A few moons ago, I wrote some words under the title of "The Google phone is almost as good as the iPhone," and while I stand by the content of those words, I now have to revise my conclusion. On the basis of my extended experience with Google’s Pixel, I consider it an all-around better phone than the iPhone 7. The final exhilarating straw that broke the camel’s back was the photo below, coming straight out of the Pixel XL’s camera, undoctored other than for a horizon adjustment.
I take a lot of photos with phones, it’s a major part of my job of reviewing them, but this one (full resolution here) is easily the best one I’ve ever shot. The circumstances are worth recounting: I was in the middle of crossing New York City’s 7th Avenue on a rainy and windy night, and only stopped because I knew I could take a quick shot with the Pixel that might be worth preserving afterwards. This is because of Google’s ingenious shortcut of double-tapping the power button to launch the camera — which works in a wet environment whereas the iPhone’s Touch ID might not. And it’s also because I’d already seen what the Pixel’s camera can do, bringing DSLR-like sharpness and color to some challenging situations.
It was the Pixel’s camera that nudged me into using it as my daily phone over the iPhone 7, but I still believed that the sober advice was to buy an iPhone for the better app and accessory ecosystem, resale value, and industrial design. Those things haven’t changed, but my judgment of how far ahead the Pixel is of any other cameraphone has changed. I couldn’t have taken that shot with any other phone, of that I’m almost certain.
Without re-reviewing the Pixel, I’ll simply say that its performance is super fast, the battery of the XL model lasts for a long time, and Google’s Android notification system is much more to my liking than Apple’s in iOS. And since I’m already eyebrow-deep in Google’s web services, it’s a no-brainer. Now excuse me while I go make a Live Case out of this crazy photograph.
P.S. — All the photos in this report about new car brand Lynk & Co were also shot with the Pixel XL.