Every year I wait in anticipation of several different phone manufacturers to see what they’re going to showcase this year. I keep waiting for Sony to move past the same design with its huge bezels and to see whether or not major Android players will have the same “courage” that Apple had with the iPhone 7.
I know it’s just a matter of time before the industry shifts away from the 3.5mm headphone jack now that both Google and Apple are on board with its removal, but I can’t help but feel jaded as we’re stuck in this limbo phase of dongles and expensive accessories to be bought alongside your increasingly expensive smartphone.
I’m not buying a Pixel 2 this year and here are just a few reasons why.
7. Stiff competition from Samsung & LG
2017 is the year of bezel-less smartphones, but Google didn’t seem to get the memo. Both Samsung and LG had some catching up to do for different reasons this year and it really showed with the phones they brought to the table for Fall 2017.
Samsung had a lot to make up for with the release of the Galaxy Note 8 thanks to the spectacular failure of the Galaxy Note 7 last year. By all accounts, Samsung has hit it out of the park with the Galaxy Note 8, offering everything Galaxy Note 7 owners wanted before they had to return their device.
The LG V30 makes up for the Snapdragon 821 in the LG G6 earlier this year by coming equipped with a Snapdragon 835, Quad DAC, expandable storage, waterproofing, and wireless charging. In short, both the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and the LG V30 are beastly devices that the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL just aren’t competing with because Google has its eyes set on Apple’s walled garden approach.
6. Removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack
Now that both Google and Apple are beating the same drum with the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack, it’s only a matter of time before manufacturers like Samsung, LG, and OnePlus decide to start stepping to the beat. That’s disheartening when literally everything else you might want a set of headphones for still uses the 3.5mm headphone jack.
I’ve seen countless arguments both for and against the removal of the headphone jack and I understand both sides’ opinion. But that doesn’t negate the fact that it sucks to be stuck in the limbo of a major technological change when replacement 3.5mm headphone dongles cost $20 direct from Google.
A few months ago someone asked iPhone 7 users how they felt dealing with the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack now that the phone has been available for a year. Some people were okay with it, but the majority of people expressed discontent with having to find different alternatives. Here’s what some of them had to say.
I’ve had to replace my adapter 3 times because it either stopped working or I lost it. Since then I use Bluetooth earbuds because they’re more convenient and more low profile.
The other day I wanted to put a song on my friends speakers and it needed to be plugged in. Couldn’t do it.
Then a few weeks ago I was at my grandmothers’ and I was charging my phone and I wanted to watch a YouTube video at the same time. Couldn’t. This was the most frustrating incident.
While flying I can’t charge with an external battery and use headphones which is super annoying. I plug in the headphones and watch Netflix while watching the battery drop. At some point I have to switch off Netflix to bump up the power.
It’s actually been pretty great without the 3.5mm jack.
When I go to the bar, my friends and I get to pick the music occasionally and plug in our phones to the speakers.
Since my friend’s all got the iPhone 7, I’ve been the only one in charge of the music. Everyone consistently forgets their adapter, so they never get to hook up their own phones.
These are all real-world use cases that highlight just how inconvenient it is to have a phone that doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack when most of the rest of the world still relies on the universal standard. Bluetooth headphones could negate a few of the situations above, but again you’d have to carry around two sets of headphones. That’s just not appealing on a device from 2017.
5. No included USB-C headphones
Last year Google mocked Apple for removing the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7, listing the jack as a feature that’s “refreshingly not so new.” Google can crow about Apple all they want in 2016 when they’ve still included a headphone jack, but at least the iPhone 7 launched with a basic pair of lightning headphones to use with the new device.
Google has included no USB-C headphones in either the Pixel 2 or the Pixel 2 XL box, which means you’ll need to shell out some cash for a pair of Bluetooth headphones or grab those expensive $159 Pixel Buds that Google wants you to buy because the instant-translation feature is exclusive to Pixel phones.
4. Go wireless, but no wireless charging
One of the benefits that some defenders of removing the 3.5mm headphone jack cite is that going wireless is great. You don’t have to worry about your headphones snagging on anything and getting ripped out of your ears. That may be true, but what about getting rid of wires when it comes to charging your phone?
Apple is setting themselves up to go to a fully wireless eco-system in the future with the release of AirPower, yet Google launches its flagship phone for 2017 without any form of wireless charging in sight. In fact, we haven’t seen wireless charging as a serious feature on a Google-produced flagship since the Nexus 6, which debuted back in 2014.
Android fanboys were happy to trot out the argument that wireless charging has been done to death on Android before Apple users got their first taste this year with the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X, but it seems to me that Apple’s strategy of moving toward a wireless world in all regards makes more sense than Google’s approach of removing only some wires but not others.
3. I’m still mourning the death of Nexus
I’m in love with stock Android. I’ve owned an Android device (sometimes multiples) every year since 2011 and yet nothing has come close to the pure pleasure of not having to uninstall a bunch of carrier bloatware or deal with features that feel like a half-baked part of someone else’s version of Android.
I won’t deny that there have been some incredible OEM-specific features that have made their way into Android as stock features, but by and large, you’re often putting up with an OEM-skinned version of Android rather than truly enjoying the experience. It’s also painful that in order to get that experience, Google wants you to pay a premium price for a phone that leaves too many features out for the asking price.
The Nexus line was the sweet spot between an affordable Android phone that offered a stock experience with frequent updates. I’m hoping the Android One line can step up and fill some of those gaps, but once again it’s a wait and see game. Right now I’m using a OnePlus 5 because it’s the closest thing to stock Android with modern specs that didn’t cost me an arm and a leg to buy.
2. Google is building its own walled garden
It’s quite obvious at this point that Google has no interest in competing with Samsung and LG’s flagships, which are packed with new and differing features each generation. Instead, Google is hoping to emulate Apple’s success by building up a brand of products with features that are only available to Pixel.
Google’s stance was pretty much confirmed today when they removed Android Wear devices not made by Google from the Google Store. A tweet confirmed that from now on the Google Store will only carry Google-produced devices and accessories.
In fact, I would even say that Google is beating Apple at its own game. Check out these differences:
- Apple iPhone 7 Replacement Lightning Dongle – $9
- Google Pixel 2 Replacement USB-C Dongle – $20
- Apple iPhone 7 Lightning Earbuds – Included
- Google Pixel 2 USB-C Earbuds – Not included
1. Premium Price for 2016’s Design
I get that the bezel-less trend that has been 2017 isn’t for everyone, but looking at the Pixel 2 I see a phone with a design that I just don’t like. I didn’t really care for the design of the original Pixel either so I realized I’m a bit biased here, but I’m not really seeing a phone that excites me.
It has a glass back but no wireless charging and the front of the smaller Pixel 2 is so ugly that Google has done everything they can to hide it in official marketing materials. It’s clear that the LG-designed Pixel XL is intended to be the star of this year’s Pixel line-up. But the Pixel 2 just isn’t a phone I can see myself shelling out over $850 bucks for when I can get the same specs (sans the amazing camera) for around $300 less in the OnePlus 5.
Hell, with the difference between the two I could buy a decent Sony DSLR and have amazing pictures. Just not with my phone. And that seems like a better compromise to me than carrying around two sets of headphones or worrying about bringing my dongle because I might need it.
What about you? Do you plan on getting a Pixel 2? I’d love to hear why you think I’m wrong in the comments.