13 years going, Google makes phones that not many people want, period

This morning, I read Anam Hamid’s article, Google makes great phones that not many people want, new data shows [1], over at Android Authority. It is an interesting read. But I disagree. Google’s Pixel phones are not exactly great, and we didn’t need new data to tell us that many people do not want them.

The Google makes phones that have never sold in significant numbers. Starting from the now defunct Nexus line (which ran for 6 years) all the way to the current Pixel line (which has run for 7 years), Google phones have remained a small niche affair. They have not sold well in the United States and they have not gained significant marketshare in any of Google’s strongholds either.

Google makes phones that not many people want.

From the U.S. to Canada, to the UK, to Australia, Google phones have never sold in big numbers. Not once in 13 years. As Anam mentioned in his article, the Pixel 7, 7 Pro, and 6a are Google’s bestselling phones ever – and the company did not divulge the numbers. Which from experience means the numbers are not great.

The bottomline is that not a lot of people want phones made by Google. Why? I don’t know. What I do know is that I would never say a smartphone with a reputation for poor battery life is great. Pixel phones have been known for poor battery life for donkey years. The Pixel 6 Pro and 7 Pro have the largest batteries ever in a Pixel phone and still have poor battery life compared to the competition. What kind of optimisations deliver poor battery life in a phone with a 5000mAh battery? Ask Google. It is ridiculous.

It is the same kind of optimisations that make the phone start heating up and turning off vital services when you use the camera extensively or turn on the hotspot or browse for extended period. I have owned the Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 5a 5G, and I have experienced these issues with all of them – poor battery life and overheating. As Anam said, and I agree, Google makes phones that have a reputation for being buggy and are a one-time decision for many new users and most buyers want to switch to another brand. I tried: I went thrice, but now I am done. I won’t be buying another Pixel phone until these issues are ironed out.

And other reviewers have pointed out these issues. For example, Karandeep on Android Police says he can’t go back to a Pixel smartphone even if he wanted to [2]. Why? He listed out the same performance and overheating issues, as well as poor network connectivity. I have experienced the network issues, too.

The only thing great about Pixel phones are the cameras and Android software updates. In every day use, these phones made by Google regularly frustrate users. If you hardly ever use a Pixel phone for nothing but calls, messaging, and the occasional photograph, you might never run into these issues. But I challenge you to use it as a hotspot, or do an extensive photoshoot or video recording with it and see how quickly your device develops a mind of its own.

It cannot be any surprise that many people do not want phones made by Google. Not a lot of people care about how great Google Pixel photography is; smartphone photography as a whole has matured enough such that most phones produce good enough photos.

How hard can it be to optimise the software with hardware to provide a less stressful experience for Pixel users? Other phone brands are doing it using the exact same Android versions and the exact same hardware that Google is using. Why are Pixel phones so buggy? I get the impression that Google doesn’t care. If they did, 13 years is enough time to have ironed out these issues.

Team Pixel fans will not like to hear it, but I have said it before and will repeat it here: Google does not yet know how to make a solid smartphone (they know how to make a good camera with a phone component). I hope Google figure it out soon. People want solid smartphones.

References

  1. Android Authority (source)
  2. Android Police (source)

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