Apple lovers around the world, including myself, now have some serious reason to leave behind their beloved iPhone they have for the new Google Pixel. Introduced back in October the phone was welcomed with huge praise boasting some incredible specs. Running their latest Android 7.1 along with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 paired with 4GB of RAM and both a 5 inch and 5.5 inch display option. Let's dig into why this might just replace your iPhone and finally bring you to the dark side, Android.
After seven years using the iPhone I have to admit it's no longer my only option in a smartphone. The smartphone market is definitely slowing when it comes to jumps in innovation but for me as a photographer I look for one major factor, the camera. A few months ago Google actually made a phone I would gladly switch to and it runs Android! Wow, never thought I would actually say that. The Pixel, a phone designed by Google, but technically made by HTC, is finally here and brings with it some serious punch. I call it the first true iPhone killer and after just over a month using it, I can happily say I could see myself making the switch. The camera, for me, is the greatest feature and one I see outperforming the iPhone in any many ways especially video and has to be the biggest sell. Now, before I get too deep into it I have the iPhone 6s Plus, though a year old the distance the Pixel outperforms my current iPhone is leaps and bounds better and why I see it as a better choice for shooting from mobile.
As a preface, I will be comparing this closely to the iPhone as it's one of the most popular phones on the market and one that many people might switch from when possibly going to the Pixel.
Google went all out on this one, they literally copied the iPhone to a T. Literally, my wife when going to grab the phones on a desk had not a clue which one was which and grabbed at each a couple times before finally finding the correct one. Many times when reaching into my bag or pocket I would forget which phone I actually had in my possession as well. It's not a bad thing but come on, they could have taken a few creative liberties in design in my opinion. Not a huge deal if you are buying one or the other but for those wanting to switch from iPhone this gives you a familiar place to go to.
One massive perk the Pixel has over any iteration of the iPhone, including the 7, is the camera is flush to the back of the phone casing. Easily one of the biggest frustrations with my iPhone is the constant laying onto a desk and hearing my lens crashing into a hard surface face down.
Incredibly similar to the iPhone shape, size, weight, and overall screen brightness, the Pixel does have one nifty design feature that is much different than any smartphone iteration I have ever seen, the finger print scanner is located on the back of the phone. Yes, you might think what an odd place but when you think about grabbing your phone from your pocket I found myself unlocking, and snapping a photo much faster this way. My hand naturally landed on the back of the phone and unlocked it before I even got it up to eye level to snap a shot.
Image Quality and Low Light
This is where the Pixel truly shines. According to Google and many very technical reviews I have read online, the phone automatically sets HDR in every photo, though this can be turned off, and pushes the limits of the low light capability much further. This might be why the camera sets itself apart in side by side comparisons to other devices but overall its welcomed and I rarely turned it off.
One issue that became wide spread soon after the release was the lens flare that occurred in harsh light situations. As seen below, it created this large halo effect in and around the suns location. It does look cool but if I am looking for a clean and sharp photo then this becomes a serious issue.
UPDATED: Portrait Mode
This is one thing I missed when initially releasing this review but have a couple added example shots showing how well it does with a single camera vs the dual camera of the iPhone 7 Plus. I had played with the iPhone 7 recently and tested the portrait mode in the 60mm equivalent focal length but wasnt too pleased in half of the shots I took with it. Here are 2 examples straight up with friends at the office and one of my sun in lower light situations. The way it smoothly differenctiates between the background and the subject is pretty slick and very close to that of an attachable lens. The way it works is you simply open portrait mode and center on your subject, snap the photos, and slide the phones view upwards. What do you think?
Should you get the Pixel?
What I Liked
- Image quality (Thanks to some sort of use of HDR automatically)
- Size & Weight
- Ease of quickly accessing the phone and the camera app with finger print scanner on the back
- UNLIMITED STORAGE OF ALL PHOTOS AND VIDEO TO THE CLOUD!
What I Didn't Like
- Android (Overall the UI is incredibly similar to iOS and far better than previous versions of Android I have tried but it was the basic functions that got me flustered and trying to figure out simple tasks like screen grab and going back within apps)
- Image file sizes seemed to crash many mobile editing apps and showed up white within Instagram Stories
Overall I am incredibly impressed with the Pixel but I'm still a diehard iPhone user and because of that and the few things I mentioned above I couldn't make the switch, well not cold turkey at least. I could easily see myself using both phones for a short period to get acclimated to the differences in overall UI and quickly to getting to various feature sets like transferring images quickly to my computer. Other than that, the camera easily outperforms the iPhone in my tests and did an unreal job with video in low light as well.