I have been using Pixel 3 for about five months now and I have opinions on the device. Or rather I have opinions on Android’s best software experience. First of all, I want everyone to use the Pixel at least once. It gives you a fair idea about pure Android experience and most likely you will love it. It’s even harder to go back to another Android device from the Pixel. But, this experience comes with a huge bargain. Let me take you through this.
On my first day with the Pixel, I couldn’t help appreciating the phone’s size. It’s really compact and ideal for single-handed usage. I could eat a burger with one hand and still use the phone with the other. It’s perfect.
And as every Pixel user, you would have read about, I am going to brag about the Pixel’s camera. It’s awesome! With this long term of usage, I never had a moment when the camera flunked. Like the confidence it inspires, I even stopped looking at the photos after I have clicked them. For instance, I was at this crowded railway station searching for my coach. I saw the board, grabbed a quick picture and moved on. After a couple of minutes, I gazed at the photo and it was on point. Usually, with any other smartphones, I would either take a burst shot or refocus and take a couple of shots just to make sure it’s sharp enough.
Another instance was at this railway station in New Delhi. I saw an amazing frame and was quick to snap it. And, the entire thought about the frame, picking up the phone and clicking the actual picture happened in seconds. And yes, the Pixel didn’t disappoint. The picture was on point and so was the framing.
Now when I grabbed the Pixel 3 in October, I already had the Android 10 update installed. But here’s what I loved about the stock Android experience. The RAM and battery management are less aggressive and you will receive your push notifications. Now with other Android skins like EMUI, MIUI, and OxygenOS (to some extent), I had this problem of missed notifications. The battery management was so aggressive that it would often kill useful apps in the background and thus denying the push notification.
For instance, I open Instagram and Twitter, about 2-3 times a day. However, I do receive a lot of DMs, tags on it. With these Android skins, I would never receive my Instagram and Twitter DMs. I had to manually open the app and it was at this moment that the notifications would arrive. I do agree that you can whitelist apps from being killed in the background but it shouldn’t happen in the first place. Moreover, now that third-party apps have realized it, every app you install from the Play store asks you to whitelist it.
This aggressive RAM and battery management did provide me enough battery to go through the day but what’s the point? I am not able to use my phone for as basic need as texting.
Talking about notifications, notification management on Stock android is even easier. I can drill down more on an app and disable specific notifications. For instance, let’s consider Instagram. I don’t like receiving posts, comments, IGTV notifications but I still want the DM notifications. So, I can go ahead and disable those and still keep receiving my Insta DMs.
Pixel 3 was amongst the first phone to receive Android 10 and unlike other phones, I don’t have to wait till the end of 2020. Or rather, rely on the manufacturer’s “Devices to get Android update” list. And Android 10 would be the first mobile operating system to use on-device machine learning.
As of now, the use cases are pretty limited to the internal voice recorder, live captions that I have never bothered to use. But, I do like its implementation in Suggested Replies. For instance, I normally respond to a Slack message with “Cool” rather than “Ok”. The Pixel 3 learned about it in a couple of weeks or so. Now when I receive a random message on Slack, the suggested reply is “Cool” which makes me grin every single time.
Another small inclusion in Android 10 was Activity Management. Previously, in Android Pie (*sweet tooth*), it was hidden somewhere deep down below in the Settings menu. But, in Android 10, it has a dedicated “Privacy” section. You can manage your saved passwords, location history, activity management, ads personalization through it. Moreover, it lets you opt-out of personalized ads and you can even decide how long your search data stays on the Google server. Google is an advertising company and this one’s a huge thumbs up from my side.
After all of the wonderful experiences, here’s the saddening part – Battery Life. If someone tells you the battery life on the Pixel 3 is poor. Trust me, it’s an understatement. The battery life is terrible.
Hear me out! Most of the time, I am hooked to my laptop and I don’t even game or intensively binge Netflix on my phone. And with that amount of usage, I expect my phone to at least go through the entire day. But, Pixel 3 is the worst phone I have used in terms of battery life. I have to charge my phone twice to get through the day. And no, the fast charging doesn’t help either. Pixel 3 supports USB C-PD which is great for the future but as of now none of the Qualcomm QC chargers work with the Pixel. So, I have to carry the Pixel charger and plug in my phone whenever I see a power outlet.
I had to make sure that I carry a power bank in my backpack every weekend. And if you are a power user, the Pixel phones will literally die on you.
Let me tell you a short story. I had to take a solo 16-hour-long train ride back to my town. So, to kill the time I binge-watched an entire Netflix series. The entire time the Pixel was hooked on the power outlet. I had to charge it thrice within a span of 16 hours. I would any day trade my phone to be a bit chunkier than have subpar battery life.
To sum all these up, I love the way Google has crafted the Pixel device. In my opinion, this is the best Android can get in terms of software. But, the battery life is just something that needs to be addressed at the earliest. I will still be using Pixel 3 because as I said there is no going back from this experience.