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October 12, 2017

Should you buy an original Pixel or Pixel XL in 2017?

by John_A

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Is a lower-priced Pixel or Pixel XL a good deal right now?

The unceasing march of innovation, coupled with the desire for a predictable revenue stream for manufacturers and carriers alike, all but ensures an annual update cycle for most major smartphone brands.

So is true of the new Pixel 2 series, which takes what made last year’s models so good and improves on them in nearly every conceivable way.

But Google and its U.S. carrier partner Verizon are not putting the originals out to pasture just yet. Instead, they’re each getting $100 price cuts and entering their second life as, if not budget phones, viable options for fast, capable, approachable Android flagships for people who don’t want or need the very best.

And if you want a Pixel with a headphone jack, last year’s models are your only option.

Should you buy a Pixel?

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At $549, the original Pixel is still a good phone, but it’s not a great deal.

With the original Pixel down to $549, it’s easier than ever to get into a Chevy Google. With its 5-inch OLED display, still-powerful Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage, the Pixel has specs that don’t seem too out of place in late 2017, and it’s still got a year left of Google’s guaranteed platform updates, which means it will be among the first devices to get Android P when it debuts in 2018. It’s also got a 2770mAh battery, which is ever-so-slightly larger than the one in the Pixel 2.

But the original Pixel lacks a couple of key features that many people take for granted in phones today; its single, downport speaker doesn’t compare well to the front-facing stereo speakers on the Pixel 2, and it lacks its successor’s IP67 water resistance. It also has a rather pedestrian design that failed to win over the mass market.

At $549, the original Pixel is still a good phone, but it’s not a great deal. If you’re already spending that much on a phone, you should probably try to save up the extra hundred for the Pixel 2, which adds a faster Snapdragon 835 processor, double the storage, an improved camera with optical image stabilization, and the promise of an additional two years of platform updates.

Of course, as already mentioned, the Pixel has the headphone jack that the Pixel 2 lacks, which, if wired headphones are important, may singlehandedly be enough to push you over the edge.

If you do want an original Pixel, it may be worth investigating lightly used models on sites like Swappa or eBay, which could bring the cost down significantly.

See at Google Store

Should you buy a Pixel XL?

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The question of whether you should buy a Pixel XL right now is a bit more nuanced. The same arguments against it still apply — no waterproofing, aging processor, shorter update lifespan — but the Pixel XL, at its lower price of $669, has a considerable price delta advantage to the Pixel 2 XL, which starts at $849.

The Pixel 2 XL is a better phone, but it’s also nearly $200 more expensive.

Sure, the Pixel 2 XL is sleeker and taller, with an updated design that takes advantage of LG’s near-bezelless design and pOLED technology, but the Pixel XL is still a whopper of a phone. Its 3450mAh battery has proven capable of offering all-day battery life, something its smaller Pixel counterpart never quite realized, and its higher-resolution QHD panel makes everything from watching video to playing games in Daydream VR a more pleasant experience.

Thanks to its hardware advantages, I spent a lot more time with the Pixel XL than the Pixel throughout 2016 and 2017, and I’d venture to say it’s one of the best phones ever made. At $669, it’s a much more interesting proposition than the Pixel at $549, and if you’re looking for a larger flagship that will stand the test of time, I’d encourage you to look into it.

See at Google Store

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

  • Google Pixel and Pixel XL review
  • Google Pixel XL review: A U.S. perspective
  • Google Pixel FAQ: Should you upgrade?
  • Pixel + Pixel XL specs
  • Understanding Android 7.1 Nougat
  • Join the discussion in the forums!

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