Google Pixel XL, Three Months In

For the last few months I’ve been using the Google Pixel XL. In the past few years I have used quite a few smart phones. In reverse order my daily drivers were the Nexus 6P, Nexus 6, Galaxy Note3, HTC One M8, Galaxy Nexus, HTC Droid Incredible & the Incredible 2, Blackberry Storm, Samsung SCH-i730 and the Blackberry Pearl. I may be missing a phone or two in the list as well, IDK. Probably my favorite devices up until now were the Nexus phones and the Blackberry Pearl.

My biggest issue with the Nexus line was that the cameras have always been underperforming and slow. Until the last couple of years if I was going on a trip I always had to make sure that I carried my dslr with me. That’s changed now.

I can say without a doubt that the Google Pixel is an awesome phone. It’s responsive, fast and the camera is even faster. With one or two exceptions it’s the best phone I’ve ever owned.

The interface, for the most part, is the generic Android desktop. Google elected to replace the Google Now Launcher with the Pixel Launcher. There isn’t a lot of noticeable difference there and I like it. I’ve played around with several home replacements such as Nova (one of my favorites) and Lightning Launcher but I always seem to go back to the simplicity of the one that came with the phone. I am not a real huge widget person and I only use two screens, one with a few icons and folders containing my most used apps, and the Google screen. If Google would open up the API for smaller developers such as Nova to integrate that into it I would probably go back to using Nova but that’s something for an entirely new post.

As I mentioned above, I really like the camera. It’s super fast and takes great pictures, better than any phone I have owned, even better than the Samsung phones I’ve used. With other phones I usually have had to wait a second for the phone to focus and then another after I’ve “pushed” the button for the picture to actually take. That’s way too long and half the time the photo I’m trying to take is no longer there. With the Pixel XL it’s just point and click, which is exactly what I cell phone camera should be.

One of the other things that I am pleased with is that I don’t have to root my phone anymore just to be able to do stuff, or get rid of unwanted bloat. Up until the Nexus 6P I have rooted every single phone I have owned. I love using Tasker to automate stuff and do more with my phone and until the last year or so have always had to hack my phone in order to do so. With the 6P and now the Pixel XL I haven’t had to do that. With the fine grained permissions that have been added to Android the last couple of versions it’s much easier to get it to do things  now. Not to mention I love Android Pay and it’s not possible to use a rooted phone and use Android Pay without a lot of workarounds that I don’t really want to mess with.

There are a couple of issues I have had with it that I want to make sure and mention. They aren’t killers for me but it wouldn’t be fair to leave them out.

The biggest problem I had was that the Pixel was freezing several times per day, just completely locking up on me. When I received the Pixel I did the account and app transfer from my 6P and it started within a week. After doing some research this has been a semi-common problem with folks and the solution seemed to be to remove the Life360 app. WTF? I went ahead and did a hard reset and made sure not to install Life360 (which everyone in my family uses) and that seems to have done the trick. I am not particularly satisfied with that answer and after having left it off my phone for the month of December and most of January, I put it back on about two weeks ago. I have had one freeze up since then, just the other day, but other than that the problem seems to have gone away. Not sure if it really was Life360 that was the problem, or maybe a combination of that and the transfer I did when I first got it and all of the apps I had installed.

One other issue I have been having is with disconnecting from data after a phone call. It doesn’t always happen so I am not sure what’s causing it. I have been a Project Fi customer for about a year and a half now so depending on my location I’m connected to T-Mobile, Sprint or U.S. Cellular. The issue seems to be when I am connected to the Sprint network. I have to repair my connection or switch to another carrier (or just reboot) in order to fix the problem. Like I said, it’s not a major issue but one to be aware of. I use an app called Signal Info and one of the few widgets on my desktop allows me to repair or switch my connection.

So I spent a couple of paragraphs about “issues” but here’s the real deal…I consider myself a power user and with Tasker and a few other apps and plugins I push my phones pretty hard, so I have never owned a phone that didn’t have issues. So far the Pixel XL has been able to deal with things more smoothly than any other. Really starting to look forward to the Pixel 2…, particularly if they add waterproofing.

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