What Makes Google Phones Different?

Google Pixel phones are solid competitors to iPhone and Samsung

Google Pixel Smartphones
Google Pixel Smartphones. Google

Pixel smartphones are manufactured by HTC and LG but Google took the lead on the design and reduced both manufacturers to that of silent partners by touting Pixel phones as "the first phone[s] made by Google, inside and out." The smartphones are fully branded as Google smartphones instead of Android devices.

All phones in the Pixel lines have received rave reviews and the 12.2-megapixel rear, fixed-focus camera that each touts was the best ever tested at DXO Mark, a company that conducts rigorous testing on cameras, lenses, and smartphone cameras. With a score of 98 out of 100, it bests all other smartphones on the market. The front camera on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2XL boasts autofocus with laser and dual-pixel phase detections.

Google Pixel Differences

These smartphones have a lot to offer on both the hardware and software components. Additionally, Google Pixel phones use artificial intelligence (in the form of Google Assistant) to power several features. A few notable features include:

  • A USB-C port, which is great for a few reasons: Cables can be plugged in either way like Apple's Lightning port.
  • Fast data transfers.
  • 32 GB or 128 GB of storage.
  • The Pixel 2 has a 5-inch screen, while the XL2 has a 6-inch display.
  • Active Edge, where you literally squeeze the sides of the phone to activate Google Assistant.
  • Augmented Reality stickers. 
  • Front speakers. 
  • Google Lens, which lets the Pixel camera understand what it sees and take action accordingly.

The biggest change you'll notice is the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Google prides itself on the concept of AI plus software plus hardware. However, the Pixel phones do not have wireless charging (like Androids or iPhones) or a MicroSD slot. 

Google Assistant Is Built-In

The Pixel is the first smartphone to have Google Assistant built in, which is a full-fledged digital assistant that can answer your questions and perform actions for you such as adding an event to your calendar or checking your flight's status for an upcoming trip.

Non-Pixel users can get a taste of the Assistant by downloading Google Allo, a new messaging platform, where it can be used mid-chat. The Google Assistant is different from Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa in that its more conversational; you don't have to use stilted commands, and it builds on previous queries.

For example, you can ask it, "what's Fugu?" and then ask follow-up questions such as "is it poisonous?" or "where can I find it?"

Google Phones Have Less Bloat

The Pixel smartphones are unlocked and can be used on all major carriers. Verizon sells its own version; you can also buy the smartphones directly from Google.

If you buy it from Verizon, you'll end up with some bloatware, but you can uninstall it, which is fabulous since you're usually stuck with unwanted carrier apps. The Google version is, of course, bloatware-free.

24 Hour Tech Support

Another big deal is that Pixel users can access 24/7 support from Google by going into settings. They can optionally share their screen with support if an issue can't be resolved easily. 

Unlimited Storage For Photos, Data

Google Photos is a repository for all of your photos and videos and can be accessed on your desktop and on mobile devices. It offers unlimited storage for all users as long as you're willing to compress your photos a bit. The Google Pixel smartphones get an upgrade to unlimited storage of all high-resolution images and videos. This is one way to offset the fact that you can't use a memory card.

Equipped With Google Allo, Google Duo and WhatsApp

Pixel smartphones are pre-loaded with Google Allo (messaging) and Duo (video chat) apps. Allo is a messaging app, that like WhatsApp, requires that senders and recipients both use the app. It can't be using to send regular old text messages.

It offers some fun features, like stickers and animations, and includes an incognito mode with end-to-end encryption so that messages won't be saved to Google's servers. Duo is like FaceTime: you can make video calls with one tap. It also has a Knock Knock feature that lets you preview calls before answering them. Both apps are also available on iOS.

Seamless Switching Between Phones

Whether you're coming from another Android smartphone or an iPhone, it's easy to transfer your contacts, photos, videos, music, iMessages (if you're a recovering iPhone user), text messages, and more using a quick switch adaptor.

The adaptor is included with the Pixel smartphones. Once you connect the two smartphones, you just need to sign into your Google account (or create one) and choose what you'd like to transfer.

Note that the adaptor is compatible only with Android 5.0 and up and iOS 8 and up and Google says that some third-party content may not be transferred. You can also transfer your data wirelessly, of course. 

Pure Unadulterated Android 

Pixel smartphones run on Android Oreo 8 and higher. GIFs are integrated into the Google Keyboard and a Night Light setting helps reduce eye strain that transforms the screen from bright and a bluish light to a gentler yellow.

It also comes with the Pixel Launcher, previously known as the Nexus Launcher. It incorporates Google Now into your home screen and also offers app suggestions, a more graceful Google Search shortcut, and the ability to long-press on some apps to access additional options.

The Pixel Launcher also includes a weather widget. This functionality is similar to the Google Now launcher. Both are available in the Google Play store for non-Pixel users; the main difference is that the Pixel Launcher requires Android 5.0 or later, while the Google Now Launcher works with Jelly Bean (4.1).

In general, the Pixel line of phones are great Google smartphones. Both face fierce competition from the iPhone 8 series, iPhone X and the Samsung Galaxy S8.