An Exhaustive and Possibly Misinformed Review of the Pixel, Phone by Google
Is it better than the iPhone? Yeah. But also, no. Maybe?
This post originally appeared on VICE Australia.
Alright boys, a new phone is out. What's it called? Don't ask. Honestly, it's not a good name. It's going to start us off on the wrong foot. It'll start you thinking, "I don't want any part in that. No sir, that phone sounds shit."
But alright mate, fine. I'll tell you. Just know that I don't particularly want to. It's called the Pixel. Yeah, just one. A singular pixel. Actually, Google is marketing it as: "Pixel, Phone by Google—Made by Google." Very Jacobs by Marc Jacobs for Marc by Marc Jacobs in collaboration with Marc Jacobs for Marc by Marc Jacobs. May I just say... if the phone is by Google, did we need to then specify it was also made by Google? Was it absolutely necessary to do that? No. It was not.
But enough of the semantics: let's actually have a serious look at the Pixel, Phone by Google.
And FYI: Google gave us these phones at a fancy luncheon, essentially as a gift. They didn't actually mean to invite us. They actually tried to invite somebody much higher up in the company, but Alice broke her arm so we got to go instead. Sorry Alice. Thanks Google.
Let's start this review from the outside. And to be quite honest, from the outside, the Pixel looks good. It looks a lot like that person you have an arm's length crush on. That person who works at the indie cinema near your parents' house. Or the kid at your uni who you walk past between classes—they're studying human rights law and you're studying graphic design. They're cute, they're sweet, they're smart. But when you actually get a drink, you have nothing in common. They're a good person whereas you went to a family BBQ on mushrooms last week. If you want this to work, you're going to have to rearrange... well, everything.
Okay—that's not quite fair or accurate, but the Pixel is definitely hot as fuck from a distance. It's skinny and the colours are nice: there are two available in Australia, "Very Silver" and "Quite Black." Other countries also have a "Really Blue" option but it's pretty ugly and basically looks like a Hasbro toy phone. The camera is flush with its back, so it's a perfectly flat rectangle.
Also—and this is probably my favourite thing about the phone—the fingerprint sensor is on the back. It's in the perfect position for your index finger to naturally rest on it, which means by the time you've pulled your phone out of your pocket and brought it to your eyes, it's already fr*cking unlocked. And it always works. It always reads your print right. To fully get how "ergonomic" this phone is, you would have to hold it, but trust me. Putting the fingerprint sensor on the back: it's the future.
Appearance 9/10. Note: can phones just be invisible already? I want the screen in my fucking eye. My hands are tired.
Alrighty. I'm going to try and do this without working myself into a fit of rage, but I can't make any guarantees.
So, the Pixel (Phone by Google) runs Android, the operating system they invented. This makes sense, but I have a few issues with Android. Firstly, the font. Like, what the fuck is it? Apple designed their own font called San Francisco or some shit—can't Android just do that? Seriously: What is this? Verdana? Why does Android not just have a better font? Do they actually think that Verdana looks good? The only reason we put up with it in G-chat is because G-chat is strictly for work. There's nothing fun about it. Don't bring G-chat sensibilities into my leisure time. I don't want to look at Verdana on Instagram. It's just rude.
Or maybe you guys think fonts don't matter In 2016? I'm sorry, but they do. I can't make a meme on this—it's embarrassing for people to see this font. It's not the font memes are meant to be. And that the kind of thing you've gotta be thinking about.
And don't even get me started on the Emojis. Those little flaccid half circle dudes? I refuse. I simply refuse.
2/10: Looks matter, unfortunately.
Fuck. This camera is extremely good. It shits all over the iPhone camera: it really, truly does. It's amazing. It's a powerful beast—and especially at night. We took these two photos outside of the pub. Do you see the difference? Of course you do. Obviously, both are shit photos because it wasn't the best view, but c'mon the quality on the pixel. Zoo Wee Mama!
There's only one issue with the camera. It's too good. You will literally have to download an Airbushing app if you want to ever take a photo of yourself that's fit for public broadcast. It picks up everything. Everything. It's fine though, because your favourite hobby is editing photos of yourself anyway. This is the app you'll want—nay, need—by the way.
If you take a photo at sunset with the light shining on your face it will be a very confronting experience. Think you don't have a moustache? Sorry to break it to you fuzzy-cheeks, but you've got seven.
11/10: Just replace both of my eyes with two Pixel cameras. Please.
It's a huge-ass bummer you can't get iMessages from your friend on the Pixel (Google Phone, Made By Google) but honestly, all that whack shit they had going on in iOS 10—fireworks, balloons??—was too damn much anyway, so it's probably for the best.
Other than that, every single app I need is available on this phone. Snapchat, Instagram, Sonos, Tinder, Shazam, Tumblr, Uber, all the banks. Also, because Google literally made this phone (in collaboration with Google) apps like Gmail, Google Docs and Google drive all work exceptionally well. Much better than on an iPhone. I'm gonna use some embarrassing but accurate words here: intuitive, streamlined, accessible. If you, like me, are a person that works in Docs off of your phone a lot—the professional type—this is huge. It makes doing last minute edits on the train you really should have done days, if not weeks ago, a much more "chill" process.
Some drawbacks? It doesn't have a "Music" app that connects to iTunes like the iPhone, but you can just run Spotify if you have it. The Pixel also comes with its own streaming app, but like, holy fuck, we have way too many of those so please let's just stop.
As far as I can tell, there is only one app that is not available on the Google Pixel by Google: Raya, the "celebrity dating app." And if you're a mediocre DJ, a mediocre model, or Pauly Shore, this is going to be a problem for you. If you actually are a celeb of any kind though, this won't be an issue because A) you probably won't use this app or B) you'll have five phones anyway and one of them will be the Pixel you were given for free last week.
7/10: Minor inconveniences, but you're a giant spoilt baby with a driver's licence, so they'll probably matter quite a lot.
The Google Version of Siri Who I Will Call "Okay Google"
Full disclosure: I think the Google version of Siri might actually be called "the Intelligent Assistant" or a similarly boring, impersonal pairing of noun-and-verb, but I don't care. To me she is, and always will be, Okay Google. That is because she is amazing and all you have to say to call her forth from the depths of the phone is "okay, Google."
She's incredibly helpful. She is a blessing. She is a gift. I would go full Joaquin Phoenix on this bitch.
It took us much longer than expected, but we've finally created a robot that isn't irritating as fuck to talk to. She understands what you're saying pretty much always, she does what you ask really really quickly, and she is truly convenient. Like, it isn't just a dumb fucking novelty when you're too lazy to type. She genuinely saves time.
I hate to say this—Tim Cook, cover your ears honey—but here comes the truth: Okay Google is what Siri was meant to be. Remember those ads where Zooey Deschanel runs around her house and is like "Siri, where is the nearest vintage floral babydoll dress store?" and Siri actually answers? Those ads are a fucking lie. Firstly, Siri doesn't do that at all. She just says "Interesting question." That's it. Secondly, Zooey Deschanel doesn't own a fucking iPhone, she owns a hamburger phone. And everyone knows it.
10/10: I love you.
The Battery Life
So your phone dies on 20 percent, at least three times a day. Why is this? I don't know. Can someone explain to me why this is happening? I bought my phone six fucking months ago. I'm losing friends because I only visit them to recharge my phone. The situation is affecting my Uber rating. People have cut me out of their lives because I am forced to put my phone behind the bar whenever we're out and it's fucking embarrassing. It's 2016. This is not okay. This is bullying.
On the other hand, the Google Pixel by Google charges 7 hours' worth of battery in 15 minutes. That's incredible.
However! If you do run out of battery with your Pixel by Marc by Marc Jacobs, don't expect a single fucking establishment on Earth to help you with a charger. Because it just won't happen. Google made a proprietary charger, instead of just going with a micro-usb like every other Android phone in existence. So you'll be fucked. In fact, the bartender will probably spit in your drink for being a nerd.
The thing about Google is that it's not cool in the sense that like, Berghain is. It's definitely not cool in the same way that the iPhone is either. It's cool in the sense that it is cool to be very, very smart.
The Google Pixel by Google is the four-eyed nerd in a movie movie who got bullied in high school for being too good at math and having hella acne, but then he shows up at the 10 year reunion and he's lost the glasses and become a wildly successful Wall Street banker. The Pixel is that kid, except the Pixel didn't get contacts. He kept the glasses on. You know what I mean? He's still kind of a loser. But you're going to fuck him at the end of the reunion because he's rich as shit and he's going to improve your quality of life tenfold and you need to stop being so superficial.
Should you switch? Maybe, I don't know. The camera is incredible, but you can't try to fuck Skrillex on a dating app he probably barely uses. The battery life is amazing but it kinda has to be because nobody outside of your bedroom will have a charger for it. Honestly, who cares? We're all going to die anyway. Except Google. Google will outlive us all.