Nexus Phones Were for Android Enthusiasts, but Pixels Were for Everyone

There are reviews and most agree that the new Google Pixel phones are awesome . They also mark the death of the Nexus line. With the move to pixels, Google is shifting its gaze from the experimental world of Nexus devices to the broader world of phone shoppers around the world.

Nexus devices were the testing ground for Google hardware

Since Google released the Nexus One in 2010 , the company has been releasing a new Nexus device every year to coincide with the new version of Android. This phone (and sometimes a tablet ) will serve as a reference point for Android development. Whether you’ve written apps or built phones, this was the device you built your work on and developed from.

However, none of this matters to most of the people who actually buy phones. Typical consumers don’t need their phones to have unlocked bootloaders so they can be easily deployed and serve as a development benchmark. Instead, the Nexus targeted niche groups: developers, manufacturers, and enthusiasts (like us and probably you reading this).

This difference manifested itself in several areas. First off, Google never wanted the Nexus to become a sales leader. Even if they were better and cheaper than the competition, Google rarely advertised directly, allowing enthusiasts to make sales for them. Most people will have a hard time remembering any particular advertisement for the Nexus phone, but who can forget Samsung’s long-standing campaignpoking fun at the iPhone lines ? Customers could also walk into every major carrier store and buy an iPhone from 2011 or the latest Galaxy phone from 2012 . While the latest generation Nexus worked on all media, you couldn’t buy it from any of the stores . If Google’s top priority was to sell as many units as possible, that was a pretty serious oversight.

Instead, Google has focused on experimenting and developing Android as a platform. Since 2010, Google has released eight phones from five different manufacturers. Each time, different companies such as Huawei, HTC and Motorola were in the spotlight so that customers could see their other products. Google made a really awesome $ 200 Nexus 7 tablet, which was one of the biggest Google sales ever , but there has n’t been a single new one since 2013 . Instead, Google allowed other companies like ASUS to make cheap small tablets. Google, meanwhile, has focused on the hybrid tablet laptop, which dates back to before Android supported multi-window apps . The goal of the Nexus program was to try out new hardware, see what worked, and build it into Android itself, not sell a particular device to as many people as possible. In fact, much of this experimentation pays off with Pixel phones.

The Nexus program has always been a launching pad for Google. This allowed the company to experiment with equipment that was not yet on the market and then pass it on to the rest of the industry for further development. It even allowed them to create completely new products. The Nexus Q suffered a colossal failure, but it ultimately led to the wildly popular Chromecast . Nexus has never been about market dominance. They wanted to give Google room to experiment.

Google Pixel phones finally offer the support the average customer needs

From a hardware standpoint, the Pixel isn’t much different from its recent Nexus predecessors. In fact, barring an increase in specs and a couple of new features , the Pixel and Nexus 6P are pretty much the same phone. However, if you look at the criteria by which the Nexus morphed into the Nexus, they couldn’t be more different.

Over the past year, Google has gradually introduced new, consumer-friendly services aimed at supporting casual users, not just Android developers and enthusiasts. You can get device insurance for $ 99 when you buy the Pixel (first offered for the latest generation Nexus phones), and you can pay for any device you buy from Google that costs over $ 150. Most impressively, the Pixel has 24/7 support built right into the phone . Real support, too, isn’t just a button to send an email somewhere, or links to community-run support forums, which is pretty much everything Google has offered in terms of support so far. Just click a button in settings and you will be contacted by a Google agent by phone or live chat to help you with any issue. You can even share your screen so the agent can show you what to do. This is the feature that is most useful for the least tech-savvy users.

Google also wants to make it easier for new users to switch from an iPhone or any other Android phone. Inside the box, you will find a USB to USB-C adapter. Just plug in your old phone and Google will walk you through a three-step process to transfer all of your contacts, events, messages, photos, videos, and more to your new phone.

Finally, Google is finally getting serious about advertising this thing. The company released teaser videos for its hardware event during Monday Night Football , an extremely expensive time slot. The company has already spent millions on primetime TV ads, according to Reuters, and there is still much to be done.

It ends with the phone having the support and infrastructure that regular consumers need, but it also brings with it advances in Google’s hardware. For the average person, having an insurance plan and 24/7 support is worth a little more. Apple is already doing this with AppleCare. Google knows that enthusiasts and developers can customize any phone, including the Pixel, to whatever they want. Now they want to attract people who just need a phone that works and someone to call when it’s not working.

Pixel phones are really good, but you can wait

I’ve been using the Pixel XL as my daily driver for the past week and I can safely say it’s a great phone. It does everything my Nexus 6P does, but it is faster, the interface is smoother, and the camera is better. However, as an enthusiast who knows how to customize their phone , I cannot access my Nexus 6P. I probably won’t buy the Pixel when my review unit gets back.

If you are reading Lifehacker, you may be in the same boat. This is a confusing place. Google has served us for years because we were the loudest proponents in the early days of Android. However, those days are over. Android is huge and isn’t going anywhere. Google can now focus on other things. For the millions of people who buy smartphones, $ 650 isn’t that expensive as long as they get the right support, and while it may seem expensive compared to the Nexus, it’s on par with other flagships from other manufacturers. That’s roughly the same price that the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 start at. Pixels is a mass market device with a mass market price and mass market support.

This is also a first generation product for Google. Yes, the company has made phones before (in partnership with other manufacturers, and this phone is no different), but this is the first time it has attempted to provide a complete customer service package for the average phone buyer. There will be hiccups. The support probably doesn’t work at times, and time will tell how well it scales to thousands of users, or how good the support actually is. Much better hardware is likely to come next year, after Google decides to develop phones on its own. If you want to wait, nobody can blame you. However, this is the first time Google has created a phone that is ready to sell to the average consumer and actually has the backing to back it up.

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