Gadgets

Why I went for Google Pixel 2 over iPhone X?

For last 3 months, I have been wanting to write this post, saying that I have purchased a new camera phone.

After every trip, like the one to Rameswaram, I had to spend days copying/viewing/selecting/deleting/renaming the hundreds of pictures that I would’ve taken with my DSLR (Nikon D7000) and smartphone (OnePlus 3T). If I travel only with a phone, I have the fear of missing out – though in few trips like the one to Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad I do get lucky with decent snaps with the phone. A few months back, I got tired of this laborious routine. I was happy with my phone – OnePlus 3T – it had a decent camera, comfortable full day battery life, good audio, dual-sim which lets me keep my Airtel number and use Reliance Jio’s LTE, DASH charge with USB-C, and all of this at a pocket-friendly price. I thought I can solve this by having a Pocket Pro Camera, like SONY RX100 Mk V that I can carry around easily; I can continue to use affordable phones like OnePlus for 18-24 months, before going for an upgrade.

SONY RX100 Mk V is not cheap, it costs $1000 (₹ 68000) but you can use them for next 3-5 years easily. RX100 doesn’t have a MicroPhone input – I don’t do video blogs, but I keep dreaming of a day I might and become a YouTube sensation! RX100 doesn’t have GPS which means I will have to tag them manually in Google Photos – the companion app for GPS tagging exists only for other SONY models, not RX100; I still would’ve needed to import the pictures to an iPad/PC to do all the selections/editing/deleting – my routine won’t get any simpler by owning a pocket camera. The alternative I considered was SONY RX10 Mark IV, but that will be only a bit smaller than a DSLR and save me just the additional lenses hassle, so I dropped the idea of a dedicated camera.

Then it dawned on me, I needed a smartphone with a great camera (I am not as smart as I appear) – in other words, an iPhone. Nowadays, we take countless photographs in every trip, which hardly get looked even once after we return. And the moments that deserve being captured only by a DSLR (or equivalent cameras) like action events or landscape photography are known in advance and are rare. For all other moments in life, an iPhone is enough. iPhone is not only a camera, it is an editing studio, a dark room, and publishing (WhatsApp, Instagram & WordPress) all on one convenient device. Finally, all the photos will get automatically backed up to Google Photos & DropBox – syncing automatically to my PC for further usage. Please don’t get me started on Apple iPhotos or iCloud – Apple can’t do cloud or Internet services, period.

Initially, I thought I will go with Google Pixel 2 – that way I can continue to be in Android ecosystem and not switch to iOS, the last I used it on a phone was with iPhone4, that was seven years ago. While using my iPad Air 2 I constantly feel frustrated with the lack of back button and the need to keep pressing Home button for even to switch between apps. When Pixel 2 got announced, boasting the best DXOMark camera score of 98, I thought that is the one for me. But looking at the output from the camera I felt they lacked a bit of punch on the colours, that I could see with photos taken on iPhone8 (and later with iPhone X). Pixel 2 also didn’t have the toggle switch to mute like the ones present on OnePlus and iPhone.

When Apple announced iPhone X with dual camera, both with OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) and a  DXOMark score of 97, I was elated. But the price tag of $1000 + taxes (In India it was announced later to be ₹89000 – ₹10000 cashback for Citibank Credit Card) made me rethink. I kept thinking – is it worth to spend the money? After few days of thinking, I had enough that I decided to prebook once they open for India – that’s when it dawned on me, that it will be NOT wise to buy a phone for $1000 without even touching and feeling the phone – especially considering it is glass on both sides (could be slippery), lacks even the one button (home) that iPhone had before. So I waited. A few days back, I went to an Imagine store and tried the new iPhone X – the glass on both sides was a danger waiting to happen – at the price of $300 (₹19000) to fix the broken back glass, and, it felt heavy for my liking. The camera was good, in real life it was no different from Pixel 2 output that I tried in another store. On top of all this, the Apple (franchisee in India) store said the wait time to be another 30 days for open stocks of iPhone X. To pre-book I had to pay ₹5000 as advance to the store (not to Apple), which cannot be adjusted against the final price of the phone; and Apple doesn’t allow prebooking in India against 100% payment.

With the sour taste in my mouth due to infinite delays, I thought (yes, I wasted a lot of grey matter on this subject) again. By the time I will be able to get the iPhone X it’s going to be the new year and rumour mills would be starting on upcoming iPhone X S. iOS also doesn’t have Google Fit, an app I frequently use.

By this time, it was almost 3 months that I have been talking about buying a new phone or camera and the wife (one who can’t be irritated) got fed-up and dragged me to a nearest store – Reliance Digital, Ashok Nagar, Chennai and made me buy Google Pixel 2 to put an end to my dilemma. The phone costs Rs.61,000 (USD 944) including taxes. I went with the 5 inches model and not the 6 inches “XL”, as I liked the lighter weight and pocketable size of the smaller one. Both models have the same camera internals, so it didn’t matter – good job Google for that decision. From the time of my previous Google phone, a Nexus 5, when it was missing core apps, Google has come a long way and is now a striking distance from dethroning Apple’s iPhone – in fact, I will argue Google’s backend services like Photos, Fit, Maps & Assistant give them a huge advantage over Apple’s poor cousins.

There has been a lot of talks online about quality issues with Google Pixel 2 XL, while that didn’t influence my buying decision, it was certainly concerning, especially when you are buying an expensive phone. The Pixel 2 is manufactured by HTC Taiwan, a company I have visited in person during my trip to Taiwan and Pixel 2 XL is manufactured is by LG, South Korea. While buying Google Pixel 2 from Reliance Digital, the first piece they billed for me, when I opened the box and turned the phone ON, the display showed coloured dots – nothing else. After one hour waiting, they arranged for a new piece from their warehouse/distributor – they did handle it professionally, good job by Reliance Digital.

Google Pixel 2 - Display is sharp and clear

Google Pixel 2 – Display is sharp and clear

Google Pixel 2 - I love the blue colour and the right green button is cool to

Google Pixel 2 – I love the blue colour, and the right green button is cool too

It’s been a day+ with Google Pixel 2. I am liking the full day battery life, front facing stereo speaker are loud and clear, USB C quick charging is fine (a little slower than the DASH charging from OnePlus), Android Oreo is clean and the squeeze feature to get Google Assistant is cool – this makes a feature I rarely use, usable. Above all the photos from both the front and rear camera are awesome, I like the colour depth and exposure. I am sure Google will continue to keep improving the camera through software, for which their engineers are known for. The finger print scanner on the back is super fast, it’s almost instaneous – I am loving it.

I am looking forward to 3 upcoming features through software updates – “AR Stickers” which is yet to release, Name that tune (Shazam clone) feature not yet for India, and Google Lens feature integrating to the base camera. What I don’t like with Google Pixel 2 – No 3.5mm headphone jack, No earphones included in the box and No mute/unmute toggle switch.

Below are few pictures I took outdoor on a cloudy sky (evening 5 PM in Chennai). For an indoor picture, check this earlier post.

On Left Selfie from the front camera; On Right is Bokeh effect added automatically after processing, which takes a second

On Left Selfie from the front camera; On Right is Bokeh effect added automatically after processing, which takes a second

Google Pixel 2 - Greens are Greener as ever. True colour as I remember seeing it

Google Pixel 2 – Greens are Greener as ever. True colour as I remember seeing it

Overall, I am loving my phone.

Footnote: What I am missing in Google Pixel 2 from Oneplus 3T? They will be the Mute toggle switch, a manual pro mode in the camera app, a file manager (the Google Files Go in beta is not a file manager)  and a Voice Recorder App.


Also published on Medium.

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