A couple of months ago I’d finally lost my patience with my Nokia 9 Pureview. It was a good phone, kept up with Android releases, but the camera had become so unreliable that I had to seek a replacement. This coincided with Google releasing the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. I decided upon the more basic 6 because I don’t like big phones. So what’s it like?
To be honest, it’s difficult to differentiate between Pixel 6 and Android 12, so I’m just going to say Pixel from now on, but I’m fully aware it’s probably more likely to be Android 12 for some of the…fun.
Overall the phone has been pretty good. The battery life is okay, nothing astonishing but okay. It charges pretty quickly but I expect that rather than it being something special. The phone doesn’t weigh too much, but reassuringly heavy enough to know it’s still there, and it fits in my back pocket. From a pragmatic every-day use point of view, then it’s fine. However, when comparing the ‘level of frustration’ using the Pixel vs. the Nokia…
Finger print reader
The Finger print reader is not great. Let me be clear, the Nokia 9’s was terrible. At least this one works 80% of the time, but don’t even bother trying if your finger is even slightly wet. I have heard there is an update coming to address the reader so I’m hoping for a better story soon. Frustration Level -1.
I somehow manage to trigger the Assistant far too often. The really frustrating part is when it pops up as you’re trying to power the phone off. This is doubly frustrating when you’re in a rush and something requires a reboot. I appreciate the power-to-assistant is a configurable option but it’s the default and caused my temperature is rise on a few occasions. On one particular occasion when I couldn’t sign in (see later) and my temper was in shreds, it popped up. To my embarrassment I swore at it to go away. It made a near-fatal mistake…it talked back to me, telling me off. Not a clever idea. Frustration Level + 1.
Work profile PIN
My Nokia and Pixel had both enrolled to work profiles. It worked seamlessly on the Nokia, but once again the Pixel has other ideas. The normal every-day use of the Work Profile is fine. The frustration comes with the security challenges. Initially when I went to sign in I would be faced with a black screen with just the words “enter password”. I had no idea what this was for. I thought it was just the phone’s pin. After tearing my hair out trying to sign in, I realised that it was the work profile challenge. Really, REALLY, poor UX. A finally changed the work profile challenge to be PIN. But still, all too often I’m faced with this challenge when all I want to do is use the phone. It’s really frustrating. Frustration Level + 5.
Google Maps Preview
Another strange feature, which seems inconsistent, is when I try to use Google Maps for directions. I type in a destination and it shows me a few route choices. All good so far. But I only have a ‘Preview’ options and not a ‘Start’ option. I still don’t know how to resolve this. When this does happen I close the app and ask the Assistant for directions. Weird. Frustration Level + 1
Pinning Now Playing
Another quirky one is the ‘Now Playing’ feature. Pixel is always listening for music playing and will attempt to recognize the track and provide you with a history of the music in your environment. Yes, it’s a privacy nightmare and yes it’s just a bit of fun. However, when you open the app it asks to ‘pin to the home page’. Good grief that was a titanic battle to get it work. Very buggy workflow. Frustration Level + 1
Ah Gestures vs. the 3 button toolbar. It’s a really nice idea but oh so very frustrating. It’s not the Pixel’s fault but rather the rest of the world just isn’t ready for it. Today I was choosing clothing sizes from a site which had implemented the choices as a horizontal scrolling list…Frustration Level + 5. It was such a bad experience that I’ve finally gone back to 3 button toolbar. Sorry Google, not today.
Coming from the Nokia the camera App is a bit of a muddle. It’s not a nightmare to use but just a bit flaky. I won’t score it down because whilst the App on the Nokia was easier to use, the device would just reboot or freeze, so it has to be better than that. Plus I believe Google are about to address this too.
Overall it’s a good phone, BUT it has so many features that I can see should be helpful but end up just being frustrating. If many of those features didn’t exist it would be a better experience, which is really unfair on it. Google just needs to tighten a few screws, smooth off a few rough edges and it will be a great everyday phone. For those not keeping score, the frustration levels of the Pixel vs. Nokia is…12 — come on Google, the Pixel can’t be more frustrating to use than a Nokia can it?