Hang in there, phone

posted by Jeff | Thursday, September 23, 2021, 9:07 PM | comments: 0

My current phone is a Pixel 4 that I bought in October, 2019, replacing a Pixel 2 that I had for the two years prior. Google made some weird choices with the 4, starting with facial recognition to unlock it instead of a fingerprint reader, which was less than ideal when we started wearing masks five months later. It also had some kind of radar thing so you could wave your hand over it to snooze the alarm or advance music tracks. The big sell was the advances in computational photography facilitated by a custom processor, which were back-ported to the other models relying on the stock CPU. In other words, it wasn't a great upgrade and I should have waited another year. My battery life wasn't great though, so I'm not sure if I could have waited.

In January, when we rented a beach house for a week, I baked the phone in the pocket of my swim shorts sitting in the hot tub for a half-hour. Battery life has been questionable ever since. Then recently, the inductive charging has only been working intermittently. Worse, it appears that the NFC radio has died completely, because I can't use the phone to pay for stuff at all. I didn't realize how much I relied on that. I can't get through a day without charging a little, which is not great considering I work from home.

In about a month, Google will introduce the Pixel 6 in at least two sizes, and I plan to buy one. I'm #teampixel because I firmly believe that they have the best photo science, without question. The design has historically been "meh" according to critics, but I don't know what you're supposed to do that's interesting with something that shape that you're going to put in a case anyway. The Pixel phones have always had a very clean version of Android, too, sans the crap that other vendors add. I'm very happy with Android, and it's easy to sideload my own apps, and it uses bona fide Chrome for a browser, so web apps work the way they should, even with the phone off.

I think Apple has some nice phones this year with better price-feature ratios, finally, but they're still a little pricey. I'm not crazy about where iOS has gone though, with some weird home screen management, and a settings app that is a nightmare to navigate. I'm also endlessly annoyed with Apple crippling web apps in Safari. That frustrates me more than anything. So I'm not likely to return to iPhone any time soon.

At the end of last year we finally upgraded Diana's aging Pixel 2 to a Pixel 4a with 5G, and it was only $350. Considering it has the same camera abilities as my 4, at less than half the cost, that was a steal. Its replacement, the 5a, is widely regarded as the best Android phone right now at only $450, provided you can live without inductive charging. I might have bought one if it weren't for that, but I really like that convenience.

But for all of my complaining about pricing, I suspect the 6 is going to be expensive, and I'll end up paying whatever they ask for because I'm a schmuck. It will be twice as expensive as Diana's phone, but not twice as good. Not only that, but I'll probably buy the big one, not because I like big phones, but because my eyes get tired at night and I just can't roll. (This is still weird to me, that the same phone in the morning I can see fine, but can't have it too close to me at night.)

So hang in there, old phone that I can't use to pay for stuff. You've got a month to go.


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