Google's new Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones are available for pre-order right now, but the general public won't start to get their hands on these devices for another week or two. Tech reporters got some hands-on time at Google's launch event on October 4th, but camera testing wasn't allowed, and the Wi-Fi coverage at the event was too flooded for real-world performance reviews.
Luckily, a Redditor, who we'll refer to as "Doe" for the sake of anonymity, managed to get a review unit from Google, then did an AMA to answer many questions users might have had about the new device. With a Nexus 6P on hand for comparison's sake, Doe has revealed lots of juicy Pixel details—including benchmark scores, camera quality, overall performance, and more.
UPDATE: Doe's Reddit thread and all of the Pixel videos he uploaded to YouTube have been removed. We did our best to save as many of the original pictures and videos as possible, so you can still view the Pixel XL in action below, but some videos are missing. Out of concern for the original uploader's anonymity, we've redacted his name and replaced it with "Doe."
Google talked a big game when it came to the Pixel's improved camera, citing their DxOMark score of 89, the highest of any smartphone ever tested (though the iPhone 7 Plus's dual-lens camera hasn't been tested yet). But lost in the barrage of Pixel headlines was a much-improved Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) system briefly mentioned at the Pixel's unveiling.
The Nexus 6P uses EIS as well, but a comparison documented by Doe, and subsequently removed from YouTube, showed how the Pixel is simply miles ahead of the Nexus 6P when it comes to video stabilization. We were able to grab the videos before they were taken down, so here's a side-by-side edit:
Considering that the Nexus 6P's EIS system beat out the Galaxy S7's Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) in this test from months ago, I'm starting to think that the Pixel's lack of OIS is not going to be an issue at all.
But hey, that's just a quick test in a dark hallway. How does the Pixel's EIS system fare in landscape mode with good lighting to show off any flaws? To answer that question, Doe (literally) went for a run while recording video with the Pixel XL, and the results in the video (also removed) were just as amazing, it looked like he was floating across the parking lot.
UPDATE: Here's a mirror of the original daytime EIS test. Video quality is reduced from ripping the video, so don't judge the Pixel XL based purely on frame rate or resolution:
If the above videos are any indication, the Pixel's high DxOMark score is well-deserved—but how do the still photos look? Doe delivered here, too: He shared with Gadget Hacks the following night shots taken with the Nexus 6P and Pixel XL, respectively.
If you don't see much difference, go ahead and click the images to open them in higher resolution. It's very clear that the Pixel XL's HDR+ mode makes low-light shots a lot less grainy than other smartphone cameras.
While Doe was experimenting, the Pixel's new Google Assistant feature went live. This gave him a chance to show off the new AI-powered, Pixel-exclusive feature, and as we saw in a (now removed) video, it's very fast to respond with accurate and intuitive information.
As a side note, the folks at XDA have since discovered that Google Assistant can be activated right now on almost any rooted device running Android Nougat. If you'd like to see how, just head to the following link:
Alright, so it's time to address the big question: How's the Pixel's battery life? Doe charged up his Pixel XL to 100% this morning to do some real testing of its screen-on time (SoT), and the results so far are quite promising:
At this exact minute SOT is 4:03, and my battery is 53%
Are you KIDDING me?! That projects out to a full eight or more hours of screen-on time, which would make the Pixel XL an instant contender for best smartphone battery life. SoT is one of the most useful real-world battery measurements, as it depicts exactly how long you'll be able to actively use your smartphone on a single charge.
To put that 8-hour projection into perspective, I've always considered my Nexus 6P to have solid battery life, but it can only manage five hours of SoT on a good day—and that's without all of the benchmarks and camera tests that Doe had been running on the Pixel XL.
Speaking of benchmarks, Doe ran an AnTuTu test on the Pixel XL with some impressive results. For comparison's sake, I ran the same test on my Nexus 6P, and the Pixel XL's score was nearly double my results in almost every category:
I bought two Pixel XLs on launch day, sight unseen. Since then, I've been a bit nervous about my purchase, not really sure if Google's new hardware will live up to the hype. But now, just going by these comparisons, I'm fully convinced that I made the right choice.
What about you? Have these comparisons convinced you to take the plunge and grab a new Pixel? Let us know in the comment section below.
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