Samsung may build the most popular Android phones on the market, but that doesn’t automatically mean they’re the best. In fact, there are a lot of reasons to ignore the Samsungs and LGs of the market and get your Android phone straight from the source: Google.
Now, that’s not to say Samsung or LG build bad phones, because that’s not true, and I’d never want to imply otherwise. But that also doesn’t mean that “Samsung Galaxy” should be the de facto Android phone, and anything else is a lesser-than handset either. It’s time that everyone start paying attention to what Google is doing, because the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are the best Android phones that have ever existed. Let’s talk about why.
This is the biggest reason to go Pixel: you don’t have anyone mucking up the operating system or slowing the rollout of operating system updates, which is a huge problem for most Android manufactures.
When an new version of Android is available, the Pixel phones are the first to get it. Since Google builds stock Android specifically for its own hardware to provide a clean, untainted experience, there’s no need for a middleman. Where Samsung, LG, HTC, and everyone else has to modify the OS to include all of their additions and tweaks—something that could take months before they can push an update to a phone—Google doesn’t. So you get all the awesome new features right away, while everyone else is sitting around waiting.
And really, even if you’re not the type to care about huge version updates, you should at least care about security updates, which Android is supposed to get monthly. Guess which phones always get the security fixes every month? The ones that are updated by Google. All the others are generally months behind in terms of security, if the even get updated at all.
Android is free for any manufacturer to use, modify, and distribute on a phone, and that’s a big part of what has made it so popular. Every manufacturer has their own “flavor” of Android. But the Pixel is Android as Google designed it to be. It’s beautiful, elegant, and straight up classy as hell.
By contrast, many manufacturers of Android handset take what Google has built and really muddy it up with their own “features”. Samsung (and others) likes to change layouts and designs for no good reason, or remove features just because. For example, on stock Android you can access additional system tweaks a settings by using the System UI Tuner, which has been completely removed from on Samsung devices. Meanwhile, a lot of the superfluous features Samsung adds do nothing—except bloat the system and cause it to take up even more storage.
Now, I get that some people actually like Samsung’s TouchWiz interface—and that’s totally fine!—but a lot of the changes are simply just for the sake of change, and that’s just silly. I will admit that it’s come a long way over the past couple of years to be more usable and easier to look it, but it has a long way to go still.
Furthermore, non-Pixel phones often come with awful bloatware. Who wants pre-installed garbage that you never asked for mucking up your phone? Does anyone know what the Samsung Connect or LG SmartWorld apps even do?
The Pixel phones have none of that—it’s basically Google’s iPhone. Google made the phone top to bottom, and sells it directly to you (in most cases), so they avoid having to bend to anyone else’s will.
Despite what Verizon would have you believe, the Pixel phones are indeed quad-band, which means they can be used on any carrier. So, while the advertising claims it’s “exclusive to Verizon”, that just means it’s the only carrier selling them in stores—you can still buy a Pixel from Google and use it on Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, or any low-cost carrier that uses these networks. So, literally any carrier.
Other phones may be actually exclusive to a carrier, or have different (confusing) versions for different carriers that lack features of the others. With the Pixel, you don’t have to worry about any of that. Plus, like I mentioned in the last section, that means you don’t get any pre-installed garbage like My AT&T or My Verizon on handsets bought directly from Google. Get it, son.
The most recent Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL have cameras that are total game changers. The bar has been set by Google when it comes to what makes a great smartphone camera.
For example, Apple’s “Portrait Mode” is only available on the iPhone Plus, because it requires two cameras. The Pixel 2, however, does this all with software, and gets arguably better results using just a single camera—making it available on both Pixel phones. Google essentially made the cameras super smart. Because of that, you can even use portrait mode on the front-facing camera too. Your selfie game will be stronger than ever.
And that goes without mentioning the incredible low-light performance and HDR effects provided by the camera, both of which are made possible by using the Pixel’s Visual Core—a custom, purpose-built image processor that exclusively handles the load of making sure images are pristine.
The Visual Core also allows third-party cameras—like the ones included in Facebook and Instagram—to process HDR photos. This means you’ll get equally as high-quality photos from social cameras as you do the stock cameras. That’s something no other phone maker on the market can say. Not even Samsung.
Seriously guys, this camera is beastly. And just to sweeten the deal, the Pixel phones get free unlimited photo storage at the original resolution on Google Photos.
So far, everything I’ve mentioned has been a pretty big deal, but I’d be remiss not to mention all the little details that make phones like the Pixel 2 so great. Things like the always-on display—which is easily one of my favorite things about the Pixel 2—and insane battery life.
The Pixel Launcher, which has the Google Feed built in (which is awesome when you take the time to tweak it), is only available on Pixel devices. Squeeze for Assistant is brilliant, and a feature I use on the daily. Now Playing is a very subtle feature that is still incredibly meaningful.
These are all features that I personally love—things I find to add tons of value to the Pixel phones (and more specifically, the Pixel 2) over all other Android phones.
Honestly, at this point the experience is incomparable. Other Android manufacturers still have a long way to go when it comes to competing with the Pixel phones—be that in software, updates, and most of the time even features.
Current model devices are still shipping without outdated versions of Android, and manufacturers are slow to update—if they update at all. Phones that should continue to get manufacturer support are dropped all too often, all thanks to the bundled software and skins that don’t do much (if anything) in making Android better in the first place.
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Of course, the Pixel phones aren’t perfect. If I had to change one thing on the newest model, I’d add wireless charging. I think that was a huge oversight from Google when it was dropped in the Nexus line, and I hope to see it back in the Pixel 3. Now that Apple has adopted the feature, however, I think we’ll see it get more popular than ever before.
But overall, I will say that the Pixel phones hands down the best Android phones on the market, and the Pixel 2 XL is the best Android phone I’ve used.
So if you want the best experience with the best support, don’t question it. Just buy a Pixel already.