Smartphone Supertest 2017: What's the best phone right now?

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Google Pixel XL: The headlines

Google’s first own-brand handset wasn’t just supposed to put every other Android phone to shame – it was supposed to convince iPhone owners to make the switch from iOS. That meant saying bye to the Nexus range, leaving OnePlus to plug that affordable gap while Google focuses on the high end.

The result isn’t quite the show-stopper we were hoping for, with no drop-dead gorgeous design, no water-resistance and only decent battery life to justify the high price. The 5.5in XL version is on the big side too: add one of Google’s custom Live Cases and it’ll be bulging out of your pocket before you know it. It’s powerful enough to keep pace with the competition, though, thanks to a Snapdragon 821 CPU. That might not be the fastest processor around any more, but with no third-party skins bogging down Android 7 Nougat, the Pixel XL really flies. Plus, the pure, undiluted Google experience will always appeal to a hardcore subset of Android fans. 

If that doesn’t wow you, then the camera probably will – by stitching together multiple shots every time you press the shutter button, you get noise-free photos with realistic colours and excellent exposure. Other phones are still playing catch-up here, more than six months after launch. It’s not perfect, but neither is the iPhone – and that never stopped Apple, did it?

If you’re after simplicity above all else, with a brilliant camera, powerful internals and a stock Android OS that bleeds Google right down to the core, the Pixel XL still holds its own against the newly arrived Galaxy S8. 

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