The Pixel’s image quality is superb – though purists may quibble. Colours in some shots look too strong and clean, thanks to software processing intended to reduce distortion and improve detail (something all phones do to some extent).
But automation pays off in another way: the Pixel will automatically combine successive shots into an animated GIF file, offering a fun way to share a toddler’s steps or a dog jumping. For video, the Pixel’s stabilisation technology compensates for shaky hands and other movement, matching what the iPhone and Galaxy phones can do.
Google’s voice assistant, simply known as Google Assistant, will seem familiar to those who have used Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa features.
Google’s version goes further in offering daily updates such as weather and news, though plenty of apps already offer similar capabilities through notifications.
If you need help, you can reach Google’s customer support and enable screen sharing reminiscent of Amazon’s Mayday help feature. And the Pixel will work with Google’s upcoming Daydream View virtual-reality headset, much as Samsung phones have Samsung’s Gear VR.
Long-pressing an app icon brings up a menu of shortcuts, such as getting directions to home or launching the selfie camera. It’s similar to the iPhone’s 3D Touch. The Pixel also offers “Night Light”, a feature that tints your screen amber by filtering out blue light that might keep you up at night. Apple calls it Night Shift.
The Pixel will be OK if you spray it with water, but don’t drop it in the pool. You also can’t expand its storage with a memory card, as you can with the S7 – though for $100 more, the Pixel’s 32 gigabytes of storage quadruples to 128 gigabytes, and the free online storage should take care of your photos and videos. The battery isn’t removable, though that’s true for most phones these days.
MAKING THE SWITCH
Google tries to make it easy to switch. The phone comes with a transfer cable, and the setup process walks you through transferring photos, music and video, as long as it’s not encrypted (so scratch iTunes video). But apps won’t switch over from iPhones; you need to buy them again.
NEW ADDITION: Google Pixel displayed next to a Daydream View virtual-reality headset