Google announced its new Pixel and Pixel XL phones and they appear to be delightfully innovative. Apple and Samsung have been going back and forth for years arguing over the iPhone and Galaxy, but the Pixel feels very different. It seems like Google Pixel is taking direct aim at the iPhone as a whole rather than any specific feature. The Pixel is not a phone for Android lovers (though it should please many), it’s a phone for iPhone lovers.
That said, should you as an iPhone lover take the bait? Pixel has allegedly the best camera in a smartphone, the intelligent Google Assistant, unlimited photo and video storage, 24/7 customer support, oh and a headphone jack. Let’s weigh the pros and cons of making the drastic switch.
The Most Enticing Features of Google Pixel
Google put together an ad that acts as a giant flashing billboard to iPhone users with an arrow in the direction of Pixel. It lists just about every feature Pixel has that an iPhone user doesn’t. From start to finish, that’s a superior battery, a better camera, a blue color option, VR, unlimited photos and videos storage including 4K, and of course the zinger: a “satisfyingly not new” headphone jack.
Let’s break down what these mean. First, Pixel’s battery promises to charge to 7 hours of additional usage after only 15 minutes. That’s an incredible feat that the iPhone definitely can’t claim. In fact, one of the biggest complaints about the iPhone, particularly the smaller 4.7-inch models is the battery life. While, Pixel makes no claims about real-world battery life, being able to charge so quickly helps a lot day to day.
In pursuit of something new, Pixel looks like the Android phone to rendezvous with.
Google Pixel also has the better camera according to DxOMark. They gave it a score of 89, making it the highest rated camera ever in a smartphone. That’s three points higher than the iPhone 7, though to anyone but the most polished photographers it’s probably negligible. More important for our comparison is that Pixel features the same bokeh depth-of-field feature in the iPhone 7 Plus. It’s also comforting to have unlimited storage for photos and videos, unlike the 5GB of iCloud storage Apple provides which is just scandalous at this point.
If you’re into VR, that’s perhaps an obvious reason to switch as well since iPhone completely lacks virtual reality. Still, VR is far from mainstream yet, so this likely isn’t too tempting.
The last factor is really specs. Blah blah blah, it has a headphone jack, yes. But it also runs stock Android and features a quad-core Snapdragon 821 processor, both of which mean Pixel should be blazing fast. Additionally, while the larger Pixel XL has the same 5.5-inch display as an iPhone Plus, the smaller Pixel is larger than the smaller iPhone: 5 inches vs. 4.7 inches. That’s something to consider if you want a slightly larger screen without moving into Plus territory.
Reasons to Stick with iPhone
Now that you’ve seen all that Google Pixel has to offer, it’s time to revert back to iPhone and examine why it might be worth staying.
Apple has built a community out of iMessage and switching to Android is like moving out.
The first reason that comes to mind is the entire ecosystem. If you already own another Apple device other than an iPhone, you probably shouldn’t switch to Pixel. The Mac, iPad and Apple Watch work too seamlessly with iPhone. Moving to Pixel means you need to figure out a new way to keep your photos, files, messages, bookmarks, notes, reminders and apps in sync across all devices. Many of those aren’t even possible.
iMessage somewhat ties into the ecosystem but deserves credit of its own. It’s a fantastic messaging platform that got even better with iOS 10. It’s especially hard to depart from now because if all your friends have an iPhone, you can’t see read receipts anymore, who’s typing, send stickers and effects or add apps. Apple has built a community out of iMessage and switching to Android is like moving out.
Maybe this is totally subjective, but the iPhone is still the best-looking phone on the market. I’m not a fan of the split aluminum and glass on the back of the Pixel and first impressions seem to suggest it’s not wildly popular among critics either. Plus, the accessories market for iPhone is unparalleled: cases, power cords, Lightning speakers and headphones, dongles.
Lastly, a simple note. If you’ve tried Android before and didn’t like it, the Pixel won’t make you suddenly enjoy Android anymore. Android is still Android and iOS is still iOS, for better or worse.
If you’re signed on to Apple’s “it just works” philosophy with iOS and its strong iCloud and iMessage integration, switching to Pixel isn’t for you. It’s also not for you if you own a Mac, iPad or Apple Watch.
However, if you use your iPhone as a completely standalone device and could give up the ecosystem in pursuit of something new, Pixel looks like the Android phone to rendezvous with. Unlimited photo storage is stellar, Google Assistant seems like Siri on steroids, and quick battery charging is just better.
Google Pixel and Pixel XL have identical pricing to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus right down to the storage tiers, though sans a 256GB option. Pixel is $649 or $749 for 32GB or 128GB and Pixel XL is $769 or $869. They’re available for pre-order now and officially out on October 20.