It is said that most marriages fail within the first two years. My relationship with the Pixel 3 falls into this category. I rarely make public complains about my possessions, but this smartphone has been such a heartbreaking disappointment that I had to walk away from it.
Here’s the background: I bought the Pixel 3 (64G, black, unlocked) in August 2019 on Google Store Singapore. It cost me SGD875, not including a DCC charged by my bank. The total was about RM2,800. I had a friend bring it back to Malaysia for me because the Pixel phones are not sold here.
Everyone told me it had one of the best cameras rivalling the iPhone, and since most of my freelance work is already within the Google ecosystem, I decided to go for it against the Huawei, which was in trouble with Google at the time. This purchase was to replace a very old Huawei Honor 6 I’ve been using for the past five years.
The first few months were like any new relationship: I was dewey-eyed by my new camera’s prowess. I brought it to Sri Lanka and my Instagram stories were sharp and slick. Everyone admired my photos. I really did love the camera and the Night Mode was awesome. But here are the reasons why a smartphone with a good camera still won’t make the cut:
- The Google bar cannot be removed from the homepage. This is by far the most annoying feature of the Pixel phones. Not everybody wants to use the Google Assistant, and though it can be disabled, the bar cannot be removed. It takes up precious real estate at the bottom of the screen, which can ideally fit five frequently used apps as it’s near to the user’s thumb.
- Apps are automatically arranged by alphabetical order. This is not the homepage, but a secondary page which cannot be controlled by the user, with icons laid out in alphabetical order. Why have two pages of apps? This secondary page is absolutely useless, as “all apps” can just be tucked away in Settings in list format. For app icons, users want to be able to arrange them in positions that best suit them.
- The phone went all Matrix on me. I’m referring to green jagged lightnings appearing on my screen, as though I am entering The Matrix. I thought my phone was going to explode on me. I quickly turned it off and charged it to 100%. When I turned it back on, it was ok. This happened only once.
- The Pixel earphones cannot fit into my ear. Ummm… is something wrong with my ears? The Pixel 3 came with earphones called Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds. However, they just couldn’t fit into my ears. There is an extremely annoying curved wire loop that you’re supposed to push against your ear (note: cymba concha) so the buds don’t fall off. Honestly… I can’t even.
- Getting rid of the 3.5mm jack and replacing them with USB-C ports. This means I always have to walk around with a C to 3.5mm adapter (which came in the box) or buy multiple ones for home and office. Whatever the case, it’s an added burden for users and it means you can’t charge your phone and wear your earphones at the same time. Logic much.
- The volume keeps raising itself to maximum without me touching it. This was a problem I encountered after updating to Android 11. It is like there is a phantom finger operating my phone and pushing the volume up to max. I even recorded a video of this phenomenon happening to keep as evidence. I glide it down, and it goes up again. Good thing I didn’t blow off my ear drums in any of these “accidental” volume raises not done by me.
- Too many steps to make a simple phone call. For two years I struggled to find my Contacts through the Phone function. The problem here I realise is that the phone has been designed like a web browser, with a wide search bar on top and multiple taps at the bottom. However, I realise that on the phone, the user’s eye does not go anywhere near the borders, and a phone just needs to look like a phone ie. like a calculator.
- Too many steps to turn on the Internet. For this, I refer to post Android-11 updates, where the dropdown shortcut menu only gives you the option of “Internet” instead of “Wi-Fi” or “Cellular Data”. For people like me who switch constantly between both as I step in and out of the office, this extra step of going into “Internet” and then choosing between “Wi-Fi” or “Cellular Data” is a hassle. What’s the point of a shortcut menu if it’s not a shortcut?
- The camera does not have built-in features to flip photos. You have to download another photo app like Snapseed in order to do a very basic thing like mirror your photos, seeing as selfies are now all the rage (and we’re not even asking for Beauty mode here). For writers, it’s essential that books we selfie with are flipped the right way round so the titles can be read. Even for non-writers, it’s for things like restaurant names in the backdrop etc. and not even for the good side of our faces.
- The screen cracked after two drops, the camera after another two. This was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. To be fair, the screen thing happened when I hadn’t yet stuck on tampered glass, and the camera thing when my phone was only wearing a “skin” and not its usual Spigen cover. But still… I hadn’t expected it to be so weak, as these were only waist-high drops onto tiled floors.
Though I’ve seen a fair amount of complaints on Reddit threads, I do find myself to be in a minority of very unhappy Pixel users when I voice my annoyance, and this is why I’ve taken to writing this post. Please help me if you’ve finally found the solution to any of my gripes above, though I may be far too gone to ever go back to it.
In conclusion, the Pixel 3 seems to have been designed by web users thinking mobile users function the same way. Hence, it is one of the worst phones I’ve ever bought and I am utterly disappointed by Google for producing such a second-rate not-so-smart phone.