Pixel hands-on: Google's first smartphone is a direct iPhone competitor

The device was unveiled yesterday afternoon...

Google has made a phone for the first time. It sounds crazy given how central Google has been the smartphone revolution of the last decade with Android, but this is what Google claims is the first device designed and built by Google from the ground up.

The result is the Pixel, a smartphone that comes in two sizes, the regular model with a 5in screen and the Pixel XL which features a 5.5in screen. Despite Google's claim that this is a unique design, there is still no getting away from the fact that on first viewing it looks remarkably like an iPhone.

The one unique design feature is the polished glass panel on the rear which is there to help make the antennas work better. For me it doesn't quite work aesthetically, and is just a bit jarring rather than adding anything to the phone's overall look. The phone comes in black and silver versions, and there will also be a limited edition blue version available in the future.

The phone is certainly a premium device, constructed from aluminium and glass and both models feel smaller than their screen sizes would suggest. For me the smaller model is the one I would choose, but for the 5.5in Pixel XL is certainly not too big for most people.

In terms of specs both are right at the cutting edge of the technology available today. Both models are powered by Snapdragon 821 quad-core chips from Qualcomm and paired with 4GB of memory. This, together with the custom build of Android, which is on the new phones ensures that performance is incredibly fast with no noticeable lag or waiting for apps to load.

The Google Pixel features the same AMOLED display technology which Samsung utilises for its Galaxy S and Note range of smartphones. The Pixel XL features a higher resolution display than the smaller model, and while you can certainly notice the difference holding them side-by-side, it is not a huge difference.

Google is also following in the footsteps of Huawei and Samsung by offering rapid charging technology, promising seven hours of use out of just a quick 15 minute charge. Like last year’s Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, both models use the newer USB-C charging port which is now becoming commonplace among smartphones.

Both devices are available to preorder now, but only in U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany and Australia with no date for an Irish release available yet. The phones are available in 32GB and 128GB configurations which will set you back £599/£699 for the Pixel and £719/£819 for the larger Pixel XL. This puts them in the same price bracket as the latest iPhones, meaning Irish customers can expected to pay over €700 for the smaller Pixel and close to €900 for the Pixel XL when they finally go on sale in Ireland.