Okay Google, I’m NOT Feeling Lucky With a Pixel Phone   

The Pixel 2 ads may promise a low-light camera, but here’s shedding some light on the kind of shoddy phone it is.

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Here’s why Google Pixel 2 has lost a chance in the Android flagship race. 
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A seemingly reserved Sundar Pichai walked on to the stage. It was 4 October 2017. He started by expressing condolences for the victims of Las Vegas shooting, which happened on 1 October. It somewhat explained the sombre start to the evening, and things were expected to ease out as the widely anticipated launch proceeds. Except it didn’t, and they announced the new Pixel phone – Pixel 2 – to be without a headphone jack. Oh, the horror!

Okay Google, I’m NOT Feeling Lucky With a Pixel Phone   
(GIF courtesy: Google Pixel Launch Event)

“Using AI, computers can adapt to people, versus the other way around” remarked Pichai as he strolled across the stage. I was watching in amazement, on my recently purchased Samsung S8. The only take-away I wanted was to see if I’ve to regret my new Galaxy phone or not. I escaped unscathed, or let’s say unimpressed, for most of the part. Soon after, I migrated to a new Samsung Note 8, because of dual cameras and the practical stylus which came along.

But one thing kept Google Pixel 2 at the corner of my eye. The camera.

Okay Google, I’m NOT Feeling Lucky With a Pixel Phone   
(GIF courtesy: Dribbble.com)

The Moonwalk

Ever since Google debuted the device and claimed to have made the camera more awesome, without needing two lenses, I was specifically looking forward to some test shots. Google made sure everybody’s social feed is full of ‘influencers’ taking #TeamPixel shots, and potshots.

Almost every social feed was flooded with photos!
Almost every social feed was flooded with photos!
(Screengrab: Instagram/TeamPixel)
The ever dependable Rahul Dravid was brought in to apparently build trust.
The ever dependable Rahul Dravid was brought in to apparently build trust.
Screengrab: Twitter/Google India
The very bankable star, and one Bollywood’s leading ladies, Anushka Sharma was perhaps needed to connect to the youths.
The very bankable star, and one Bollywood’s leading ladies, Anushka Sharma was perhaps needed to connect to the youths.
Screengrab: Twitter/Google India

In case you didn’t know, Google’s major chunk of revenue comes from ads. So, it was effectively exercising its native powers.

I was sold. And soon my Samsung Note 8 was too.

Oh, the human greed.

Okay Google, I’m NOT Feeling Lucky With a Pixel Phone   
GIF: WiffleGIF

The Slip

I ordered a Google Pixel 2 XL 128 GB, no less, and excitedly waited to photograph every inch of the world.

The phone arrived on 19 December 2017 and honestly it looked better than I had thought. I used it, while fending off critics who made fun of my migration from a Note 8 to a Pixel 2 XL. “Who buys a Pure Android for 70,000 rupees?” was the usual refrain. I ignored, because my sole purpose was getting fulfilled. The camera was impressive indeed. But soon, the honeymoon period was over.

Okay Google, I’m NOT Feeling Lucky With a Pixel Phone   
(GIF: Tenor)

Not because the initial reviews suggested a widely prevalent screen burn-in issue, and tinted screens, but something which was not yet discussed.

A headline discussing the widely reported problem on the Pixel 2 phones.
A headline discussing the widely reported problem on the Pixel 2 phones.
(Screenshot: CNET)

Within a week I stumbled across a recurring problem where the charge time – to go from 0 to 100% battery – varied between 5 hours and 23 hours. To maybe rub it in my face, the phone would still say, ‘charging rapidly’. Duh! I contacted Google support. They put me in touch with B2X, a third party service support, because Google doesn't deal with after-sales servicing in India.

A screen-grab of the charging time estimated to be 7 hours!
A screen-grab of the charging time estimated to be 7 hours!
(Photo: Aaqib Raza Khan/The Quint)

The Fall

I was told my phone needs to be replaced because apparently ‘Pixel devices do not get repaired for hardware issues – they get replaced entirely’. I had to give my phone.

I had to wait 3 weeks for the replacement to process. And the worse part? I was provided a Nexus 5X as a stand-by device, which was like bachelors on a month end – broke.

Okay Google, I’m NOT Feeling Lucky With a Pixel Phone   
Photo: Wikipedia/Nexus 5X

I had to manage my smartphone-intensive projects on a device at least two generations old. I’m a mobile, multimedia journalist. I invest in a phone. It’s not mere splurging on a luxury product. All this, apart from the usual investments like screen protectors which had to be discarded with every phone that went back.

The second device came in, and the issue persisted.

A series of screengrabs showing no improvement in battery percentage (19%), after being plugged in for 13 minutes. 
A series of screengrabs showing no improvement in battery percentage (19%), after being plugged in for 13 minutes. 
(Photo: Aaqib Raza Khan/The Quint)

I looked up online forums to seek a solution, thinking it’s a software bug at best. I came across a couple of threads where a similar issue of extremely slow charging was raised.

Okay Google, I’m NOT Feeling Lucky With a Pixel Phone   
(Screengrab: Pixel Forum)

This is different from the usual slow charging on Pixel 2 which is an actual, technical limitation because its charging speed functionally capped at a low wattage.

I got in touch with Google again, and told them about the problem, and the trouble I faced in the last replacement. This time, the stand-by device was a new Nexus 6P, and my new phone came within a week. Smooth. I felt this is it.

I was on my second replacement device and it was going smoothly, apart from a few intermittent issues. I chose to ignore them like elaichi in a biryani, and move on.

On 13 February 2018, I put the phone on charging at 7 am, and went to freshen up. I had to leave for an urgent shoot, so I quickly came back to check the device at 7:15 am. It wasn’t moving, and showed a charge time of 13 hours!

A screen-grab of the charging time estimated to be 13 hours.
A screen-grab of the charging time estimated to be 13 hours.
(Photo: Aaqib Raza Khan/The Quint)

That was it. I didn't pay attention when it hampered my daily functioning, but if you hamper with my professional life, I’m sure to flip out. Justified, right?

The Crash

I filed for a refund, and was promised the same. My phone was taken for validation, but I didn’t get any confirmation for a week. It’s difficult to extract money, even if it’s from a friend, more so if it’s a multinational firm which knows how to turn your digital footprint into business for clients.

Okay Google, I’m NOT Feeling Lucky With a Pixel Phone   
(GIF: College Candy)

Another major letdown was the apparent lack of coordination between Google’s support team, the local B2X technicians, and the B2X backend.

I called up Google to check the status of my phone, where I was connected to a B2X support team which informed me that my phone is being checked in their Mumbai factory, and it’ll take some time to diagnose the problem.

Recorded conversation. When I called Google’s customer support. Edited excerpts.

I quickly followed this with a call to my local B2X executive, who informed me that the device is with them in Noida. Wait, what? That’s some cool techno innovation, where my phone can get checked in two geographically distant location simultaneously. Jai Google!

Recorded conversation. When I called the local technical assistant. Edited excerpts.

Naturally, my call for refund was not entertained. I was told my phone is working properly ever since it’s in the service center. Though, on 20 February, the day of promised delivery, Piyush Gour, an executive with B2X, told me that their technician has indeed found the problem I complained about. Gour told me he’d like to keep the device under observation. I persisted for a replacement. He refused, and my device was returned after two weeks of apparently ‘traveling to Mumbai and back’.

Recorded conversation. When I called the local technical assistant. Edited excerpts.

The Rebound

On the evening of 22 February, the phone came back to me. Stickers on the box, a plastic packet covering the phone. It looked like a repackaged kit of lost hopes. I got the phone back without any effective improvement, because apparently, the problem of slow charging is related to the temperature of the device, as found by a Google Forum user, and reported by Android news portals globally.

Okay Google, I’m NOT Feeling Lucky With a Pixel Phone   
(Screengrab: Pixel Forum)

Google engineers meanwhile say that they’ve acknowledged the issue and there’s no solution yet. Effectively, it leaves Pixel 2 as a phone you cannot trust, especially if the phone starts to feel a bit cold. And the service support is sure to give you, and your concerns, a cold shoulder.

This is not the only problem with the phones. The screen cracks from the middle if you use the squeeze feature.

Google has been looking the other way in India, even though it returns/replaces devices with such faulty construction in other countries.

All in all, if you are a looking for a Google hardware in India, it’s time you use Google’s Search to look for a better phone. Because you surely won’t feel lucky with this one.

(The Quint, in association with BitGiving, has launched a crowdfunding campaign for an 8-month-old who was raped in Delhi on 28 January 2018. The baby girl, who we will refer to as 'Chhutki', was allegedly raped by her 28-year-old cousin when her parents were away. She has been discharged from AIIMS hospital after undergoing three surgeries, but needs more medical treatment in order to heal completely. Her parents hail from a low-income group and have stopped going to work so that they can take care of the baby. You can help cover Chhutki's medical expenses and secure her future. Every little bit counts. Click here to donate.)

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