First his memory started fading. He couldn’t even retain simple pieces of information. Then his response rate got gradually slower and slower. Even simple tasks started taking an age to complete. Then part of his face just became unresponsive. It was like his right side had lost all connection to the other parts. Then finally after three faithful years by my side, he gave up the ghost. Gone. Just like that. I tried everything but he was just lifeless in my hands. I suppose it was inevitable really, it happens to everyone. But that was the best damn phone I had ever had…
My old Nexus 4 was a little gem. Reliable, tough and well, smart. I’ve always been a fan of android as you’re not locked into Apples’ ring-fenced platforms. You can customise your phone how you see fit, download from sites outside of app stores and if you’re a developer; you can access the back-end to twiddle around with the software. None of which is possible without jailbreaking an iPhone. So when Google released details of their new flagship phone; the Google Pixel, I was pawing at their website like a kitten at catnip.
Since getting my hands on a 5″ quite black 32gb Pixel, a few friends have been asking how it is, what it does and if it’s worth the hype. Well, in an answer ‘yes’. There’s a bunch of features on the phone that just make sense.
Now, given even half the chance, I’ll get preachy, high and mighty about technology. But this is not one of those times. I’m well aware the Pixel is ‘just a phone’ and is ultimately here to serve a purpose; It’s not going to change the world, but it might make menial tasks in life that little bit more menial.
The main features of the phone, as advertised on by Google, are: “It has the highest rated smartphone camera. Ever. A battery that lasts all day. Unlimited storage for all your photos and videos. And it’s the first phone with the Google Assistant built in.”
These are the parts that Google themselves have cherry picked based on what market research has told them will resonate with the most people. However, I am not a billboard. I’m not paid to write this. I can tell you if it’s actually useful on your commute to work on a miserable April morning when your hands are too cold to operate any fiddly interfaces.
The camera is great. It’s sharp, always in focus and, to quite an annoying agency catchphrase “it makes things pop”. It even does that weird thing where it automatically smooths out blemishes on your face (you know, the parts that actually add character?) So it’s good to see Google are doing their bit to turn us all into mannequine-like dolls while also nicely raising our unrealistic standards of beauty. But still, it takes cracking selfies and really captures the mood when taking pictures of your food. Witticisms aside, it is the best camera phone I’ve seen on the market.
The battery does indeed last all day. When it’s charged. You receive one of those super fast charging plugs with the handset which charges the phone from dead to full in like half an hour. That’s actually really handy. However, my plug lasted all of three weeks before it stopped working and i still haven’t got around to getting it replaced. (There are currently no Google shops in the UK so this has remained in the bottom of my to-do list until I force myself to research how to get it fixed). In the meantime I am stuck using a ‘classic’ charger which takes hours and hours to charge. So when comes to mobile energising I’m sadly still stuck in 2010. Turns out there is still a need for high street stores after all.
They’ve also used the latest type-C USB charger, which all manufacturers have agreed to use going forward (including Apple), to ensure that all devices now use the same charging port. This is fantastic news. No more will I head over to a friend’s house to ask the dreaded question “Do you have an android charger?” To which they inevitably reply “No, I’ve an iPhone.” To which i then roll my eyes and question our friendship.
Thank Google this nightmarish situation is now a thing of the past… Instead when i head to friend’s house I simply ask “Do you have a type c usb charger?” and they look at me with a blank face. Because the Pixel is the only phone that currently uses this type of connection. Hooray for progress!
Google assistant is also a really handy feature. I can talk to people, find information and schedule tasks without having to pick up the handset. And I’ve genuinely done all three. For example, when driving i can tell Google to ‘text Andrew : I’m running late, I got lost’ and it will understand that you want to send a text to a person in your phone book. Or while lazing on the sofa binging in Rick and Morty i can ask Google questions about the show without lifting a finger and it will read out the most relevant answer from the search engine results page. Or if I’m about to go to bed and forgot to set my alarm, i can simply tell Google to set an alarm for seven tomorrow morning. So it really does work.
The only down side is that these are the only real instances where i have used it. It’s still a few years away from feeling like your genuinely talking to a helpful robot. At the moment you still have to parse your language in such a way that it can understand what you want it to do. But the upside is that Google have created the assistant software so that it can easily accommodate updates. As more people use it the better it will become. So in a couple of years I fully expect my handset to be chatting to me like a little robotic sidekick while I carry out life’s missions as some sort of dork lord.