The Best Features of Google’s Brand New Pixel Phones

A review of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL, and details on price, battery life and more.

The Google phone is finally here. Say hello to the Google Pixel and Pixel XL, the first phones to officially be labelled “Made by Google,” meaning the search-engine giant has engineered the hardware as well as the software. The 5-inch Pixel and 5.5-inch Pixel XL are available in three colours: Quite Black, Very Silver and Really Blue (US only). There are two fixed options: 32GB or 128GB, and prices start at $899 for the Pixel and $1,049 for the Pixel XL. (The phone is also available on contract through several Canadian carriers this Thursday, October 20.)

After going hands-on with the phones, we were impressed by a lot of cool features, but here are the ones we’re craziest about.

Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

The Camera
Google understands that the camera is a phone’s crown jewel. DxOMark has rated the Pixel as the best smartphone camera ever tested, with a score of 89. It has a 12.3 megapixel snapper that comes equipped with f/2.0 aperture. You’ll also be able to capture excellent low-light photos, thanks to the 1.55µm pixel size, and it also offers 4K or 1080p video recording. (Best selfies ever!) You can also switch between the rear camera and selfie mode with a double flick of the wrist.

Google Assistant
Pixel comes with Google Assistant built in. Like Siri, you can access it by pressing the home button or through a key phrase (“Okay Google”). Its greatest strength is its ability to understand context, allowing it to provide relevant answers and have better conversations. For example, you can say, “OK, Google, where is the nearest nail salon?” and then tap the mic icon and follow up with “Remind me to leave for my nail appointment at 10 a.m.” When you wake up, just say “Good Morning” or “What do I have to do today” and the Assistant will give you a rundown of what’s on your day’s docket. This is a busy-girl lifesaver!

Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

Battery Life
While battery life really varies based on how you use your phone, on a day of heavy usage the Pixel held its own. After just 15 minutes of charging, the phone lasted for a full seven hours.

No need to delete your old videos and photos to make space. You can take all the 12-megapixel HDR+ photos and HD videos you want. If you max out the local storage, Google will transfer your older snaps to the cloud automatically.

Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

The Pixel line of phones is the first built to work with Google’s virtual reality platform, Daydream. Kick back in your personal VR cinema and play games that put you at the centre of action.

Live Cases
Google is offering “live cases” that can be customized with your favourite photos and places, as well as exclusive designs. The customizable Artworks Live Case also comes with a companion live wallpaper that features the complete set of designs. Designer’s include Gray Malin, Justin Maller and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

The Switch
Google has made it super easy to transfer all your contacts, photos, videos, music, SMS messages and even iMessages to your Pixel. After plugging in the Quick Switch Adapter, it literally took minutes for everything to be transferred over.