Google Pixel

This is my first impression/early review of my experience with the new Google Pixel Android phone after a little more than one week of heavy usage. Finally got my Otterbox Defender case in the mail on Saturday so I feel much safer using the phone.

Things I enjoy:

    • It’s so fast. My 3.5 year old Samsung Galaxy S4 was at times completely unresponsive, so this is a huge change.
    • I know that this is just in my head, but having a new highly responsive phone makes my interactions with my home and work computers feel faster as well. I wonder if anyone has studied this effect before.
    • It has a headphone jack.
    • Slow motion footage is fun to play with and the interface is easy to use. The stabilization is also extremely convenient and works surprisingly well. This was taken at the dog park right after sunset:

  • The camera experience is truly impressive. Low light (places where it’s hard for humans to see) photography has become easy. HDR, focus lock, exposure, and white balance settings are all easy to access and to change quickly in the stock camera app. Creating a panorama or creating a “photo sphere” are extremely easy because the app shows you circular guides that you just need to align in order for the software to process the image.
  • The fingerprint sensor makes security so easy and swiping down on it for notifications is such an innovative feature.
  • The feel in hand – they got the proportions right (for me at least). Great screen size and when I hold it in my right hand, I can easily hit the power button, volume buttons, and fingerprint sensor all without shifting my grip.
  • Near-stock Android is amazing. No more Verizon bloatware.
  • USB type-C connectors – no more sticking a cable in the wrong way.
  • Long holding on app shortcuts for specific actions is really convenient.
  • Verizon LTE cell coverage & speed are noticeable better and faster than with previous devices.
  • “Moves” – double tap power to open your choice of camera app from anywhere, double twist in camera to switch between main and front facing cameras, and swiping down on the fingerprint sensor to see notifications. They all work and are a great use of the phone’s buttons and sensors.
  • Google Photos – I’ve held off from using this service until I got this phone. Now I need to figure out how to upload 10 years of digital photos from my NAS to my Google account.
  • Pokémon Go now loads in 8 seconds instead of 2 minutes (yes I still play occasionally).

Things I don’t love:

  • The fingerprint sensor is on the back, so you have to pick up the phone if you want to use that unlock method.
  • Single speaker on the bottom. Sometimes I accidentally cover this mono source and wonder why there is no sound playing.
  • The price. Yeah. Hopefully I’m able to use this for at least 3-4 years or sell it for a decent amount.
  • The feel. It’s slightly slippery without a case (my case took over a week to arrive), which makes Michael anxious.
  • No official waterproofing. Although, these videos make me feel a lot better about that. (Pixel is only rated IP53. “5” = protected from limited dust ingress & “3” = protected from water spray less than 60 degrees from vertical.) My case should also help with this somewhat.
  • Screen lock stopped working – fixed on reboot. Don’t know if this had something to do with “safe spaces” or just with running without reboot for a week.
  • Home screen default weather/temperature widget doesn’t update – fixed on reboot. Don’t know what caused this.

Things I’m Missing:

  • Expandable Storage – I had to buy the 128GB version of the phone since there is no SD slot. I like to travel with lots of podcasts, audiobooks, music, and video content and have limited data so can’t store it all on the cloud.
  • Infrared Port – IrDA was a predecessor to Bluetooth, but is still commonly used in television remote controls. My past three phones (Palm Centro, HTC Droid Incredible, & Samsung Galaxy S4) all had this and it was useful for controlling televisions (at home or at a bar) when I occasionally had to do that.
  • Waiting for my frozen phone to respond or crash or overheat or just shut off entirely (jk)

Obviously none of these are deal breakers. I also still haven’t figured out exactly how good the battery is. If I’m running heavy screen-on & GPS tracking apps (Runkeeper or Pokémon Go) then it seems to be somewhere in the 4-6 hour range. When I just use is casually, it seems like it will easily last 10-12 hours without the battery saving mode enabled. With battery saver enabled, it would definitely last more than 12 hours with casual use.

A potato would probably be more useful than my old Galaxy S4, which shut off every time I used the flash and which also didn’t have a working power button -.-

Some photos casually taken with the Google Pixel:

Motion blur and quickly focusing seem to be an issue in low light situations (this is normal/expected/acceptable), but I wasn’t focused on taking great photos in these scenarios. I was just trying to get a shot and move on. The last shot of that beer can was taken at a dark beer garden bar in Philly – you can see the digital noise in the black areas from high auto ISO, but it is definitely usable and not an image that I could have gotten from my old phone or from typical consumer cameras. I’ll try to set up some pretty shots and take my time with getting focus correct and post an update soon hopefully.