In the last quarter of 2021 Google released its latest flagship smartphone, the Pixel 6 Pro. To say it was a hit with reviewers would be an understatement. The Pixel was showered with praise from all corners of the world. It appeared as if Google had made the perfect smartphone and was ready to compete with Apple and Samsung.
The phone had everything going for it in that honeymoon phase following release. The headline feature was the new Tensor processor powering the thing. The processor was designed by Google themselves and seeing as they also develop the software it runs on, comparisons were made with Apple.
See, Apple designs and develops their own chips and software for the iPhone and have been untouchable when it comes to efficiency in the mobile space. While the likes of Samsung have to contend with Qualcomm for their chips and Google for their Android, Apple does not have that problem.
Hence why the iPhone can have software support for double or triple the number of years some Android manufacturers can manage. Not to mention how they are able to embarrass the competition when it comes to battery life or ram management, despite working with inferior specs.
It does feel like witchcraft to see an iPhone 13 with 6GB of RAM, dominate an Android phone with double that memory in keeping apps ready in the background. It is ludicrous to know that the iPhone 13 Pro Max has the best battery life of all mainstream flagship smartphones, despite packing the smallest battery by a margin in that space.
That’s what Apple has been able to do from controlling both software and hardware for their phone. The Pixel was supposed to be that, for Android. Hence why it was prematurely, but understandably termed the iPhone of Android.
Not quite the iPhone
There is trouble in paradise. The Pixel has been out in the wild for a few months now and the medium-term reviews are not looking that great.
There are various reddit threads for users of these Google flagships and people have been sharing the problems they are facing. The main problems are:
- Slow/inconsistent fingerprint scanner – with some users claiming that the scanner can be unlocked using other people’s unregistered fingerprints. Yikes. Worse still, you better never let your Pixel 6’s battery deplete completely. The fingerprint scanner will stop working completely until you factory reset the phone.
- Random UI lagginess / slowdowns for no apparent reason
- Signal issues – with some users reporting not even being able to make calls at times
- Screen flickers
- Terrible grainy video from front camera – vloggers beware
There are many other issues with this phone and you can check out the reddit threads or this curated list here to see just how flawed the phone is. All phones have bugs and crazy quirks but the Pixel seems to have just one too many.
Google’s misfortune comes in that most device reviewers love their version of Android and so usually gravitate towards their Pixels. This helps them get glowing reviews but if the experience sucks, the criticism can be just as harsh. Several reviewers have reported having dropped the Pixel, including MKBHD, who is probably their biggest fan. Which means his take on it carries some weight. It makes for bad publicity for Google when he switched back to the 1 year old Galaxy S21.
When the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE was released earlier this month, most people agreed it was a good upper midrange phone which was overpriced at $699 especially as the Pixel 6 started at $599. Now some have changed their minds because of the buggy Pixel experience and
Botched software update
Some of the issues with the phone were present from day one. Being mostly software bugs, an update could fix them. The November update fixed some but many bugs escaped the squashing effort.
A software update was released in December that turned out to not be an update. It introduced new problems like the low signal problem. Google ended up halting the update when users complained.
For Google, the software company, this is unacceptable. You shouldn’t have to dread a Pixel update like you do a Windows update. Yet even Windows has not botched an update this bad.
Now it appears the January update might actually be good. Some users are reporting that most problems were fixed with this one although some are understandably reluctant to get it.
The Pixel 6 becomes a no-go for me
The allure of the Pixel for me is the software and the promise of software updates. If this is how it’s going to be hit or miss, then the Pixel has nothing going for it in my opinion. They can’t compete with Samsung on hardware and if they can’t even win on software, what then.
I was seriously considering the 6 Pro but that has changed. I’ve been burnt before nence why I steer clear of manufacturers that have track records of botched updates. Those bastards at LG killed my V50’s mobile data with the Android 10 update and I’m still bitter. I never want to go through that again, so Samsung it is for now. Or maybe even give the fruit another go.
Most Zimbabweans don’t even update their devices and it appears in a twisted way, they may be on to something. New features or security patches be damned.