[Editorial] Is the Pixel phone an iPhone competitor?

Google’s new Pixel phone, which was launched yesterday is being viewed as the iPhone competitor. And we couldn’t agree more. “Made by Google”, and “Phone by Google” actually sounds kind of “trying to competing with the Apple iPhone”. But whether it will actually be successful as the iPhone, remains to be seen. Is it truly designed for this might task?

google-pixel-phone

Let’s break down each point and see what Google has tried with the Pixel phone.

Unlimited storage for photos and videos:

Google didn’t even try to hide the fact that it is taking on Apple iCloud’s 5GB of storage, with the Pixel launch video featuring a notification from iOS, saying that the storage on the phone is full. Unlimited storage for 4K videos and 4K photos is cool though.

Google Assistant

The Pixel is the first phone to come integrated with Google Assistant, a smart digital assistant, which respond to voice commands. Google touts Assistant as one of the key features of the Pixel, and that the device is a combination of top notch hardware and software. No prizes as to what this feature is competing with, Apple iPhone’s built in assistant, Siri.

Best Camera Ever Made

According to Google, the Pixel’s 12 megapixel camera scored 89.0 on DxOMark Mobile, which is the highest ever for a smartphone camera. Google’s self proclaimed “best smartphone camera ever”, reminded me of Apple’s “Best iPhone we have ever made”, which the Cupertino company repeated multiple times during the launch event, from about a month ago. In truth, the Pixel phone cameras do not even have OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), something which the iPhone 7 does offer. So, we are not really sure what defines Pixel’s lens as the best smartphone camera.

Bye bye stock UI, Hello Google themed UI

This is probably one of the worst things to happen to a Nexus successor. The Pixel phone has its own launcher and aesthetic skin, thus drifting away from the Stock Android UI we have loved. Such custom skins, are what made Android into a fragmented OS, with each OEM having its own skin, and UI, making it look almost non-Android, and in some cases, iOS-ish (I’m looking at you MIUI).

Premium Pricing

Did you know that the Pixel and the Pixel XL’s prices are exactly the same as that of the Apple iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus. And likewise, the Pixel phones are incredibly overpriced in India, Germany and Australia. You can read our Pixel price comparison for more details.

2 Years of Updates

You don’t have to take my word for it, instead go to the Pixel store page, where you will find the actual words, which say that the Pixel phone will get 2 years of OS updates, and 3 years of security updates. With the super expensive price tag, you would expect many years of updates for the phones, like Apple offers.

google-pixel-os-updates

The Apple iPhone 5 which was launched in September 2012, was updated all the way up to the latest version iOS 10, which it got in September 2016. Its predecessor, the iPhone 4S from 2011, got updated until iOS 9.3.5, in August 2016, which marked its end of update support, because of hardware limitations. What makes the Pixel phone with 2 years of updates and the same price tag, superior to the 4-5 years of updates that Apple iPhones tend to enjoy?

Lack of SD card (and Dual SIM)

iPhones don’t offer these either. So what makes the Pixel superior to it? If Google had included at least one of the two features, it may have tipped the scales in its favor, but that will never happen. This is where Android OEMs fare better, than Google does. And the free cloud storage for photos and videos is not really that big an advantage.

If I were to nitpick, I could continue to call out how Duo is similar to Facetime, or Allo is the iMessage wannabe, but these are not Pixel phone exclusive apps, and Android has plenty of alternative apps for these.

We are true fans of AOSP Android, and Nexus devices. That doesn’t mean every decision Google makes is a welcome one.


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Ashwin Karthik
Originally a Business Grad, Ashwin is a natural at testing and reviewing apps & games for Windows and Android Apps, as well as flashing ROMs. A proud owner of a Redmi K20, he is also an avid gamer and loves playing on his Computer, PS4 & Nintendo consoles.

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