Google Pixel XL – a Travel Photographer’s Review

Google Pixel XL has arrived! Finally we have a good competitor in high end smartphone market! Google Pixel was launched in October 2016. I am thrilled to be one among the first 2 Indian travel bloggers to review this 2 month old smartphone. I was floored the first time I held this new piece of technology in my hands. It fits so perfectly in my palm that I felt it was born to be there always! Here is a review on this gorgeous piece more from a travel photographer’s point of view.

Google Pixel XL Review

Looks of Google Pixel

There are no frills and fancies and ‘I look good’ kind of hardware features. The smartphone is more software centric and has ‘I mean business’ kind of feel. Though the phone is full 6inch, the touch screen is less than 5inch. The camera lens and sensor at the top helps you orient the phone in hand. The bottom bezel could have been put to some use.

It comes in 3 colors: Silver, Quite Black and Really Blue. Front glass is 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4. The back has ‘2 tone’ finish. The back and sides is a single metal frame. One third of upper back frame has glass patch which gives it a different look. The antennas work unblocked and there is the fingerprint sensor in this part. The left side of the phone has textured power button and volume control button. The sim card tray is on the right side of the phone. It can house only a single nano SIM card and no microSD card.

Google Pixel XL Review

Google Pixel XL specifications

Both Google Pixel XL and Google Pixel have same specifications, except screen size, resolution, and battery capacity.
Processor – Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC with two 2.15GHz cores and two 1.6GHz cores for efficiency, along with integrated Adreno 530 graphics.
Storage – 4GB of RAM and either 32 or 128GB of fixed storage.
Connectivity options – Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Fi, GPS, 3G and 4G (with support for Band 40 used by some LTE networks in India).
Sensors on the phone – Compass Magnetometer, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Gyroscope and Barometer.

Cameras in Google Pixel XL

12.3-megapixel camera at the rear with 1.55µm pixels plus phase detection as well as laser auto focus and 8-megapixel front shooter for selfies.

Both smartphones contain the same camera hardware and software. Pixel camera snaps photos quickly and easily. Its default enabled HDR+ smarts feature ensures even exposure throughout the frame. I found the colors captured are rich and balanced, no over saturation. In direct sunlight too the captures are good avoiding drastic distortion with halo or glare on the lens. Colors captured are real and with fine details.

Google compresses the images to a “high-quality” size and it looks fantastic in the phone screen.

Google Pixel Camera captures

Various Modes of Pixel Camera

Some interesting options are photosphere mode, burst, and slow motion. For lens blur mode the app asks you to move the phone slightly after taking a shot so it can grab another with the same lens at a slight offset. In indoor lighting conditions too the camera didn’t fail and has captured good details.Pixel guarantees very good performance under all conditions a normal user would need. For travel photography where I had to zoom in and capture structures at a distance the camera has functioned well. Have a look at the pictures of St. Philomena Church and Mysore Palace.

Google Pixel XL Review Blur Effect

Blur Effect with Google Pixel XL Review

 

Google Pixel Camera Modes

1. Cloudy 2. Sunny 3. Fluorescent 4. Tungsten

Videos with Google Pixel

You can save location of pics clicked. Volume key action has 2 functions: Shutter and Zoom, you can use them for shooting videos. Video resolution of both back camera and front camera is 1080p. There is video stabilization on/off control and this feature is remarkable. You can see in the video below which I shot sitting in a moving vehicle. I was impressed to see absolutely stable results.

Selfies with Google Pixel

In selfie smartphone market too the Pixel is a hot competitor.The front-facing camera shoots and captures well, definitely not a disappointment to those who crave for more selfie exposure. Double-tap the power button for quick access from anywhere straight to camera app. And the wrist flick to reverse the camera was a surprise fitted in, it overcomes the difficulty to hit the on-screen software button while using one hand. Such small little features makes the Pixel a pleasant camera experience.

Selfie with Google Pixel XL

The fine details of eyelashes too captured well in selfie mode by Google Pixel XL

Battery in Google Pixel XL

Pixel has an outstanding performance on this factor. Prior to Google Pixel I have handled other smartphones and I would often worry whether the battery would conk off during assignments. A travel bloggers regular schedule would be something like accessing maps, searching out places to halt, see, shoot and eat. A Google Pixel can sustain this very well. I easily got 15hours during day with some video shoots too. The battery charges fast. And with an hour’s charge it lasts one whole day very well. Two factors that help conserve battery power when not in use or physically moving are:  improved power management and Doze 2.0.

Google Assistant

With Google Assistant feature Google Pixel XL has become the most resourceful alternative to other high end smartphones. Check out the possibilities with Google Assistant during your travels:

  • Google Assistant understands contexts of conversations and provides relevant responses. Google Assistant knows 70 billion facts. It will be able to tap into the company’s Knowledge Graph – the semantic database Google uses to answer all queries.
  • Google Assistant can scan your personal data, via your Google account. It can select out specific addresses, remind you of calendar entries and various bills to be paid from your end.
  • GA learns about you, your preferences and choices. While introducing Assistant, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said “the more you use it, the better it gets.” This includes learning your habits (when you leave for work, get home, usually go for movies, etc.), as well as your likes and dislikes in order to serve you better.
  • GA teaches you stuffs. Travelling to a new place? Learn the basics of the new language there with GA.
  • As a travel photography blogger I found its feature of giving ‘local recommendations’ extremely useful. With GPS and Internet connection on Pixel phone, I got some relevant recommendations for restaurants, hotels, fuel stations etc.
  • Google Assistant keeps information ready at hand meaning even if you haven’t asked it for anything, it provides you info on topics you were talking with your friends. A discussion on travel destination or a movie with your friend will be followed by information about the hotel and tourist attractions about the location, movie hall timing without any prompting from your side.

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42 Responses

  1. Jerny says:

    Coool! This is sick as hell! I wanna get my hands on that Google Pixel too!
    Its whooping features are truly magnificent. I’d like to have one now.. :/

  2. I’d heard about the camera of Google Pixel being the best currently in the market. Looks like it just got confirmed. My current phone’s old now and had been comparing quite a few phones since past few days. I guess GPXL is the one I’m more keen on after all a traveler with interest in photography, definitely needs a real smart phone of which the battery can last really long. 🙂

    Very well written review!!

  3. Lynne says:

    It looks absolutely amazing and the pictures are fabulous. I have been with the same brand for years but now wanting to change this has pushed that along 🙂

  4. Wonderful review, nice to know about camera abilities.

  5. Wow, so many thoughts. This is interesting. I’d never heard of it before your post.

  6. Holly says:

    I’m an iphone owner and I am sitting here kicking myself because I’ve never seen a 15 hour battery life ever! Sounds like a smart switch for the new year!

  7. Wow! The camera looks amazing and different better than the iPhone that I have!

    xoxo
    Isaly Holland

  8. Celeste says:

    The photo of the bird is stunning! It is so crisp and clean. Love all the side by side photos.

    Warmly,
    Celeste |

  9. Your photos looks so amazing and clarity is so brilliant! This works wonderful for night captures!

  10. This is the first Google Pixel review I have read, thanks for sharing!

  11. Hra says:

    What a great review!! I always want to know about camera abilities!! I love your photos as always ! Thanks for sharing with us 🙂

  12. I have said this time and again. When getting an Android device, get the one from Google or rather, manufactured under Google so that it has no bloatware. Unfortunately, the early models were not really good. But the company has done a fantastic job in the past couple of years so I am not surprised to see the quality of the photo and video as you posted. It is the standard now that all devices should give to be considered for use outside of normal texting, messaging or calls.

  13. I wonder how much does it cost in the market. Does the camera function better than iPhones? I have never heard about this phone. Perhaps, sooner this will be aired on televisions too just like Nokia, Oppo, and other brands of smartphones. Great reviews by the way. 🙂

  14. Swati says:

    Love the review…
    I am also in love with the picture quality and the battery life..

  15. Great review. I am impressed with the photos captured by Giogle Pixel. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Karla says:

    Hey prior to this post , I didn’t even consider a google phone but perhaps this one is worth a try. This is really good.

    Nowadays, it pays to have a phone that an take good photos and videos.

  17. Personally am impressed with the stunning photos captured by Google Pixel. Am planning to buy a new phone soon, now exploring which model to pick. Thanks for your great review shared here, it definitely helps 🙂 cheers, SiennyLovesDrawing

  18. The phone’s camera is certainly the best in the market for the price tag. However overall I do feel that this is priced slightly on the higher side.

  19. Aneesh says:

    Comprehensive Review !!!
    Great Post !!!

  20. That’s pretty neat! Gotta love how they’re making even the smallest devices capable of such beauty in capture

  21. Carmen says:

    This is a great review! How wonderful that you were chosen to review it, that must be so exciting! I contemplating getting the Google Pixel when I was purchasing my last phone, this makes me wish I had just held out a little longer. The camera takes a stunning photo (that is one of my main reasons for choosing a phone!)

    Google Assistant sounds like a more advanced version of Siri, I’d be interested in a comparison of the two.

    I’m excited that there is finally a Smartphone that can hold its own against the Samsung and the IPhone, it might make them all work a little harder and bring out new, innovative ideas.

  22. neha says:

    A very balanced review..the features are really attractive. What about the sturdiness of the phone? I am actually looking to buy one but I am just not sure with my little one always banging it around 😀

  23. VERY informative post!

  24. Michelle says:

    Oh wow! I’ve never heard of Google Pixel yet. Might it be not available in the Philippines as of this writing? I’m not really sure, though. But with its specifications that are pretty competitive and its camera… The camera! I find its shots pretty amusing and amazing. Honestly, whenever I choose what phone to buy, I really make sure that it has a really good quality of the camera that can take keepsake, IG worthy photos. And I think Google Pixel really has a say when it comes to smartphones with good cameras.

  25. Yogi Saraswat says:

    Honest Review !!!

  26. Teresa says:

    I am not techie. So I rely a lot on my husband to help me choose my gadgets. 😉 Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this. This is helpful for people like me. 🙂

  27. Mridula says:

    The pictures look really good and I like phones with long battery life!

  28. Laveena Sengar says:

    Wow. What an amazing review Indrani. Great work. I think Google is the it Brand. I personally am an android lover and if I can get such an amazing capture and videos on a phone then I am completely sold.

  29. Thank you so much for the very informative and insightful post! When I travel I make sure my camera is with me but this is definitely handy as a back-up or when you don’t feel like carrying a big camera. 🙂 Great review!

  30. pat says:

    great review. new electronics are always fun to play with this looks like a good one!

  31. Marge says:

    The phone sounds like an excellent blogging companion and I can’t believe how crisp the photos are, even the front photo. If I had to try another phone I definitely wouldn’t mind giving this a go. And the fact that you were able to use it for 15 hours had me floored. Most smart phones get battery drained easily you know.

  32. Megan says:

    Very interesting. Nice to read a view specifically focused on travel blogger’s and their needs for a phone. I have a Motorola Turbo Droid and I love my switch the Andriod but still not sure I’m sold on the Motorola. Thanks for the tips.

  33. Maria says:

    Hmm. This makes me curious about it even more. Well, a travel blogger’s phone must be really equipped with a powerful camera so it won’t be much of a hassle for them to carry so many stuff. I guess this will be one of the biggest competitors for the iPhone and the Galaxy phones. Can’t wait to see a sample of this phone!

  34. resolution of images and videos are amazing!!! and it is quadcore isnt it?? anyway it seems that it is a very fast smartphone! iphone and samsung have a strong competition !

  35. Wow, first I give you thumbs up for a well written review as I have nothing to ask after reading. I would love to have that phone too, hopefully there’s already available in the Philippines as I have not heard about it yet. The features are really captivating and interesting. I think it fits on my hand as well.

  36. Carolyn says:

    I had never heard about this phone. It looks easy to use and I am a big Google fan.

  37. Bhushavali says:

    I’m yet to lay my hands on a Google Pixel, but I’m reading tons of good reviews. The pictures have come out so well. Already saw them on ur FB pic updates during ur roadtrip. The video quality is stunning.

  38. This sounds good! I have had the Google Nexus for a while now and was quite happy with that but now that it is getting time to switch the Google Pixel definitely is scoring points!

  39. Joe says:

    Looks like a very useful piece of kit! Definitely something that is borne out by the video of Mysore Palace, which is of a very high quality indeed. And it was great to get to see Mysore Palace as well, which is a place I missed out on when I was in India!

  40. Katie says:

    I need a new phone so may need to look into this! Thanks for sharing, the photos look great!

  41. Thanks for this this great review on Google Pixel. Honestly I never heard of it, I’m very bad with tech. The clarity and zoom are impressive, keep up the good work.

  42. Julie Cao says:

    I have not updated with electronic products for years and I used to bring my DSLR camera whereever I go. It has becomes a burden to me, because it is too bulky. Google Pixel is a great replacement, and I love the HDR smart features and ability to capture HD videos.

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