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Does the Google Pixel Still Hold Up in 2019?

I have always been a tech enthusiast, and I love open source software and the newest devices.

The Pixel, Google's First Phone


Is a Google Pixel Still Worth it in 2019?

The Google Pixel and Pixel XL were first announced by Google on October 4, 2016, making the device almost three years old. Is it really worth purchasing in 2019?

The short answer is, yes.

Google really knocked it out of the park with the Pixel line. Like the Nexus line before it, Pixel is Google's vision for Android. Smooth, bloatware-free, timely updates, and more make these devices some of the best any other Android manufacturer has to offer.

When the Pixel was first announced, it was met with fanfare from Android diehards. It was a revival of Google's true vision for what Android should be after the announcement that the Nexus line was going to be retired, its last device being the Nexus 6p, a collaboration between Google and Huawei. The Pixel upon first release in 2016 was a hit. The highest-rated smartphone camera ever, timely and fast updates straight from Google, and clean, vanilla Android. What's not to love?

However, if you're an Android fan that even closely keeps up with the newest devices hitting the market, you're well aware that by now, we are up to the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a devices. Which may raise the question for you:

Why are we discussing the original Pixel from 2016 instead of the newest devices?

Simple. The original Pixel and Pixel XL are still fabulous phones. I still use mine to this day. It is still as buttery smooth, quick, and lag-free as the day I took it out of the box. Until my Pixel bites the dust, I don't plan on updating. It also still holds a charge just fine, getting me through the day and still having around twenty-percent charge when I retire for the night.

Price is another reason I will highly recommend the Pixel and Pixel XL to anyone who may not have $700 to drop on the newest devices. For reference, the Pixel 3 released in 2018 cost $799 at launch for the 64GB variant. The brand new Pixel 3a is Google's attempt to return to mid-range prices, at a more affordable $399.

The original Pixel, however, can be purchased on Amazon for a cool $126. That's right, only $126 for a device that still holds up to the best of them today. Let's dive into what the original Pixel can do!

Android Q is the newest version of our favorite mobile operating system, making its way to your Pixel sometime in 2019.

Android Q is the newest version of our favorite mobile operating system, making its way to your Pixel sometime in 2019.

Not only is the original Pixel still first in line for security updates almost three years after its initial launch, but it is also still receiving Android version upgrades. In 2018, OG Pixel owners were first in line for a slice of Android 9 Pie, and Google has confirmed that the original Pixel and Pixel XL are going to be receiving Android 10 Q.

In fact, the Android Q beta is currently available for any Pixel owner who wants to test out some of the newest features of Android on their device. Several brand new fun features are on their way for you to play with, whether you're a casual Android enthusiast or a developer.

With Android manufacturers being famous for their fragmentation in timely updates (since many Android manufacturers make custom skins over vanilla Android, it takes more time for them to update their devices), Google has found a great balance in the Pixel line. Google controls the hardware, and the software. This was the one thing that gave Apple an edge, but Google has worked hard at closing that gap. With a Pixel, any Pixel, you are first in line for all security updates and Android version upgrades until Google decides to stop supporting certain devices.

That "Googley" Experience

Front, back, and side views of the Google Pixel.

Front, back, and side views of the Google Pixel.

The original Pixel still offers an amazing software experience. It is bloatware-free, stock and smooth Android.

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It's not all about software, however. Let's have a look at some of the fine points of the hardware and software working in sync to make the Pixel experience the best Android experiences on the market.

First off, the seamless hardware and software integrations really take the cake. For example, Google is currently working on effectively turning it's desktop operating system, Chrome OS, into something that seamlessly integrates with Android. If I have my Google Pixelbook set up with my Pixel and step away from Wifi, I can continue working on my Pixelbook because my Pixel will automatically share it's LTE data connection with my computer. I can also use my Pixel to unlock any of my Chrome devices with a simple Bluetooth connection.

The Pixel was also the first phone to feature the great Google Assistant AI. When it was first released, Assistant was in a sort of beta, but she has grown into something much more usable. With your Google account integrated with your Assistant, anything you need is just a home button long-press away (unless you opt to use the "Hey Google" hotword for hands-free operation).

The Pixel line, including the original Pixel we are discussing today, features something no other phone in the world can do: Google's own "Call Screen" feature. This allows you the ability to screen calls with Assistant answering for you and asking the caller to tell the reason for their call. You can watch the call transcribed in real time on your Pixel's screen, and then decide whether you want to answer the call or not. Perfect for weeding out telemarketers and scammers.

And finally, that camera. The biggest lure of any Pixel phone is it's top-notch camera and photography features. On the Pixel's release, it was lauded as the best smartphone camera of all time and received the highest ever DXoMark score. You'll find no fancy dual-lens setups here either, the camera is actually aided by Google's proprietary artificial intelligence photography features, something only available on Pixel. This thing does not disappoint. I have consistently gotten fantastic shots just by pointing and clicking, primarily nature shots and some great cityscape images. There is absolutely zero shutter lag on my Pixel, and the editing on the fly features make it so easy to take pro-looking photos with ease.

A shot I captured with my Pixel by the low water creek near my house. The Pixel excels at capturing shots like this.

A shot I captured with my Pixel by the low water creek near my house. The Pixel excels at capturing shots like this.

Closing Thoughts

Would I recommend a Pixel in 2019 among all the newest flagships currently available? Absolutely. It can be purchased for a mere $126 on Amazon, unlocked for any carrier. It doesn't have the edge to edge display like most newest flagships, but honestly, if that's not a dealbreaker for you, then this device's beautiful display should be just fine for your eyes.

In a world where Android has become something wildly different based on what manufacturer you choose, the Google experience on Pixel is still the best Android experience you can have. Timely updates mean your phone is secure, and you are first in line for the newest versions of Android. A great camera means you can take beautiful shots all day long.

© 2019 Hunter Dollar


Original pixel owner on June 25, 2020:

this is crazy talk. i have a pixel Original and it's been slow and unreliable for at least a year. i have done factory resets. and will do another as a last attempt to not buy another phone. but it doesn't look good. battery life is much worse than when i got it. it powers down at unpredictable times when it says it has some power. it's slow. unresponsive at times. and i don't have it loaded with tons of apps. if your pixel original is working great please tips!

Md Iftekhar Alam on August 15, 2019:

Dear hunter Dollar, Excellent! I was in confusion whether I should by google pixel in 2019. Now I am fully convinced. Hopefully we will get such type of fantastic article from you in future.

Hunter Dollar (author) from Mena, Arkansas, USA on June 25, 2019:

@Liz, I'm glad you enjoyed! I love the Pixel and it really has stood the test of time, and if I can help them save a penny on a decent phone that's still supported software-wise, in always happy to be of service!

Cheers and thanks for the kind words! :)

Liz Westwood from UK on June 25, 2019:

This is definitely my kind of article. In an age when consumers are being conditioned and pushed into updating and buying new expensive phones regularly, it is refreshing to hear that some phones like this one stand the test of time. An added bonus is the more reasonable price. This is a very helpful article.

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