The Pixel isn’t a Nexus, but it is Google’s future

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We’ve been waiting years for Google to develop both the hardware and the software for a single phone, but ultimately the company has let us down every time our hopes got high. Google is beginning a new chapter this year in which the future is under its control. Despite the pivot to be engaged in hardware just as much as software, backlash is bountiful.

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A new Nexus device entered the world annually dating back to 2010. It was rare for Google to heavily disappoint; however, it never felt like we had a true Google phone to rival Apple and the iPhone. That’s because Nexus phones were frequently based on a partner’s previous device, featured mediocre specifications, and didn’t execute like a flagship should. There was never a sign that Google intended to sell the Nexus name to the mainstream until 2015, and the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P proved Google could do it. Those two phones are what pushed Google to ditch Nexus and rebrand its hardware.

Now your wish has come true. The Pixel is unquestionably a product conceived by Google alone and it’s nothing short of a high-end device. Still, a very vocal group of Google’s loyalists are bashing the company for the Pixel’s existence.

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The Pixel and Pixel XL start at $649 and $769, respectively. Go and ask someone who bought a new Galaxy S7, Galaxy Note 7, or iPhone 7 the cost of their device. What did they pay? North of $600, guaranteed. People who have owned Nexus devices are pulling their hair out over this. Browse places like Twitter or Reddit and you’ll see that many people believe Google is crazy for raising prices. Do the detractors know Apple and Samsung routinely sell millions of units every quarter? Apparently not. Apple and Samsung are anything but kind in the way they price their devices.

There’s virtually no difference in pricing between Google, Apple, and Samsung’s 2016 flagships:

  • Google
    • Pixel: $649 (32GB) / $749 (128GB)
    • Pixel XL: $769 (32GB) / $868 (128Gb)
  • Apple
    • iPhone 7: $649 (32GB) / $749 (128GB) / $849 (256GB)
    • iPhone 7 Plus: $729 (32GB) / $869 (128GB) / $969 (256GB)
  • Samsung
    • Galaxy S7: $669 (32GB)
    • Galaxy S7 Edge: $779 (32GB)
    • Galaxy Note 7: $849 (64GB)

This pricing hasn’t hurt Google’s competitors, and it’s not going to hurt Google in the long-term. Maybe people who’ve purchased Nexus devices in the past will sit out this year and next, but that’s not who Google is playing to with the Pixel. This is a phone for the mainstream. Although it’d be better if multiple carriers offered the phone online and in stores, the distribution model for the Pixel is solid. The Google Store, Best Buy, and Verizon cover a large amount of territory; therefore, you can expect to see the Pixel wherever you shop this holiday season. Before you even begin shopping, you’ll find the Pixel because Google is among a small group in the mobile industry that can and will promote it in front of millions of people online, on television, and elsewhere.

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Dive into the Pixel’s specifications and realize this phone isn’t messing around. Included is a metal and glass body, Qualcomm’s latest processor, a world-class camera, the latest version of Android with extra goodies from Google, and a fingerprint scanner. What does the Pixel feel like? An expensive device, courtesy of premium materials. And running the show is the Snapdragon 821, which means the Pixel is one of the very first phones to have Qualcomm’s best inside. Oh and the camera, if you haven’t heard already, ranks as the best in history. To get all of those things, you have to pay a price.

Don’t blame Google for putting top-notch components into the Pixel. If the Pixel was lacking, you’d be complaining about that as well.

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A race to the bottom isn’t necessary to be successful. Don’t be blinded by the friendly price tags of the OnePlus 3, Honor 8, or Moto Z Play. Those phones are full of compromises and their makers can’t commit to software updates. The Pixel is going to be a better phone in every way. You’re going to get hardware and software built for each other, software updates before anyone else, on-device support, unlimited cloud storage for photos and videos at full resolution, and other things. No one else on the Android side gives even half of the Pixel’s benefits to their customers, partially because they can’t. Nexus device owner, too, will be missing out.

It may feel like a slap in the face to Google’s most faithful customers, but this is the path we’ve all been waiting for Google to embark on since Android’s inception. Embrace Pixel now because, yes, Nexus really is gone.


About the Author: Justin Herrick

Born and raised in New Jersey, Justin is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University where he studied marketing with a focus on digital marketing. He's very talkative and enjoys discussing anything from technology and sports to video games and television. As for Justin's current device rotation, he carries around the Google Pixel and Nexus 9. In the rare case that his phone or tablet is not in his hand, he is either flicking through cards on his Moto 360 (2015) or typing away on the Microsoft Surface Book. Justin is patiently waiting for the day that Google replicates the Galaxy Nexus with modern day specifications.


  • http://www.google.com/+JosephProffer theProffer

    I don’t necessarily have a problem with the price. I think it’s a tad too expensive when you consider screen to size ratio and the lack of forward facing speakers. Is it as good or better than the iPhone? Absolutely. Is it as good or better than the S7? No but comes close. Again, pricing isn’t so much any issue for me.

    My complaint is the same that has dogged Google forever in some way or another: not supporting their previous iterations. With Nexus, that wasn’t really ever a problem, Googs was pretty diligent about bringing full updates to them for quite a few generations back. Same with the Chrome OS. That wasn’t the case for some of their other products. They almost caught the ire of OnHub buyers, but subsequent discussions revealed that Google WiFi will be compatible with OnHub, but the extent of compatibility is still questionable.

    However, the phone I bought from Google not even a year ago is losing full support. That is not acceptable. There is no reason why the 6P and 5X should not get a full 7.1 release. There is nothing more powerful about the Pixels that would prevent the 6P from running full 7.1. Supposedly the 6P may get Daydream, and if it can do that, it can run all of 7.1.

    Apple, on the other hand, gives full OS updates for many generations back. And in that sense, we do come full circle back to price. Part of that price should be that the consumer expectation is that we don’t have to spend that money annually. And Googs has burned that bridge too frequently in the past and now has with Nexus buyers of last year. Why should I buy an expensive smartphone from them with the assumption that I have to buy another next year? Because I, as a consumer looking at Goog’s history, should have that assumption. And that, to me, is unacceptable.

    I get that they have to turn the leaf at some point, but it should be at least done tactfully. Not fully supporting the premium-priced smartphones of just a year ago is not tactful and shows no loyalty to its consumers.

    I fully support the Pixel initiative. I hope it works out for them and I can see that it probably will, but your article is speaking to the Nexus fans, and to that end, I disagree with you.

    • Jason Grima

      I’m confused… Google have been 100% up-front about the minimum update period on the Nexus 5 and up. And they’ve held to those update periods.

      My Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 are both running Android 7.0. The android developers have even intimated that the Nexus 6 and 9 will probably get 7.1 by the end of year, even though the guaranteed update period will be 2 months past at that point.

      The 6P and 5X will get 7.1 (can get the developer preview right now) and will get any subsequent OS update until September 2017, and security updated until September 2018.

      Google aren’t leaving anyone in the lurch, as far as I can see. They said you’d get OS updates, you’re getting OS updates, there’s no reason to think that you won’t continue getting OS updates.

  • Hussain Ahmadi

    If Google thinks this phone will be their future then I think it is very gloomy future. To many Nexus and Android fans this new phone belongs to the past era not future!