One of the downsides of using Project Fi is that your phone choices are pretty limited. But the phones you can buy are the best that Android has to offer, and once you’ve used pure Android it’s really hard to go back.
In October I pre-ordered a Google Pixel 2 XL on the day it was announced. My Nexus 5X was showing its age. In particular, the battery life was horrible and the camera was slow. The latter has suddenly become more important now that I’m a dad – nothing like missing the moment because your camera is slow to load!
What followed, however, was tech misery. I proceeded to regret my decision as it was delayed past delivery and reports of the poor screen surfaced almost daily. I played that “should I cancel or should I not?” game right up until the day it shipped.
And then I received it and…it is wonderful. It’s absolutely everything I could want in a smartphone. Phew.
- Pure Android – honestly, Samsung makes great hardware but I’m not sure I could handle their bloated software experience. Pure Android is fast, has no clutter, has the most Google Assistant features, and gets OS and security updates the second Google releases them.
- Battery life – I can go all day without worrying about charging! I don’t even have to plug it in while I’m using it as a GPS around town.
- The camera – many reviewers seem to think it’s the best camera out there. I don’t have the expertise to say. All I know is it’s fast and takes good photos every time…plus it has portrait mode and it will soon be getting even better.
- The screen! – I haven’t experienced any of the issues the reviewers did. I wonder if my delay meant Google was quality checking screens? The true black on an OLED screen is glorious for nighttime reading.
- The case – I picked up the Carbon Fabric case. It’s worth every bit of the $40 I paid. The fabric has the perfect amount of grip, and the look is a lot nicer than the typical plastic case.
- The fingerprint reader – it’s sooooo fast.
- No headphone jack – good grief this annoys me. I’ve already tried to plug a pair of headphones in a few times out of habit. They only include one dongle. The dongle is proprietary. No USB-C headphones are included. Thumbs down.
- Broken Gmail notifications – my system for using varying Gmail label notifications (some with sound, some without) is no longer possible in Oreo. A lot of people are pissed. This is kind of unacceptable, especially because it’s a Google app. It’s been a known bug since September and still hasn’t been fixed.
For a full review and demo check out Marques Brownlee’s review on YouTube.
Have We Hit “Peak Smartphone”?
I think that this is the year that we’ve finally hit peak smartphone. The iPhone 8, iPhone X, Galaxy S8, Galaxy Note 8, and Pixel 2 all feel like they’ve reached a point where you can pick one up now and not regret your purchase when next year’s model comes out. That’s essentially the bet I made when I paid almost $1,000 for a phone. It’s not to keep it a year or even two, it’s to keep it for a while. Just like how I’m still using my 2013 Asus Zenbook and it still stands up remarkably well to today’s top of the line notebooks.
The useful innovation in computers has slowed in the past five years, and I think that will also be the case for smart phones in the coming five years. I might miss out on some AR or VR or gaming feature that I probably wouldn’t use anyway, but other than that the core things that are important to phones (battery life, screen, speed, connectivity) have reached a point where there isn’t a ton of innovation on the immediate horizon, nor is there a need for it because for most people (myself included) those things are now good enough.