I wasn’t that impressed with the Google Pixel when I reviewed it. For the most part, I still think there are better options for plenty of consumers out there. I bought myself the larger version, the Google Pixel XL, however, just to see if I felt any differently about the bigger version. I’m absolutely loving the experience.
Sure, there are plenty of features I still miss from other phones, like wireless charging, water resistance, expandable storage and more, but I’ve found that I’m willing to put a lot of that aside for what the Google Pixel XL delivers. And the hardware I thought was uninspired on the Google Pixel? I actually kinda dig it on the larger Google Pixel XL.
Since I’ve been so down on the Google Pixel in the past and I’ve now warmed up to the phone, I thought I’d bring you something positive: a list of my 5 favorite Google Pixel XL features.
Unlimited Photo Storage!
I’m normally the kind of guy who wants at least 64GB of storage and, even better, a microSD card slot for adding even more. I like having plenty of room for pictures and videos and generally prefer the comfort knowing that I probably won’t run out of space with a microSD card. I wasn’t able to find a Pixel XL with 128GB of storage in stock, so I picked up the 32GB model.
I’ve adjusted surprisingly well. Google Photos provides unlimited backups of full-size images and 4K videos, so I don’t need to store those locally. I now just download the movies I want to watch from the Google Play Store, and leave them up in the cloud the rest of the time. The limited space has forced me to be conscientious about what’s on my phone, so now I only keep the apps I actually use and care about. There’s something freeing about that.
The Google Pixel camera rocks
Save for some small issues with lens flare and noise in the corners of some photos, I generally find that the camera on the Google Pixel is amazing. I’ve been reaching for it more than my iPhone camera, largely because of the free photo storage backup, but also because I know the picture will turn out good. Low-light shots with HDR enabled are stunning if you take the time to frame the photo right, too. Take a look these samples:
Oh, and while the iPhone 7 Plus offers a “Portrait Mode” for adding bokeh to your photos, you can easily get the same great effects just using the Google Pixel XL or Google Pixel camera the right way: get nice and close to your subject, and the top-notch hardware and software will do the rest, adding a natural bokeh to your image.
Pixel XL battery is incredible
Like my iPhone 7 Plus, the battery on the Google Pixel XL is incredible. I’m used to going all day without having to worry one bit about running out of juice. The only time I’ve run into trouble is after I forgot to plug the phone in while using GPS in the car. Otherwise, I’m regularly going to bed with enough juice to carry me right into the next day. I wasn’t as impressed with the battery on the Google Pixel, which offered enough juice to get me to bedtime but didn’t feel nearly as solid as the Google Pixel XL.
I love the display
The Quad HD screen on the Pixel XL is also a pleasure to use, whether it’s for reading, browsing the web or catching up on a quick SNL clip. It’s crisp and bright in the daytime, even outdoors, the viewing angles are awesome and I love some of Google’s built-in software. At night, for example, I have the display start to cut out blue light using the Night Light feature. It’s supposed to make it easier to fall asleep, and it seems to work for me. It’s definitely at least easier on the eyes.
I can’t wait to test the screen with Google’s Daydream View VR viewer, which should put the pixel density to the test, making the Quad HD screen actually worth the investment.
I really love Android 7.1 It might seem silly, but I appreciate some of the finer details, including the subtle but stunning live wallpapers Google includes. They slowly move in the background as if I’m viewing the world from a high-soaring bird’s perspective. Android 7.1 really flies, too, and I haven’t noticed a single stutter or the sort of lag I sometimes see on bogged-down Android phones from third-party manufacturers.
I admit, Google Assistant is pretty neat (I thought it was pretty lame originally), but it still doesn’t blow me away as much as I originally thought she would. Finally, knowing that I have the device that will get Google’s newest software (so long as it keeps its promise this time), is another feature in the Pixel’s cap.