The Pixel 8 Pro looks great; it offers a cleaner software experience (which I like), and it’s cheaper than Samsung’s most premium flagship. Even now (thanks to Google’s Black Friday sale), you can get a brand new Pixel 8 Pro for just $800 despite the fact it came out less than two months ago – the offer might or might not be available when you’re reading this.
Then how come Google keeps failing to turn its flagship into the “default” Android flagship the Pixel should be?
Given the fact Google pioneered Android, and after years in the phone-making business, how long does Google need to convince people the Pixel is the main event in the Android world?
- Even on the third iteration of the Tensor chip, Google’s in-house SoC (made in partnership with Samsung) is clearly still the biggest weakness of the Pixel; I’m not a gamer, but you don’t need to play games to notice the Pixel takes longer to complete some simple tasks like editing and saving a photo/video compared to the Galaxy S23, and especially the iPhone 15 Pro
- But Tensor’s biggest drawback isn’t that it’s only as powerful as a mid-range chip but the efficiency of the Tensor SoC; although the Pixel 8 Pro’s battery should last a day for most people, it’s noticeably less reliable than both the Galaxy S23 Ultra and the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s, which can even push it to two days; the Pixel 8 Pro is also noticeably weaker than the iPhone in stand-by mode (when you’re not using the phone)
- Believe it not, the Pixel’s camera isn’t what it was and this isn’t only Google’s fault; sure, the Pixel takes photos with tons of artefacts and noisy videos at night, but also, the competition has caught up to Google big time; if the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3 could easily be qualified as “the best camera phones” of their time, that’s not the case with the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, which might not even be in top five (Chinese flagships included); I’d pick the iPhone 15 Pro Max over the Pixel 8 Pro as my primary camera phone 10/10 times – something I couldn’t say about the iPhone X vs Pixel 2 back in 2017
- And last but not least, the Pixel’s history of bugs will give users a bit less reassurance than something like a Galaxy or an iPhone; sure, I haven’t encountered any major bugs with my Pixel 8 Pro (especially compared to my Pixel 6 Pro) but reputation matters in the phone world, and Google’s was a little bit tarnished after the Pixel 6 series bug fiasco
Google’s real “enemy” is Samsung – not Apple: Is the Galaxy S23 really the default Android phone?
Google keeps poking fun at the iPhone for lacking the Pixel’s AI camera features but (in my experience) the iPhone takes better photos and videos in most cases.
What doesn’t help is the relatively homogenous Android scene in the US and Europe, which doesn’t get as many awesome Chinese mid-range and flagship phones as it used to (partly due to the Huawei ban).
Can the Pixel or any other 2024 flagship challenge Samsung’s image as “the de facto Android phone”?
Can the newly-announced OnePlus 12 turn into the default Galaxy challenger in 2024 instead of the Pixel 8 Pro?