25 October 2016

Google Pixel Review

Everyone and their dog seems to be putting out Google Pixel reviews so I thought I'd chip in with my thoughts and findings.

First thing I discovered is you need a nano sim. Grr, hadn't thought about that. Thankfully BT were amazing and I had one less than 24 hours later.

The phone is smaller than I expected, much smaller. I hate big phones and that's part of the reason why I've stuck with my Nexus 4 for four years. I was genuinely worried about it, but within a few hours I had gotten used to the Pixel's larger length and I have no regrets. It's incredibly small in depth and with is small too, so the larger height is well compensated for.

The phone itself is beautiful, the curves are nice and it feels very comfortable. The metal finish is a joy to feel and the screen blends well into the case. The back glass surrounding the camera and fingerprint reader is odd, I don't quite get it. It spoils the design a little and I don't know why it's not all metal, but it's not of any real consequence.

The screen is stunning, absolutely incredible, again I'm comparing most of this to my Nexus 4 so it is worlds apart. The colours and display are crystal clear and I sometimes find myself just staring at it.

The speed is lightening fast and it seems to cope with whatever I can throw at it with ease. I haven't really pushed it yet but it is so responsive and quick I can't see it struggling. The battery is good, compared to my four year old phone it lasts infinitely longer, but it's no more or less than I'd expect from a modern phone. It doesn't last weeks but it'll get me through a couple of days.

The USB C is a cool feature, but sadly it's not new nor unique, it works and it charges fast, actually it charges really really fast. Plus you're less likely to destroy your phone by ramming the charging cable in upside down. The fingerprint reader isn't new either, but frankly that's rocked my world! I love it.

Now the OS is a difficult one, it's fine and I have no complaints. However ...I am an Android developer and have used phones by every manufacturer you care to name and every Android OS extensively. I think we're well beyond the point where an OS update makes any real difference. In terms of speed and battery use, they've pretty much done all they can. What we see now is minor updates and UI tweaks like the settings changes. Not since Material design has anything really made much difference to the user. I'm not unimpressed, it just hasn't changed my interactions with the phone much at all.

There are a few things with confuse me and they are largely the things they've "borrowed" from Apple:

  • The round icons, not sure it makes a lot of difference, but what do we developers do? Can we release with round and square icons? If we switch to square, what happens to the old OSs that aren't prepared for round icons?
  • Quick Tap or whatever you call it where you can long press on a launcher icon? That's just a blatant rip off, and it adds nothing to the user experience. Bah!

Lastly is the Google Assistant, this is impressive! Its learnt my voice and ignores my girlfriend's, which I love! It understands easily what I'm asking it and responds quickly and generally with a surprising insight. That said....I'm still not going to talk to it!

So there are my highlights, in short it's a fantastically well put together phone and I'm really enjoying it. Go get one.

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