The Google Pixel 4 has been out for a few weeks now, and even though I have a review unit in my hand, I'm in no rush to swap out my SIM from my Pixel 3. I will eventually switch phones "for science," as we often say, to justify our choices working in this industry. But it's hard for me to recommend that anyone else do the same. The Pixel 4 may boast some new features, but nothing screams, "run out and upgrade now!"
If you were to ask me if the Pixel 4 is worth the upgrade, I'd say it isn't. Read More
This weekend, I watched a clip of The Verge’s podcast featuring one of Google’s product managers for the Pixel 4, Isaac Reynolds, discussing the decision to omit 4K 60FPS (and 4K 24FPS) video recording from the phone. In and of itself, I don’t think it’s a very interesting topic, and I don’t believe anyone thinks Google made the “right” call in excluding it. But Reynolds’ answer regarding that decision hinges on an argument Google has abused for years: 80% of people will never use this feature.
I suspect the 80% rule (which I'm guessing is also the 85/90/95% rule, depending on who you ask) is an unspoken philosophy at Google. Read More
Google announced earlier this week that it would purchase Fitbit, the ailing manufacturer of fitness-focused wearables and smartwatches, for $2.1 billion. As tech acquisitions go, this one was small: Google valued Fitbit at a price equivalent to that of budget TV manufacturer Vizio back in 2016, a company whose value exists largely in its retail distribution network.
As I alluded to in the opening line, Fitbit isn't doing well. Its stock peaked shortly after its IPO in 2015 around $45 per share, and even after the announcement of Google's acquisition, sits at just over $7 today. This is because Fitbit's newest products aren't, well, good: its most ambitious yet, the Versa 2, has been subject to criticism almost entirely for the software it runs, while the hardware does little to set it apart meaningfully from manufacturers like Samsung and Apple. Read More
Microsoft fans have been holding out for a 'Surface Phone' for years. Yesterday, it could have almost appeared — if you squinted hard enough — that Microsoft gave it to them. But the Surface Duo is barely a phone at all, and hardly what rendered fantasies have imagined a Microsoft smartphone could be. It's way weirder and way more daring than that. And, counter-intuitively, a strong reason to temper your excitement for Microsoft's big leap into the world of Android. Read More
Today, Microsoft announced a bunch of new Surface products — and they all look very, very good (and some of them look very weird). Perhaps the least sexy, but most utilitarian, of them was the new Surface Laptop 3. But in one fell swoop, Microsoft proved that it had both the platform and the vision to build a professional-grade laptop that Google could only dream to. And it was in that moment I knew, whatever the next Pixelbook will be (and we have a pretty good idea), it will be a disappointment.
I say this not for the sake of being harsh, but as someone who has lived with and loved Google's original Pixelbook from the day it was available. Read More
Google announced a new "unlimited" plan for its Fi cellular service this morning, and on paper, it's an improvement in most ways over the company's current pricing model for heavy duty users. Data caps have been increased to 22GB before throttling, while pricing for individuals has been lowered to $70 per month (previously, Fi maxed out at $80/mo for individual users). The catch is that it's $70 per month, full stop — Fi's dynamic data pricing doesn't apply to unlimited subscribers. For those who want to stick with Fi's old dynamic model, they'll still be limited to 15GB per month before throttling may occur, and enjoy the same per-gigabyte pricing they always have. Read More
Apple just announced its fifth-generation Apple Watch, and no surprise, it puts Google's Wear OS ecosystem to shame. Even with a headstart on wearables, Google has made such slow progress that Apple easily dominates the market. With the Series 5, Apple has adopted one of the last features that set Wear OS apart. We've waited years for Wear OS to click, and it's simply not happening. It's time for Google to rethink its approach to Wear OS before it slides completely into irrelevance. Read More
The tick-tock cycle of OnePlus phones is a little deceptive. While the almost identical names might make it seem like differences are few, these “T” refreshes do sometimes bring bigger changes in design, as with the OnePlus 5T, or entirely new features, as in the case of the OnePlus 6T last year. Specs for OnePlus’ next flagship phone — likely the “OnePlus 7T Pro” if history holds — will probably be familiar, but that doesn’t mean there aren't any improvements the company can deliver, and I have some wants. Read More
Samsung's phones always have a little something for everyone. If you need extra storage for niche workflows or huge offline music collections, you could always pick up a Galaxy S or Note phone with microSD support, and even enjoy the anachronism of a headphone jack. That's Samsung's M.O.: build phones with everything. But over the years, that approach slowly began to change, and with the Note10, I think it's fair to say the Samsung "kitchen sink" smartphone is now firmly a thing of the past. Read More