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Google Pixel & Pixel XL Review Roundup: Good Phone or Bad Phone?

Google Pixel & Pixel XL Review Roundup: Good Phone or Bad Phone?

As newer, more advanced smartphones penetrate the market, you may wonder whether the Google Pixel hype train still exists in 2023. The phone’s superior camera and powerful operating system once dominated the Android sphere, with many considering it an iPhone killer—but do the Pixel and Pixel XL still hold up today?

Previous reviews didn’t hesitate to call out the Pixel collection’s high price, lack of a microSD slot and water resistance, so-so design, and missed potential with Google Assistant. However, its performance, software, and camera often outweighed these cons.

If you’re considering purchasing a Google Pixel or Pixel XL device in 2023, look at what these reviewers had to say.


Clearly, Gizmodo isn’t thrilled with the Pixel or its XL counterpart, calling the phone “too dumb and ugly to replace your iPhone.” Ouch. While its “Google brain” supposedly learns user habits over time, Google Assistant’s glitches and failures don’t match up with today’s AI.

On the bright side, the Pixel and Pixel XL are highly intuitive, with easy-to-use shortcuts and long-press features. In addition, its camera is still good, though less powerful than those in newer Pixel devices. 

You can read the entire review here.


As with most reviews, CNET’s favorite thing about the Google Pixel is its camera, which is elegantly designed and performs exceptionally in low light. Unlike most reviews, however, it enthusiastically recommends the Pixel in 2023 if you’re interested in an inexpensive Android device.

CNET hails the Pixel for its intuitive day-to-day features and doesn’t have too many qualms about its Google Assistant—not unless you’re picky. In that case, Google Assistant is not as accessible as it could be.

Overall, CNET rated the device an 8.8 out of 10 and recommended it to Android users who don’t want to purchase a Samsung or iPhone users who want something different.

You can read the entire review here.

Ars Technica

Ars Technica gave the phones a favorable review upon the Pixel launch, hailing their “cohesive, consistent software package.” It didn’t experience much grief over the phone’s Assistant, calling its voice command system “a great evolution.” However, the original Pixel’s voice system pales compared to its successors, considering the drastic improvements provided by Alexa and Siri, among other voice assistants. If you hope to rely on a smartphone with a robust voice system, the original Pixel series may not satisfy your needs.

In its original review, Ars Technica also praised the Pixel’s fast OS updates, though you’ll likely find something faster by today’s standards.

You can read the entire review here.

The Verge

According to The Verge, the Pixel’s initial launch made it a “utilitarian and approachable” phone, rewarding it plus points for functionality. However, it did call its lack of water resistance “dumb and annoying,” considering the number of devices that were already waterproof at the time of its launch.

One of the originals Pixel’s best features, even—or perhaps especially—in 2023, is its headphone jack. No more fumbling with easy-to-lose adaptors.

While The Verge called the Pixel’s processors fast, they are relatively average by today’s standards. Still, they’ll pack a bit of punch in 2023.

You can read the entire review here.


Regarding positive reviews, Engadget only has a few qualms about the original Pixels, such as their “drab design, wimpy water resistance, and [initially] hefty price tags.” Still, Engadget called the Pixels a “strong foundation” for the evidently superior Pixel successors today.

Unlike most reviews, however, Engadget did call the Pixels out for their occasionally skittish cameras, which lack optical image stabilization. Blur is often an issue and is especially apparent when shooting videos.

Engadget sang praises for the Pixel’s Snapdragon 821 clock speed, which is still pretty high-performing in 2023. In addition, the Pixel’s battery life, with the XL lasting roughly two hours longer, remains impressive today.

Click here to read the entire review.


Though Techspot found the Pixel’s design to be “just a little weird,” it did give the phone a favorable review. It hailed some unique software features, praising its exclusive functionality with Google Assistant.

Techspot did call out its lack of a microSD card slot and water resistance but was pleased by its “decent selection” of ports and fast data transfers, which hold up in 2023.

You can read the entire review here.

Tech Radar

Tech Radar mostly overlooked the Pixel’s Google Assistant and price issues, calling it a “breath of fresh air.” It commended the Pixel’s strong camera, easy interface, and app selection.

It was also one of the few reviews to mention the possibility of keeping up with future software updates, which still fare well in 2023. Perhaps Tech Radar’s biggest plus about the Pixel is how it managed to simplify over-complicated Android devices.

If you’re looking for a simple phone in 2023, Tech Radar’s mostly glistening review will likely convince you to invest in the original Pixel.

You can read the review here.


Wired provides the Pixel’s most enthusiastic review, with its author claiming she would even replace her iPhone with it. According to Wired’s review, “you can’t take a bad picture” with the Pixel, which holds true today if you’re after a now-budget phone that produces stunning Instagram posts.

Like Tech Radar’s review, Wired praised the Pixel for being an escape from Android’s typically over-complicated devices, likening it to how usable the iPhone often is.

While it won’t rake up to the Pixel’s latest iteration, Wired’s review will convince you that the original Pixel is still a worthy buy in 2023, given that you aren’t after more complex features.

Click here to read the review.


Design and waterproofing apart, most initial reviews of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL were favorable, and the phone appears to meet today’s ever-changing standards. While it won’t blow you away in 2023, the original Pixels are generally sturdy phones that will do what you need on the daily. Plus, its camera is still pretty impressive!

What do you think about the Google Pixel? Is it a good or a bad phone?