I’m going to keep this review rather generic to Pixel and iPhone instead of models like the Pixel 3 or 4 or iPhone XS, 11Pro, etc. I’ve had time with just about all of them and where the big differences are, is in hardware; specifically camera. Given that I’m more about work than taking pictures or capturing videos, I look at things a bit differently.
This review is more about the productivity piece. The everyday uses and more common practices many people do with a mobile device. While this review is a little bit skewed to the business user, much of it can apply to the individual user as well. I’ve always said there are two uses for technology… as a toy or as a tool. It’s up to the user to choose which one.
I am going to discuss pros and cons to the iPhone and Google Pixel. Anything else running Android is garbage in my opinion. If you want Android, stock Android is the way to go. These Samsung, Motorola, and other devices which contain their own independent bloatware are useless as a tool.
Right away one would think if you’re using G-Suite for business then the Google phone, or Android, must be where it’s all at. Not so fast. That is not necessarily true. There are some Google iOS apps that are, in my opinion, better on iOS than Android. For example, the Google Chrome mobile browser app. The iOS version is actually better. It displays different pages as “cards” and therefore easier to see what browser windows you have open. Also, there’s actually a back button. Android Chrome is trying to get fancy with their gesture-based features and there is, believe it or not, no back button on the Chrome browser. If gestures worked flawlessly it might not be an issue. Let’s just say Google has a ways to go before that is the case.
Just about all of the G-Suite apps one would use are available for iOS so you’re missing out on very little actually. While Safari is still the default browser on an iPhone, it’s not a total deal-breaker given you can not change this yet on iOS like you can on Mac OS.
Here’s the overall result in my opinion: iPhone is a better phone with nicer apps but Android, (again specifically Pixel), are the smarter devices.
The majority of my productivity apps for email, chat, project management, and so on are better on iOS. We are heavy users of Front and the iOS app is far better than the Android version — same goes for Basecamp. I can remember using Zendesk at my previous start-up and, again, the iOS app was better than the Android.
However, Apple does not have a productivity pack, as I call it, like Google or Microsoft. Yes, they have Pages, Keynote, and Numbers as well as their own Mail but they do not compare to others. Actually, one of the more highly rated email apps for iOS is Outlook. Which brings me to my main point on iOS — you typically need to download or subscribe to 3rd party apps on iOS for a better UI/UX.
For mail, I used Newton or Spark for personal email, (and work before we discovered Front). Calendar I used Fantastical. For tasks, I was using Things3, although, the newer version of Apple Reminders is a much better design and UI/UX than before. I had been on Things3 for some time though and was not interested in changing.
Whether your G-Suite or Office 365 users, you’d have to then download those productivity apps as well such as, with Google, Docs, Sheets, and Slides. If using G-Suite probably Drive — Office 365 likely OneDrive, or possibly Dropbox because, again, iCloud is not the greatest option out there.
You absolutely can use all of the aforementioned apps on Android as well, however, the native apps for these uses are all made by Google… and they’re really damn popular on iOS as well. Gmail, Google Calendar, Keep, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Chrome, Google Maps, YouTube, Google Tasks, and many more are embedded right into Android as the native go-to apps. This means they launch by default on many occasions and there’s no need to download even more 3rd party apps.
This is what makes the devices smarter. In addition, let’s just be honest, Google Assistant is far superior to Siri. The decision to remove the Google Assistant reminders function from G-Suite users, albeit the dumbest thing Google could have done in my opinion, is coming back with the Pixel 4. Although, there are ways around this if you also have a personal Google account whereas you utilize things like the personal calendar and subscribe to the G-Suite calendar giving yourself read/write permissions to your personal account. This is what I have recently done.
When driving, I am able to leave the phone in my cradle and just say “Hey Google, schedule a meeting tomorrow at 10:30 am and call it Executive Briefing. Invite Bryan, Charlie, Chris, and Nick and let’s have it at Goldberg’s NY Bagel in Alpharetta”… and it just does it. Whether it’s to just call someone, send them a text, send an email, remind me to do something, or add something to my calendar, the Google Assistant just does it and does it very well. Siri is an epic failure if I try to do anything even close to this.
The Google Pixel Stand is also a favorite of mine. It takes the device to a whole new level of intelligence. There are many features for it but you really have to just try it out to see what I mean.
To say that I do not have 3rd party apps on my phone would, of course, be an absolute lie. Of course, I do. As mentioned before though, we use Front heavily as a company and the Android version just sucks. Google calendar has something about it I like better than Fantiasical, and while the UI/UX of Things3 is better, and it even does more than something like Keep, it costs extra. Many of these 3rd party apps are additional charges on iOS.
My wife and I also each have an Apple Card. I must say, Apple did it right here as well. Google Pay is not bad as it does link various cards and, in my experience, works a little faster but the Apple Card takes Apple Wallet to a whole new level.
Pixel 4 and Android 10 brings hand gestures to the table. While it does not work well, there are aspects of it I like. There this motion sensor capability that, as I begin to reach for my phone, it starts waking up already and by the time I grab it and look at the screen, the facial recognition has kicked in and it’s on the home screen. It’s a lot faster than the iPhone XS version of facial recognition.
When it comes to earbuds, it’s hard to compete with Apple’s Airpods. I have recently tried the new Pro’s and the noise cancelling is purely amazing. As someone who travels a lot, even internationally, the thought of only having to carry these versus my over-the-ear Skullcandy’s was nice. Google, of course, has their own version, the Pixel Buds but they have not been released yet and given there is no active noise cancelling, I doubt they’d compete anyway. I had the original buds by Google and I was not a fan… at all. Pixel Buds have some functionality over the Airpods, but I’m still not sure that’s enough to rival.
It’s hard to ignore one other fact as it pertains to the iPhone — the fact that just about everyone I know also has an iPhone. When it comes to iMessage, I’m that guy who makes the message green instead of blue. My wife and kids all have iPhones. While my company is not big, just about everyone is on iOS.
So I’m still working on this test to see which one works best. I’ve done this several times; going back and forth between the two. Several others wonder when I’m going to make up my mind, which, I’m not sure why they care as it doesn’t impact them.
From a productivity perspective, Google Pixel phones are just smarter and get more done especially if you use G-Suite or even many of the Google consumer apps such as Gmail, Maps, and so on.
But the iPhone hardware, the culture of developers building iOS apps that are just a better UI/UX than their Android versions and the overwhelming number of people, especially here in America, that use iOS versus Android makes it hard to be the outlying person on Android. Maybe it’s a sense of fear of missing out (FOMO)… maybe it’s the same level of reliability from G-Suite that is in Apple hardware… I don’t know.
One thing is for sure… they both give each other a run for the other.