Google Pixel review

A breath of fresh Google air in a world of Android over-complication

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The Google Pixel is a solid smartphone, but it takes a different direction to previous Nexus handsets. Its loftier price point means it’s under real pressure to perform in all aspects. 

It's a phone we wanted to love, and we're certainly smitten. 

The design will divide people, the battery could be better, and the price will be a stumbling block for some, but the Pixel is a fast, slick, powerful smartphone which puts the best of Google in your palm. 

The clean Android interface is a joy to use, the camera is strong, and the Pixel will happily gobble up any app you throw at it. 

The interfaces overlaid by the likes of Samsung, HTC, LG and Huawei have improved significantly over the last few years, but stock Android still feels cleaner, appears to be faster and more efficient and that makes the Pixel great to use.

Add in the fact that you’ll be first in line for future Android software upgrades, and Google has nailed many of the key points with the Pixel. 

Who's it for?

The Google Pixel isn’t like its Nexus-named predecessors. This isn’t a phone looking to give you flagship specs for a cut-down price – it's a flagship phone, and it has a flagship price tag. 

Google’s own line of smartphones are no longer aimed at those looking for a deal. We saw evidence of the switch with the Nexus 6P, which carried a larger price tag, and the search giant’s shift to battling with the big boys is now complete. 

The Google Pixel is for the tech-savvy and cash-rich who want to feel the latest tech in their pocket without the overbearing presence of the 5.5-inch Pixel XL. It's not as flashy as the Samsung Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8 Plus, but it looks nice enough to turn some heads.

It offers something different to the HTC U11, Samsung Galaxy S7 and iPhone 7 which are more feature-led, with the Pixel instead designed to deliver a top-notch user experience and all the right tools in all the right places – which it does. 

Should I buy it?

The Google Pixel is an excellent flagship phone. It combines a heap of power and a slick interface with a solid camera and premium design – a combo which will have almost universal appeal.

It doesn’t quite hit the high marks of the Galaxy S7 though, with the Pixel’s battery performance putting it below a number of flagship rivals, but as long as you’ve got a charging cable to hand you won’t be disappointed. 

You are paying top dollar for the Google Pixel, and at this price point the competition is fierce. It’s not the best phone around – that honor stays with the Galaxy S7 Edge (and S7) for now – but the Pixel offers up something a little different for Android thanks to its simplicity. 

The Pixel is a breath of fresh Android air in a world of over-complication, and you'll feel rejuvenated using it.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.