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Pixel is being hailed as a great way to “stay ahead of the curve” or “set yourself apart.” But are they really worth it?
The answer may depend on how much money you have. A quick internet search will reveal a wide range of prices for Pixel phones, but they all hover around $650 – $1000 and up. And that’s if you want just the phone — if you don’t purchase it outright, but instead get approved for its financing program, your monthly payment can be anywhere from $10-$14 a day for an installment term of 24+ months.
1. You’re paying mostly for software
So what is the Pixel, exactly? The phone itself is a sleek tool. It’s thin and not too heavy, and it feels durable. (Interestingly enough, I’ve read that many owners of both Pixel phones and iPhone 7 have accidentally dropped their phone in water without ill effects.) It has a decent camera, a battery that lasts all day and then some (if you’re not using it too much that is), and it’s fast. You can expect to be able to open apps quickly and effectively. In addition to its performance benefits, the software on Pixel works in conjunction with the hardware to allow for another perk: Always On Display — meaning your screen will always display information without waking up your entire phone.
But what you’re really paying for is the software. Pixel phones are the first to have the latest versions of Android. Here’s why that matters:
· The newest updates come right away
· Google’s monthly security patches are more reliable, and less likely to bricked your phone (if you’re unfamiliar with this term, basically it means that a patch makes your phone unusable)
· Bugs are caught and fixed sooner after their discovery, when they’re still easy to fix
· New features are available sooner instead of months later like on other Android phones
So perhaps you can understand how important it is that you get the latest version of Android.
2. You’re paying for an inadequately marketed device
Google’s Pixel is the phone that’s the best at the things it does, and the worst at others. Ironic, isn’t it?
What makes this particularly egregious is that plenty of other phones — that are just as bad — are being sold. iPhones, Samsung Galaxy phones, etc. — all of those phones have much better cameras and customization than Google’s Pixel phone…but they aren’t marketed well.
They’re not marketed at all: you can pick them up for about $200 less than a Pixel phone (or even less if you want a discount on data plans or a new phone from Sprint/T-Mobile).
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But my iPhone does those things! I don’t need Google software or hardware!”
Sure you do. Because guess what? The software and hardware are tied together. While Apple and Samsung can release endless updates to their app store and OS respectively, Google chooses to integrate its new features into both its hardware and software.
3. You’re paying to be a beta tester
This is another reason the Pixel is worth its price — it’s the flagship phone for Android (it’s even called “Google’s Android phone“). I’ll admit, I’ve got a soft spot for the idea of being a part of the very early stages of development of a project. I remember when both Webke and Linux first came out: they were things that no one in their right minds would want to use at first (and still aren’t). But as time went on and people spent more time with them, they became something useful.
The same thing has happened to Android. It’s become an increasingly useful phone operating system — it’s the most widely used, after all! But it wasn’t always that way: before Google’s Nexus phones hit the market (a kinder, gentler version of Android), it was something only nerds and geeks could use effectively. Now it’s part of everyday life for many people.
In the same way, Google Pixel is the first phone that can get all of those updates right away. It’s a flagship phone, so you want it to get all the newest features as soon as they’re ready. Except, as I mentioned above, carriers aren’t eager to spread Android software in early releases. Both Sprint and T-Mobile don’t even have official software updates yet (but they are still selling devices).
4. You’re paying to be on the bleeding edge
And you don’t even get a phone to do it with. Every other phone allows you to download software updates and apps while they’re being developed, or at least very quickly. Google doesn’t.
You can wait two months if you must, but that’s the maximum time between when the new feature is announced and when it will begin rolling out.
You can take old phones and install custom ROMs that allow you to use newer software and get upgrades right away (like CyanogenMod or another set of open-source tools). But this requires working out of hours or taking a trip somewhere far from home — something that Pixel owners aren’t likely to be doing anytime soon.