Teetering on the fence

Jeremy8000

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Jul 11, 2012
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Hoping for BF deals and further reviews to incentivize me to a decision, whether it be to go to a 4XL, Note 10 Plus, or stick with my 3 XL. Meanwhile, here's my personal observations on the Pixels and why I remain both drawn to and driven away from it...

YMMV.

Waaaaay TLDR... We want perfection from everyone, but especially from Google since we like to think they have the resources where they should be able to deliver it. They don't meet that expectation of course, but, despite a plentiful number of shortcomings, they still deliver a phone which, if those caveats can be managed, offers unbeaten ease of use among Android phones and a number of truly valuable benefits unavailable anywhere else. If not, be glad we're in a time where there are plentiful magnificent options out there.

TLDR...
  • FPS/Facial Recog - would have been better with more preparation.
  • Trade-in Value - not Google's fault, but they could have subsidized.
  • Battery - seems low, but haven't seen any direct comparisons of performance vs 3/3XL...?
  • Camera - Opting telephoto over wideangle understandable as it highlights and showcases your AI prowess. Both would've been nice.
  • Video - important feature to your core target (people who want to capture memories) being left unaddressed makes it a harder sell.
  • Soli - What should have been "You had me at Soli" is instead "you had me at... but why." The potential is real - make it compelling.
  • Photos/Storage - Most (not forum) users will still be able to manage with 64GB, but lose a major QoL benefit.
  • "Older Parts" - The phrase "whole greater than the sum of its parts" is an adage for a reason, and Google demonstrates the truth of it. All new parts would be the "Ultra" we'd dream of, but with smaller production = higher parts pricing, the price would be too through the roof.
  • Display - 90Hz, the must-have feature that any company should be embarrassed to launch a flagship in 2019 without (if it had been launched by Samsung or Apple).
  • Google Assistant - the on-device enhancement being the 'sleeper' feature that could be the biggest actual enhancement to true device functionality in a long while.
  • Astrophotography - Umm thanks (?) Very cool, though.
  • Grab Bag - myriad value-add features (car crash detection, dictation, live transcribe, ambient eq, etc)

The full monty

FPS/Facial Recog... Either should have more effectively encouraged support for facial authentication in banking & e-commerce apps to ideally have them up and running before launch, or retained FPS. Definitely should have an element of ensuring alertness of the face (eyes open) - I recall reading somewhere that this a toggle option in earlier versions, but strangely removed. Easy enough fix to a problem that should never have been allowed to come up in the first place.

Trade-in value... It sucks, but Google doesn't set the prices - it's managed by a 3rd party company they've contracted for that purpose. Where Google could have stepped in would be to have subsidized a budget to supplement the lower value assigned for Pixels to incentivize those who have made that decision in the past to repeat, and to help mitigate against the easily taken perception that they themselves don't value their phones.

Battery... I may have missed it, but while I've read a number of reviews that all cry foul on the battery life, I haven't seen one that directly compared the actual life of the 4 and 4XL to that of the 3 and 3XL. In the span of a few minutes I read in one place someone crying about only getting 4-5 hours screen time on the 3, and in another article someone being deeply satisfied getting 5 hours on the Note 10 Plus... I don't have high expectations for the 4, but have personally been more than satisfied with the 3XL delivering a full hard day's work (unless I'm gaming), and don't need more than that. Telling us a phone's battery life is 'bad' or 'wrong for 2019' is subjective and meaningless without direct, specific comparison or performance detail.

Camera... While I won't pretend to understand why Google opted not to include both Telephoto vs Wideangle, I am pretty confident of the reasons they elected telephoto over wideangle, which are twofold:

First, they already have AI implemented that enhances digital zoom on a normal camera sensor to deliver at least competitive zoom performance to most other flagships' optical zooms, so it would be an easy move for them to deliver a more pronounced improvement with a dedicated telephoto lens. They likely have minimal AI as yet to deal with enhancements specifically relevant to wideangle shots.

Second, the addition of a telephoto lens adds substantially more information with which to process standard shots, enabling much greater potential for improvement in results of the most commonly cited reason for buying Pixels - regular photos.

Video... So many other changes to the device they felt they could skip this one for the year. Kind of a shame since much of their core market are people wanting to capture visual memories as well as possible, and video kind of plays into that.

Soli... Absolutely astounding technology that could honestly change the way we would want to interface with our phones. Check the years-old tech demo videos, they'll blow your mind. Google failed to offer a single actual innovation in terms of what this does, at least at release. Yes, it may do it better than prior approaches, but as not a one of those (other than the secure facial recognition which it helps support) realized any true interest or adoption, they needed to find a compelling reason to want it. High hopes for what this could evolve into if it doesn't get scrapped prematurely.

Google Photos/Storage... These go hand in hand. With unlimited original backup of pics/video taken on a Pixel, I was totally fine with the 64GB storage on the 3XL, and would have likely considered the 64GB version of the 4XL. I usually have several games, a season or two of TV episodes and/or a few movies, and a fair number of apps (currently 128) and haven't had an issue because, with Google offloading my captured media, my storage demands are fairly static. With the loss of that quality-of-life feature and still wanting to preserve such photos/videos in their original format, the difference in storage options now becomes a matter of how much extra am I willing to pay upfront to have to manually offload them less frequently, or am I willing to pay a subscription for cloud storage. Admittedly, cloud storage is pretty cheap these days, but this is a benefit you undervalue until it is gone. Whereas - for the 'normal consumer, not us-of-the-forums - 64 GB was more than ample for the regular joe before, now I can't defend that size as a starting point in most cases.

"Older parts"... Would we all prefer the absolute latest in technology for every part (assuming proven reliable)? Of course. I will say, though, that we don't generally use any specific part in isolation, but rather the phone as a whole. To that end, historically, in the Android world, I have yet to use a phone that operated more smoothly, simply, and intuitively than a Pixel at the time that Pixel was released. The benefit they enjoy from being able to design a phone with their deep, native understanding of how to maximize interoperability with the OS lets them derive more from those parts, helping keep their pricing relatively lower to what it would be using all the 'premium' latest parts (Google, with a far, far, far smaller production scale, is likely not getting the same bulk discount levels others enjoy). They could make a 'superphone' with all the same top parts as found with other flagships, but due to economy of scale it would have to be priced substantially higher than either.

Display... Kudos on 90Hz with software to manage efficiency switching it down to 60Hz when not needed. I haven't had a chance to play with one yet, and while not a 'critical' feature it is definitely something that should be immediately appreciated and, had it been implemented earlier by Samsung or Apple, would have been touted as a 'must-have' feature to be considered a flagship in 2019, with anyone lacking it being called out as an absurd failure (amazing how the top-selling brands dictate what is and what isn't must-have - and how often it sends us spiraling the wrong direction (I'm looking at you, facial recognition (even though I'd prefer not to))). Wish it were brighter than 400 nits, as on a sunny day outdoors you'll be as virtually useless as you were with the Pixel 3 XL...

Google Assistant... This is probably the biggest thing still attracting me to the Pixel 4. I use GA all the time and it is incredibly reliable and accurate, but painfully slow at times. If the process being managed on-device is that much faster, it would be of enormous import to me and would I suspect also be a much stronger benefit for other users in general.

Astrophotography... Roughly 0.02% of your user base deeply appreciates this advancement! The other 99.98% either couldn't care less, will use it a few times then join in not caring, or appreciate the thought but, given the fact that it's not a simple point-and-shoot process but rather still generally requires time and a tripod, will stick with real camera equipment.

Candidly, it's amazing from a technical standpoint, but just how many people have come forth and said 'you know, I just can't find a phone camera that can take great pictures of the stars..."? But yes, sincere appreciation for the fact that you are indeed able to take remarkable pictures of an extremely technically challenging scene to capture.

Grab Bag... Yep, there's a ton of little things that get lost in the mayhem but add degrees of value that should not be overlooked. Dictation app is impressive, and immensely valuable for a number of professions. Live transcription recognizes and represents a solution to a challenge faced by the hearing impaired. Car crash detection seems like a silly frill, but it won't be thought of that way if it does what it is intended to when needed. Ambient EQ balancing color temperature to ambient lighting (if it works like it does with Google Home Hub, will be an under the radar feature you won't realize how much you appreciate unless it's gone). All of this on top of fastest receipt of security updates for the longest guaranteed period of any Android phone, and a phone now readily available from all major US carriers (though sadly restricted due to utilized technology in some 'slightly populous' markets).

Flux Capacitor... Google, please. You have the money. Go ahead and complete your takeover of Fusion Industries and put these in our phones so we can quit worrying about battery life already!
 

Jeremy8000

Well-known member
Jul 11, 2012
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First of all... WOW.

Second of all... JEBUS EFFIN' KRISPY WOW. (Thanks for the write up!)

Third... let's not forget it comes with cereal!
https://www.gsmarena.com/pixel_4_and_4_xl_start_shipping_arrive_in_cereal_boxes-news-39750.php

(It's no flux capacitor...but hey, it's somethin'!)

I'm not sure whether to be impressed or disturbed that you made it all the way to that uncited part! Neat find on the cereal box packaging.

Interesting that UK provides a free Chromebook... Kind of strange as its like, "Thanks for buying our new flagship phone. Here's an HP Chromebook that... oh, by the way, would you like to buy our new Pixel Chromebook?" Maybe they'll give a good trade-in value on the HP Chromebook o_O
 

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