I’ve been using the Pixel 3XL for almost 2 years now and I always feel like you learn a lot about a device over longer periods than your typical 2 week review window. So after almost 2 years of daily use, how has live been living with a Google Pixel?
More than the sum of it’s parts…
The Google Pixel 3XL is an excellent example of a phone (or piece of technology) that is so thoughtfully created that it becomes more than a some of its parts. Sure, the spec sheet was great (if not mind blowing) for 2018, but so were a lot of other competing phones at the time. It goes without saying that the camera is legendary and Google Assistant is leagues ahead of Bixby & Siri. Yes, it has wireless charging and fast charging, a large OLED screen etc. But what sets the Pixel apart from the competition is Google’s attention to detail in the software that other Android smartphone makers simply can’t match. The devil, as they say, is in the detail.
The Smartest Smartphone?
The Pixel team build in so many helpful features in to the Pixel line it’s really hard to get across on a spec sheet. A great example of this (and one of my favourite features) is ‘Now Playing’. This requires absolutely no configuration or effort from the user and it never fails to put a smile on my face. Have you ever heard a song on the radio, in a shop or on an advert and wondered what it was? Then Now Playing is for you! All you have to do is look at your Pixel lock screen and name of the song currently playing is listed on the bottom, as if by magic! As if that wasn’t enough, tapping the song title brings you to the Now Playing list where you can play the song from your favourite music streaming service and also view the history of other music your Pixel has recognised in the past. Thoughtful, helpful, magical.
Another feature that I’ve found extremely useful but often goes unnoticed is the ability to pin the live score of your favourite teams football match. This all starts a little earlier in the day as Google pushes a notification when the team news has been announced so that I can check the lineup ahead of kick off. Once the referee has blown the whistle and the game has started, I have the ability to ‘pin’ the live score so that it’s always visible no matter what I’m doing. This is so good and now I do this rather than checking Sky Sports News ever 10 minutes when Manchester United are playing. It’s little thoughtful things like these that make a huge difference!
There’s so many little touches like this across the Pixel software that all add up to a magical experience for the user but when you’re buying a Pixel, you’re not just getting a great phone day 1, you’re buying a phone that will improve over time. Yes, the Pixel line of phones are always the first to get access to the latest and greatest Android updates (my Pixel 3XL is currently on Android 11), but the Pixel team also do ‘Feature Drops’ every few months that bring new, exclusive features to your phone.
I also really like the fabric cases that Google make to accompany their phones, I’ve used the original Pixel XL previously with the fabric case and I was so impressed with the fit, feel and durability that I immediately ordered another when I received my Pixel 3XL. Almost 2 years later it still feels just as great as the day I bought it and hasn’t worn at all. Sure, it’s picked up some marks along the way but that’s to be expected.
The Pixel 3XL has been a true pleasure to use over the past 2 years and it still feels as fast, smooth and thoughtful as the day I bought it. Android 11 runs extremely well and I’m looking forward to what the Pixel team have been working on with the Pixel 5. Google really put so many thoughtful features in to their products that are often hard to get across on a spec sheet, the most recent example of this is perhaps the new Pixel Buds and while I haven’t tried them myself (I’m still pairing AirPods to the Pixel), I’m sure they’ll be packed with lots of magical features just like the Pixel 3XL.