Google Pixel review (and XL): Google appears to be killing off its 2016 Pixels

£719
Price when reviewed

Google Pixel review and Pixel XL review: Hardware and performance

Although the price may have risen, one thing that hasn’t changed is that 2016’s Google Pixel and Pixel XL are right at the cutting edge when it comes to the core performance components.

This is the first time we’ve seen the Snapdragon 821 in a smartphone, but there isn’t much new here. It seems that the key difference between it and the 820 is its higher maximum clock speed of 2.4GHz, but that’s not something Google is exploiting.

Both the Google Pixel and the Google Pixel XL run at 2.15GHz, which is precisely the same speed as the Snapdragon 820 found in the OnePlus 3. And this is reflected in the benchmark results, with Geekbench 4 numbers that roughly match the OnePlus 3’s, and GFXBench GL offscreen results that sit at a similar level.

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As you can see from the table above, both phones are identical in most of the important areas. Each has a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB of RAM. The phones come in two variants, one with 32GB storage, the other 128GB, echoing the new iPhones, and there’s no microSD storage expansion.

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The only result that doesn’t match the OnePlus’ is the native resolution, onscreen GFXBench frame rate for the Pixeln XL, and that’s purely down to its more pixel-dense display. The OnePlus 3 has a 1080p, just like the standard Pixel phone.

The Pixel and Pixel XL’s result in our video-rundown battery-life tests tell a similar story. Both perform slightly better than average for an Android smartphone, the Pixel XL lasting 15hrs 55mins before running flat and the Pixel phone going for 16hrs 23mins. Neither is as good as the OnePlus 3, though, which lasted 16hrs 56mins – and they’re a long way behind the superlative Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, which kept going for a staggering 18hrs 42mins and the Lenovo Motorola Moto Z Play — our champion with 23hrs 45mins.

What that translates to is solid, day-long use with moderate use. It’s no worse or better than most smartphones in other words, and this means that if you work the Pixels hard, or play games a lot, you will need to connect it to the charger before you go to bed, or give it a top up before you leave the office to make it through the day.

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I’ve been running GSam Battery Monitor Pro on Pixel XL since 21 October, and it’s reporting an average battery life of 18h20 per complete charge. That puts it behind the OnePlus 3, which I saw achieving a better time on average, at around 19 to 20 hours per charge over the course of a couple of months.

In my experience, the iPhone 7 Plus delivers longer battery life, too, although the flipside is that Apple’s phablet doesn’t charge up nearly as quickly as the Google Pixel XL.

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Google Pixel XL specifications
ProcessorQuad-core 2.15GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
RAM4GB
Screen size5.5in
Screen resolution1,440 x 2,560
Screen typeAMOLED
Front camera8MP
Rear camera12MP
FlashLED
GPSYes
CompassYes
Storage (free)32GB (24GB) / 128GB
Memory card slot (supplied)No
Wi-Fi802.11ac
BluetoothBluetooth 4.2
NFCYes
Wireless data3G, 4G
Dimensions155 x 76 x 8.5mm
Weight168g
Operating systemAndroid 7.1
Battery size3,450mAh
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£719
Price on contract (inc VAT)£100 on £51-per-month contract
Prepay price (inc VAT)N/A
SIM-free supplierhttps://madeby.google.com/phone/
Contract/prepay supplierwww.ee.co.uk
Detailshttps://madeby.google.com/phone/
Part codePixel XL

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