Google’s Pixel XL – One Year Later Is It Worth It?

Google Pixel XL - One Year LaterThe original Pixel XL came out on October 4th of 2016.  It is now October of 2017 and the Pixel XL is a full-year-old!  Today we are going to take a look at the Pixel XL and see how it has held up over the last year.

When it was first announced, I was super excited about the Pixel XL.  It was an awesome looking phone with a lot of great features.  The best part was that Google was taking an Apple-like approach and would be controlling not only the software but also the hardware.  They would be able to give us an Android device, with Android the way it should be.  I got the device and I did enjoy it, but after using it for a bit, it just wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped it would be.  It felt like Google was on the right track, but that they rushed their rough draft to the market instead of waiting for the final product.

On the outside, the Pixel XL is a great looking device.  It has a 5.5-inch screen with a 1440×2560 resolution.  The front glass is Corning Gorilla Glass 4. Up top, we have a front-facing 8-megapixel camera, an in-call speaker, and various sensors.   The back of the Pixel XL is mostly aluminum with the top third of the device being glass.  Beneath the glass, we see the primary 12-megapixel camera, the flash, and more sensors. Towards the bottom of the glass section, is the fingerprint scanner.  At the base of the device, we have the USB-C charging port, a microphone, and the single speaker.

Google Pixel XL - One Year LaterAs far as specs go, the Pixel XL packed a decent punch.  It came with a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB of memory, and a 3,450 mAh battery.  The Pixel XL was one of the first devices that came with 4GB of memory and it was an awesome example of what you could do with the right amount of memory and a decent processor.  It originally came with Android 7.1 and has since been updated to Android 8.0.

The first thing about the Pixel XL that I love is the camera.  The Pixel XL takes amazing photos with some of them outshining my much more expensive DSLR.  Before the Pixel XL I would take my camera with me everywhere so I was always ready for the perfect picture.  Now, with the Pixel XL, all I need to take is my phone.

Another favorite feature is the battery life.  The 3,450 mAh battery does a great job of keeping my device powered all through the day.  Sometimes I can even pull a full day and a half out of it!

Next on my list of things I like, are the specs.  Yes, the specs are old news compared to some of the devices that have come out since.  But Google has one big advantage that they didn’t before.  After they released the Pixel, they started building Android specifically for the Pixel.  The Pixel and Pixel XL are the perfect blend of specs and software optimization.  Google made a device that flies!  No matter what I try, I’ve never once gotten it to stutter or slow down!

Google Pixel XL - One Year LaterNow we’ve talked about specs and some of the better aspects of the device.  I’m going to dive into the issues that left me wanting just a bit more, or that made me feel as if the device was incomplete.

One of the first things I noticed with the Pixel XL, as well as the Pixel, was the huge chin at the bottom of the screen.  There is a giant piece of gray beneath the display that serves absolutely no purpose.  It helps to balance the look of the device as it is the same size as the top where the speaker and sensors are, but it is really just wasted space.  Google missed an opportunity to use this space for capacitive buttons, a front-facing speaker, or even just a logo.  As it is now, it is a big gray space that does nothing.  It is mostly a cosmetic complaint but it still drives me crazy.

My second complaint was the speaker.  Rather than using the chin to put a front-facing speaker, they put an underpowered speaker on the bottom of the device, next to the USB-C charging port.  There was room for front-facing speakers but Google missed the boat on this one.

Next is the glass on the back.  I really like the look of it, but it is physically impossible to use the phone without a case and not scratch the glass on the back.  The aluminum holds up well, but not the glass.  If you don’t mind a lot of scratches, you’ll be ok, but if you’re like me, you’ll need to throw a good case on it.

Google Pixel XL - One Year LaterWhen it first came out, my biggest complaint about the Pixel XL was the price.  You were looking at $800 for the base model and $900 for the 128GB version.  The Pixel XL was a great device, but I didn’t feel it was worth that much.  Fast forward to today; you can get the Pixel XL for around $500.

So now the big question.  Would I recommend the device today?  I would have to say yes.  Back when it came out it didn’t feel like the device was complete.  It was missing a lot of what I consider key features like waterproofing and wireless charging.  But after using the device for a year, and now that the price has gone down a bit, I can say that I’ve enjoyed using the device and that it is a great device.  Do I wish Google had done things a little differently and not rushed it?  Absolutely!  Despite my initial complaints, the Pixel XL is still a solid device and has stood the test of time.

If you would like to order the Pixel XL for yourself, you can get it here: Google Pixel XL