Google announced Pixel today, making official what we’ve known for a long time. Nexus is out of the picture; Pixel shows the way forward. And Google finally has a phone it can proudly call its own. The latest darling of the tech world embodies Google’s ideas and vision for how an Android device ought to work, with Assistant at the center of it all.
I’m somewhat on the fence on how to feel about Google’s version of Siri, even though it’s obviously smarter than Apple’s digital assistant, what with all the information Google has accumulated over the years. All those searches and clicks have made the internet titan the foremost expert on the topic of us and everything around us. We Google people and places and things. And we let Google run our browser, calendar, and email. (Real talk, though: I think Google knows too much about us.)
Though for all its smarts and promise of convenience, Google’s AI assistant isn’t something I see myself using regularly. And certainly not in public. Not because I don’t want Google to know which restaurants I frequent and what food I like, but because I refuse to be “that guy” who starts a conversation with his phone around other people. Thanks for the suggestion, Google, but I’m trying to make healthier food choices now, and chomping down a triple-patty burger is simply out of the question. So pipe down.
Further, I don’t think it would be a stretch to say getting first dibs on Google Assistant alone is reason enough to pick up a $649 Pixel. The package as a whole, however, is plenty compelling. The hardware itself looks refined and sophisticated, and its insides make other phones nervous; and that sweet, sweet glass around the back, which has been crowned “best smartphone camera” by industry specialists, is just begging to be put to the test.
But what I’m most pleased with — and this has often eluded the conversation — is that both Pixel phones have parity in terms of both hardware and software. There might be regrettable differences here and there; however, they are understandable, even desirable to some degree. A bigger and higher-resolution display is more expensive to make and requires more power to keep it running; the inverse applies to the Pixel and its smaller screen.
With the exception of fit and handling, the experience should be the same and as good whether you’re using the small Pixel or big Pixel phone. Same feel in the hand, same speed, same great photos, same eerily intelligent software, same almost everything. As should be the case across the industry. However, that’s usually not how things pan out. Often the smaller phone is shorted on features we want the most.
Want the best photos from an iPhone camera? Get the bigger (and more expensive) iPhone 7 Plus, period. And while I highly value image quality and the benefits of a portrait lens, I was never one who liked big phones. I prefer a design that I can wrap my hand around comfortably, which is why I use an iPhone 6S as my daily driver. I wouldn’t mind using an Xperia Compact, but the latest one takes a step back from the progress made by earlier models. Sony once had the small flagship market in its pocket; now it’s just another player.
Google can talk up its big ambition to get us talking to our personal devices more all it wants. I’m just glad that it isn’t trying to upsell me on a phone that’s too big for my hands, too big for my pockets. I’m sure others feel the same way.
Image credit: CNET