Matt Honan: “The Google Pixel 3 Is A Very Good Phone. But Maybe Phones Have Gone Too Far.”

Matt Honan, reviewing the Google Pixel 3:

The world is on fire but the new Google Pixel 3 — a Good Phone, which I do recommend you buy if you like Android and can afford it, although its updates are mostly incremental — in my pocket is cool to the touch. A dark slab of metal and glass. It comes alive when I rub my finger across the back of it.

And then!

“We’re doomed,” a colleague texts me on Signal*. A push alert from a well-regarded news site has more details on the alleged murder and dismemberment of a Saudi journalist. On Nextdoor, several neighbors report that their drinking water has tested positive for unsafe levels of pesticides. The Citizen app prompts me to record video of an angry naked man rampaging in the shit-strewn streets of San Francisco. Facebook is hacked and our information is out thereEveryone on Twitter is angry, you fucking cuck. You idiot. You tender, triggered snowflake. Everyone on Instagram is posturing, posing. You are less beautiful than they. The places you go are not as interesting.

[…]

I don’t recall exactly when my phone became such a festival of stress and psychological trauma, but here we are.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh but that camera! That screen! The Lens feature that can tell me what I’m looking at — what kind of plant it is or what kind of animal it is or what information is captured in a business card so that I do not have to go to the library and I do not have to enter it in or even remember it at all. I don’t have to remember! Okay, Google, I don’t want to think about it. Okay?

[…]


We are reaching a point of no return, when it comes to information collection, if we have not already gone beyond it. Cameras and screens, microphones and speakers. Capture your face and your voice and your friends’ faces and voices and where you are and what’s in your email and where you were when you sent it and… What did you say? Click, here’s an ad. And where did you go? Click, here’s an ad. Who were you with? Here’s an ad. What did you read here’s an ad how do you feel here’s an ad are you lonely here’s an ad are you lonely here’s an ad are you lonely?
Some of the new Pixel 3’s best features are ones designed to help you not use the phone.

Digital Wellbeing (which you can also enable on the previous Pixels) will turn your phone’s screen grayscale and turn off your notifications. It will tell you how much time you have spent on your phone for the day, and which apps you have spent that time in. You can also set a time limit on apps if you want. I found this useful and good. (It is also easily circumvented.)

[…]

Google is at the top of its game when it comes to hardware. While hardware may only be a queer little sideline for the company, it has never rolled out better devices. This phone is amazing. The operating system is amazing.

There are a few apps on the iPhone that I wish this Pixel 3 had (FaceTime, for example) but overall I strongly prefer this device to the new iPhone. And, in my estimation, all other Android phones are just garbage by comparison. (Having said this, Paczkowski’s dictum holds true here: Pick the ecosystem you like. Spend what you can afford. Buy the newest device. If you like iOS, you should get an iPhone. If you really love Samsung, get a Galaxy Note or whatever. If you can’t afford this phone, but you like Android devices, there are some excellent devices from Motorola in particular that are more reasonably priced.)

Roger Stringer spends most of his time solving problems for people, and otherwise occupying himself with being a dad, cooking, speaking, learning, writing, reading, and the overall pursuit of life. He lives in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada