Every major Android manufacturer offers exclusive features in their flagship devices – for example, the Galaxy Note 7 offers the S-Pen and related apps, the LG G5 and Moto Z offer attachable modules and LG’s V20 offers unparalleled sound quality and is the first phone to launch with Android 7.0 Nougat. What they don’t have is anything on the level of the Pixel phones Google announced on October 4. Even if they tried, they couldn’t because they only have third-party access to what makes Android special: Google services.

Sure, Samsung has Gear VR, which Google’s Daydream VR will compete with (and undercut in price by the way). Apple has Siri and Samsung has S-Voice, both of which Google Assistant will be competing with. Also, the Pixel phones lack detachable modules and onboard audio to rival the V20 (not even front-facing speakers like last year’s Nexus 6P). None of that matters. If you have an iPhone, a Galaxy S7 or Note 7, a G5 or a Moto Z you should either take advantage of a trade-in program offered by Verizon or a retailer or you should sell it on Swappa and get a Pixel.



Why make the change? Let’s start with the virtual assistant. The disadvantage Google Now (the predecessor to Google Assistant) had against Siri was its lack of natural-language chops. Its advantage was its access to your personal Google data (provided you use other Google services such as Gmail, Photos or Google+) and Google’s AI (artificial intelligence) technology. Nobody else does search as well as Google, and now they have natural-language skills with Google Assistant. Siri and S-Voice just lost much of their advantage.

google_pixel_assistant_1

What about VR? How does Daydream VR compare to Gear VR/Oculus VR? In terms of hardware, the Daydream headset undercuts the Gear VR by $20. Only $20 cheaper, you say? Well that’s if you don’t need a controller (if you really want the full VR experience, you do). Daydream VR comes with a controller while the Gear VR with a controller will set you back about $70 more.

While the OS-integrated Google Assistant and Daydream VR have significant advantages over their counterparts, the Pixel phones have one killer feature that no other 2016 flagship phones offer: live chat with tech support which includes screen sharing (though Amazon’s now-defunct Fire Phone had Mayday, a superior live support feature built into the OS). We might see this in 2017 flagships (along with Daydream VR support), but they’re not here yet and won’t be until we’re well into next year.

daydream_vr

When you add instant updates to the latest version of Android, the Pixel Launcher’s unique user interface, Smart Storage (automatically removes photos and videos that are already backed up to the cloud when your storage space is nearly full) and unlimited original-quality storage of photos and videos in Google Photos, the Pixel phone becomes even more compelling.

Other phones have (or will have) the capability to support Daydream VR. Siri and S-Voice will continue to improve and may even be better than Google Assistant in some aspects. Other 2016 flagships have features that the Pixel phones lack. However, none of them have the complete package of killer Pixel features, and none of their exclusive non-Pixel features are killer.

If you’re a Nexus enthusiast (like me) suffering sticker shock at the price, you might want to keep what you have if you’re unable to find the loose change between your couch cushions to afford a Pixel phone. If you have a recent flagship phone, you’ve already demonstrated your ability to afford a Pixel phone because you already shelled out the same amount of money for the phone you have now. Granted your trade-in or selling price won’t cover all the ground needed to get a Pixel, but if the difference is within your reach I highly recommend doing so.

  • CHILLiAM

    Um No thanks I’ll keep my water resistant, fast charging, (SD card slot) wireless charging with the best camera (and awesome battery life) on the market phone if you don’t mind ?

    • Thi Ha

      Hahahaha. S7 edge or note 7 user?
      Yeah waterproof feature and having a sd card option is a must!!!!!
      and pixel is just too much. 🙁

  • _J_G

    Would love a Pixel, but yeah… sticker shock. Maybe an OP3 instead. Dunno…

    • Brian Masur

      I just liked this for your keyboard.gif
      sick of dumbasses driving and walking around glued to their stupidphones. It’s so much better staying at home glued to a big screen with a real PC and wired internet connection with *everything*

  • Taargus Taargus

    The Pixel phone is a failure by Google.
    -Ridiculously expensive in a saturated market.
    -No expandable storage
    -Huge Bezels
    -Verizon Exclusive(wtf?)

    No thanks

    • Brian Masur

      Cell phones will never replace desktop computers, x86-64 linux

  • Lamorn Malone

    Not having expandable memory and a user replaceable battery are deal breakers for me. Combined with my distaste for using the cloud as a primary means of storage, as well corporations potentially having access to parts of my personal life and daily activities are my reasons for my rejection of this device (My Note edge will probably be my final Sammy device, my next device will probably be the LG V20 for the reasons I mentioned).

  • John Farias

    Personally, I don’t see how live chat with tech support is a “killer feature” but the V20’s audio quality or the Note 7’s S-pen aren’t. Even the most tech-ignorant person might use the feature once a week (and that is probably pushing it) while the S-pen and, especially, the V20’s audio features are more likely to be used more often and by a wider audience.

    • Brian Masur

      all touch screens are garbage, s-pen or not. Nothing beats a 101-key and two-button mouse. Gladly take an 8K 27″ screen with that x86-64 running Gentoo Linux… DESKTOP COMPUTERS FOREVER.

  • karcus

    Someones trying really hard to get a phone…

    Nice essay contest material you wrote there.

    • Brian Masur

      No, someone is trying really hard to GIVE a free phone, just like Apple had to give away their garbage APPLE II computers to schools back in the ’80s and ever since because they were junk to begin with.

  • Rich F

    I am happy with my s7, Im going right into getting the s8 when it is available. Im may root my s7, and kerp the s8 as is for a while.

    • Brian Masur

      but they don’t support a wired MHL HDMI connection to a big screen like the S5. wireless display out is bs.

  • Brian Masur

    piss off. flagship–
    I’m still wanting a Galaxy S5, best phone out there, supports wired MHL+HDMI connection, fsck all the wireless miracast $#!+

    • Munchy

      love wireless miracast.

  • Brian Masur

    Just forget it! There will never be a cell phone that gets everything right, no matter what. VR? VR would be strapping a 4K 27″ LCD (not LED) to my head, a 101 key (not 104 key) keyboard to my hands and an x86-64 biege-box ATX (not BTX, etc) desktop computer in a backpack

  • Munchy

    if it didn’t look exactly like a iPhone and actually had a good design I might.

  • Stair ClimbLunatic

    JUNK that will FLOP!!

  • Jacob Alexander

    Sounds Retarded.Ive got the LG G5 and its by far one of the nicest phones Ive ever had ((:

  • pdw tAaOS

    After unhappily owning six Android phones, one iPhone, and two Windows phones; three Android tablets, two iPads, and two Windows tablets, I am now using an iPad mini 4 in place of a phone.

    It might sound ridiculous, but it is working far smoother than any other phone, and in a sense is a replacement for most of my computing needs. Since I live in an area with inefficient cell towers, the internet phone comes in crystal clear and puts even the best cellphones to shame. I have developed several tweaks to overcome tablet/phone issues and the Apple App Store is in a class by itself. Though some might argue that there are phones with more power, the truth is the larger size and excellent interface allow fast navigation beyond what a small screen device allows.