back to article Google readies Pixel for the masses, but are the masses ready for Pixel?

Industry sources have confirmed that Google is readying lower-cost Pixel smartphones for imminent launch. Metadata spotted at the Google Play Store website supports the theory that the Pixel 3a models will be announced next month at Google's I/O conference. Since rebranding its Nexus phones as Pixels, Google has been happy to …

  1. Semtex451

    Google has since declined to send us any more samples

    I had thought Google would be above that kind of 'Applish' behavior, but I can't think why I thought that

    1. Anonymaus Cowark

      Re: Google has since declined to send us any more samples

      Have an upvote for 'applish behaviour'.

      That is exactly what I had thought.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google has since declined to send us any more samples

      To be fair, The Register have demonstrated yet again, they aren't really fit to review anything, they fail to understand basic concepts, and just write the usual clickbait nonsense,

      "In our Pixel 2 review last year, we discussed phone value in terms of the personal data that must be disclosed to Google.". This is clearly nonsense. You simply don't agree to Google services on the phone initial setup screen, and you don't send anything at all to Google.

      No wonder they binned you off, you are being twats as usual.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Google has since declined to send us any more samples

        Switch it off in settings and you don't send anything to Google?

        Does anyone on here genuinely believe this? I have a bridge for sale....

        1. baud

          Re: Google has since declined to send us any more samples

          I'd buy a bridge to nowhere, what's your asking price?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Google has since declined to send us any more samples

          It's very clear on the very first page you get to with your new device. You aren't forced to accept Google's terms and conditions z you just decline them. Even an idiot should be able to handle this, and it's been scrutinized many times, if you don't agree, you don't use the services, and it works as a non Google Android device without the Google services, essentially just an Android device (plus whatever shit your manufacturer might bubdle with their optional terms and conditions)

          How hard is this to grasp? My 75yr old mother didn't have a problem understanding the deal and what to do if you didn't like the deal...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: you are being twats as usual.

        I know you are, but what are El Reg?

        Fuck it, that seems to be the level of debate.

        Never mind what Google do, report it nicely or we'll spam you!!!!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Google has since declined to send us any more samples

        Do you seriously trust a proprietary blob (Google Play Services - GmsCore.apk and dependencies) that is connected to the Internet to run on your personal phone? If not for the fact that it's proprietary, it's for the fact that Google are as transparent about what it does as a lead sheet.

        You claimed Google doesn't slurp, as opposed to the general consensus around here. Now prove it please.

        Slap a network packet analyzer on your network, and watch how many packets are sent to Google from your phone. In the least, it's ad personalization. In the most, God knows what.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Google has since declined to send us any more samples

          It's been done a million times and comes back clean. You don't agree to Google services on your phone, it doesn't send anything to Google.

          As it's so easy to wire shark.. do it yourself, I'm not going to do your donkey work. I know it's how it works, and I know how pathetic the recurring factless claims are

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Google has since declined to send us any more samples

            > You don't agree to Google services on your phone, it doesn't send anything to Google.

            Whether it does or doesn't part of the selling point of the hardware is the software bundled with it.

          2. RyokuMas Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Google has since declined to send us any more samples

            "do it yourself, I'm not going to do your donkey work"

            Translation: "I'm scared that the results might prove me wrong"

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Google has since declined to send us any more samples

              Nope, it's been done plenty of times already, as it's so simple to do. Don't you think if there is even a single packet going to Google, clickbait shite rags like this would be all over it?

              1. MrMerrymaker Silver badge

                Re: Google has since declined to send us any more samples

                "Don't you think if there is even a single packet going to Google, clickbait shite rags like this would be all over it?"

                Considering that/this coverage, is the basis for your complaint here you've just proven yourself wrong!

      4. Ian Michael Gumby
        Mushroom

        @AC Re: Google has since declined to send us any more samples

        Actually I have to agree with El Reg on the privacy concerns. You may click on the box that says no, but does that really mean what you think it does?

        The reality may shock you and yes, it does piss Google off when people identify the pixel, not as a phone, but an electronic leash / monitor that lets you make calls and send text along with running some 3rd party apps.

        Before you call someone a twat, look in the mirror.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I can't say that I'm trusting of Google hardware

    Not anymore than I can trust Google software - which I unfortunately have to use. My wife is regularly griefed by her model though, finding Bluetooth or mobile data switched on when she swears she didn't do it. It has happened way too often for me to think she's been mistaken all those times. And no, she does not have any apps - I'd know because I'd have to download it for her.

    I'll just keep Pixel on the Do Not Buy Yet list. Maybe by version 5 Google will have got its ducks in a row and made a proper phone and OS to go with it ?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: I can't say that I'm trusting of Google hardware

      My wife is regularly griefed by her model though, finding Bluetooth or mobile data switched on

      Sorry, but I'm a bit sceptical about this. Lots of apps will tell users that they need this or that in order to work and we tend to click OK pretty quickly: for example, my Soehnle App needs Bluetooth to talk to the scales but also insists on location services as well. But I'm also slightly confused as to why the services would be disabled. Bluetooth itself is pretty innocuous as devices are generally invisible by default and, if you have a mobile data tarriff, why wouldn't you have it enabled? It is disabled when roaming by default.

      Where there is confusion and, depending on your perspective, scope for "dirty tricks", is wifi which can indeed now be on even when it's off: there is a setting that will let Android enable it automatically when it realises you're in reach of a trusted network.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: I can't say that I'm trusting of Google hardware

        You might have mobile data turned off if you don't have a very high limit. You might not use it for much but keep the small amount for an emergency need. Higher data allowances may be expensive from the mobile provider especially if you don't use it enough to justify the increase. To avoid background activity that may be difficult to stop from immediately using up all your data, you might turn off mobile data.

        As for bluetooth, if you don't have any bluetooth devices, you might turn it off in case it does any background scans. By turning it off, you save battery. You could also have an incorrect reason for turning it off that has no real benefit. Even if that's the case, there is no good reason for the phone to enable it for you. If I've selected "off", no matter why I decided to do that, I meant "off".

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: I can't say that I'm trusting of Google hardware

          I've got a relatively low allowance for data and use an alert and the settings to control it.

          Turning Bluetooth off is not really going to save much power (the periodic wake up scans use hardly any juice), but I agree, if it's off it should stay off and that is my experience. My scepticism is related to unreliable users saying they have (or haven't done this or that) and I was trying to suggest how they may have enbaled something without being aware of it.

      2. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: I can't say that I'm trusting of Google hardware

        Don't have a Pixel, but on android I certainly never find data or bluetooth on when I've turned them off (and I generally do turn them off when not using). The scanning wifi when wifi is off thing is a bit pernicious and the control for it is well hidden.

        As for data, many apps will happily communicate in the background with it on, and rather than trusting them not to I'd prefer to have it off, also allows you to better control your use of allowance and increase battery life if they're unable to talk. Similarly for bluetooth I turn it off if not in use as it's one less thing to spend power on. Since the update to Pie I've found I get up to four days on one charge with light use, not quite as good as my last Nokia, but tolerable.

  3. corestore

    Really can't agree with the tone of this article. I'm sure some customers have had issues; I'm sure you could find similar issues with various phones from *every* manufacturer - but you wouldn't run quotes saying they 'shouldn't be in the hardware business'!

    I'm not a Google fanboy by any means, and I've had a couple of issues with phones from them too. But I've had had Google phones since the very first Nexus, and I'd honestly recommend them to anyones shortlist.

    They do need better international support however. Had issues with a Pixel 2 while overseas. Under warranty, no problem, they'll replace it, right? Wrong. They said sure we'll replace it - when you're back in the USA. But that won't be for a couple of months? Tough. They apparently have no ability whatsoever to ship a replacement phone overseas; they need to do better on the international service and support front.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      re: Really can't agree with the tone of this article.

      You're on the wrong site then.

      This kind of article is exactly why I read the reg. If you want sycophants look elsewhere.

      1. corestore

        Re: re: Really can't agree with the tone of this article.

        I don't want sycophants, and as my post makes clear, I'm not one. I've had a Samsung phone too - and the crap on that made me want to go back to the plain vanilla no frills Google Android experience.

        No sycophants - but this is a bit too much like a hit piece. IMHO.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Really?

      I buy phones from one manufacturer - not Apple, Samsung or Google. I have never had an "issue".

      (However, I always give them 6 months on the market before buying).

      1. jason 7

        Re: Really?

        "(However, I always give them 6 months on the market before buying)."

        Oh that is the no.1 rule of tech buying but so many never get to grips with it. Like folks that buy a new CPU on release then moan it doesn't OC all that well. Well duh!

        I've avoided so many screw ups by just having a little patience.

    3. deive

      As an Android dev, I feel like I should have the Google stock phones, I had every nexus, but when they doubled the price for the pixel they did not double the quality. I now have halved the renew of my phone, so only have the pixel 2 now, missing the 1 and 3.

      I previously, like you, recommended Nexii to anyone's shortlist. But have to say I have not done the same for Pixels so far, maybe if they get the price down to the right point then I can do so again!

      1. corestore

        I would somewhat agree with you there.

        Nexus 6 is one of the best phones I've had - my sons still use them. But my Pisel 2XL, and my wife's Pixel 1, are the only Pixels we've had. They hiked the price too much with Pixel, IMHO; hopefully with the 3A we'll see a return to more sensible pricing.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Google just aren't good at hardware, they adopt a prototyping approach to it which just isn't acceptable on very expensive kit. I had a Nexus tablet that had shockingly poor support, not least the lack of a decent charger that could keep pace with the power consumption.

  4. werdsmith Silver badge

    A combination of poor hardware AND Android OS.

    Take my money! I'm due some from a Nigerian prince any time now.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      The article makes it clear that the hardware is generally very good. Google falls down over QA and customer service. Mind you, it's not as if Apple has an exactly stellar record when it comes to QA, but it makes up for that with better customer service.

      However, when it comes to the mass market, sort of difficult to see Google really competing with Shenzhen™ at its own game.

  5. DJ Smiley

    So they deny the problems, just like other manufacturers?

    iphones definately don't bend, don't blow up and you're holding them wrong.

    I'm sure Samsung have had their fair share of stupid issues too, which too they likely denied.

    Admitting a fault is admitting a failure, something no company wants to do. As long as they continue to improve, then hopefully they'll get somewhere eventually. For now I'm happy with my moto g5.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: So they deny the problems, just like other manufacturers?

      First, this is not an article directly comparing Pixels with iPhones. Pulling a Steve Jobs and using "Phones aren't perfect" is not really responding to the argument. The question is whether the bugs mentioned in the article, which are somewhat severe and form quite a long list, are enough to make the pixels less useful or desirable than other phones, both iPhones and other companies' phones, especially when taking the price into account. For me, that is a clear no as I do not care about the camera, and it sounds like that's the only part where the Pixel is better than other android devices.

      Second, iPhones did bend, but haven't in a while (that was the iPhone 6), blow up (when they bent, also not in a while barring some "I squashed it and that ended badly" stories that would apply to a lot of phones), and the holding it wrong was a very long time ago. iPhones have many problems you could discuss. Use a newer one, and be honest about the quality when making comparisons. These historical bugs are still good only for jokes.

    2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: So they deny the problems, just like other manufacturers?

      Samsung never admits or denies a problem. They just request that you perform increasingly difficult and irrelevant steps of debugging until you buy a different phone. 1) Send IMEI to support in private message, 2) Try to derail support request with off-topic subjects, 3) Wipe cache partition, 4) Boot into safe mode, 5) Wipe system settings, 6) Factory reset and reinstall apps one at a time, 7) Visit UBreakiFix, 8) Escalate to step 1.

      Google's ideology is that they should never have to talk to customers because it's not scalable. Instead, hide all contact information and create a complicated network of useless support bots.

      Apple's ideology is that the product is working as designed and they can not guarantee that it is suitable for everybody's needs, so stop being a whiny loser.

  6. mark l 2 Silver badge

    The original Nexus range were built by the OEMs in partnership with Google as showcases for what could be achieved with stock Android. But Google chose to screw over the OEMs in favour of producing them in house as the Pixel phones, which I am sure a lot of the OEMs are pretty pissed about.

    There could be some point in the future where an alternative OS gains traction and Google might find OEMs jumping ship to another platform where they don't get screwed over by Google.

  7. juice Silver badge

    Part of the problem..

    might be that Google doesn't actually build the phones: it contracts the hardware out to a third party.

    E.g. the Pixel and Pixel 2 were built by HTC, the Pixel 2 XL by LG and now the Pixel 3 is being built by Foxconn.

    I'm sure there's some benefits to be had from this approach - not least because it gives some of the second-tier manufacturers a bit of a boost against Apple, Samsung and the various Chinese juggernauts.

    But at the same time, it means fixing issues takes a lot longer and costs more, not least because a lot of time will be wasted by squabbling as both sides try to prove that the failures are the fault of the other party. Especially if Google continue to only contract with each third party for one or two handsets: no matter what LTS contracts are in place, once the manufacturing contract is finished and the people involved move into new positions/jobs, you'll struggle to get anything useful out of the third party...

  8. Pat Att

    Google phone? They'll have to work hard to regain my trust

    There's a whole load of problems you identify that took a good while to correct. I would, in my naivety expect better from them. And when they broke my original Nexus 7 with their software update and never corrected it, I think I'll probably pass on buying any more Google kit for a while.

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "The phone would crash when Instagram, Snapchat or any other third-party app attempted to use the camera."

    You think that's a bug, not a feature?

  10. Scott 53

    "Others found a persistent whining noise – even with Radio 4 turned off."

    Fair comment for "You and Yours" but I am taking umbrage at the scope of this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Others found a persistent whining noise – even with Radio 4 turned off."

      Isn't Umbrage where the Archers are based?

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: "Others found a persistent whining noise – even with Radio 4 turned off."

      The whining has spread to some other (but not all) programmes on Radio 4, such as The Film Programme. Their Inside Science is a waste of time, though A Life Scientific is good, though deliberately focused more on the scientist than the science itself.

      Still, as long as Samantha and Sven appear on (or rather, we hear their excuses for not appearing on) I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue much can be forgiven.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: "Others found a persistent whining noise – even with Radio 4 turned off."

        Also, John Finnemore is on Radio 4! Well sometimes anyway. And he's one of my favourite comedians. Cabin Pressure is currently being repeated on R4 Extra, hooray! Or as Arthur would say, "Brilliant!"

  11. Dave 126 Silver badge

    The whining has spread to some other (but not all) programmes on Radio 4, such as The Film Programme. Their Inside Science is a waste of time, though A Life Scientific is good, though deliberately focused more on the scientist than the science itself.

    Still, as long as Samantha and Sven appear on (or rather, we hear their excuses for not appearing on) I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue much can be forgiven.

  12. tiggity Silver badge

    One good line in the article

    "don't buy a smartphone for its camera."

    Exactly that!

    I'm happy for Gogle to pitch some essentially "stock android" phones with less photographic shiny at a lower price.

    I had a Nexus 4 back in the day & liked the frequent updates, lack of crud etc. - it was a not full of needless bells and whistles and was a good performer for my (basic) needs.

    Though fortunately some of the second tier mobile companies have filled the gap of providing reasonably crud free basic phones with reasonable turnaround on patches (e.g. Motorola who now make a half decent effort on patches unlike in the recent past)

  13. bjr

    Been very happy with Nexus and Pixel

    I'm currently using a Pixel 2XL, got as soon as it was available. The hardware has been flawless, Android Q has some Bluetooth problems but that's to be expected in an early beta. Prior to the Pixel I had the Galaxy Nexus, the Nexus 5 and the Nexus 6P. The only one of those that I was unhappy with the the Galaxy Nexus but that was Samsung's fault not Google's, they treated it as a red headed step child. I would never want to go back to that . I don't see a way to guarantee a clean version of Android with frequent updates than for Google to build their own phones. I'm running Android Q now, the S10 won't get it until the middle of next year and it probably will never get Android R, the Pixel 2XL will. I would like to see Google attempt to me more competitive with their hardware, they are still stuck on one camera while everyone else has at least two cameras, the 4 might get two but the flagships from other vendors have moved on to more than that.

    1. Adam W

      Re: Been very happy with Nexus and Pixel

      See, I had the Pixel (1) XL and and am now on the 3 XL, and I've had no issues whatsoever with mine - indeed the phone that has frustrated me is the One Plus 6T I got for my new job recently, which feels more sluggish, and going back from gestures to switch apps using the "button" onscreen at the bottom is driving me nuts.

  14. EasyLife

    The same since the Pixel C

    I have had two Google tablets in my life, one created by Asus and one by Google themselves (Pixel C)

    I went through three(yes, that's correct three!) Google Pixel C's in 2 years. each having a separate hardware fault.

    I will not buy another Google hardware product for a long time. They can't support them and they don't know what they are doing.

  15. Chands

    I started with the Nexus 4, loved it. Nexus 5, loved it. Nexus 6 .. a little too fat. Nexus 6P ah, that's better. Pixel, shit thats expensive. Nice phone. Look at all the monkies whinging. gosh. I didn't have any of those problems. I must be special. Pixel 2, ouch, expensive. Gosh, everyones moaning again about using the phone at 45 degrees and my GOD .. the screen is slightly blue. Phew, luckily I use my phone at 90'. I must be special. Pixel 3, gosh, ouch expensive. More whingers ..

    It's always the same, the people who have problems are vocal on the internet and of course that's the complete data set of users, ergo, the phone has that fault for everyone, ergo its crap.

    The internet does not have anyone saying, err actually i dont have that problem (i doing it now to prove a point). If you canvassed every single user for any phone, the problems wouldn't looks so bad.

    And no, i'm not a google fan boi, like most techies i'm agnostic to tech mfgrs, if it works well, Apple, Samsung, Google, LG, i'll use it. Apple I love the design and they look great, but it's too constricted for me. Samsung, okay the bloaty UI has reduced over the years, but I prefer vanilla droid and front of the queue for updates etc.

    Google should stop getting into hardware ? right so if every company that started off producing hardware (which they don't really, 3rd party) stopped because the first few iterations were shite we wouldn't have anything. Goes for any design cycle. Nexus line improved hugely. So did the apparently Awful Android OS. Looking how far it's come since inception. Android was always behind the curve with the UI. They've caught up and now diverting all their energy into AI/ML which is EXACTLY where they should be going, computational power is their forte. Apple in the meantime have stalled for the last few years and really need to start innovating again.

  16. Jeffrey Nonken

    Not Samsung, please! They throw a ship-ton of non-uninstallable apps onto every phone. Give them 128GB and there will be 125GB* used by Samsung apps.

    And you'll only get one generation of Android updates. My Pixel XL is up to date, though now near end-of-life. That and the minimalist UI with minimal crapware is why I bought the phone. (I bought it a generation old at half price.)

    I generally like Samsung phones but hate the crapware and limited updates.

    *I may be exaggerating slightly.

  17. MarkElmes

    I for one love my Pixel 2 XL, it's an excellent phone. I've owned plenty of Samsungs and HTC's in the past, the last being the Samsung S8+, which was reviewed as having much better hardware, I actually prefer the Pixel 2's hardware. The screen isn't as bad as everyone made out apart from issues with blackness levels at low brightness. I can't go back to any other manufacturer after enjoying the cruft free android software, I always spent ages making any other phone like a Pixel because of their terrible modifications, I'd never want to touch a Huwaei with the quality of software and all their bloat... The speakers are great, the camera is excellent and the phone performs well at all times.

  18. James Anderson Silver badge

    " even with Radio 4 turned off. "

    LOL

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