The Pixel 4’s perplexing predicament
Well, this has sure been an interesting week, hasn’t it?
Now, hang on: I’m not talking about that other news going on in the good ol’ U.S. of A. right now. That’s a different column for a different publication. No — here in the land o’ Android, the high-stakes debate revolves around the Pixel 4 and whether Google’s latest flagship phone is a device worth buying.
And you know what? The more you think about that question, the more you realize just how prickly of a situation Google’s currently facing as it works to turn its phone from niche-level, enthusiast darling into mainstream success.
I often find historical parallels to be a useful tool for making sense of present-day situations. And while “historical” may be a relative term when it comes to mobile technology, it suddenly dawned on me that the story we’re seeing play out with the Pixel 4 right now has an awful lot in common with a major milestone in Google’s past.
Put on your thinking caps, gang. It’s time to get philosophical.
The Pixel 4 philosophy
We’ll come back to that historical connection in a minute. First, we need to think through what actually makes the Pixel 4 special — what qualities it possesses, regardless of whether it’s a phone you’d personally purchase or not, that are truly exceptional and noteworthy in the field of Android options.
It’s a trickier question than you’d expect to answer. I mean, think about it:
- The Pixel 4’s camera is spectacular, without a doubt, but let’s be honest: We’re reaching a point where other device-makers are catching up enough in the field of photography that the difference between one commendable phone’s pictures and another is almost academic. Unless someone spends a ton of time taking photos of the night sky — or devotes an unusual amount of energy to studying the fine detail in side-by-side comparisons, as reviewers alone tend to do — are the Pixel 4’s photography-related advantages really going to be that meaningful for most people? I’m not so sure.
- The Pixel 4’s radar-based hand gesture system is certainly quite novel — and…