Google Pixel, the first official smartphone with an all-Google branding, has arrived. The device, which starts at Rs 57,000 is Google’s ambitious project to take on the Apple iPhone and its premium tag. In a world where the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is dead, and the iPhone 7 appears like an incremental upgrade to some, Pixel wants to take on the title of the best Android smartphone, one that isn’t just about the Android platform but also about the best of what Google has to offer.
Here is our experience so far with Google Pixel XL 32GB ‘Very Silver’ review device.
Google Pixel and Pixel XL have some exclusive features. Like we have said before, this is about the best of Google, and setting up this device is actually quite easy. Google has given a special data transfer tool which is a Type-C USB port on one and a regular USB on one end. Just plug that into your new Pixel and old iPhone/Android and you’ll be able to transfer all your data.
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I used the regular Type-C to Type-C cable to transfer all my apps, messages, photos, data, etc from the Moto Z smartphone, and it was done in a jiffy. All my text messages from Moto Z waiting for me in the folder, which is pretty impressive. I will be wiping this device clean though, to start over with my iPhone. But the thought of switching off iMessage before I do so is a little terrifying.
Do note that setting up requires a fast Internet connection as Google Play Store will start downloading all the apps once again, after it has transferred all the apps. Even on my slow mobile network, close to nine apps were updated. With my faster home broadband network, the rest of the apps (around 24 of them) took less than half an hour. Interestingly, on apps like Antutu Benchmark, I could still see the test for the Moto Z getting reflected as the last data. And yes, the phone remembered my WiFi password for my home because it was used on the earlier device.
Getting to the Assistant
While setting-up Google will ask you fine-tune the Assistant, the highlight of this phone. Yes you can still see the Google Now cards if you swipe right from the edge of the screen, but Assistant claims to do a little more. Google Assistant is part of the on-screen home button; long press and the assistant is activated. Just like with Google Now you can say ‘Ok Google’ and get it to do stuff like send Messages. In this case, SMS and Hangouts are the options.
Surprisingly, Allo doesn’t appear in the list, but that could be because I’ve yet to set up the app. Also I had to download Hangouts on the phone as it doesn’t come pre-installed. Google Assistant can go through Photos and find your pictures from a particular vacation as well, although this works on Google Now as well.
Google Assistant appears to do a lot of the stuff that your Google Now can do as well. However, it is a lot more conversational, and yes you can say things like “I’m bored” and see how it goes. The difference with the Assistant and Google Now is that the former can have a conversation with you about random stuff. Since this is machine learning in its infancy, the answers are not always perfect. Plus, Google plans to add third-party app support to Assistant, just like how Apple did for Siri to make it more useful.
Right now Assistant is a slightly more advanced version of Google Now, and we’ll have to wait and see how soon its capabilities are boosted. When the third-party apps come, it will be interesting to watch how Assistant evolves.
Camera is the other big feature of the Pixel smartphone that Google is touting. Google isn’t relying on OIS in the 12.3 MP rear camera, and instead is talking about EIS and software wizardry to give you pictures which are stunning. I’ve not had much time to play around with this, but I have to say one thing it is fast and there’s no shutter lag, even in low-light.
Are the results better than an iPhone 7 or S7 edge? I wouldn’t say so yet, and I’m hoping to use this around more to see how it responds to different lighting conditions. There’s no manual mode in the camera app as such, although users can tinker with exposure. Meanwhile below are some shots I just took in low-light conditions in my house.
We’ll have more on the Google Pixel XL in the coming week. Our focus with this phone is going to be on the camera, the software, and yes the Google Assistant. For now, I’ll try and find the courage to replace my iPhone with the Pixel XL, which I admit is not so easy.