UPDATE: Google released this statement about the microphone issues
“We made several advances in the audio recording capabilities of Pixel 3, including enabling stereo recording in landscape mode. When recording outdoors, our tuning is specifically designed to reduce background noise like wind and road noise and overly loud sounds and optimize for audible speech. To achieve this, we selectively de-emphasize some frequencies, which minimizes disruptive noises and optimizes the resulting audio. We do extensive user testing of our products to ensure they are tuned for real world usage, and we’re always looking at additional tuning opportunities based on user feedback”
This response is insulting to say the least, give us an option to turn off the horrible software you designed and get good quality from the mics which if you listen here: https://www.reddit.com/r/GooglePixel/comments/9pe8md/audio_recorded_on_pixel_3_comparison/ the mic actually sounds good when not being processed.. ugh.
Disclaimer: I am not a famous YouTuber, I don’t have a million followers, am not a fandroid or iSheep, and my opinions are my own. For that reason, I believe you may want to read about my experience with the Pixel 3 XL.
So I am a longtime iPhone user, for a very simple reason…
…the camera in my pocket is meant to capture moments. The moments of life where having a portable video and still camera conveniently close by is extremely useful. The iPhone has always been extremely polished in all aspects for these features (albeit not without caveats) and it provided me more importantly with… consistency!
This video sums up how I feel about a pocket camera
That being said, iOS is long in the tooth and the walled in garden has pissed me off for quite some time.
I own one macbook from 2012 and use mainly PC’s and google home in my house. I prefer them for the expand-ability and compatibility with things I love like Spotify and gaming. Mind you I also enjoy Apple’s desktop software. I tend to use things that make life easier. So I jump around a lot. My brand loyalty isn’t blind.
I have always regretted never truly going back to Android after my early days with “DROID” and Verizon not offering iPhone. That being said, I am all about the best piece of equipment I can have regardless of eco system. I am even willing to look past the addictive(or some may say convenient) nature of iMessage and being able to send uncompressed video clips and photos to my family and friends who also have iMessage.
Enter the Pixel 3 XL.
I got my hands on a goodie bag from #teampixel. And let me tell you I was excited. My father has been using his Pixel 1 for years and cannot sing it’s praises enough. And I don’t disagree with him. That phone was and still is badass. Android has come a long way since my first Droid Eris. I would even go so far as to say it has surpassed iOS in usefulness, intelligence, and overall usability. Minus the fragmentation issues due to Google not unifying the experience (dumb). Which is why the Pixel excited me more than a Samsung or other Android devices. OS unity and updates!
So I decided, I would jump in head first! Popped my sim, disabled iMessage, and with a cable connected to iPhone X and Pixel 3, 30 minutes in I was ready to go!
Actually the switch was painless. And already as I started to activate my apps and such on Pixel 3, I was impressed as it grabbed key-codes from text notifications to verify I was who I said, pasted them into the activation and automated a lot of stuff I hated to do manually.
Android allowed me to set my alarm to Spotify! It had notifications that made sense. It had a useful home screen. The gestures mimicked the iPhone X and I felt right as home. Up until I multi tasked windows with split screen and had my YouTube podcast hover over my home screen while I worked. I was blown away actually. This exists?! I can organize my icons on the home page in my own grid pattern? There are useful widgets?!
Nothing was boring and nothing felt restricted. I felt like the phone trusted me to have my own sense of style while also knowing when to take over for me. Overall Android felt clean, intuitive, and intelligent. Siri is just dumb comparatively. So after a few long hours of customizing EVERYTHING. Feeling energized by the possibilities of Android.
I then opened the camera.
I took a few snaps of my cats. Cause I am that cat dad. http://instagram.com/staccatoandcoda
And I was actually pleasantly surprised. It took great photos. Minus the over sharpening and strange “dark” “grunge processing” it was good. I wish it was more neutral but that is because I like to edit photos and have the most neutral option as I can to start with. Even the wide angle selfie camera was a great addition! I was getting excited!
So I then decided to take a video…
And this is when I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. It is 2018, this phone costs over 800$. It is a flagship phone! Of course it will take great video.. Or will it?
I didn’t save any of the videos because in my haste I deleted them as I took them from frustration.
What was Google thinking? Did they not test their device? How is this considered acceptable? But Tristan how do I know what you are talking about if I can’t hear it? Here are TONS of examples at the timecode point in many online reviews that I saved for you:
I can’t even begin to tell you how painful this is to me.
If you only watch one, watch this one:
https://youtu.be/9cCwL-i7N7g?t=595 She explains all the issues I noticed, the sound, the wobbly jello effect from too much image stabilization, and the fact that the camera for photos is great but the video is just lacking majorly.
Here is a great example of the muddy blurry effect the image stabilization causes in both the front and rear facing cameras when shooting video.
While I like some stabilization when that stabilization comes at the expense of image quality I would much prefer natural shake versus over processed mud/jello wibbling that is happening here. So if you are not going to include 1080 at 240fps and 4k at 60 perhaps you should nail your 4k at 1080? Am I asking too much at this point?
To be touted as one of the BEST smartphone cameras, you better not mess with my ability to capture moments!
The compromise here is huge. You get good stills but your video if you whip out your phone to capture a funny moment with friends or your childs first words, will sound like someone is in a tin can yelling at you from the roof of a building. You want me to just take stills with the device meant to be my all in one day to day tool to save memories I wouldn’t otherwise be able to… No. That is not acceptable. And it made me sad. I was loving my Android experience, but like the days of old it all came rushing back to me.
Why did I always need to upgrade my phone back when I was on Android? Why couldn’t I keep my device for more than 6 months? Was I obsessive or was it the fact that every Android phone I used had a “compromise”. Nothing felt like the complete package of an iPhone when it came to the day to day ability to capture moments through photos and video and AUDIO. And once again Google was asking me to compromise on an expensive smartphone with the audio quality and video recording options because “AI learning” is better. Sure the AI on the phone is stunning, but the latency in the camera app after shooting a picture and going to preview it is not pleasant. The audio is horrific. And the lack of modern smartphone video recording options is just a kick in the teeth.
This is after I had convinced myself I could live without the ability to seamlessly send these memories via iMessage and could wait till they figured out the new Messages RCS app protocols in the next few years. This is after I convinced myself I could convince my friends to install WhatsApp for me when I wanted to send them photos. Or use Facebook Messenger, or compromise again. Or compromise with sub-par app performance from major players because of Androids fragmentation. I was OK with that, I was ready to embrace that for the fantastic experience Android felt like to me. Having it tell me what songs were playing at the gym after my workout or reading and responding to texts intelligently when driving. Or the integration of google photos! It was so damn intuitive!
But messing with my moments and making me hesitate to want to whip out this device and capture them, that is where I draw the line!
Let’s talk about a few more compromises…
It was late and I wanted to wind down to some Netflix before bed. I popped open my app and started watching some random cooking show… when I started to notice that not only was the video off center when holding the phone horizontally (which by the way is the weirdest sensation)
Which I could have gotten used to if I didn’t realize every-time someone spoke or the music played, my hand was vibrating. The speakers are either using the backplate to push “bass” or it isn’t housed properly which causes any volume over 50% to shake your phone as if your vibrations were on max and someone was txting you without stopping. It was noticeable with a case and it made me think something was wrong. I grabbed my iPhone X quickly and cupped the bottom speaker (because that is how non front facing speakers sound better) and shoved it to 100% volume. It was matching the volume (barely) of the Pixel 3, but the phone wasn’t shaking in my hand to everyone’s voice or the music. Somwhere along the line, the design team by housing these two front facing speakers, forgot that sound moved air, and this causes your phone to move… a lot…
And while I was testing this I opened up my favorite battlefield you-tuber and I noticed the bottom speaker which is visibly larger was pushing out more volume than the top speaker causing my ears to perceive all sounds coming from the right when in landscape mode. Ughhh. I even covered it up and noticed that the top speaker was barely audible at max volume.
So incredible shaking that makes ya not want to hold the phone to hear the awesome,
This is the definition of Compromise:
I no longer felt like it was concessions on both sides, an adage of blue bubbles vs green, but it began to feel like I was getting taken advantage of. The overall price of the Pixel 3 XL and Pixel 3 has raised by a couple hundred dollars yet their hardware still falters or remains the same like the Pixel 2 and 2XL. Disparity between their 3 and 3XL screens with things like saturation, also shows me the lack of polish going into these devices. Even the smaller things like panorama’s still not working since the Pixel 2 or load times when taking an image to viewing it, there is a lack of “user awareness”. I thought the whole point of getting a Pixel was to get quick updates and continuous OS support like iOS. Either there is not enough people checking these things, or because it is Google, there are too many chefs in the kitchen. Like I said before AI can only improve so much. This was all beginning to feel one sided.
So here I am, my sim card is back in my iPhone X, looking longingly at the Pixel 3 XL
And it comes down to the warm and fuzzies Android gave me, but knowing, the compromises made on iPhone are not going to mess with my day to day abilities to capture moments. I will just stare angrily at my iPhone because it is not as “smart” anymore with the current iteration of iOS, locking me from using non Apple apps with voice and AI, and thinking I am too stupid to organize my homescreen properly. I will miss Google Assistant. It reminded me of the girl I met on a date who was just brilliant and made me laugh but didn’t shower or worry about personal hygiene. By the way I am talking about the Hardware compromises that Google has done in the Pixel 3 XL with that metaphor. I am aware of the iPhone’s downfalls, it’s outrageous price, it’s extra “dongles and charging bricks” for absurd moneys, the strange filters it does to skin tones in photos, but at the end of the day, it still has the best ability to be the swiss army pocket knife because of the attention to detail on every aspect of their boring but stable OS and blazing fast hardware, with quality control all the way to the MICROPHONE…
I am also curious why the die hard fans are not pissed off about all of this? Instead of standing up for your money spent, majority say “wait for a patch”, I dunno how many patches the Pixel 2 XL had last year, but that is an awful lot of “wait and see” on a 1000$ phone.
Oh well, maybe next year… but until then I was pretty ecstatic to have my blue bubbles back.
HEY SIRI, PLAY SPOTIFY!
“Screw you Tristan, pay for the unlocked option for another 99.99 a month, CAUSE APPLE!”
If this does turn out to be a software issue, I still have the phone and will be happy to give it a second shot.
The general public has gotten their hands on the device now and here are some updated issues:
Consistency is important to me… soooo we shall see when the dust settles.