Grading the Pixel on a Curve

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 2 min read

Rene Ritchie on iMore:

Google made a point of how they controlled the hardware this time, from design to features. Google could have made the Pixel look like anything β€” like a Galaxy S7 Edge, like an LG G5, like a Moto X, or like something completely new and refreshing. Google carefully, deliberately, chose to make it look like an iPhone 6s, though. And that means they get to own that choice. As do we.

So, everyone who'd been criticizing Apple and iPhone design immediately called Google out for aping it?

Now I give Rene shit sometimes for always finding the good side of everything Apple does, but he's right on the money here. Android fans called the iPhone 6 design "tired" from the moment it was revealed. We heard it again in 2015 when the 6s line came out, and we even heard it again in 2016 as the iPhone 7/7 Plus looks very similar to the last iPhone despite getting tons of internal upgrades.

The Google Pixel looks like an iPhone, and it's the most brazenly iPhone-esque design since the HTC One A9 on 2015. Look at that gem!

And here were are with a Pixel phone that has:

  • No optical image stabilization
  • No waterproofing
  • A $650 entry-level price (outlandish!)
  • Large chin and forehead around the screen
  • f/2.0 aperture on the rear camera

The iPhone was ripped on all of these fronts last year (and most of them the year before), but they are mere footnotes in many Pixel reviews.

From The Verge's review:

After years of trying, Samsung managed to find its own, techier aesthetic. Maybe Google will do that eventually, but for this first try I think it wants the thing to look like what what people are used to. People are used to iPhones.

I find this fascinating. The iPhone is so iconic that it has become what we consider "the default" for smartphones. Yes, some phones have done great work with design, Samsung's recent phones in particular, but the iPhone has so many things nailed. I think the iPhone is still too slippery, too big, and has ugly antenna lines on the silver/gold/rose gold models, but it's still a great phone.

The Pixel looks like a really good phone, and I wish I had the opportunity to test one of these (if you're reading, Google, let me know). Reviewers have noted across the board that this phone looks a lot like an iPhone, but it's always as a compliment. How truly odd.