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Why my money's on the Google Pixel 2

I've been back and forth between iPhone and Android since my first smartphone in 2013 (iPhone 5). After becoming disillusioned with iCloud and the idiosyncrasies of the iPhone, I figured I'd give Android a try with the Samsung Galaxy S5. I loved it, but it felt kind of cheap, and the screen lacked the pizzazz of the iPhone. Fast-forward to this job, and I've used the Moto X Pure Edition, Nexus 6P, HTC 10, Samsung Galaxy S6 and S7, and the iPhone 7.

When the iPhone 7 first came out, I was intrigued and drawn back into the Apple fold. I picked up an Apple Watch Series 2 and delighted in the synergy… for a time. I used the iPhone 7 for a good 6 months before I decided it was time to go back to Android. Here I am with my Samsung Galaxy S8, and it's easily the best phone I've ever used. It's lightning-fast; the fingerprint sensor is WAY better than that on the iPhone 7; the screen is brilliant, and the customization options are the bees' knees.

I'm very happy with my Galaxy S8 and don't plan on upgrading for quite a while, but if I was a "new phone every year" type of person, then I'd definitely opt for the…

Google Pixel 2

Google's Pixel of yesteryear was an interesting first step for the company, and the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL just add great features and improves upon what was already a stellar phone.

Software

First and foremost, there is absolute beauty in the simplicity of stock Android. Many iPhone users would argue that iPhone is as simple as it gets, and they'd be right, but as far as Android is concerned, the Google Pixel 2 nails simple software. There is no manufacturer bloat in the same way there is with Samsung phones (I love my phone, but I'd love to obliterate every Samsung app it came with), and it's the perfect way for someone to enter the Android sphere or for a longtime Android user to enjoy everything Android has become.

Getting a phone made by Google also ensures prompt software updates, giving you the latest features before every other manufacturer. That's a big deal for most, especially when it comes to security. Apple does have it nailed with every phone getting updates at the same time, but the Pixel 2 makes that a moot point.

That camera

iPhone is touted as the best smartphone camera around, and for many, it is. Russell Holly did a great comparison piece on the Google Pixel 2 and iPhone 8, and the differences in photos is stark. The iPhone 8 camera shows what's most pleasing to the eye, while the Google Pixel 2 shows something a little more true to life.

The other aspect is Google's ability to take what Apple's done with portrait mode and improve upon it. The Pixel 2 is able to get the same depth-of-field effect with just one camera, thanks to excellent software. And portrait mode even works on the front-facing camera. Some would call Google a copycat, and you're probably right, but nothing can truly be invented anymore, only improved upon, and Google does it in spades.

It's Android

I know some of you will chalk this up to fanboying, but I've walked in both worlds, and for me, Android is the better operating system. I prefer its flexibility and the ability to customize it the way I see fit.

I've always said it, and it's somewhat ironic, but I find that an Android phone works more like a Mac than an iPhone does. Everything just does what it seems like it's supposed to. I also like that, even though I have no desire to, I could root my phone at any time and customize it far more deeply than I'd ever feel comfortable doing. An iPhone-using friend of mine often retorts with "Yeah, but you wouldn't." And he's right; I wouldn't. But the fact that I can is what appeals to me. iPhone puts you in Apple's box and you must operate within those parameters. It's just not for me.

Pixel Buds

Copycat alert! Google has its own AirPods. Get out your torches and pitchforks.

You know what? I don't care who did it first; I care about who does it better. Nine Inch Nails did Hurt 18 years before Johnny Cash took a whack at it, but I think Johnny Cash's version is the clear winner.

First off, Pixel Buds are connected. That's important to me. We've written a bunch of articles on iMore about finding lost AirPods and how not to lose your AirPods, and we wouldn't have had to do that if they had simply been connected to one another.

Second, how cool is the real-time translation feature? I mean, slap a pair of Pixel Buds on, and you basically have Star Lord's translator implant.

All that being said, I've yet to actually listen to the Pixel Buds. And to date, I haven't come across headphones with better sound that EarPods when it comes to headphones that come with the phone. I used my iPhone 5's EarPods until earlier this year.

If I had to pick, it'd be the Pixel 2 XL

I'm sticking with my Galaxy S8 for as long as it remains awesome. Using so many phones over the last two years has taught me to simply appreciate a great phone when it comes along and embrace it, so I have.

But if I were upgrading now, I'd go with the Pixel 2 XL. I've weighed it against the latest iPhones, and there's just nothing drawing me to any of the new Apple Devices. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are simply incremental updates to a good phone, and I have very little faith in the iPhone X, given its lack of a fingerprint sensor and the dubiousness of FaceID.

And before anyone tells me to go back to Android Central, this isn't a partisan matter for me. I just want a phone that does what I want it to do, the way I want it to. For now, it's an Android phone. If iPhones start doing that in a couple years, and they do it better than Android, then great; I'll switch back. Until then, it looks like my next phone (whenever that is) will be a Pixel of some sort.

Read: Android Central's Google Pixel 2 review

How about you?

Are you considering upgrading to the Google Pixel 2 or will you be going with the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, or X? Let me know in the comments below.

Mick is a staff writer who's as frugal as they come, so he always does extensive research (much to the exhaustion of his wife) before making a purchase. If it's not worth the price, Mick ain't buying.

43 Comments
  • I have used Android (s6 and S7 edge). I have used Windows phones. I moved on from both and am now on iOS devices. Windows phones are nice but basically became useless, since they were abandoned by MS. Again. Android just seems like a mess to me. Maybe it's just the Samsung phones, I've never had any other. But that's all we are offered where I work. "Customization" just does not interest me. I don't care what it looks like. I don't spend hours fiddling with settings. To me the Home Screen is just where I go to launch apps. Period. Plus there are just WAY too many ads in all things Google. The same apps on iOS are less instrusive AND the ads actually go away when you select DELETE.
  • I agree with most of what you’re saying. I am coming from windows phone and has had a couple of android phones and am now on iphone. And i DO care about what the home screen looks like. I fiddled hours with my home screens when i was on android. But for me the humdrum quality of launchers and inconsistant (or third-party) app icons just made me not pleased with my home screen no matter how much time i put into it. So for me, the iphone does better in this regard.
  • Holy crap Rene let you post this? He probably is screaming in a corner somewhere or throwing things.
  • Look at me. I am the captain now.
  • Not sure what you mean 0_o?
  • greatness
  • Ain't that the truth!! Rene has GOT to be stuck in the Himalayas or something for this to be posted on iMore... Himalayas... Middle of the Congo... Dark side of the moon... Something!?!? Lol!!
  • Winds of change when clicks are down here.
    Heck, even the iMore app for Android was put back and updated on the Play Store this week in order to bring traffic back. And the android app is a 1000x better than the iOS app or the mobile webversion.
  • I'm assuming once Rene catches wind of this article Mike Tanasychuk can look forward to pink slip in his next paycheck
  • yeah google my noodle says it all
  • Pixel is the only Android worth buying IMO. Motorola probably coming in a close second. Just stay away from Samsung. You'll be getting updated almost a year after getting released. I've been burned one time too many by Samsung. Never again.
  • I won't disagree about the Pixel devices being the ones to go for in the Android world, but frankly, you lost me after the "Here I am with my Samsung Galaxy S8, and it's easily the best phone I've ever used" bit. TouchWizz is, was, and always will be, an insult to human sanity. The fanboys will tell you that it's improved, but only relative to its previous version, not its competition - put lipstick on a pig and its still a pig. Oh, and their fingerprint readers still require ridiculously long reach to be used with regular handholding compared to other Android rear fingerprint phones.
  • “Is, was, and always will be...?” You can see into the future? What else is going to happen? Tell us please!! Go home. Talking about fanboys when you have made your mind up permanently about something that’s ever evolving. I actually agree that touchwiz sucks, but it HAS gotten better, more subtle, leaner. So I can imagine on this continued trajectory that it could become great sometime in the future. Maybe that won’t be for another decade but it’s not impossible.
  • You may want to read this if you haven't looked at a recent Samsung. No more TouchWiz jokes: Samsung's software has caught up to its hardware
    - The Verge https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2017/4/18/1533...
  • The Apple apps lack feature and function.
    Google's apps embedded with AI offer more functionality and simplicity.
  • Right, as long as you don’t mind that AI tracking your every move and selling you faster than you can inhale. Not to mention they will turn your data over to the feds at the drop of an @. Then there’s the malware that will have much better control over Android with that AI. Now there’s the fact that the XL has one of the worst screens available, unless you don’t mind that blue tint. Even the ‘purest’ of android devices is a terrible knock off of iPhone 6s... 🤣🤣
  • So much FUD, false info, and stupidity in this post. Expected nothing less from an Apple fanboy.
  • I am intrigued by your satisfaction with the performance of touch Wiz over time. Is the bitrot affliction of Sammy's UX a thing of the past?
  • Yes
  • Did I read S8 has a better finger print scanner then iPhone 7? Couldn’t have. Let me read this again.
  • Man alive! I can relate with this so much that if I didn't know better, I'd think I wrote it myself! Unless or until Microsoft can give us something that is worth a **** (and that's seeming less and less likely, unfortunately) my mobile "life story" will be told in terms of periodic, semi-random flits back and forth between Android and Apple. I'll get on one, initially be the happiest man on Earth, then eventually grow bored and/or frustrated with it, remember what I like better about the other platform, leap back, and repeat ad infinitum. So it sounds like we are very much alike here! But wait, it gets better! I just made the jump tonight - maybe two or three hours ago! Going from Apple to Android this time around, I traded in my flagging iPhone 6 Plus for....... ........drumroll............ ......Pixel 2!!!? But not just Pixel 2......Pixel 2 XL!!!! The biggest compelling thing for me was the software. Duh. There's something magical about "pure vanilla" Google Android. I feel like it's the closest thing you're ever gonna get to a "best of both worlds" between Android and Apple as in the ways Android is better, it's still very much an Android phone, while in the ways Apple is better, it's as Apple as you're ever gonna get on an Android. So, I keep myself on a two year phone upgrade cycle. Therefore, barring the spectacularly bad or the spectacularly good, this will be my phone until fall 2019, at which point I'll reassess which OS I want to be on for the next round, and pick a phone accordingly. In the meanwhile, do me proud, Android! Do me proud Google! Do me proud Pixel! At the very least, don't let me regret leaving Apple. :-) p.s. oh, and I'm fine with the screen! More than fine, actually!! :-)
  • I'm sorry but the Pixel 2's portrait mode is nowhere near as good as the 7/8 Plus portrait mode. It *can* produce *similar* results, but it's significantly less consistent. I'm speaking from personal experience as well as confirmation from other reviews out there. I will say the iPhones need to catch up in autofocus speed. Between the Pixel/Pixel 2 and the S8/Note 8, Apple still feels slow by comparison.
  • No portrait mode is perfect. They all fail in one way or another.
  • Agree 100% - the iPhone simply fails a LOT less often.
  • The Pixel actually does way better than the iPhone in distinguishing the background from a person's hair. Given how often most of us take pics of people with hair, I'd say it's a major selling point over iPhone portrait mode.
  • how do you know about the portrait mode on the pixel 2? only what you see online or?
  • Like I said - reviews online plus personal experience, as my buddy received his a couple of days ago and we’ve been playing with it a LOT.
  • Disagree. I have no problem "being in Apple's box". The ecosystem is worth it. Customization is NOT that necessary and is really something I feel is highly overrated. I don't even change the wallpaper on my iPhone, I use the stock iOS wallpaper. I feel Apple knows what is best for us better than we do about what we need. I have the iPhone 8 Plus and it's simply the best. It's such a great phone and ticks all the boxes I care about. Speed/no lag/fluidity, camera, and ecosystem. Nothing beats iMessage/FaceTime. I don't care that the iPhone's photos are more doctored, because I'd doctor them anyway. Whatever looks best on Instagram or Snapchat. I spend most of the time on my phone on social. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.
  • Certainly entitled to your opinion. If limitations and Tim's hard handled control is needed to keep you safe in the outside world I suppose you made a good choice.
  • apple should at least customize there lock screen. the clock looks so old and a little bit more information would be great. just so old everything iphone ios everything looks old like it did four years ago.
  • If it wasn’t for the Google Pixel phones I would have an iPhone. Just a shame google can’t make a tablet as good as an iPad.
  • still not sure why someone needs an ipad?
  • Tablets are so 2011. Ultrabooks and convertible laptops with touch screens are what's in now.
  • The only real reason I keep buying iPhone's is for the resale value. A Verizon iPhone 7 Plus on Swappa is $515 vs a Samsung 8 Plus is $475. Being able to sell a device for a decent price is important to me.
  • iphone / apple service is great.
  • No questions service is better than anyone else currently Doesn't convince me enough to move over though for me when the iOS experience is limited and I have never needed service on any of my Samsung devices.
  • When was it that Apple wanted to make the iPhone like the Mac again? Oh, right, that was never. @Mike, go work for cult of Android.... good god iMore, you really should reconsider allowing the network this guy writes for pinning your website’s name to articles like this. Biggest non-mentions of this article: PRIVACY, Data Integrity, federal compliance with turning over data, malware and the consistent tracking and selling of your every move. Plus we won’t discuss the major screw up with the screen, or the washed out photos. The pixel line just caught up with the iPhone 7+.
  • Lol this guy's is clueless. Keep living in the past champ. By the way, if you are concerned about privacy there is one company that gives you incredible visibility and control over what is shared. Hint: it's not Apple.
  • Indeed! Apple's lack of transparency is troubling, for sure.
  • Exactly. The old talking point that Privacy is the absolute most important thing seems to only be true as long as the company that provides the best security / privacy is Apple. If it turns out to be a much smaller fruit company, then--180 degree pivot--privacy SUDDENLY isn't QUITE so important...
  • Rene must have finally noticed this article as it's now burried amongst the rest of iMore's "filler" articles.....
  • Disagree on the Samsung app thing. I find Samsung's browser, calendar, and health app are much better than the Google offerings. The Samsung browser is over 4x faster than Chrome on sunspider and noticeably much faster in regular use when it comes to page loading/rendering and smoothness in scrolling and navigation. I would personally prefer to obliterate Google's requirement on Android OEMs to forcibly install the Google suite. The European union is even calling this practice of Googles out as an anti-trust abuse of monopoly issue. The reason for the duplicate apps is Googles fault not Samsungs. If Samsung doesn't include the (in my opinion) inferior Chrome browser, for example, then Samsung cannot include the Play Store or install Google Play services.
  • Yep. This guy gets it. 100% agree with everything you said.