Technophile: Pixel 2 XL

I was surprised how much it warmed up today. I wasn’t expecting it after this past cold week.

My Pixel 2 XL finally came in today after like a month of waiting. I finally split my Google Voice number off from my Sprint number and used it to sign up for Google Fi to compare coverage and quality of service to what I’ve been getting on Sprint. I figure it’s time to look at options now that there’s no incentive to stay with any particular carrier. The Pixel 2 uses an eSIM instead of a physical SIM card for service on Fi, so I was able to sign up and jump right into service without any trouble at all. I’m a little nervous about losing my account history from Google Voice, but hopefully it will all just slide right over. I get to continue using Hangouts with SMS, which will hopefully also eliminate the weird issues I had with group SMS and certain emojis or text strings when combining Google Voice with Sprint integration.

The first thing I noticed on the new Pixel 2 XL was the color shift when viewing off-axis. I kind of wrote it off when listening to reviewers complain about it because I thought I had a similar color shifting issue with other phones and didn’t mind it, but WOW this is bad. I absolutely would not have expected this quality from any flagship device even a few years ago. I heard others make similar remarks, but it honestly didn’t look that bad in videos. In person, you get blue-shifting almost immediately off axis when looking at a white screen. It’s not nearly as noticeable when looking at a photo or something darker, but anything super white is painfully obvious. So far I haven’t noticed any issue with image retention or burn-in, but it may be too early to tell, and I haven’t been watching for it super hard either.

I’ve tried to just use it as I normally would, and my biggest complaint aside from the screen is the size of the phone in conjunction with the indistinct texture of the power button and its placement above the volume buttons. The size of the phone requires that I completely shift my grip to reach the power button that is way up in the top right to turn the screen off. While shifting my grip again to put it away, I find that I often accidentally unlock the phone again as I graze the fingerprint reader. On top of that, all of this grip-shifting leaves me more prone to dropping the phone, which is terrifying now that I’m not getting them for free with a one-time damage replacement from HTC Uh Oh. I’m not even sure if I’m still eligible for an ADH plan from either Fi or straight from the Google store, but it hasn’t been offered to me anywhere yet.

I still find myself trying to unlock the phone by touching where the home button was on my HTC 10. The fingerprint reader on the back isn’t the worst placement, but I definitely felt better about gripping the chin of the phone to unlock it than I do finding the right spot on the back. Hopefully a little bit of time will get me used to most of these things, but the texture of the power button being indistinguishable from the texture of the volume button is going to be a thorn in my side. Things like this really show the attention to detail that I’m used to from HTC. Without tactile differentiation on the buttons, I keep fumbling the simple locking of the device, which is something I have to do literally every time I use the device.

The volume and clarity of the speakers is actually pretty disappointing for it to have dual front-facing speakers. I really expected more in this area. It sounds okay, but it’s no HTC Boomsound. While playing with the ringtones, I found that sound was only coming out of the bottom speaker. Music plays out of both, but the bottom speaker is clearly louder and harsher than the top speaker, giving you an unbalanced feel when watching videos with stereo sound. I also wish the Now Playing feature that shows the title of ambient songs playing in the background would work with songs being played on the Pixel itself. Seriously, why the hell would it show me song information for something I’m not playing, but not show me information for something I’m actively playing on my device? That’s just stupid.

Voice quality on Google Fi seems to be lacking quite a bit compared to Sprint. I’m willing to make that sacrifice since I rarely make phone calls, but it’s worth noting. I’ve never found a carrier with voice quality as good as Sprint in this area. I haven’t really done any speed tests yet because I’m paying per megabyte, but I guess I should spend a few cents to compare service while I can.

Overall I just need to spend some more time with it to see how I really feel. Next week back at work should be interesting. I really hope I don’t drop it, because I’m going naked. #YOLO

After I got the phone set up, I took a shower and headed to the theater to meet with Jesica to watch Murder on the Orient Express. She finally texted right before the movie was set to start to let me know she was just finished getting her hair done, so I abandoned ship and went to my parents’ house for a while. I ended up eating some leftovers there, then came back home to play with the Pixel some more.

Fulfilled Plans: 2/5
At least there’s a Steam sale.

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