The launch of the first Google Pixel sent waves throughout the industry. Google were poised to fight their biggest competitor with what was to be the most ultra premium experience available on Android.
I picked up the Google Pixel 2 XL when it launched and I’ve been a big fan of the smartphone since. Despite my love for it, I’m not going to be buying the Google Pixel 3, and I want to explain why. I’d hope my thoughts and opinions may help you to get an inside look at what it’s like to own a Google Pixel smartphone and why I’ll be moving on to greener pastures.
The Pixel 2 camera sold it for me, but now Google has lost their grip
One of the biggest purchasing decisions for me, and arguably many smartphone owners in 2018, is the camera quality of a smartphone. It’s why more smartphone manufacturers are pushing to include more powerful camera software and camera sensors.
In 2018, the Google Pixel 2 quickly blew the competition out of the water - Google created an incredible smartphone camera app that used what I can only guess is a combination of AI and wizardry to give users the best photo quality we’ve seen on a smartphone yet.
Google held the crown for a while, but then Huawei came in and swooped the top spot with their magnificent Huawei P20 Pro. Huawei, as a manufacturer, has quickly innovated in an industry that many thought had become stale. This brought them to the top in many ways. Their expansion, especially in the UK, has been very hard to ignore in recent years.
Obviously, it’s not all about the camera, though. There are elements I really like about the Google Pixel 2, but when comparing its successor, the Pixel 3, to other top competing smartphones in 2018, I just can’t bring myself to pick it up. It comes down to the core directions some smartphone manufacturers are taking in 2018. Below, I will explain why I think Google aren’t innovating whatsoever and it’s costing them happy Pixel users like me.
The smartphone market has never been so exciting, but Google is failing to innovate
During the early 2010s, the smartphone industry was only just gearing up. Every year we’d have countless exciting new innovations. It was easy back then to be innovative because everything was new.
But, very quickly things became stale - as smartphone adoption rate expanded like wildfire, manufacturers struggled to create innovative new ideas, yet they still insisted on pushing out brand new flagships every single year. Some manufacturers, like LG, were brave enough to try to push the boundaries with smartphones like the semi-modular LG G5. Tech like this was ultimately dead on arrival, because it was being innovative for the sake of being innovative, not because it brought a new concept or useful feature to the table.
In 2018, however, we’ve seen a complete 360 on this stale market. This innovation has been fuelled by two ongoing battles - the bezel battle and the smartphone camera war. The dream of a bezel-less phone is on everybody’s minds, so smartphone manufacturers are pushing to introduce ways around the sensors that are most commonly found on the front of a smartphone.
We have phones like the OnePlus 6T that have fingerprints under the display, we have foldable smartphones from Samsung just around the corner and there are beautiful devices with tiny waterdrop notch displays and almost nonexistent bezels.
We then, of course, have smartphones with three and soon even four camera sensors on the back. I explained here why the three camera setup is so exciting and innovative.
With manufacturers left, right and centre pushing in new directions, it leaves Google looking a little incompetent. One of the earliest criticisms for the Google Pixel 1 was that it tried too hard to be an iPhone. Two years later, this couldn’t be any more true. The Google Pixel 3 has a notch that is laughably large, a price point that’s a little too much for most Android users, and hardware all around that doesn’t quite do enough to stand out whatsoever.
It’s clear that Google feel comfortable enough to sell smartphones by using their own name and brand as a vessel, but they are not Apple, and they will need to try harder to stay in the game. If Google doesn’t do enough to innovate in the next 1-2 years, I honestly don’t see the Pixel brand staying afloat. Sales for older generation Pixels already weren’t that great, so I’m concerned for its future.