Google Pixel XL

When Google announced their Pixel smartphone a few months ago, I bailed on my plans to move from the Nexus 6P to the iPhone 7 and instead ordered the Pixel XL. This marks the end of several years of going back and forth between Android and iOS. I may start doing that again. Or I might just stay on Android. It’s hard to know. Other than iMessage, there is not much I prefer about iOS these days.

The Pixel XL was backordered and I finally got mine last week. I spent the past few days configuring the Pixel and logging into all of my primary mobile apps. I swapped the SIM card a couple days ago and have been fully on the Pixel for the past two days.

Here is what my Pixel XL looks like:


Here is the back of the phone:


So here is the thing. I really like the Pixel XL. But it’s not really much different than the Nexus 6P that I’ve been using since this past spring when I went back to Android from iOS. They both have a fingerprint sensor in the upper back of the phone. They both have a large 5.5″ display. They both have really nice cameras, good battery life, and are snappy.

Maybe there is something I will discover about the Pixel XL that will make me appreciate it a lot more than the Nexus 6P. Or maybe one high end Android smartphone is more or less the same as another one.

For me what matters most is the Android software, the Google application suite, and the camera, battery life, and fingerprint unlock. That combo is hard to beat. And that’s why I am sticking with an Android phone this winter instead of going back to iOS.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Adam Sher

    I felt the same way but went from 6p to Pixel. The smaller screen is easier for me to work with. I hope you had a relaxing holiday weekend.In a separate but related note, this post appeared in my Google Now feed within 5 minutes of you posting it. I love that feature. I also use Google Allo to get news, which has been a fun trial.

  2. William Mougayar

    How is the battery quality?Specifically, can it charge 50% in 30 mins like I had on the Xiaomi Mi5? That was a killler feature.

    1. Adam Sher

      Yes, charging is about that quick. The 6p does that as well. As you said, it is a killer feature.

      1. William Mougayar

        Weird that apple hasn’t figured that out yet. Battery is dismal on iPhones.

        1. Adam Sher

          Mophie makes it less of an issue, and more of a cost, for both the iPhone user an maker.

          1. William Mougayar

            But it makes the phone heavier and bulkier.

        2. LE

          There may be a patent issue. [1] Because it’s unlikely Apple doesn’t view battery life as an important feature and hard to believe they don’t have the engineering to fix it. My speculation.[1] When something doesn’t make sense there is probably something that you don’t know.

          1. William Mougayar

            Yup. Who knows.

    2. jason wright

      Did you ever have the OP2 or 3?

      1. William Mougayar

        No. it never excites me.But if the Iphone 8 doesn’t leapfrog the 7, I might go back to the latest Xiaomi. Their new models are real new models, not tiny iterations on previous models like Apple does.

        1. jason wright

          But how do you buy Xiaomi phones? Nothing very official still in Europe .

          1. William Mougayar

            You can buy them on eBay – there are reputable vendors that are selling them. Even on Amazon too.

          2. jason wright

            I see that some models are available through eBay UK.I read that the Xiaomi skin is a mess. Is that a fair summary? I’d be coming from Motorola stock Android.

          3. William Mougayar

            Why a mess? Get one when you buy it. I had a clear plastic one.There are new models emerging. Which one are you looking at.

          4. jason wright

            I mean Xiaomi’s Android software skin overlay. Does it have an app drawer?Something with dual sim and if available Nougat out of the box.

          5. William Mougayar

            The MIUI is its main feature, an iPhone like UI, but you can disable it and choose an Android-ish home screen & drawer.

          6. jason wright

            Thanks William. I’ll take a closer look at MIUI.

  3. Wyatt Brown

    I always wonder what might be the next really big thing in smart phone hardware/software. Amazon Fire seemed to have a good hunch (3D photos and X-Ray tech). Maybe it was just too much, too soon for consumers to want/care about?

    1. obarthelemy

      I think the next big thing is the low and mid range becoming good. That doesn’t make headlines, but outside of the 20% of customers who shell $500+ for a smartphone, that’s having a major impact on usage.My own phones have been steadily going down in price, I went from a $600 Galaxy Note v1 to a $400 Huawei Ascend Mate v1 to a $300 Huawei Mediapad X1 to a $200 Xiaomi Mi Max (6.4″ version of the 5.5″ $160 Redmi Note 3 Pro). Apart from being significantly cheaper, each phone has also been significantly *better* than its predecessor.$160 nowadays buys a phone with a solid day’s battery, good camera when there’s enough light, enough oomph for anything incl the latest games, and 32GB storage with an extra 200GB possible for $50, nice screen and looks, and TouchID. That sets the stage for a lot more people using their phones for what used to be “advanced” stuff. I think that means the next big thing won’t be at the high end, but down the middle.Apart from that- wireless charging is lingering on the edge of greatness, I’ve had it, I miss it sorely. Hopefully Apple adopting it will mainstream it.- Mobile apps on desktops. Either via phone docking or via Emulation. The Windows ecosystem has gotten so far behind that a lot of apps are not even available on Windows, or are awful web apps (sometimes even awful native apps). I’ve taken to running an Android emulator on my PC… My tablets dual-boot Windows and Android.- I’m not sure about assistants. There are still issues w/ voice recog in typical noisy places, with social acceptance…

    2. jason wright

      Mi Mix?

      1. obarthelemy

        Reviews are in: bad camera. A sad oversight and probably a deal-beaker for most.

  4. Steve Hallock

    I’ve actually had the opposite experience. I also switched back and forth between Android and iOS every year — the new Nexus or Galaxy and then the new iPhone. For years, I kept coming back to Google. Apple’s inability to let me alter basic settings or share between apps was too frustrating.However, I’ve found that Apple has copied just the right things from Android (for instance, the ability to share a photo directly from Google Photos to Instagram), and the way I use my phone has changed. I spend so much more time in apps than I did years ago, and most apps are just better on iOS. iMessage is a killer app for me with no way to replicate on Android. And while I rely on the Google apps suite, it is replicated closely on iOS (even better in some ways). Lastly, every year I would get the flagship Google phone, and it would still end up slowing down, crashing, or getting buggy in some way. I never experience this with iOS and find that even with lesser specs, it tends to be much quicker.All that being said, I think iMessage is the make/break for me. If Apple were to release iMessage for Android, I would seriously consider giving the Pixel a try. Obviously that’s why they are not doing it.

  5. obarthelemy

    I’m surprised you don’t use widgets. My phone’s and tablet’s home screens (each device has 2) are – 80%+ widgets (agenda, mail, tech news/rss, generalist gNews w/ weather, Keep), – then a handful of apps shortcuts for second-priority apps (browser, music, ereader, abooks, camera, file explorer), – then a handful of folders for 3rd-priority apps (Travel, Business, Tools, Junk, Games, Google, Comms incl phone and messaging/texting apps) https://uploads.disquscdn.chttps://uploads.disquscdn.c

    1. fredwilson

      i’ve tried a few times. for some reason they haven’t stuck for me

      1. obarthelemy

        BTW, recently switched to Firefox as my mobile browser, it works fine and lets you use an ad blocker.

      2. Pete Griffiths

        Calendar is a great widget.

    2. kenberger

      Weather Underground’s 2×2 free widget is a thing of beauty, as is WeatherBug Elite’s paid widget.I agree with you, couldn’t cope without 1 or the other taking up the top right of my home screen.

  6. jason wright

    Pixel, Pixel, Pixel, updates, updates, updates. That’s what you’re buying, guaranteed updates. The rest of the Android OEM ecosystem is a pig in a poke.

    1. Lawrence Brass

      So true, but people don’t care much about security. I have Android devices that were exposed almost one year before getting a push update patch for the stagefright vulnerability.

  7. jason wright

    I’m more interested in Google’s strategy. It abandons Nexus, and then pushes the Pixel price up to iPhone and Galaxy levels.What’s going on here?

    1. obarthelemy

      I wouldn’t see it as abandoning, rather as evolving. It’s just a name change, it’s the same “designed by G, oft-updated” concept, they’ve just moved up the specs ladder, from low-midrange to premium.I think with the change to Alphabet they’re looking more intently at the bottom line, not so much at evangelization ? I’m still surprised they haven’t made a corp-oriented LTS version of hardware and OS, or found an OEM to do it.

      1. jason wright

        I think it’s a legal argument in its battle against the EU’s charge of monopoly in search.

    2. pointsnfigures

      Ask Benedict Evans

      1. obarthelemy

        The guy who tweeted about 2yrs ago there was no more reason to buy Android stuff except price, right before Androids started beating Apple at the looks game, at the camera game, at the AI game, at the VR game,… and, indeed, kept widening the value gap and the market share gap setting up the stage for iOS’s rather drastic loss of share ?The guy writes fun tweets, I’m not sure he has much insight ?

      2. jason wright

        I’ll trust in my own analysis πŸ™‚

  8. george

    You’re right, very little differentiation from the Nexus. It appears the main advantage is vertical – be more competitive, allow frequent updates, and possibly hedge against future uncertainty.I love that they are recommitted to this path, direct competition helps sharpen Apple’s focus and better their and everyone else’s products.I do think it’s going to be hard for Google to sustain this business line; with low unit sales, there’s probably insignificant profits here at best, but rewards often come to those that have an appetite for greater risk.

    1. obarthelemy

      Most reviews rave about the camera, the 6P’s was great not awesome IIRC ?

      1. fredwilson

        yeah. i am hearing that. i never had an issue with the 6P camera.

        1. obarthelemy

          That’s my point about the low/mid range: the change from “mediocre” to “passable” is huge. From “passable” to good”, it’s big. On to “excellent” then “awesome”, it gets ever less noticeable.The $150-$300 midrange is now somewhere between “good” and “excellent” on all counts (camera, battery, looks, speed…). I think expensive phones are no longer premium (as in “does the job better”) but luxury (as in “helps with my ego”). Exceptions do apply.Maybe you should try a midranger next.

      2. Frank Vallese

        At the risk of sounding like an advertisement for Apple, I think thatthe new dual camera in the iPhone 7 Plus is a notable distinction. The combination of faster optics, more magnification, image stabilization and two sensors makes a difference. At Billy Joel’s last concert at MSG, I noticed that those using the iPhone 7 Plus were actually getting usable zoomed displays while the rest of us showed blurry pixelated scenes. While I’m satisfied with my current phone, that event alone left me wanting the feature (and phone).

        1. obarthelemy

          Were there any Galaxy S7 in you sample ? Most reviews give those the edge (pun intended) over iPhone 7, especially indoors. Possibly the Google Pixel too.The iPhone sure is excellent too though.

          1. Frank Vallese

            Honestly, I was not able to perform an exhaustive comparison of phone cameras during Billy Joel’s crowd-pleasing Piano Man. So, this was merely an observation. But the specs are distinctive so there should be an expectation that in that setting (maximum zoom, low light), the 7 Plus should perform better than even the notable Galaxy S7 camera.

          2. obarthelemy

            I’d look into reviews which do thoroughly compare. There’s no reason why a couple of lower-rez sensors should perform better than a single higher-rez one, except at blurring the background on portrait shoots. A lot is down to sensor and optics and processing quality, which is independent of sensor numbers; and lots of reviews find issue with the processing part of multisensor tech, including Apple’s.Multisensor tech is not quite new (it’s been on other handsets for a couple of years), but still seems immature enough not to be intrinsically superior.Apple are masters at PR, but in the end, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, not in self-laudatory product pitches. The iPhone 7’s camera certainly is excellent, general opinion is it’s not the best.

          3. Frank Vallese

            Not expecting a detailed comparison here. To clarify, the iPhone 7 Plus has a second camera with a telephoto lens (56mm compared to 26mm for the Galaxy S7). The difference isn’t due to PR or fancy processing, it’s optical zoom vs digital zoom. It’s notable. Just sayin’.

  9. jason wright

    Copperhead OS for Pixel will take things up a notch.

  10. Grace Schroeder

    Google assistant is astounding, in my opinion. The speech rec works great, even in a noisy place, and the response time is amazing with accurate results. (Response time of browser in general is amazing.) A lot of writing is suggesting that Google is temporarily in the phone business as a broader play to accelerate distribution of AI, and that makes sense to me.

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, i need to get in the habit of using the assistant.

      1. Pete Griffiths

        I completely agree with GraceandIt is MUCH better than Siri.One interesting angle is that the Apple pitch to differentiate themselves from Google by saying we are devices not data and your data is your own is that it is precisely your data that is needed for situationally aware apps and that assistant relies on. So Apple is in the position of either giving up on its position on privacy or giving up on top notch AI.

        1. pointsnfigures

          Yes, Siri is sort of lame. I think Fred pointed out a while ago search was going to voice. With assistants on your phone, and devices like Amazon Echo, it’s going to happen fast.

        2. SubstrateUndertow

          Yes convenient search/assistance is very appealing in the short term.But that trade off against security has not even begun to hit the fan.AI could accelerate security risks to an as yet unknown level. The real clever neo-cheaters have yet arrived to tapping that vein of exploration.Only time will tell if we are all under valuing the long tern security risks/costs ?

          1. Pete Griffiths

            I think that’s very fair.The fact that most people don’t seem to give much of a shit about their privacy doesn’t mean they may not change their minds.I don’t know what cataclysmic event would be required but the possibility can’t be ruled out.

        3. jason wright

          Can the Apple user’s data not be made anonymised but still be fed to the AI machine?Could an ‘ identity cypher/ scrambler’ solve the privacy/ AI disconnect?

          1. Pete Griffiths

            It could be anonymized but then how to you match the personal data with the user to provide situationally relevant interactions?

          2. jason wright

            That would be the innovation solution.

  11. Jeff Yablon

    I’ve had my Pixel since 10/20. It’s… Great.But there’s one small problem, and I can’t get a straight answer from GOOG on whether it’s an Android 7.1 thing or a Pixel thing: this puppy doesn’t support M3U playlist files!Now, I get it ; GOOG has plenty of reasons to want us all to give up that standard. They want us in their PlayMusic app. They want us streaming and not owning for multiple reasons. But the old school way of doing things gives you way better playlist flexibility, gives you access to your files when the Internet isn’t available (yes, that still happens), and for me was the only reason I bought the 128gb model.And GOOG won’t even give a straight answer.I’ve been an Android guy since Verizon’s first Droid, and I’m not changing. But Google’s heavy-handed management of the Pixel feels to me like the position Apple is finally abandoning with the iPhone.Oh the irony.

    1. obarthelemy

      Aren’t there plenty of 3rd-party apps that support m3u ? I use n7 Player, for its good-looking UI and oodles of settings.Google Play Music is just one app, and it’s for streaming. Another tool is right for another job.

      1. Jeff Yablon

        Of course there are. I’m not saying I want to use PlayMusic; I’ve used Poweramp for years. My point re PlayMusic is sort of a conspiracy theory thing ; GOOG is pushing us there.I’ve spoken with the Pixel support team (who, by the way, are awful) and they state conclusively that M3U files are incompatible with the Pixel (although I suspect that’s wrong and just a lazy tactic to make me go away, support-wise). I’ve spoken with PlayMusic support, and they were horrified that this might be possible… Although it’s easy for them to claim that, right?Seriously, it’s Apple-like.

        1. obarthelemy

          What I don’t understand is that you say both “m3u files are incompatible with the Pixel” and “you can use 3rd-party apps to play them” ?Which is it ? Do you simply mean to say that out-of-the-box the Px doesn’t do m3u and needs an app for that ? That makes m3u incompatible with Google Play Music, not with “the Pixel” as a device.

          1. Jeff Yablon

            No. Apologies if I’ve been unclear. I can’t use third party apps (to use playlists) on the Pixel. I could previously, most recently on an HTC M8 running Android Marshmallow.It makes no sense. There’s a very long thread at the forum of Poweramp and it’s hard to come away believing anything other than what the Pixel support drones claim: somehow the idea of playlists is now defunct.The headscratcher is whether it’s Pixel or Nougat 7.1

          2. obarthelemy

            Oh, OK. That’s weird indeed, and rather bad.Hopefully you’ll get a software fix.Cheers, Olivier.

          3. jason wright

            When 7.1 comes to other phones you will have the answer.

          4. Susan Rubinsky

            Interesting thoughts. I still utilize my own music too. I am looking to replace my Note 4 in about a month. I don’t want to go with the Pixel because it’s not waterproof and, until now, I thought that was the only thing it lacked. How did you like HTC? How do you think the HTC camera quality is? I need to find a waterproof replacement that has everything Note 4 has with equal or better photo quality. I use the phone for live posting images from client events. Image quality is paramount for me and the work that I do.

          5. Jeff Yablon

            Liked it fine, and until the specs for the Pixel came out was seriously considering the 10 (and put my partner into one a few months back and she likes it and complains never… Which wasn’t the case with her previous two phones )I’m not all that worried about the Pixel/waterproof issue, but I hear you. And with the automatic media backup feature and easy device cleanup the lack of SD card isn’t an issue either.This thing I’ve encountered is the only thing that bugs me. The real significance of that will prove moot (but Yikes!) if 7.1 is the culprit rather than the Pixel.

          6. obarthelemy

            For pictures, a site whose opinion and protocols I respect, Les Numeriques, gives 5/5 to both the Galaxy S7/S7Edge and the LG G5 (… ). They haven’t tested the V20 yet, but I seem to remember it’s the same camera; nor the Pixel, still not available in France. Only the iPhone 7 also gets 5/5. Outside of pictures, the S7 gets a general 5/5, the G5 4/5 because of design niggles, a slightly not as good screen and battery.Les Nums started as a camera review site.

          7. Susan Rubinsky

            Thanks for the info! I only do Droid for many of the reasons cited here. I looked at the Galaxy S7 and the Edge and really liked them both. I’m leaning toward the S7 only because I suspect the screen will be more durable than the rounded edge of the Edge. I have accidentally dropped my Note 4 on concrete and once down a stairwell without getting a cracked screen (had the first Note too with no cracks ever). I prefer just the phone, no case, so want it to be durable.

          8. obarthelemy

            From a durability perspective, you could go with an S7 Active… if you mostly cover Terminator conventions ;-p…https://uploads.disquscdn.c…That’s the bare phone, no case… basically an S7 with 30% more battery and built-in shockproof case. They come in camo and even I think GOLD camo… I’ll let you Google that up ^^edit: actually, it’s not that bad:

          9. Susan Rubinsky

            I’ll go with the S7, don’t need a terminator phone, LOL.

          10. jason wright

            What is the website saying about the Oneplus 3T… s’il vous plait?

          11. obarthelemy

            You’re in luck they just tested it. Gave it a 4/5 almost 5/5, main issue is reactivity, especially autofocus slightly slower than G5 and S7.Aside from AF speed, they say pic quality is noticeably better than OP3 (better optics and processing, better detail in general especially at the edges), at par w/ S7 and G5 (ahead of iPhone 7+) in well-lit scenes; slightly behind S7 and especially G5 (at par with iPhone 7+) in darker scenes but AF and processing gets even slower (still fast enough, but not as fast as the best).They’re working on the Pixel now ;-)Edit: they tested with an updated firmware which is much better than the original one, some other reviews got done with the early/bad camera app.

          12. jason wright

            Merci beaucoup πŸ™‚

          13. Vasudev Ram

            Are waterproof mobile phones really waterproof or can only withstand say a light drizzle or a few drops falling on them? Might be useful to me if the former.

          14. Susan Rubinsky

            I have accidentally dropped my Note 4 in a sink full of water and also once dropped it in the ocean and both times retrieved it with it in full working order. Both times it was submerged for several seconds. In the ocean water, it was a bit longer — maybe five or six seconds by the time I was able to retrieve it. It sunk to the bottom of about 1-2 feet of water and landed in the sand (though it was wavy so the water level was moving).

          15. Vasudev Ram

            Interesting. I’d have thought the internal circuits might get shorted or something like that. Though maybe if most electronics are integrated circuits these days, water may not short them like it may to discrete ones. Then again, salt (sea) water is supposed to be more conductive than plain water. Not into electronics, so not sure how this works …

          16. Susan Rubinsky

            No water got inside of it. I opened it up to check later, it was all dry inside.

          17. Vasudev Ram

            Then I guess it must be hermetically sealed. Surprised, would not have thought so about mobiles. The tolerances between the body and the lid must be small enough to prevent water getting in.

  12. Semil Shah

    I say this as an iOS loyalist — even I have been thinking about going into Pixel, for one reason — over the next decade, as much (not all) of the hardware/sensors commoditize, it is appealing to think of giving that data to Google in hopes of receiving in return predictive information and services. That may be a pipe dream, and I haven’t switched yet, but besides iMessage and cross-platform integrations, you are right — Apple’s points of lock-in are not as strong as they used to be.

    1. Ryan Frew

      I don’t think it’s a pipe dream at all. The technology is already pretty mature – public acceptance is the hurdle. Google has been good about getting past that barrier, historically.I bought an iPhone 7 and two MacBook Pros this year and couldn’t agree more about Apple’s lock-in points getting weaker. They’re shooting themselves in the foot by punishing their users and getting weaker on those fronts, too. iMessage works great across multiple devices, but I can’t charge my new phone with the new MacBook? Really?

      1. Semil Shah

        All this said, I think it will take 2-3 versions of Pixel hardware to see if this holds true. It’s very possible, but still needs to be proven over time.

        1. jason wright

          Talk to HTC.

  13. Pedro Almeida

    Have you tried Aptoide App Store (you can download it here… it is the largest Android AppStore after google play (larger than amazon) and has unique apps that you can not find on google play. They raised $4 million from Let me know if liked it. Best Pedro

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, i have it on my phone. not on the home screen though. honestly i have not found a reason why i would use it over the play store

      1. Pedro Almeida

        You have no geographical constrains (very important when you are outside US) and have unique content (basically apps that google does not want in their store as they compete against some of their apps e.g., tubeM). You can also rollback and ignore apps updates, among other features. They have >100M users. Let me know if you want more info. Happy to share more details or connect you with the founders (my friends)

        1. obarthelemy

          Frankly, Android has enough security issues without adding 3rd-party appstores to the list. Google is at least devoting a lot of efforts to spot and recall bad apps. Any kind of sideloading (which is what 3rd-party appstores are, in the end) is playing with fire. I no longer do it, and advise everyone not to.I do understand some people do need stuff outside of Google PlayStore’s rules, but it’s very risky and shouldn’t be casually promoted. BTW, Google is OK with apps that compete with them (see: Apple Music, MS Office, HERE Maps…anything really, Google doesn’t have a “don’t compete” rule, OEMs can even pre-install competitors); they’re not OK with apps like TubeMate that download Youtube content which is in breach of the terms of use and steals revenue away… big difference.

          1. Pedro Almeida

            Thanks for your input. You can find more about Aptoide security here…. Hope it makes you change your ideas πŸ™‚

        2. kenberger

          that’s an interesting use case, if “no geo constraints” is really as true as it sounds.iOS app store is WAY worse in that way, of course, by the way.I live in Europe now, and when I use my German SIM, I need to have’s app to manage it, which you need a German play store ID for, or otherwise sideload, and same is true for other counties (Georgia, Ukraine, etc) where I also have sim’s. Is Aptoide capable of helping me here?

          1. Pedro Almeida

            For Android devices, yes! Not for iOS

    2. William Mougayar

      Is there one like it but for the apple AppStore?

      1. obarthelemy

        Cydia:…You need to jailbreak your iPhone, which rises a whole lot of security issues.…Apple won’t let you sideload apps at all unless you fully jailbreak, as opposed to Android which lets you do it after a couple of security warnings, with no need to root (= Android’s equivalent of jailbreaking) your phone.Apple also won’t let competing appstores onto the official Appstore. Neither does Google, even Amazon’s appstore must be initially sideloaded, though I think OEMs can preload appstores to their default ROM.Edit: I think there are huge misunderstandings about the differences between sideloading, jailbreaking, rooting and flashing a custom firmware, especially as regards the security consequences.In their pristine state (ie, with none of the above), both iOS and Android have strict permission control at the local device level (apps can’t do something unless they have the required permissions), and strict app vetting at the store/ecosystem level (Apple and Google check app code and behavior before publishing them to their sotre, and will even recall/uninstall apps if a new issue is discovered).Next comes sideloading (Android only), which is simply installing an app not from the official store. It doesn’t disable the local device security, but does bypass the store/ecosystem sanitation. Good for installing apps that Google won’t allow on the PlayStore (youtube downloaders…), risky because those apps may exploit an OS vulnerability.Then comes jailbreaking (iOS)/rooting (Android), which does bypass *and disable* the local OS security and requires you utterly trust the installed apps, and hope no silent install bug ever pops up allowing say websites to push apps onto your phone. It also prevents OS updates. Good for doing stuff at the OS level (installing an adblocking proxy, letting apps see each other’s data, customizing looks and functionality beyond what the basic OS allows, even running a Linux shell, servers…the Xposed framework is an Android favourite:… ). Very risky, any app can do anything.Finally comes custom firmwares and forks (Android only), best known are CyanogenMod and Paranoid Android plus all the Chinese OEMs’ variants (Flyme OS, Jide RemixOS…), those are re-writes of the whole OS, well, not all of it in practice, just tweaks, but it really could be a full rewrite and anything could have been changed. You need to really trust the source, as the recent “adups” scandal revealed ( https://www.xda-developers…. ). That’s independent from rooting and sideloading, my Cyanogenmodded old phones only run Playstore apps and aren’t rooted. Most custom ROMs are pre-rooted though. Very risky in theory, though in practice there are few custom ROM sources (Paranoid and Cyanogen mostly), and both have proven trustworthy… beware of variants though, and of where you download the ROM from. Google is intently looking the other way and lets you… sideload… the official PlayStore onto custom ROMs, which really shouldn’t be allowed.

        1. William Mougayar

          Wow. Thanks for this.

          1. obarthelemy

            sad validation: “1 million Google accounts compromised by Android malware called Gooligan…86 apps available in third-party marketplaces can root 74 percent of Android phones.”…Android local security is bad enough because updates, straying from the sanitized PlayStore is now suicidal.As for the iOS side… 1 vulnerability is enough, and we’re talking full jailbreaking so a vuln isn’t even required.

          2. William Mougayar


        2. Vasudev Ram

          Interesting. Can you suggest any resources to learn more about all this stuff? Want to try putting a custom ROM on my phone. I’ve heard it saves battery and has some other benefits.

          1. obarthelemy

            2 words of caution first. 1- you can utterly brick your phone, excruciating attention to detail is required (check the precise model and variant of your phone, the carrier, the revision; read all instructions carefully and don’t take shortcuts) 2-benefits vary wildly depending on the quality of the new ROM (if your device is directly supported by Cyanogen or Paranoid you’re golden, if not you’re relying on one individual to do a good and sustained job). I never ever recommend someone do it, and I do it for myself only when the alternative is dumping the device.That said, everything safe and interesting is on the CyanogenMod website or on the xda developpers forum. Be sure to read the comments before jumping in, it will give you a hint of the rom’s quality and a few horror stories to think upon.Basic steps are always1- install some hacking software on your PC2- install a custom bootloader on your phone3- install the new ROM4- install the Gapps (Google apps)Everything that was previously on your phone is lost.

          2. Vasudev Ram

            Thanks for the advice and suggestions. Yes, I will take care, and only do it on a spare phone that I don’t care about it getting bricked.>the carrierHow is the carrier important? Not clear. I would have thought it makes no difference – unless it is because different carriers supply slightly different models of the same phone (similar to how I’ve read there are slight variations in the same phone model in different geographies).

          3. obarthelemy

            In the US at least, different carriers use utterly different mobile technologies, so the phones may have different circuitry, hence require different drivers, so different ROMs. (*)Samsung compounds that by using either their own Exynos chips or Qualcomm’s depending on which modem is required, so completely different motherboard, SoC…(*) Android/Linux/ARM is not elegant like Windows/x86, drivers are mostly built into the OS kernel…

  14. Rick Mason

    Fred,I adore my Google Pixel and have convinced several friends to get one. Biggest surprise is Google assistant, it’s really good and I’ve become dependent on it. Biggest disappointment was Daydream VR. I can’t use it for more than ten minutes without getting severe eyestrain and a headache. Someday someone is going to make VR work, but it is still a few years out.

    1. Pete Griffiths

      VR is a tricky problem. There are deep issues with human perception that people working with VR have been grappling with for decades and it’s not easy.

      1. Ryan Frew

        Totally agree. But I’d like to hear more about your take on the challenge.

        1. Pete Griffiths

          There are some excellent points made in answer to this question on Quora.…I also have a friend working on VR games. The problem is so major that it profoundly influences game design.

      2. jason wright

        I grew up with Actual Reality. Still works for me.

        1. Pete Griffiths

          Didn’t do drugs then.

      3. Rick Mason

        Tried VR first in the nineties. Daydream is a beautifully designed product and computers now are light speed faster. Thought by now they’d have it working, disappointed that is all.

    2. Elizabeth Spiers

      There’s a lot of crap in mobile VR that’s developed at lower framerates and that’s generally the most common reason why anyone gets eyestrain or nausea. But that’s not a Daydream problem necessarily; it’s usually a function of the experiences themselves (devs making mediocre things at low fps and Google not curating), and connectivity can affect it too. If you’re streaming and there’s any latency, that’ll do it.

  15. smackdab

    I find it sad that the LG V20 has received so little press coverage. I got one as replacement for my exploding Note 7, and, except for the lack of a stylus (snif), I like it better. I’d encourage people to check it out as an option vs. the Pixel. Competition is good, right?

    1. obarthelemy

      Agreed, LG gets no breaks in the press, but they make great phones at rather low prices. I usually recommend the year-old model to people looking for the best price/(features+quality) ratio and a brand name. The G4 is at $270 on Amazon, that’s a very good deal.

    2. jason wright

      LG. I can remember the days of Lucky Goldstar when its gear was the cheapest, crappiest, and ugliest in the shops. Times change.Unfortunately the V20 isn’t coming to Europe, where apparently we have a taste only for smaller handsets. Koreans know best.

  16. Pete Griffiths

    For me it’s the google AI that makes the difference.Siri is lame.

    1. Lawrence Brass

      Google’s AI and all the backend services are superior.I think it is all about economical incentives, prime effort is put by the companies on their revenue source. At Google that is about tracking and advertising, at Apple it is about hardware and user XP.

      1. Pete Griffiths

        Exactly.For Apple AI is a catchup to stay on a par with Google’s offerings.For Google it is an absolutely core competence.

  17. Ryan Frew

    “So here is the thing. I really like the Pixel XL. But it’s not really much different…”Increasingly, this is the story for smartphones; they’re getting commoditized, especially if they share an OS. PCs are foreshadowing. Does anyone really talk about whether the HP Spectre is better than the Lenovo Carbon? It’s all there on the spec sheet – pick one. There is definitely a caveat for the OEMs making their own hardware. The Pixel is interesting. The Surface line is interesting. But they’re both respectively interesting because they’re so new.There is still space to debate the merits of iOS vs Android, but the differentiators are growing less and less meaningful. Watching football with buddies, I’ve noticed that the prevailing comments about the Pixel have all been about how good Google’s marketing is, not about the device itself. It’s all very reminiscent of 2010 Apple. The more things become different, the more they stay the same, right?

    1. fredwilson


      1. someone

        If battery life is super important, you might try the Moto Z Play. Close to stock android, and really sensational battery performance.

        1. jason wright

          Processor power management or battery pack accessory?

          1. someone

            3500mah battery plus FHD screen (apple res, not super high res), plus midrange chip sufficient for all but the thirstiest games.

          2. jason wright

            And is it guaranteed to get Nougat, and timely security updates from Lenovo do you know?

          3. someone

            I have its close cousin, the Z force, and I just got nougat last weekend. So, I would expect that the Z Play would get it soon.

  18. obarthelemy

    I care too ! My phone has 64GB + 200GB, I spend a lot of time outside of data coverage.#sharingyourpain.

  19. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:Give Apple/iOS the boot. Overrated is an understatement regarding products overpriced and shamefully capitalized upon Jobs passing.No innovation from iOS just acquisitions.Disclosure: None (Dislike overpriced and outdated products

  20. jason wright

    Without the innovation of block tech things would be looking mundane. For inspiration one would need to look elsewhere, but where is that elsewhere?Seek and s/he will find…

  21. jason wright

    I forgot to ask. Is the split screen function of Nougat useful?

    1. Jeff Yablon

      IMHO … not really. It’s cool that you CAN (assuming your vision is amazing and the responsive stuff works), but task-switching using that right-hand icon is … you know … fine.Unless you have an app where live updating of one window pushed lives updates of the other. At which point a phone is probably not really the platform you want to be using, anyway.

      1. jason wright

        Thanks. I must get with Nougat asap and give it a go.

  22. Jay Rolette

    Two big things that keep me with Apple on phones other than app inertia:1) Drop dead simple to update to a newer generation phone.2) MUCH better on the software update front, particularly important for security fixes. One of my kids still has an iPhone 5 and Apple still actively supports it. He’s running iOS 10 on it just fine.#2 is the killer for me on Android. You’ll have a little better luck with the Pixel on getting updates for a while since it is directly from Google, but even with that, Google’s track record is not good on supporting security updates on “older” hardware and Android versions.Given some of the security vulnerabilities being discovered these days, with how much of our personal data we trust to our phones, this ought to be a much bigger deal than it apparently is to a lot of folks.

    1. Mark Essel

      This is a big concern for me and my wife as we both upgrade only every few years now (slowing down as differences shrink)

  23. kirklove

    Do you have Google Home? I like it better than Alexa. I’m rooting for the Google ecosystem if anything to keep pressure on Apple.Also, missed seeing this by a few days! :(Also, I’ll take your 6P if it’s just collecting dust ;pAlso #dcffw

  24. Elizabeth Spiers

    I just switched after cracking my iphone screen for the 400th time despite having a protective case, and got a Pixel a couple of weeks ago. (Regular sized. Like Donald Trump, I have tiny hands and phablets don’t work for me if I want to type with just one). It’s sort of designed to showcase Daydream, and I think that’s where you’d see the difference between the Pixel and the Nexus.

  25. Techhapp

    Guys this phone has high rank than iphone 7 but in some fields I saw that in one post from some random site name techhapp wait let me share it with you…

  26. Mark Essel

    Hasn’t apple had finger print scanning on the home button for a while. Is Android handling it differently? I’m going to swap to a google fi Pixel setup shortly as well

  27. Dorian Benkoil

    Fred, I switch from iPhone to/ from Android, for similar reasons as you’ve said. How do you address the issue of different apps on different platforms. For example, iOS has Pages, which is good word processing & simple design but doesn’t work on non-Apple devices, so that’s a hassle when I move to Android. Even some cross-platform apps have different functionality on the two OS’s. Do you switch around apps? Convert stuff? Always use basic cross-platform and/or cloud?

  28. obarthelemy

    I actually have the exact same setup, with my phone launching streams from my server (a Synology NAS in my case, could be any computer) to a ChromeCast.And… copy-paste was on Android years before iOS, via apps such as Pushbullet (also does clipboard sharing, notifications forwarding…).iOS users, did you know that everybody can do that, and could long before you could ? ;-p

  29. Lawrence Brass

    If you have an all Apple experience: notebook, phone, watch, tv that is very hard to beat and also more secure. But people using Android will never know, there is not a clear incentive to switch and all these recent Apple dongle issues just makes it worse.