Camera Quality and Audio Performance
Here is easily the most impressive part of the Pixel from a hardware standpoint, as the camera sensor might be the best found in any smartphone to date. The SoC under the hood is no slouch (as we will see on the next page), but this camera is currently unmatched in the smartphone space, and that is saying something. It currently occupies the top of the DxOMark charts, where it has been since launch, and deservedly so. The Pixel takes fantastic photos in just about any lighting situation, and provides natural color and great detail.
So much has already been written about this camera (including the comprehensive review by DxOMark) that I will leave it at that, and provide a few of my own snapshots for reference.
The HDR+ option produces particularly outstanding results. Just look at the depth and color from this photo (a classic filling station at a local car museum), and the perfectly exposed sky in the background. Wonderful!
And on the subject of HDR, here is a before and after example, taken one after the other indoors in a difficult lighting situation. Look at how the desired brightness level resulted first in blown out whites, and how HDR+ controlled the final exposure perfectly.
In the second photo you can read the sign in front of the car, and the ribbon hanging from the side mirror is blue once again. This rather dimly-lit museum was a great test of the camera, and the Pixel produced great results.
Even this throwaway shot of flowers at a local greenhouse has great color and detail, and is indicative of the quality of even everyday shots with the Pixel. I'll stop here, but this really is a fantastic camera.
The Pixel offers a 3.5 mm headphone jack, which is a welcome sight in an industry that likes to copy even Apple’s mistakes. The audio from the Pixel’s headphone jack is excellent, with powerful, distortion-free sound with my usual Grado headphones and standard earbuds alike. I was very impressed by the quality, and I am very hard to please (to my own detriment, most of the time). Speaker quality is good, too; with enough volume to effectively share videos and hold a speakerphone conversation.
Call quality from the earpiece speaker is excellent as well, with plenty of volume (if you need it) and good clarity. Audio picked up by the Pixel's microphone was also quite good, with excellent voice fidelity in calls in my testing. In fact, the fidelity was so good over T-Mobile that I checked and yes, the Pixel supports VoLTE (since the December Android 7.1.1 update as "enhanced 4G LTE mode"), and I certainly recommend leaving this option enabled for the best call quality on supported networks.
In short, in the audio department overall the Pixel gets high marks from me, with fantastic sound from the headphone jack, very good earpiece audio quality, and an above-average speaker.