Last year, my anticipation for the new Pixel couldn’t have been higher. I have been using smartphones from the Pixel lineup since 2018, the first one was the Pixel 3 and then I switched to the Pixel 5 in 2020. What made me choose a Google phone back then was the experience with the camera software. In addition, Google’s Android has always fascinated me.
When the first information about the Pixel 6 started appearing on the web, I was struck by the drastic change in the camera module and the potential of a Google-customized SoC to optimize features like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). In other words, it was the big evolution of the series, if you still have any doubt about that, the comparison between the Google Pixel 6 and Google Pixel 5 can show the technological leap between generations.
Then, in August 2021, Google announced the new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro and the first red flags started to appear. The phones were big, drastic visual changes, migration of the biometric sensor, and although powerful, the new Tensor processor could not be tested yet. The devices are released, but we got an NDA on the reviews and some features were still in beta, as was the case with some camera features. Red flags, red flags, red flags!
However, before I delve into the Pixel 6 Pro issue, I need to offer an overview of my life between two operating systems.
A life divided between operating systems.
In 2019, I started working on covering broader topics about technology, not just the Android ecosystem. And so in 2020, I started using the Pixel 5 as my personal device and the iPhone 11 Pro Max as a phone for work issues. But what really brought me closer to the iPhone series was the Apple Watch, which I consider today to be the best wearable device in its category.
Also, for professional reasons, in 2019 I traded in my MacBook Pro for a Dell Inspiron laptop running Windows. Which distanced me from the Apple ecosystem at the time. However, with the purchase of a new MacBook Pro in late 2021, it was inevitable to realize the ease of integration between Apple services.
But again, this was never new or a problem for me, as up until then I preferred Android smartphones over iOS, and the Pixel series was the reason I never actually switched to an iPhone. However, my frustration with the Google Pixel 6 Pro put an end to that relationship, as I discovered that a Pixel is no longer good for me!
The Pixel 6 Pro is no longer a phone for me!
As stated above, the reasons I chose Google as my preferred smartphone brand were the camera quality of the Pixel line and the fact that the company develops the Android software. The integration with G Suite and other Google services always made my life easier and more efficient.
The format of the phones also appealed to me a lot, and Google’s efforts to keep my data on the device no longer made me feel so insecure. And this has only improved with the release of Android 12 and the addition of new security and privacy features.
In this sense, it may seem like the series hasn’t changed much, but it’s amazing how a few harmless choices can dramatically change the experience we have with a device. And the biggest one is the size of the phone.
The Pixel 6 Pro is too big
Going from a 6-inch to a 6.7-inch smartphone takes some time to get used to. There are 60 grams more in your hands and even for ordinary actions like taking a selfie it is already different. The device no longer fits in any pocket and given the inaccuracy problems of the biometric sensor on the screen, often unlocking the device requires two hands.
Obviously, with the larger size we get more content on the screen, a bigger battery, and a larger camera sensor capable of capturing more light. However, I have not adapted to the size and weight of the Pixel 6 Pro, and it is affecting my experience with the phone a lot. While the screen is great for streaming videos and playing games, for everyday use the size of the device is a concern for me. But there is more…
AI and ML functions are sleeping giants
Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have always fascinated me, causing me to often give up my privacy to test and understand how certain ML models work. And one of the features that interested me in the new Pixel series was undoubtedly the customization of Tensor to handle computational photography and natural language.
However, despite the improvements in photos captured with the Pixel 6 Pro’s lenses, it’s in the video aspect that we’ve had a real upgrade in the series. And right now I’m not exploring video creation to really feel all this evolution.
And adding even more frustration in this field, some services like Google Duplex and Hold for me, for example, are not available in the region where I live. At times, I feel like I’m carrying a sleeping giant up and down. It’s a smartphone full of potential, but limited by an experience that only exists – for now – in the world of ideas. Which brings me to the last and most important reason to stop using the Pixel series: I’ve grown tired of justifying bad experiences under the heading of “early adopter”.
The last three months have been a collection of frustrations
Let’s go! Since the release of the Pixel 6 Pro, my experience with the phone has gradually gotten worse, to the point where it felt like I was enrolled in a software beta test. Problems with the camera software, constant issues with the biometric sensor, malfunctioning on-screen scrolling, apps forcing to close, unbalanced battery consumption, and delays in sending the monthly security package.
On one hand, I was convinced that this was part of the experience of playing with a new product, with a processor recently launched in the market… in short, the good old speech of the (dis)advantages of being an early adopter.
On the other side, Google did everything as it had to do, acknowledged the problems, informed that a fix was on the way, sent the security and patches package, sent a super camera software update (318 MB)… but I got tired, I’m throwing in the towel and I just want a reliable and functional device.
And that is why I am migrating to iPhone! Not that Apple doesn’t collect bugs too or that there aren’t exclusive services for the US market. The point is that Apple doesn’t want to be the first, but the best.
Finally, don’t take my frustration with the Google Pixel 6 Pro to mean that the device is bad. On the contrary, this is a smartphone that should mark a specific moment in the history of the development of technologies like computational photography and natural language. However, I am giving up on participating of this “moment”, because what I need now is a balanced and simple experience with a cell phone, where I can also explore the ecosystem of gadgets that surround it.
Of course, I could go back to using my Pixel 5, as it is still a good smartphone and still has a good amount of updates ahead of it. However, on my priority list now Apple fills more checkboxes. And in case I regret that choice, I can always go back!