Wait. What? Someone bought a new iPhone 11 Pro, used it for a few weeks, and decided to return it to the Apple Store for a full refund? You can do that, you know? AI facial recognition might prevent you from ever returning to an Apple Store, but worse things have happened to Apple.
No, in this case, it was a high tech guru who latched onto a new Google Pixel 4 XL– the big one with the bigger price tag– used it a while, ran into all sorts of hiccups, and decided the decision to buy was a big mistake.
What kind of mistake?
Jason Perlow is one of the anti-Apple screed writers at ZDNet and easily gets entangled in PowerPoint lists of smartphone specifications.
I decided that the Pixel 4 XL — which I had ordered only ten days earlier and was delivered that afternoon — was going straight back to Google.
They say success is in the details; the little things that, when added up, create championship teams that continue to win despite fierce competition. New England Patriots, I’m looking at you.
What does a guy who keeps buying Pixels every year decide to get rid of what was supposed to be the best one ever?
It’s because, as someone who covers Android as a technology writer, I want to have the latest and greatest Android OS experience, and I want to be able to track developments when the next version goes into beta testing.
Tens of millions of iPhone customers have something similar going on with the iPhone Upgrade Program or iPhone trade-ins, and they don’t even have to write about it.
Why a Pixel?
Other manufacturers’ Android devices are so far behind the curve in software updates that you cannot use them for tracking developments in the Android OS itself.
Of course, hundreds of millions of iPhone customers get upgraded to the latest and greatest iOS version every year, so that struggle to upgrade an Android device is not something we worry about much.
So, Perlow ordered the $999 Pixel 4 XL and traded in an older model, tool.
As time went on, and while I was anticipating delivery of this product, I was exposed to many reviews from my colleagues and at other technology publications that did not portend well.
Yeah, early reviews were mixed but started going south once customers had them in their Androided hands.
So, what happened?
Was it a bad display? Not enough RAM? Hiccups in whatever version Android OS was installed? Dark Mode (I hate Dark Mode)? It can’t be the camera, right?
Google’s competitors have caught up big time with night modes, image processing, and machine learning. Google’s camera is no longer unique.
Oh, yeah. I read about that. iPhone 11 Pro blows them out of the water. Even in Night Mode. Deep Fusion is out now, too. We’re seeing camera reviews that pit iPhones 11 Pros against $7,500 DSLRs and the differences are negligible.
Wait. Doesn’t Google give Pixel customers all the free photos storage they need? That’s worth something, right?
Instead of storing the photos in “original quality,” it only stores them in “high-quality” mode. That’s the same as every Android, and the iPhone gets. So, zero privileges here for owning a Pixel device.
Just another Android customer, huh, Google?
Remember what I said about sweating the details? Champiions do just that. Google. Did. Not. The problem that broke the camel’s back was AT&T.
It turns out that AT&T doesn’t support the Google Pixel 4 with HD Voice and Wi-Fi calling unless you buy your device directly from AT&T. It doesn’t treat BYOD Pixel devices the same way as it does, say, iPhones.
From an Android techie:
I am very disappointed with this device. The battery life is terrible, the camera is disappointing, and AT&T doesn’t want to recognize a key feature. All these would be bad enough, but this smartphone has an ultra-premium price tag, and for that price, I expect much better.
Maybe there’s a good reason Google doesn’t sell but a few million Pixels a year while Apple sells a similar number on a long weekend.