Pixel 2: Great Camera, Not So Great Phone

Now that I’ve had the Pixel 2 for a month, it’s time for a review, and honestly, I’m disappointed. When I first got the phone, I fell in love with the camera and the fantastic pictures it takes. Now, I realize that I may have had blinders on.

For the most part, the apps that I want are available, with a few exceptions. But the apps that are available don’t seem to work right. I’m not sure if that’s the issue of the phone, the OS, or the apps themselves, but either way, these issues shouldn’t be happening. A number of apps, including Instagram, eBay, and Sephora, have issues if I open them and swipe or click on something too quickly. They immediately shut down and I’ll get an error message that says, “The app has stopped working. Would you like to restart it or report a problem?” Then, many of the apps where I use my fingerprint to login don’t recognize my fingerprint. US Bank, Starbucks, and PayPal all make me use my fingerprint to even get into the app, then make me enter my password anyway, which defeats the purpose of having a fingerprint scanner. Speaking of, the fingerprint scanner seems to be much slower than Apple’s. I often get a message that says, “Finger moved too fast. Please try again.” or, “Fingerprint not recognized.” I do think it’s much more natural to have the scanner on the back of the phone, however.

A bigger issue is one that I know other Pixel 2 owners are also experiencing, because Google has owned up to it. There’s a high-pitched noise that happens in the back of all my phone calls. Google says this is a software issue, and they’re working on an update, but it’s been 3 weeks and I haven’t seen anything. Being a millennial, I don’t talk on the phone much, but if I used my phone any more than I do right now, this would likely be a dealbreaker.

While I may be lingering on the issues of the Pixel 2, I know that every phone has its issues. My iPhone 6S was getting incredibly slow and buggy, with just as many issues as the Pixel. But the problem is that the 6S was 2 years old, and the Pixel 2 is brand new. And this seems to be an issue across all brands and devices. Companies are releasing phones before they have even completed testing on them, as shown with the cold weather or “I” issue on the latest batch of iPhones. Why can’t we just have a phone that works, with the apps we need, and the camera we want?

After that long rant, there are still a number of things that I enjoy about the Pixel 2. As far as Android itself, I like the OS. My favorite feature is the “always on” screen, which shows the time, date, and any notifications I have. The notifications that come in don’t light up the screen, they just softly appear and then fade into the background, where I can check them by double tapping the lock screen.

Then, there’s the reason I switched to the Pixel 2: the camera. And it is without a doubt the best smartphone camera I’ve ever used (if you don’t believe me, check out my comparison pictures). The pictures always turn out clear and crisp. Low light pictures are no problem. Close-up pictures of my cat show every individual whisker and strand of fur. The camera is so impressive that I was inspired to actually take a Christmas picture this year!

Google itself also seems to always try to make everything easier for you. After I connect a new device via Bluetooth, it asks if I’d like to set it up so it keeps my phone unlocked. It also notifies me of apps using energy in the background, so I can change my settings to make the battery last as long as possible. I keep hearing that the battery life isn’t great, but when everyone plugs their phone in at night, why does it need to last more than a day? Plus, with 15 minutes of charge, you get 7 extra hours of battery, which is far better than any iPhone I’ve owned.

For anyone thinking I’m complaining without trying to solve these issues, I’ve contact Google’s dedicated Pixel support team multiple times, and so far, they’ve solved exactly zero of my problems. Just the typical “an update will be available in a couple weeks” response.

I think the biggest problem about making this switch is that I’ve gotten so used to how Apple does everything. I had an iPhone for a few years, and in that time, also bought an iPad, a MacBook, and now use an iMac at work. It’s not even that I miss the Apple ecosystem, because so far Google’s seems to be a million times better. It’s little things, like the calendar app only accepting Google entries, and not syncing with my Outlook calendar. Or seeing a gorgeous rose gold case only to find it’s for iPhone only.

So what it comes down to is, is a great camera enough to justify a mediocre phone? With how much I edit my pictures anyway, it doesn’t seem worth it to me. I’m currently playing the waiting game. I’ll give the Pixel a chance for a few more weeks, but if nothing changes, I’ll be switching back to my iPhone.

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