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These two things could finally break me away from Pixel phones

I've been using Pixel Phones since their first iteration but lately, I've been eyeing something else. Here's what and why.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Pixel foldable
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

I've been a big fan of the Pixel Phone since its first iteration. The pure Android experience, the best-in-class cameras…what is there not to love? With the exception of one release (the Pixel 4), everything has (mostly) been smooth sailing.

Also: Google Pixel phones have a secret button. Here's how to find it (and use it)

I say "mostly" because there has been one issue that's plagued the Pixel phones since around version 3. Add to that issue one looming threat and I'm starting to see the writing on the wall that my relationship with the Pixel could be coming to an end.

Recently, I've also wrestled with the idea of jumping ship for the Nothing Phone 2

Review: Nothing Phone 2: If 'being extra' was an Android phone

Unfortunately, I was seriously burned by a similar phone when I purchased the Essential PH-1. Although that was a different company, the idea was the same: A phone that wasn't driven by Google but offered a fresh take on Android. Sadly, that phone was so underpowered and over-promised that it was nothing but frustrating from day one. Since then, I've been a bit skittish about purchasing any phone that wasn't from a big, known, juggernaut of a company.

And that, my friends, goes against so much of what I believe in.

Also: Use a screen protector on your Pixel phone? You should enable this feature

You see, I've always stood for the underdog (which helps explain my dedication to Linux and open-source), so purchasing the Pixel Phone has always sort of rubbed me the wrong way. Even so, those phones are hard to beat.

There is, however, a caveat or two to that.

Let me explain.

The first big issue

Since the third iteration of the Pixel Phone, there's been a major problem with these devices. 

Call quality.

I'm not going to sugarcoat this one. The call quality of the Pixel phones has always been the worst. Since that third release, I've had so many calls when the phone's mic would go silent. I could hear the person I was speaking to but they couldn't hear me. Sometimes, the only fix was to reboot. Other times, it was just a matter of hanging up and calling them back.

Also: 7 Google Pixel phone settings you should change immediately

Either way, it was a real problem. I've been on very important calls when, out of nowhere, the person I was speaking with assumed I'd hung up or wasn't paying attention.

The problem was so bad with the Pixel 4 that I wound up exchanging it for a new device twice and the problem persisted.

It would have been one thing if that issue was isolated to the Pixel 3. Unfortunately, that issue still haunts the Pixel Phone. My Pixel 7 Pro has suffered from that problem on multiple occasions. I've gone down every rabbit hole I could and there's no solution. And I'm certain Google knows about the problem, as it's been reported over and over by many users. 

And yet, there is no fix.

The second looming issue

My next problem with the Pixel Phones has yet to manifest, but I'm certain it's on the horizon. Google has already announced that its Assistant app will soon leverage AI. Anyone who knows me understands that I'm profoundly against the widespread usage of AI. It's not that I don't think AI has its place -- such as for banal, repetitive things. The way AI is being leveraged now is as a crutch for creativity and intelligence. 

Also: 3 reasons why I prefer this $300 Android over Google's Pixel 6a

As a writer, I am no fan of that and the second Google announces that Assistant is fueled by AI, I'm out. And that's a big reason why I've been considering the Nothing Phone 2.

What's stopping me?

As I mentioned earlier, I've been burned by phones from small startups. Not that I consider Carl Pie's company a startup (bravo for them for making against all odds) but I'm concerned about migrating from a phone with what is probably the best camera on the market to one that's mid-range at best. That, of course, makes me ponder the most important reason for having a phone. 

  • Is it taking photos and video?
  • Accessing information online?
  • Keeping in contact with family and friends?
  • Phone calls?

Actually, it's all of those things.

The only other issue I can think of that keeps me from jumping right into the Nothing Phone waters is the size. The last phone I had that nailed the perfect dimensions for me was the Pixel 5. Since then, the phones have continued growing to gargantuan proportions. Sadly, the Nothing Phone 2 is actually bigger than my Pixel 7 Pro and that's a problem for someone with smaller hands.

Also: The best Android phones you can buy (foldables included)

But are the size, the relative newness of the company, and the mid-range camera enough to keep me away from the Nothing Phone 2?

The answer is simple. If I have one more issue with my Pixel 7 Pro going mute during an important phone call, or AI comes to the Pixel line, either will be the last straw and I'll order a Nothing Phone 2 without so much as a second thought.

I would hope Google is listening to me (unless my proverbial mic has gone silent again) because these are issues that have many users concerned. And if Carl Pei is listening, I hope he knows people are watching…and are very interested in what he and Nothing are doing.

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