Is Google’s Pixel a worthy rival for the iPhone?

Earlier this week, Google launched their first ever entirely ‘made by Google’ smartphone handset – the Pixel.

Google’s new phone has already created a stir among critics and reviewers alike since its reveal at a launch event on Tuesday 4th of October.

According to Google, the Pixel phone boasts several features, including:

  • the highest rated camera on a smartphone yet
  • rear fingerprint sensor
  • seven hours of battery life from 15 minutes of charging
  • built-in Google Assistant
  • unlimited storage for photos and 4K videos at their original size on Google Photos, which frees up a lot of internal storage space.

It also still has a headphone jack, mentioned in the promotional video as ‘satisfyingly not new’ – a jab at Apple’s decision to get rid of the headphone jack on the iPhone 7.

The company took more than one swipe at Apple during the event (no unsightly camera bump!)  making it clear that their aim is to finally dethrone the rival tech giant. Perhaps the boldest move was encouraging iPhone users to change sides by providing a ‘Quick Switch Adapter’ that allows fast and easy transfer of messages, contacts and photos.



Photo credit: hurk at Pixabay

The speculation is whether any Apple users will now finally take the leap.

“It will be interesting to see the results. Apple has complete control over iOS devices as the only manufacturer, but Google, through offering Android OS to other handset manufacturers not only has to compete with Apple, but other Android handsets.” said Neil Kelley, senior lecturer in marketing at Leeds Beckett University. He questions whether they have entered the market too late, and remarked that only time will tell.

He added that there is nothing particularly unique or innovative about the product. “There is nothing, other than the ease of the process of switching, that would make anyone wish to switch, unless Apple’s rather lacklustre and basic sequential updates to their handset has begun to take their toll on those who aren’t brand loyal.”

The main way Google has set itself apart from Apple is by highlighting the level of customisation available on their phones and services, which is made possible by exploiting the very large database of detailed personal user information Google has been able to build over the years. With access to details like location, search history, communications, etc. Google Assistant is then able to build a very personalised experience for each user tailored to their needs and interests.

On the other hand, Apple had recently announced they were investing in ‘differential privacy’ to further improve the anonymity of users while collecting their information. In simple terms, differential privacy is a statistical method of collecting data from a large group without being able to connect any of the information to a particular individual.

“You either care or you don’t,” said technology writer Craig Grannell. ” I personally prefer Apple’s approach, but can see the benefits from a tech/personalisation angle in both. From a market standpoint, I suspect there’s a split, but for many the ‘creep’ factor of compiled databases (even if the information is anonymised) will put a lot of people off.”

Where Apple reassures users by being conservative about collecting and accessing users’ data, Google is taking a gamble that the appeal of an enhanced artificial intelligence experience will outweigh any potential privacy concerns. This may turn out to be the deciding factor in which phone customers would go for in the future.

By Fairouz Khallad

About the Author

This article was produced by a student or students on the BA in Journalism at Leeds Beckett University.

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