Google drops its new Pixel smartphone today -- an announcement that was met with a collective "meh" from the general public. Maybe we're wary of fancy new phones after the whole Samsung Galaxy Note debacle, but the significance of the new Pixel should not be overlooked: Google's declaring war on Apple and revamping its image with a focus on easy-to-use hardware. Not only does the Pixel look sleek enough to seduce disgruntled iPhone owners, it solves the iPhone's two most notorious pitfalls: storage and battery life.
We don't know who's going to win the war -- but we do know consumers will be better off for it. Google's Pixel is the gut punch that will jolt Apple out of its comfort zone. To squash the competition and keep its loyal following, Apple will have to double down and deliver what's long overdue: a truly innovative iPhone update that we can't live without.
Apple has suffered from a severe lack of competition...
Despite the palpable Apple fatigue among consumers in the past year, the company is mostly peerless in terms of competition for its user demographic -- affluent, brand loyal, creative professionals. True, there have been a smattering of objectively good smartphones out there -- Samsung's Galaxy S7 is arguably a better phone with a better camera -- but none that is truly nipping at Apple's heels in terms of design and user-friendliness, the two main selling points that draw people to the brand.
One of the more insidious side effects of a lack of real competition for a tech company like Apple is a sense of complacency, which ends up stalling innovation. After all, why make any groundbreaking improvements to the iPhone when the existing versions are already very successful, and no other brand is breathing down your neck with something better?
... until now
Enter the Pixel -- a phone that actually represents a real threat to Apple. It's impressively powerful with an allegedly best-in-class camera, all wrapped up in a sexy-as-hell body that could have conceivably come straight out of Jony Ive's design lab. And while Google lacks a certain cool factor that Apple has, its new product lineup is an obvious step away from the nerdy software and data the company's known for. Apple has no choice but to launch a counterattack.
The Pixel has a bigger, better battery than the iPhone
iPhone users have long bemoaned its egregious battery issues, and Apple has repeatedly failed to address them in any significant way. That will have to change if Apple wants to remain competitive. Not only does the Pixel boast a higher-quality camera (both front and back) than the iPhone 7, it also has the bigger battery. It's still unclear how efficient the Pixel's battery will be when put to the test under typical usage conditions, but it is technically more powerful, packed with a 2,770mAh lithium ion compared to the iPhone's 1,960mAh. The Pixel also supports quick-charging its USB C port, which means you can juice the phone up in just 15 minutes to last a full seven hours. The Pixel's superior battery will hopefully be the factor that finally convinces Apple to prioritize a meaningful improvement on the next iPhone.
And the Pixel solves the iPhone's terrible storage problem
Google promises free unlimited cloud storage with every Pixel purchase -- essential for storing the full-sized, high-res images and vids that users will be taking with the phone's 12.3MP camera. Unlike the Google Photos app, which already offers unlimited cloud storage for compressed photos, Pixel owners will be able to seamlessly save and retrieve enormous media files without restriction. Not only is that cool for Pixel converts, it's going to put pressure on Apple to come up with a free storage fix and put an end to those obnoxious "Not Enough Storage" notifications that regularly taunt iPhone users.
This means bigger, bolder changes to the next iPhone
Now that there's a relevant competitor in the mix, this may be just what Apple's leadership team needs to recalibrate its efforts and get back to doing what Apple does best: developing truly transformational devices. Think about the incredible leaps in form and function that got us from the iPhone 3 to the iPhone 6. Now, it feels like Apple's just taking features away (RIP headphone jack) instead of adding significant new ones. And no, a pair of janky wireless AirPods and a slightly faster Apple Watch aren't going to tide us over.
Whether or not we actually buy one, we hope Google's Pixel succeeds. Worst case, there's finally a better smartphone out there that solves our biggest complaints. Best case, Apple brings a gun to this knife fight and puts out a truly spectacular new product that leaves Google in the dust, and leaves us speechless.
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