What Is Google Doing with the Pixel?

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read
What Is Google Doing with the Pixel?

What the hell is Google’s vision for the Pixel?

The Pixel is supposed to be the quintessential Android phone. It is Google’s vision for what anAndroid phone is, and even though the phones have never sold particularly well compared to Apple or Samsung, they are important phones because of this close tie to Google.

But what even is that vision? The first Pixel bragged about having no camera bump and including a headphone jack. They abandoned those with the Pixel 2.

The Pixel 2 had bezels, but different ones depending on the model you got, and Google defended them…only to (sort of) remove them from the Pixel 3 XL (but not the 3), and then brought them back for the 4, and then apparently are removing them more completely for the upcoming 5.

The Pixel 4’s main new feature was it’s radar sensor, which appears to be gone from the Pixel 5.

The Pixel 4 added a telephoto lens, but the Pixel 5 is going to remove that and replace it with an ultrawide lens.

The Pixel 4 switched from a fingerprint reader to an excellent, secure face unlock, but now the Pixel 5 looks to be leaving that behind as well.

Legitimately, what the hell is going on with Google’s hardware team? There appears to be no vision, and more and more it looks like they’re cobbling together a phone from spare parts left over by the other phone makers.

Compare this to the iPhone, which gets shit for not evolving enough year to year, but you can see a pretty linear path from the original 2007 iPhone to the iPhone 8, and then a major jump in 2017 with the iPhone X, and clear iterations since then.

Even Samsung, which has had much more variability in their phones shows a relatively liner path when viewed from above.

When we look at the Pixel’s history, we see zig zags all over the place, with no clear vision for the product. Maybe it is just a matter of getting a great camera out there, but if that were the case why does the hardware around that camera change so much year to year?

If you wanted me to guess what the next iPhone or Galaxy phone will be like, I would generally say “similar to this year, but better in a couple key ways, and with a big jump forward every now and then. If you ask me what the next Pixel will be like, I may as well blindfold myself and throw some darts at a board full of features and see what I hit.