Google Pixel XL: First few hours

Sorry, Steve.
Sorry, Steve.

Earlier tonight I picked up my Google Pixel XL from the Verizon store. After a few hours of playing around, I’m figuring things out, including the fact that I’ve got a lot to learn.

First, what’s in the box.

The Pixel XL comes in a tidy box larger than I expected it to be. It’s made of solid cardboard that fits together just so. In short, it feels like quality packaging.

Inside is the following:

  1. A mini quick-start guide
  2. A card on Google Assistant
  3. A card on Google Play Music
  4. A thank-you card
  5. A mini manual (and I mean “mini”)

There’s also an adapter for importing info from an iPhone (a process that worked flawlessly for me), two cables and a big, honking wall charger. Lastly, there’s a tool for removing the SIM card.

To call these "flyers" is generous. Let's go with "cards."
To call these “flyers” is generous. Let’s go with “cards.”

The phone itself

It feels very nice in the hand. The taper that many have mentioned…it’s a wedge shape, thicker at the top and thinner at the bottom…is likely in place to avoid camera bulge and does not affect the feel of the phone. I was afraid it would feel top heavy but that’s not the case. It’s really well balanced.

The sides are nice and grippy and it’s definitely less slippery than my iPhone 6S was. Also notable is that piece of glass that covers the top third of the rear case. I guess Google was going for something distinctive and iconic there, but ultimately it’s unnecessary and kind of goofy. Like a rear spoiler on a Toyota Corolla.

The good

There are a few things I like right off the bat. First is the placement of the fingerprint sensor. It really makes sense on the rear of the phone, as the way I hold the thing places my finger right where the sensor is. The phone is also just as fast as you’ve read. Apps launch very quickly and are quite responsive. Additionally, the power button on the side is textured, making it very easy to find without looking.

The mildly irksome

There are a few things that irk me a bit. Chief among them is the inconsistency among app icon design. Google is pushing circular icons as a standard, and many developers have not updated their icons yet. So you get some that are round, some that are square, some that are simply a logo. It’s messy.

By default, the phone is set to vibrate whenever you hit any button. Type a letter, it vibrates. Hit a home button, it vibrates. It’s extremely annoying but I was able to disable it. Thank goodness.

Lastly, “jiggle mode” is not persistent. If you long-tap so that you can re-arrange icons, you can move one and then you leave jiggle mode automatically. Unless I’m doing it wrong. Which is likely.

So far, I’m happy with this device but honestly I’ve only had it for a few hours. Tomorrow will be my first full day with it. I’ll be sharing everything here so keep an eye out. Talk to you soon.


  1. Good luck on your new adventure! A went down the same path you did a few years ago. I was using a lot of Google services right around the time Motorola released the original Moto X. It was, for its time, a forward thinking device that complimented Google’s services very well. I took the leap and was pretty happy on Android for about a year. I got to try out some new mobile device concepts, got a taste for what all of my Android loving friends liked about the platform, and reminded myself that Apple wasn’t, and still isn’t, the only company making quality experiences.

    Ultimately, a disconnect with family (iMessage and FaceTime) and my opinion that the then-new iPhone 6 was superior to anything I could find on Android at the time pulled me back to iOS. I don’t regret my “wilderness year” with Android, though, and I was glad I took a leap and tried something new.

    Can’t wait to hear more about your trip down Android road.

  2. The jiggle thing isn’t constant, you need to reselect every icon. On the plus side it stops once you’ve moved something on the downside you have to hold every time and you can’t rearrange lots in one go.
    Icon packs can be a fun way to work round the issues of the icons being inconsistent…but you need a special launcher (action launcher FTW) and there will still be icons that aren’t part of the pack.

    Hope you enjoy the experience.

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