Google may have started its Android journey with the T-Mobile G1, but it wasn’t until the Nexus One that it started selling the phones itself. The Nexus One was a major departure from how Android phones were being sold until then. In the US, you would get your phone directly from the carrier, as you had been doing for many years, and elsewhere you’d buy it from the OEM making it, whether it was Samsung, HTC, or Motorola. But even though the phones were running Google’s operating system, they weren’t exactly Google phones.
This was what was so different about the Nexus One. Although the hardware was made by HTC (it was nothing more than a slightly retooled HTC Desire) this was the first phone directly sold by Google from its website. And that was the beginning of the Nexus brand, a series of phones from Google running a pure version of Android, with the promise of quick updates and support directly from Google.
The Nexus One was followed by the Nexus S, which was made by Samsung (again, just a redesigned Galaxy S), which was then followed by the Galaxy Nexus, then the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 6, and last year’s Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P. Over the years the designs changed, the manufacturers changed, but the basic principle remained the same.
Unfortunately, 2015 will be the year that we got the last Nexus device as Google has since shuttered down the brand. In its place comes the Pixel.
Now, to be fair, Pixel has been around for some time. The first device was the Chromebook Pixel, which also got a second generation update. Then there was the Pixel C tablet from last year. Each of these devices maintained some of the principles of the Nexus series: devices sold by Google with the latest version of the software. The Pixel devices also went a couple of steps ahead, and aimed to be the best possible in their respective product category without worrying about the price, which was often a criteria for Nexus devices. Also, Pixel devices were actually being manufactured by Google itself.
This year we get the first two phones in the Pixel lineup, the simply named Pixel, and the larger Pixel XL. Like the other Pixel devices, these will be made and sold by Google itself, come with the promise of quick software updates, and will also be supported by Google. These are also flagship devices in their category, and are priced as such. If you came looking for yet another Nexus phone, then these are not the droids you are looking for. If you want the best possible Android smartphone out there, then you might be at the right place. Continue reading “Review: Pixel XL”