I feel like I’ve been using a Google phone for years now but in reality, I’ve never really used one at all. Instead I’ve had several Android-based phones all packed with Google goodness. This means I’ve had Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Photos, Google Drive and an assortment of other Google products all on my phone but the phone itself was never made by Google.
Well now Google does have its own smartphone called the Pixel. And honestly, it’s been one of the more difficult phones for me to review. Why? Because nearly everything that Google brags about being able to do with this phone I’ve been able to do on my Samsung Galaxy phones for years—with a few exceptions of course.
The first of these exceptions is the Google Assistant. This is the name Google has chosen to represent its next-generation voice assistant. It’s the same assistant that is built into the new Google Home product. Still, despite this being a new feature on the Pixel, most of what you can do with the new Google Assistant, I can do on my current phone just by uttering, “Okay Google”.
The biggest difference to me (and admittedly a very cool difference) is that the Google Assistant can handle follow-up questions. So not only can I ask, “Who won the Packers game last night?” but I can then follow it up with, “What is their record?” The key is the use of the word “their”. I didn’t have to be specific and say, “What is the Green Bay Packers’ record?”
Same goes when you are trying to find something near you. For example, I can say, “Where is the nearest Walgreens?” and after Google tells me I can ask, “What is their phone number?”
The Google Assistant also claims to be good at remembering things it learns for future context down the road. So in a sense, it gets smarter the more you use it.
Highest rated smartphone camera
The second notable difference between the Google Pixel and other Android smartphones is the camera. Google claims the Pixel has the “best-ever 89 DxOMark Mobile score”. Yeah, I’ve never heard of that either but the camera does let you take pretty good pictures in low light.
The other things that Google brags about with the Google Pixel are things I already enjoy with my current Samsung Galaxy S6. Namely, unlimited photo storage (with the Google Photos app) and the Google equivalent of FaceTime called Duo (again available to everyone as an app).
Migrating from your current phone to the Pixel
One last feature I want to make sure you know about, but that I wasn’t able to actually test (because my Pixel was a demo), is the ability to transfer (or switch as Google calls it) all of the information from your current smartphone to the Pixel via the included Quick Switch Adapter.
Basically, you connect your old phone to the Google Pixel and let the Pixel do magic to transfer everything over—even if your old phone is an iPhone.
The Google Pixel is clearly a good smartphone choice but because it doesn’t really do that much more than what I can do with my Samsung Galaxy S6, I don’t feel compelled to make the switch. Plus, it lacks things the current model Samsung Galaxy S7 has like being able to fully immerse it in water.
Something tells me though that it won’t be long until the Google Pixel comes out with generation number two. And I’d be willing to bet, at that point it will be a tough phone to beat.
Note: The Google Pixel in this review was provided to me by Verizon Wireless and can be purchased at your local Verizon Wireless store or at www.verizonwireless.com.