Android’s holy grail is to build a smartphone that topples the iPhone enigma. Since the iPhone’s inception more than a decade ago, Apple has been riding on their first mover momentum even if they don’t pull off the most powerful phone. Android’s de facto champion has always been thought to be Samsung. The Korean smartphone has been raking in the big bucks, but as politics go, Samsung isn’t the true heir apparent to the Android throne.
Google, father to the entire Android subgenre, always had first dibs on cracking the iPhone’s hold over the market. For years, Google has been marketing their Nexus line as the one, true Android phone. The Nexus phones are essentially blueprints designed by Google, but manufactured by top players in the Android army. With 2016, Google is ending the Nexus line and launching the Pixel line in its stead.
The Silicon Valley giant took a page out of Apple’s playbook with the Pixel. Relying on the word-of-mouth hype train, Google released a teaser of iPhone proportions: October 4th. All around the world, Google wanted us to remember the date. Brimming with confidence, they even boasted that we’ll remember the 4th of October 2016 for years to come.
To their own dismay, Google’s information control wasn’t on the same page as everyone else. On the weeks leading up to October 4th, a torrent of leaks overwhelmed the internet. We knew all there was to know about the Google Pixel minus the price. When the day finally came, we weren’t surprised; all of the leaks were just confirmed.
Available in either 5-inch or 5.5-inch variants, the Pixel is Google’s answer to the premium smartphone. Just on paper, the Pixel is a powerhouse to behold. First and foremost, both variants of the Pixel are outfitted with Qualcomm’s top processor, the Snapdragon 821, and an Adreno 520 GPU chip. They come with 4GB of RAM and an option for either 32GB or 128GB of internal storage. They also have the new USB Type-C port and cable for connectivity.
Similar to their premium competitors, the Pixel downsizes the camera’s resolution capabilities in favor of better overall quality. They feature a 12-megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 lens, 1/2.3-inch sensor size, 1.55µm pixel size, and laser autofocus. Meanwhile, the 8-megapixel front-facing camera features f/2.4 lens, 1/3.2-inch sensor size, and 1.4µm pixel size.
The Pixel and the Pixel XL differ only in their display size. The regular Pixel is fitted with a 5.0-inch screen that’s capable of displaying up to 1080p in resolution. Meanwhile, the larger Pixel XL is fitted with a 5.5-inch screen that extends up to Quad HD in resolution.
Now, let’s address the one basic thing you know about the Google Pixel—the colors. Here are their names: Quite Black, Really Blue, and Very Silver. Here, now, are what Google needs: a list of swatches, a dictionary, and Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. Much as I prefer Android over Apple, I can’t imagine picking Quite Black over Space Grey, based on name alone. We’ll never know, though, if this plight is a sarcastic joke by Google or a blunder with the dictionary. Still, would you really want to make any part of your premium phone a joke? It’s great for creating buzz, but not exactly for marketing allure purposes.
It should be noted that the Pixel isn’t a phone made my Google, though. Like its Nexus counterparts, Google designed it, but another company manufactured it. In this case, both Pixels are made by HTC. It’s the Android phone, but it’s not truly the Google phone. In fact, the Pixel’s position as the premier Android phone reveals Google’s disjointedness regarding its operating system.
Out of the box, the Google Pixel comes installed with Android Nougat 7.1. Lollipop and Marshmallow updates haven’t even rolled out to some Android phones yet, much less Nougat. But Pixel has the 7.1 Nougat right off the bat. 7.1. The Pixel is part of the top one percent of the Android submarket. As much as the Pixel is a competitor for the iPhone, Android smartphone manufacturers should be more threatened by Google’s move than the Apple kingpin. The Google Pixel is a dominating presence in a submarket that wasn’t unified to begin with.
Since the Google Pixel is in the top one percent, it’s no surprise that it comes with quite a hefty price tag. The basic 5.0-inch Pixel with 32GB of storage retails for $649 or approximately P31,000. On the other end, the top Pixel XL with 128GB retails for $869 or approximately P42,000. Compared to other Android phones, the Pixel variants are up there with the Samsung Galaxy S7 series. If and when the Pixel arrives here, it’ll cost more bucks to buy the premium phones. Their price tags eradicate the Nexus’s positioning as value for money powerhouses. They are undoubtedly in the business of premium now.
This exorbitant pricing also defeats the commonly held notion that the iPhone killer is going to be affordable. If we’re going with the strict definition that the iPhone killer is going to dethrone the Apple iPhone, the Google Pixel has that potential because it has amazing specs and a price that can push them past the top if sold with volume. However, it’ll go through an uphill battle to get to that point. The ironic thing is that the one market who won’t be hampered by the iPhone killer’s price is that of iPhone users themselves.
Is the Google Pixel enough to dissuade Apple users from supporting their beloved brand? Is the Google Pixel the vaunted iPhone killer?
Even without testing it for ourselves, we can confidently say that the Google Pixel is a powerful phone that can outwit the competition. That said, the Pixel seems more targeted against other Android phones than taking the iPhone head-on. Is it the iPhone killer? Without the volume sales it needs to upend the Apple competition, it’s an iPhone alternative at best. What an amazing phone, though.