Join Namira Saud Fatemi as she explores the wonderful, strange and sometimes bizarre world of smartphone accessories, gadgets and other toys every week.
I have a toxic relationship with my Pixel 6. It crashes, overheats, and refuses to cooperate with me when I need it most. To be fair, I'm a pretty heavy user. At any given time, I have at least six to ten apps running in the background, with mobile data, Bluetooth, and GPS enabled. I push my phone to the edge, and when it fails to connect, I'm pushed up the wall, often tearing my hair out while letting out silent screams of frustration.
Google made such a beautiful promise when the Pixel 6 series came out. It was the culmination of everything they'd worked hard for, and a new, reimagined idea of what a Pixel phone should be. From Material You to the Tensor-heavy AI chips, things looked pretty good. To be honest, they attacked me in Magic Eraser. I knew in my bones that the phone would be worth it.
Like many other smartphone lovers, I was foaming at the mouth and couldn't wait to get my hands on the device. Despite its very limited release, I was able to import the Japanese version of the Google Pixel 6 and happily traded in my Xiaomi for a better tomorrow.
This was around the time OnePlus crashed and burned. With the demise of OxygenOS, I turned to Google in search of what I craved: a pure Android experience with meaningful tweaks and a pleasant but light user experience, coupled with great cameras and an accessible price.
Now, I'm not here to tell you that Google hasn't done any favors on any of these fronts. It performed so well that I myself went so far as to call Google the “new OnePlus” at the time. The monthly Pixel Features Drops continued to add great new features to the already impressive list, playing with the themes and widgets on Material You was a lot of fun, and I was simply blown away by the cameras.
But as time passed, problems arose. The fingerprint sensor was unusable with the glass screen protector. I couldn't go more than 12 hours without charging my Pixel 6, and eventually my Bluetooth stopped working. Right now, this well-made phone has turned into an instrument with which God tests my will daily.
Although Google has rolled out a lot of fixes to correct these issues, the vast majority of them still persist. These days, I can't charge my Pixel 6 without the touchscreen stopping responding. Every time I turn on bluetooth, the phone freezes. My Wi-Fi connection is bad, and saved networks randomly disappear. And just last night, I had the scare of a lifetime when my lock screen stopped registering touches even after I unplugged my charger.
The fact that there are so many of these issues and Google isn't doing much to fix them is unacceptable. 2021 wasn't that long ago. We're only talking about two and a half years max. Since Google guarantees three major Android updates and five years of security updates for the Pixel 6, shouldn't it remain fresh and usable during that time period?
It's very disappointing to see that the Google Pixel 6 has aged so poorly, and I hope newer Pixel phones don't follow in its footsteps. Longevity is one of the main selling points of the smartphone. When a brand promises years and years of updates, we expect a device to last a long time.
Why do we guarantee support for such-and-such number of years and then neglect important updates that keep the phone alive and well? Are we supposed to keep buying new phones every two years? Even if you can maintain this lifestyle, it is terrible for the environment and encourages companies to continue doing things the way they are now.
So, what are the main takeaways from this experience? For me, now is the time to buy a new phone. Naturally, I will choose one based on my previous experience. If I were to base my decision solely on the Pixel 6's performance over the two years I've owned it, I'd give up on the Pixel 8, even if it's one of the best Android phones today.
As for Google, the bottom line for them is that if they continue to fail at building phones that last, they will lose loyal users. It goes without saying that failing to hold your primary market is extremely stupid. Let's hope that in another couple of years, we don't see a similar article about how poor the Pixel 8's lifespan is.