For its latest smartphone generation, Google has dropped the Nexus moniker of previous models and used Pixel branding borrowed from the company's top-end Chromebooks and tablets. The Pixel XL is the larger of two models and comes with a 5.5" QHD-screen that uses AMOLED technology.

In terms of technical camera specifications, not much has changed compared to last year's Nexus devices. A 1/2.3" 12MP sensor is paired with an F2.0 aperture but offers no optical image stabilization. However, Google has flexed its muscles on the software side of things and added a new gyroscope-based video stabilization system that reads gyro data 200 times per second for smoother panning and shake-free handheld video recording.

Additionally, thanks to more powerful processing and zero shutter lag the excellent HDR+ mode is now on by default, using an image stacking approach to reduce noise, capture better detail and increase dynamic range. While the Pixel XL's camera hardware looks promising, it is these innovative algorithms that make the Google device one of the most interesting smartphones for photography released this year.

Key Photographic / Video Specifications

  • 1/2.3” 12MP CMOS sensor with 1.55µm pixels
  • F2.0 aperture
  • AF with on-sensor phase detection and laser-assistance
  • Dual-tone LED flash
  • 4K video at 30 fps
  • 1080p slow-motion at 120fps, 720p at 240fps
  • Manual controls and Raw-support with third-party camera apps
  • Gyroscope-based video stabilization
  • 8MP front camera, 1/3.2" sensor, 1.4 µm pixels, F2.4, 1080p video
  • Unlimited cloud storage for full-resolution images and videos

Other Specifications

  • 5.5-inch Quad-HD AMOLED screen
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chipset
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32/128GB storage
  • 3,450mAh battery
  • Splash and dust resistant
  • Fingerprint reader

DPReview smartphone reviews are written with the needs of photographers in mind. We focus on camera features, performance, and image quality.