And finally, we’re here with the final Part 3 of the 3-part review series.
Google Pixel is powered by the latest Android 7.1 “Nougat” OS. It’s super intuitive and user friendly, and will be the first of devices in the market to receive any future updates.
While I had it, I did an update and restart. You know how after you restart your phone from a system update, it takes a couple of minutes for Android to update apps and stuff, that you can’t use your phone immediately after a restart? That’s no longer the case now.
Now, after a system update restart, you can begin to use your phone immediately, as the app and updates will be running in the background. No need to wait a few minutes for the restart. Nice.
The usability of the new Android OS is smooth and intuitive. With a quad-core processor in place, and no bloatware (useless apps that takes up space and you can’t uninstall) the phone performs quick and seamlessly.
Navigating from one screen to another, and moving between apps is easy and never lagged.
Although, I do make a habit of closing open active apps from time-to-time. Even if you don’t, the Pixel has performed rather well.
Google Assistant – your Virtual Personal Assistant
Google Assistant is called Google for your own world. Whatever that means???
Basically, this is Apple’s Siri equivalent. Remember Google Now, a quick launch of Google with previous Android versions? This is now an extension of Google Now, improved and upgraded. Also remember you used to be able to say “OK Google” to launch voice activated search functions. It’s also an extension of that, and integrated with Google Now, among other Google functions.
Google Assistant is now built to be more conversation based. So, you basically talk to it like you would a personal assistant, rather than some scripted command in past versions, or other builds.
A few things that was demo-ed that you can do with Google Assistant, is to tell it to create events and reminders, Google search things online for you. The beauty of the conversational style this time around, is that the series of commands that you speak can be inter-related.
You can launch Google Assistant two ways – simplest being just saying “OK Google” and the other is by long pressing the Home button.
For example in my test above : I said “OK Google. How far is Pavilion KL from home?” and it returns a Google Maps direction and estimated travel time. Followed by “OK Google. What are the restaurants in Pavilion KL?” and it returns a list of restaurants in Google Search results. Followed by “OK Google. Create an event for Dinner at Din Tai Fung at 8pm today.” and it creates a Google Calendar event for you.
For more info, check out Google Assistant official website at https://assistant.google.com/
Also, look into this informative article from Pocket Lint here.
I played around with it a bit. It’s nice enough, but I don’t see me using it too much, to be honest. It’s a little different to my normal usage behaviour, as I’m more used to doing all these manually, the current way. I’m sure if I start using Google Assistant more, I’ll grow to be more reliant on it, and it would really be that virtual assistant that Google marketed it to be. Maybe.
But for now, it’s just a nice-to-have feature for me. Could be different for some. Like, I know some iPhone users (ahem, Hubby) who uses Siri a lot to set alarms and reminders. But honestly, how much do most iPhone users really use Siri?
Google launched Allo and Duo not too long ago. They’re both basically messaging (Allo) and video calling app (Duo). This is the search giant’s attempt to take over the WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Skype of today.
Honestly, this is not their first attempt. In fact, they currently have Google Allo, Duo, Messenger and Hangouts – one app too many?
Allo and Duo are both pre-installed on the Pixel. The former works best with Google Assistant, and you can really see the Assistant shine here. But personally, I don’t intend to switch to a new Messenger app quite yet (SMS and WhatsApp is good for me and it’s tough to convince all my friends to use a new Messenger app), so I’m afraid I’ll likely not get to use Google Assistant to the fullest.
Pixel Imprint & Moves (Gestures)
As mentioned in the first part of the review here, I love the fact that the fingerprint scanner is placed ergonomically correct at the back of the phone. It just makes sense to hold the phone and tap / swipe to unlock in a single hand. Think about it.
Setting up the fingerprint recognition is fairly easy to do. Following the on-screen instructions, place and lift your finger on the scanner until it’s fully registered.
There are a few little things I like about the Google Pixel’s features. Gestures, or what they call Moves. You can toggle them on and off as you please, but they do come in handy.
- Swipe for Notification – Allows you to swipe down on the Pixel Imprint fingerprint scanner to pull down the Notification Shade. Ergonomically handy.
- Jump to Camera – Double press the Power On/Off button and automatically launch the Camera app. This works on any screen, and even when your screen is off and phone is on standby. Helpful for when I have to snap a picture or video of a quick moment with baby.
- Flip Camera – In the Camera app, twist (or flick?) your wrist with the phone twice, and it switches between the rear and the front camera. Handy instead of tapping the screen.
I mentioned in Part 2 of the review on the Camera here, how handy the Jump to Camera function has been. I really love it!
In a recent system update I received yesterday (Android version 7.1.1), Google added 2 more gestures to the list:-
- Double tap to check phone – When your screen is off, phone in standby, double tap the screen to view quick notification alerts. This is not the lock screen, just a dim black screen with light grey notification bars.
- Lift to check phone – Detects the movement using the gyroscope in your phone, and shows you the notification shade when you raise your phone up.
That last one annoyed me a bit, and I quickly turned it off. I walk around with my phone in my hand sometimes. So to see the screen coming on every few seconds annoys me. And bound to drain my battery. So, yeah, toggle off for me.
Google Daydream VR (Virtual Reality)
If you’re passionate enough to get the Google Daydream View VR headset (selling for USD$79), there’s the Daydream app built into the Pixel.
For the fun of it, I played around with the app, but unfortunately, didn’t get far as I’m missing the VR headset for pairing.
According to the Daydream Experience website, not only can you play games with / without a controller (racing, adventure, golf), you can also view Google Street View and explore museums and other places (like Mars and under the ocean) and watch movies and videos (YouTube, Netflix, Hulu).
I’m sure with Virtual Reality and VR headsets in the market everywhere, you’ll be seeing a lot more developers work on cool VR stuff to come.
Phone Cases and Accessories
It wouldn’t be a WinnieKepala review if I didn’t talk about phone cases and accessories. Coz I’m a little phone case crazy. And I ALWAYS, ALWAYS protect my devices.
First thing first, I have to point out… it was really tough for me to find phone cases for the Google Pixel in Malaysia from the shops.
Remember, the Google Pixel is not officially sold in Malaysia via Google Malaysia online store,a s highlighted in Part 1 of this review. You either bought them abroad or imported online via Lazada or something.
If you attempt to walk into any shops in town, asking if they have any case or screen protectors for Google Pixel, you’ll very likely be met with a hard “No.”
Thankfully, though, we live in the online world where anything can be bought online and shipped over.
Whether you’re a Lazada user, or eBay, or TaoBao, or 11 Street, you’re sure to find some 3rd party accessories for your Google Pixel.
And Google sells this gorgeous Live Cases, in designs of Artworks, Photos, Google Places, Google Earth, Google Trends, and even allow you to customise your own design. Hmmmm… So tempting.
I’m a big fan of Nillkin phone cases. One of my go-to brands in almost all the phones I’ve owned in recent years. So, no surprises here that I got the Nillkin Nature Series TPU case for Google Pixel (Transparent) to show-off the beautiful back of the Google Pixel.
Anyone who’s ever bought a second hand device from me will know that I protect and take extreme good care of my devices. As a gadget lover, I can never leave a phone screen unprotected. The horror! So, I got the Nillkin Amazing H+ Pro tempered glass screen protector for Google Pixel.
Unfortunately though, as you can see from the picture above. All the tempered glass screen protectors don’t perfectly fit the screen. At first, I thought it was another off-brand screen protector I bought. Then, I did some research and found out that this is normal.
It’s usually common for curved screen phones, like maybe the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. But then, even that one had curved screen tempered glass protector, actually.
But, it seems the tempered glass protectors don’t completely wrap around the full screen of the Pixel, as the Pixel screen is slightly curved at the edges, but I honestly can’t tell. This “incomplete” coverage is meant to ensure the glass doesn’t peel off with phone case use, and also to avoid a “halo” effect on your display, which apparently is a common annoyance to many users. Hmmppfhhh…
At least, my Pixel screen is partially protected. ???
One of the biggest thing on my checklist of must-have when it comes to my personal device is battery life. Since the days of 2-day Battery Life on Sony phones, I can no longer tolerate any phones that can barely last me a full day.
See Also : Sony Xperia Z2 User Review
While I would love to have 2-day battery life on my smartphones, I know it’s a big ask.
My days vary so much, from light phone usage to super heavy usage. On heavy days, it’s non stop browsing and emails and calls and picture taking. On light days, the occasional social network browsing and messaging. So, all I ask for is at least 1 full day (preferably 1.5 days) of battery life on regular usage.
As I’ve been taking screenshots daily for the last couple of weeks and more, here’s the gist of it.
I can normally last a good full day with the Google Pixel’s 2770 mAH battery (3,450mAH on the Pixel XL), with the possibility of stretching it to 1.5 days with light use.
And that is perfect. Checks the box for me. Not jaw-dropping impressive, but good and decent battery compared to other flagships (ahem, Samsung and iPhone).
I can not say enough nice things about the Google Pixel in my 2-3 weeks use so far. Considering I have had a few people already asking me regularly on my thoughts on this phone. So, here’s a quick conclusion.
What I Like
- Matte back – This feels so premium and gorgeous, I don’t know how else to describe it
- Camera and Picture & Video Quality – NO arguments here, the BEST smartphone camera ever. For sure.
- Google future-ready – First to get any Android update. First to support Daydream VR capabilities. First to showcase Google Assistant. First. First. First.
What I Dislike
- Fingerprint magnet at the (err) Fingerprint Scanner top back – Although the bottom back is matte, the glossy finish at the top half of the back is annoying without a case
- Hefty Price Tag – Starting from RM 3,150 this can be a little too pricey for some
- No official support in Malaysia – you’re buying an import model here, although Google Forum is responsive, it’s still a paralell import unit
Should You Buy It?
If you’re looking for a high-end, flagship, premium Android smartphone, you should definitely consider the Google Pixel. Considering iPhone users pay a bomb to buy iPhones, this is not that exorbitant, if you compare the price tag, really.
If you’re like me, with similar checklist for your phone – Good camera, Full day battery, Fast performance – then definitely look at the Google Pixel.
You even get a choice between Pixel with a 5″ screen or a bigger, but not phablet sized Pixel XL with 5.5″ screen.
For more info, check out the official Google Pixel website at https://madeby.google.com/phone/