I have a confession… After seeing Google announce the Pixel 2, I’m seriously starting to regret my purchase of the iPhone 8 Plus.
The design hits that sweet spot between the boring utilitarian style of the 4-year-old iPhone construction and the futuristic-yet-delicately scary design of the iPhone X, but with cheeky highlights to really differentiate it from the usual slabs. They have followed Apple’s cue, unfortunately, and removed the headphone jack (a final death blow to the archaic port).
But there’s no doubt about it. I look at my iPhone 8 Plus – a great phone in its own right – and hear the fearful voice in my head… “Have I just wasted my money?”
This gadget-based FOMO extends through the entire list of tech specs powering the Pixel 2. A 12mp rear camera and 8mp front-facing camera, both of which are capable of Portrait mode thanks to Google’s AI capability. A higher resolution display (across both models).
The advantages of this model are clear, the same as those for the iPhone 8 (4k 60fps video capture, dual-cameras for optical zoom, fingerprint reader in an actual usable position on the front), but do they seriously differentiate a phone for you?
Serious question – are the tech specs enough for you to make a smartphone purchasing decision in 2017? There is no variety in the flagships. Merely monolithic slabs of either white, black, gold or a slight shade of colour. Cameras are mostly identical. Displays can vary between 1080p or even higher resolution (but let’s be honest, besides the colour difference between OLED and LCD, you can’t differentiate the pixels on any of these).
The real difference comes in software, and whether you prefer the grid-like use of iOS or the customisability of Android. While it’s easy to choose the latter, this does come with some levels of unreliability with a vastly open market of apps that aren’t just made for one model of phone, but for a vast ecosystem of devices from laptops to basic phones.
iOS remedies these issues (not 100% - like any phone, it will still crash), but this comes at the sacrifice of any real openness to manipulate the experience to your own liking, or the awesome AI capabilities of Google’s OS.
This is really down to individual choice, but either way, Google wins.
Most people’s iPhones are basically silos for Google information. Hell, I know mine is – dodging the need to buy more than 5gb of iCloud space by backing up all my photos to Google and using Drive as my shared hub for important files. Some people backing up their library to Google Music (but the whole music streaming service face-off is a completely different story).
To this technological titan, the Pixel Phone may seem like a key pillar in their strategy, but it’s not a make-or-break product for the company as their main competitors are already making money for them through use of services.
One thing is clear though – Google has just proven that there is no real differentiation between smartphones anymore. If you’re planning to invest your hard-earned money into a flagship model, there is absolutely nothing to choose between them hardware-wise. There is no special level of Apple design anymore – that mystique is gone and now we can get onto the real competition.
And it is exciting. A battle of pure innovation over brand, and the field of war has never looked so evenly matched.
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.