Hands-on review: Google Pixel

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This is a flash hands on review to give you the chance to see what the phone is all about as soon as possible. Stay tuned as we’ll be expanding and upgrading this review very shortly with more info.

Nexus is dead. Pixel is king. Say hello to the Google Pixel, a handset ushering in a new era of the search giant’s smartphone range.

It arrives alongside the larger (and even more expensive) Google Pixel XL, as the firm doubles down on devices for another year.

The Pixel takes over from 2015’s Nexus 5X as the smaller offering in Google’s line up. Thing is, it hasn’t inherited its predecessor’s price tag, with the new Pixel sporting a decidedly more premium price tag.

It comes in two variants – 32GB and 128GB – with the smaller storage option costing you a lofty $629, £599. Meanwhile the Google Pixel price for the 128GB model is a staggering £699, pitching it against the likes of the Huawei P9, HTC 10 and Samsung Galaxy S7.

Previous Nexus devices had a leg-up over the competition with a slightly lower price tag, which helped users overlook a couple of short comings, but in 2016, with the new Pixel brand and a brave new price point there’s nowhere to hide.

If you’ve owned a Google-brand smartphone in the past you’ll appreciate the no-nonsense stock Google interface – and you’ll be glad to know it’s business as usual on the Pixel when it comes to the Android Nougat operating system.

Google Pixel review

For those who are new to Google’s handsets, things may be less clear. While HTC is the firm that has actually built the device, the search giant has had a big say in what goes into the Pixel, and how it operates.

These handsets are aimed to showcase the best of Google and Android. They pack new features not seen before on the platform (Google Assistant and a best-in-class camera in the Pixel’s case), and you’ll be first in line for an update when a new version of Android is launched – usually weeks, if not months ahead of the likes of Samsung, LG, Sony and co.

The Google Pixel sports a first for Google’s smaller smartphone, a full and glass metal body, along with a 5-inch full HD display, Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB of RAM, 12MP rear camera, fingerprint scanner, 8MP front snapper

Google Pixel review

On paper at least then, the Google Pixel looks to be a flagship contender – but can it live up to the hype in real life?

The design is premium, if not slightly odd. There’s a metal body, but Google (and manufacturer HTC) has added a block of glass around the fingerprint scanner and camera on the rear. While it gives the Pixel a different look – the glass finish did look and feel a little like plastic.

That detracts from the overall appeal of the phonne slightly, although the bottom portion of the handset is cool metal – and that’s the bit which will be in contact with your palm most of the time.

Google Pixel review

Moving on screen and you’re greeted by a bright, clear full HD display. It’s pleasant to view and everything looks great – but there’s likely to be some envious looks by owners towards those who pick up the QHD-toting Pixel XL.

Another slight mark against the display is the fact the new Pixel is Daydream VR ready – which means it supports Google’s new virtual reality platform. The fact it supports it isn’t the issue – we’re actually excited about that and the Daydream VR headset – but the display resolution isn’t optimal for VR.

Those who pick up the larger, higher resolution Pixel XL will get a better Daydream experience, simply because the display can pack more pixels into each of your eyes for a more immersive view. It’s not a deal breaker, and it won’t result in a terrible experience if you do opt for a Pixel – but there will be a difference between the two phones.

Google Pixel review

Google Pixel review

Google Pixel review

Google Pixel review

Google Pixel review

Google Pixel review

This is a flash hands on review to give you the chance to see what the phone is all about as soon as possible. Stay tuned as we’ll be expanding and upgrading this review very shortly with more info.

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