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Opinion: Two months later, Google Pixel is still a worthy iPhone alternative for normal people


I’ve been using my Google Pixel for more than 2 months now (check out my full review in case you missed it), and I have to say it one more time: This is easily my pick for best Android phone of the year. If you’re looking to buy a phone for a friend or a loved one, I can’t recommend the Pixel enough…

Google introduced a lot of hardware this year, but this single product stands above the rest in my view. The Google Home is a great little device (although not much more than an Echo clone), the Google Wifi brings more-affordable mesh networking for the common man, the Daydream View is a nice souped-up Cardboard, and the Chromecast Ultra brings 4K to Google’s TV platform. The Pixel, though, is my favorite. It’s my favorite new Google product, it’s my favorite Android phone, and it might just be my favorite phone.

Why? Because if you’re buying for an average consumer, it’s the first time I’ve been able to wholeheartedly recommend a phone other than the iPhone as a holiday gift. When the person that gets this gift opens it up, they’re going to be presented with a pleasant and easy onboarding experience (that makes it easy to bring over their data, even if they’re coming from an iPhone), they’ll be getting a top-notch camera and awesome battery life (which is what most “normal” people care about, anyway), and most importantly they won’t have any surprises.

One very technologically savvy friend of mine uses an iPhone as their daily driver and prefers the platform over Android. I was curious as to what has pushed him away from Android phones in the past, and he explained to me that it wasn’t anything that Android doesn’t have, but the things it does have. To him (and I very much appreciate this explanation, as I relate to it very much), he just wants his smartphone to be a smartphone. As he explained “to me, my iPhone is just phone“. It doesn’t do anything unexpected, and there’s no “bells and whistles” to wade through.

And in my experience, this barebones consistency and reliability is what most “average” people are looking for in a phone. Yeah, they may think that some nifty Samsung “S Pen” feature is cool when they first see it on TV, but if their phone doesn’t reliably perform its most basics functions, then those additional features are useless. If there’s bloatware and frame rate drops and widgets getting in the way of their ability to open a web browser and look up the recipe — even if it means just 20 seconds wasted — then it might be more frustrating than it’s worth.

I explained this a couple months ago, in an opinion piece I titled “Google Pixel is the best Android phone ever because it’s the least frustrating Android phone ever“:

The great thing is that this realization is now happening for me with the Pixel. I feel like I can’t use another Android phone now. I’ve been using it for over a week now, and I can fully say now without a shadow of a doubt — whether it be due to the Snapdragon 821 or software optimizations or both or something else entirely — that the Google Pixel is by far the most consistent and performant Android phone I’ve ever used.

Basically, the point I’m getting at is that if you’re looking for a last-minute smartphone gift for your mom or your aunt, or any other “normal” people in your life, don’t be scared to get a Google Pixel. I can almost guarantee, as long as they don’t have some kind of attachment to an Apple service like iMessage, that they won’t be frustrated or disappointed in the Pixel. Especially if they’re coming from a (relatively speaking) janky older Android phone like an old Samsung Galaxy Note 3 or an LG G4, they’ll be absolutely thrilled. In comparison to those phones, Pixel “just works”.

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Avatar for Stephen Hall Stephen Hall

Stephen is Growth Director at 9to5. If you want to get in touch, follow me on Twitter. Or, email at stephen (at) 9to5mac (dot) com, or an encrypted email at hallstephenj (at) protonmail (dot) com.