautiful AMOLED screen, a handset speaker resting in the top-middle, and the front camera. Moving to the bottom and sides of the phone there is 1 mono speaker, a USB-C port, and a microphone (although I would have liked to see at least a second bottom firing speaker).  On the back there is a Google logo and according to the public one of the most controversial things on a phone in a long time.  A large glass panel housing the: fingerprint reader, 12.6MP camera, Dual-tone flash, cradled by laser auto-focus and a microphone. One thing I did notice, the back panel appears to scratch easier than the front glass.  The aluminum body itself actually has a peculiar shape to it being slightly angled, and thicker than most phones which actually makes it easier to hold…curious.

There are some unfortunate things about this design such as the lack of stereo speakers, and waterproofing. Yet, this phone seems to be one of the most capable device I have ever touched.  And yes, this phone does have a headphone jack, but let’s try not to make a huge deal out of it.


Google Pixel Camera 12.6 MP


  • Very good point and shoot, great for social media or quick shots.
  • Lens blur can get confused, halo effect gets annoying in sunny areas.

This section is dedicated to one of the most used parts of our phones or at least the most important when bragging about said phone.  Anyways, there isn’t a shadow of a doubt that the camera sensor on this phone has been so well utilized that it can very well beat out Apple and Samsung.  This camera was given a DxOMark of 89, the highest at it’s release.  Whether that means anything to you or not, it does bring a question to the table.

How good is this camera for everyday life? 

That question can be answered in a few ways: Good, Good,  and Great.  First off, it does very well for a smartphone at night shots with better-than-average sharpness and not very much noise.  Subpar lighting, can reduce the sharpness quite a bit and add some noise, but nothing more than the usual phone.  Now if you get this phone in good lighting you can pull off some of the best Instagram ready photos ever.  This camera exceeds with great sharpness, balanced saturation (with a little punch of course), and beautiful contrast.  In addition to photo quality you do get some perks like 4k video, unlimited cloud storage uploads, and the speed of this phone combined with the lack of shutter-lag makes it possible to get those “in-the-moment” pictures.  One of the few draw backs that comes with the back panel is the unsettling appearance of a halo effect when the sensor pointed at direct light, there is a supposed update coming to fix this hardware issue.



  • Very fast, smooth, top end specs
  • Pixel XL has bigger screen and battery but loses some grip to the size
  • Mono speaker is disappointing

As stated earlier both of these phones share identical specs, with the exception of the screens and battery.  The Pixel phones have the average late 2016 top-end specs, with a snapdragon 821 processor, 4Gb of RAM, 32-128Gb of onboard storage, a 12.6Mp 1.55µ rear camera, 1 shameful mono speaker, and an 8Mp front facing camera.  The tiny difference that separates the Pixel from it’s bigger brother the XL is a QHD display and 3,450mAh battery as opposed to the regular FHD display and 2770mAh battery.  With those extra pixels on XL (see what I did there??) they decided to bump the screen size to 5.5in up from the 4.7in base.  The slightly bigger battery does push the XL a bit further than the regular pixel, but with more pixels to push it won’t be a 1to1 comparison.



  • Very quick app launch
  • Shortcuts are useful and unobtrusive.
  • Very optimized for it’s hardware.

When you hold a phone that’s a few year old now, you might not even notice that it’s slow.  It could look perfectly normal and function fine.  Here’s the catch, I would have never seen how slow my iPhone 6 actually was until I picked up the Pixel.  The snappiness is only limited by the animations (which you can speed up if you like) and the processor surprisingly doesn’t preform better than an iPhone.

That being said, Google has obviously done a lot to optimize the operating system for it’s hardware and I think that’s all something we can appreciate as consumers.  Shortcuts are now available as “moves” in the Pixel settings and they are just a bunch of garbage you won’t use.  My personal favorite would have to be the notification tray pull down with the fingerprint scanner.  Followed by the double-tap lock button for the camera.

This is a perfect phone for the “Jack of all trades” cellphone user, one who does a bit of everything on their phone.

google pixel android


  • Great for newcomers to android
  • Clutter free and ease of use is outstanding

Note: this segment is more of a side script about Android as a whole and how it relates.

Both of these new phones have the latest version of Android installed, 7.1.1 Nougat.  This being a stock Android, or “Vanilla”, it also gets the updates as soon as they start rolling out.  Now, coming from an IPhone, I was expecting to be completely lost, however it was surprisingly easy.  This misconception is most likely carried on from the earlier generations where it was slow and mangled by any phone manufacturer who used it.  In 2017, this truly is a MISconception, that meaning a total lie.

The Android Operating system has become more intuitive, responsive, and a pleasure to look at.  It is very evident this system is made for the everyday person and the go-getter who wants to get all they can from a phone.  The Pixel Launcher, was designed specifically for the Pixel branded phones, hence the name.  This launcher has made the transition that much easier, because it feels like Android was made for the Pixel not vice versa.  The such ease with which it opens very simple apps like social media or the settings, everything is just snappy.  Trust me when I say: there are so many things that Android has that I didn’t even know I needed until I had it.


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