Smartphones: iPhone X and Google’s Pixel face off
It looks like Apple has another hit on its hands, said Don Reisinger in Fortune.com. When the iPhone X (pronounced “ten”) was unveiled in September, analysts weren’t sure whether Apple enthusiasts would be willing to shell out $999 for the privilege of owning the latest iteration of the iconic smartphone, even though the X features an upgraded screen, cutting-edge facial-recognition technology, and other state-of-the-art software. Those doubts have now “been put to rest.” When the X became available for preorder last week, demand was “off the charts.” Within minutes, the device sold out, and “the company was forced to push back shipments to late November and then December.”
“There’s plenty to admire in the iPhone X straight from the unboxing,” said Steven Levy in Wired.com. I, for one, despise how big smartphones have gotten—“making calls is like holding a frying pan to your cheek”—but the X offers a big, beautiful display in a “compact form.” Its 5.8-inch, edge-to-edge screen is like “Cinerama in a phone booth.” The Face ID technology takes some getting used to, but the phone’s camera “represents a major upgrade,” taking “super sharp” pictures. As for battery life, I can’t say for sure if the X has two extra hours of use between charges as advertised, but my unit “powered through the usual late-afternoon low-battery doldrums and still seemed to have some juice” come evening.
In an effort to steal some of Apple’s thunder, Google last month released its “answer to the iPhone”: the Pixel 2 and 2XL, said Jessica Dolcourt in CNET.com. Starting at $649 and $849, respectively, both phones boast “a vastly improved camera” over the first-generation Pixel, along with squeezable edges that prompt Google Assistant to appear. “If you’re in the market for a premium handset, Pixels belong in the conversation,” said Edward Baig in USA Today. But “there are some shortcomings worth noting.” The Pixel 2XL is already fielding quality concerns, particularly about a screen burn-in problem, where ghosted logos or other images from a previous screen may appear below the screen you are looking at.
That screen drama is undermining Google’s effort “to be taken seriously as a hardware company,” said Vlad Savov in TheVerge.com. The Pixel 2XL was “shaping up to be an instantly iconic device,” with “thin bezels, excellent speakers, and a superb camera.” But the screen burn and other issues have left the industry wondering how Google “could get something so basic so thoroughly wrong.” When it comes to devices, Google is in the “ reputation-building stage of development,” when users are deciding whether they can trust Google over a known quantity like Apple. If Google can’t get the fundamentals right, its hardware will “develop a bad reputation that it might not be able to escape.”
Getty, Yufeng Chen/Harvard SEAS ■