Editors' pick: Originally published Oct. 19.
With the Note 7 literally going up in flames, Samsung has given Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google a golden opportunity to join an upper echelon of high-end smartphone makers that currently has just two names. Initial reviews and order activity for the company's Pixel and Pixel XL phones give reason to think the opportunity won't be wasted.
Two weeks after Google unveiled the first smartphones to bear the company's Pixel brand, a gaggle of reviewers have declared the devices to be the best Android phones available. "Google has come out of the gate with a top-flight phone and suddenly, there's no longer an Apple-Samsung duopoly in premium handsets," writes long-time Apple (AAPL) fan Walt Mossberg.
"[The Pixel] changes my answer to the question I hear most often: What phone should you get?," says Wired's David Pierce. "The Android iPhone You've Been Waiting For," reads the headline of a review from The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern.
Though there are some points of criticism, the Pixel's hardware and software received high marks overall. The 12-megapixel rear camera, already proclaimed by imaging software firm DxO to be the best of any smartphone it has tested, was found to be as good as advertised. Pierce: "[T]he colors, dynamic range, and sharpness matched or exceeded every phone I've used. You don't get the cool zoom or soft-focus features of the [dual-lens] iPhone 7 Plus, but you get killer photos nonetheless."
The Pixel's OLED display -- similar to ones found on high-end Samsung (SSNLF) phones -- was also considered to be among the best available. Stern, comparing it with the iPhone 7's LCD display, wrote that "blacks are deeper, colors are more vibrant and the higher pixel density makes everything sharper." Apple's 2017 iPhones will reportedly feature OLED displays.