It's nice that the Pixel Imprint fingerprint scanner supports 'moves', although you'll need to switch this on in the settings. It means you can swipe downward on the fingerprint scanner to access the notification bar and a second time for quick settings. It's a shame, then, that you can't swipe up for the app draw and right for Google Now.
Nestling under the smart metal casing is a large 3450mAh battery that Google claims will give you 32 hours of talk time, 14 hours of Wi-Fi browsing, or 14 hours of video playback. We found the Pixel XL will comfortably last a full day unless you hammer it and light users may even get a couple of days. We'll update with a battery benchmark soon.
Fast charging is also supported (no wireless here), with plugging the device in for fifteen minutes via the USB-C port resulting in seven hours of power. In our test the device charged a decent 20 percent in the time period. It's worth noting that the supplied charger requires a USB-C to USB-C cable which is provides as well as a full-size USB to USB-C cable.
Either side of the USB-C port are two slots which you'd be forgiven for assuming are stereo speakers. In fact, just one is for the speaker which is a disappointing step down from the front facing speakers of the Nexus 6P. There is a headphone jack, though, which is perhaps an important issue if you're trying to decide between the Pixel XL and iPhone 7 Plus.
Cameras are of course a big selling point for smartphones these days and the Pixel XL places its trust in a 12.3Mp rear unit with 1.55µm pixels that Google says was given a rating of 89 by DXO Mark, which is the highest score ever awarded to a smartphone. The camera is no different to the smaller Pixel, or on the most part, the Nexus 6P.
It now has phase detection autofocus as well as laser but it's strange to see a lack of optical image stabilisation. Perhaps Google didn’t want a camera bump, something it pointed out at the launch event. Instead, the phone uses digital stabilisation and while it helps makes things smoother, it's no match for the optical version.
Those of a selfie persuasion will find the 8Mp front facing camera to be a fine way to capture plenty of duckfaces and holiday group shots. You'll also be able to make use of this with Google's new video calling app, Duo.
There's no doubt the cameras are excellent quality but we're struggling to think why Nexus 6P owners would upgrade or why anyone else wouldn't be satisfied with a rival at a lower price. There are things exclusive to the Pixel like Smartburst and Pro controls but it's not like there aren't plenty of decent camera apps out there for you do download. There's also the fact that the iPhone 7 Plus (same price remember) has dual cameras with one being 2x telephoto.
Google Pixel XL review: Software
As you’d expect from Google’s own smartphone, the Pixel XL arrives bearing Android Nougat but the very latest iteration of the world’s most popular mobile OS in version 7.1.
It's a clean, smart update, which doesn't change things too much but does introduce the ability to slide up from the main screen to open the app tray and replaces the Google bar with a small tab on the left. The round icons won't be to everyone's taste tough.
There are a few touches here and there, including the ability to blur the background wallpaper image which we found ludicrously useful almost straight away. You can also choose daily wallpapers or even Live Earth ones which move as you do things.
Google has also added a Night Light which turns the screen a red hue at, erm, night to ease the strain on your eyes and help you get to sleep. You can also get support from the firm, via call or chat, straight from the settings menu.
Speaking of the settings menu, we like the new notification style slots at the top which mean you can quickly switch things off like the Wi-Fi hotspot quickly and easily without having to delve into the menu.
The Pixels are the first phones to have Google's new Assistant 'built-in' so although you'll be able to download it on other phones in the future, you can long press the home button on the Pixel XL anytime to launch it.
This impressive organisational tool is essentially a powered up version of Google Now and can help schedule your diary, answer queries, get directions to events, and control various apps on the phone. It's something that Google is making the central point of its entire range going forward, so as you use it on a phone, tablet, or even Chromebook, it will learn more about your preferences and improve in its suggestions.
Another included app is Google Allo, the new messaging app that also incorporates Google Assistant. This seems to have replaced Hangouts, which isn't a bad thing, allowing group chats and even has a privacy mode. You can read more about in our How to use Google Allo guide.
Google Duo also now comes as standard. This video messaging service is similar to Apple’s Facetime (and indeed Google’s Hangouts), is free and works on both Android and iOS. See: What is Google Duo?
The Pixels are the first Daydream - Google's new VR technology - ready devices. To celebrate this the company also announced the £69 Daydream View headset at the event, which will work with Pixels to bring immersive gaming worlds to users. It's a step up from Google Cardboard, that's for sure.
Read next: Best new phones coming in 2017
Google Pixel XL: Specs
- 5.5in QuadHD display running at 1440 x 2560 resolution, Snapdragon 821 CPU 2.15 GHz + 1.6 GHz, Adreno™ 530 GPU 64-Bit Quad-Core processor , 4GB RAM, 32GB or 128GB storage, 12.3MP rear camera, 8MP front camera, 3450mAh battery, 4G LTE, 802.11ac WiFi, BT 4.2, USB-C charging port, Fast Charging support, headphone jack, Android 7.1 OS