Why I'm going back to the HTC 10 after using the Pixel
After months of dealing with Bluetooth reception spottiness on my HTC 10, I ordered a Google Pixel. I made sure to get the 128 GB model so that I could use it as a daily driver, something I never felt comfortable doing on the non-expandable 16 GB Nexus 5X. And my shiny silver Pixel has served me well this winter, but Spring has sprung, and with it, I'm going back to my HTC 10.
When I received the Google Pixel, I was looking to kiss goodbye the problems of my headphones cutting out every time my HTC 10 shifted ever so slightly in my pocket, or every time I turned my head. Well, my headphones still cut out with Pixel, so I guess I'll be finding a new pair of those for my birthday next month. But rather than just issues with Bluetooth cutting out, I encountered two more Bluetooth issues with the Pixel that I'd never encountered before.
First, and worst, is the way that the Google Pixel treats Bluetooth audio levels. On most phones, I turn the Bluetooth volume on the phone to high then adjust the headphones/speaker volume as needed. On the Pixel, the volume level of the Bluetooth device is tied to the volume level of the phone. This meant that volume control was far less precise on my headphones, too soft in the car, and far, far too soft on the Bluetooth receiver I plugged into my alarm clock. It also didn't help that the volume level would reset with every Bluetooth connection, so even if I turned up the volume on my phone while connected to the Bluetooth receiver before bed, if Bluetooth disconnected and reconnected during my nightly 6 hours, the volume still might be too low to hear when my morning music played.
I'm not the only user to experience this, but I know that I am absolutely listening at higher volume levels on my headphones and other Bluetooth devices because of this bug masquerading as a feature, and I need to go back to a device that handles Bluetooth volume normally and sanely.
The second Bluetooth bug is a known Pixel bug, and one that a recent server-side error attempted to remedy: Bluetooth randomly shutting itself off. As someone who relies on Bluetooth connections for most of the work day, every morning, and most of her nights, I need Bluetooth to work, and while it's easy to toggle it back on in Quick Settings, treating the symptom does not cure the bug.
Front-facing fingerprint scanner
I get the arguments for the rear-facing scanners. Your fingers gravitate towards specific spots on the back of your phone when you pick it up, and it means that you can easily unlock your phone while pulling it out of your pocket and up towards your face. Problem is, I spend a lot of time interacting with my phone when I'm not picking it up.
My phone spends a lot of time in docks, mounts, cradled in coffee mugs stuffed with old textbook covers, and a lot of time just laying on the desk next to the video switcher and keyboards in the control room. And with the HTC 10, I can press the fingerprint sensor while the phone lies face-up on the table. With the Pixel, I have to hit the power button or pick the phone up. I can try double-tap to wake, which works for me maybe 50% of the time.
Don't get me wrong — these are both still a step-down from my good old days waving my hand like an enchantress over my 2014 Moto X's IR sensors to wake it up — but being able to wake the phone without picking it up or pressing the power button is something I've missed dearly on the Pixel. This is especially true when I frequently have to re-wake devices during photo shoots for articles without skewing their angles.
Bigger screen in a similar body
The Pixel's bezels have long been bemoaned for how ridiculously big they are, especially for a screen lacking a front-facing home button. My HTC 10 sports a 5.2" screen in a phone that is only 0.08 inches taller than the Google Pixel, which sports a 5" screen. Those specs aren't helped any more when you consider that the HTC 10 has capacitive nav buttons while the Pixel does not, meaning that on top of having bigger bezels, the Pixel also has less normally usable screen space because nav buttons are taking up the bottom half-inch of the screen.
I've always been one for smaller phones, but I'm for properly utilizing the real estate on a phone no matter the size, and Pixel's front bezels don't make sense. For a phone this physically large, there's no reason for the screen and the UI to feel as small and cramped as they do, especially when typing on SwiftKey's largest layout.
The Google Pixel is still a fantastic phone. It still has the best smartphone camera on the market — how quickly that will be changing is anyone's guess — and because it's a Google phone, it'll be seeing an OTA Android O beta sometime in late spring or early summer that I fully intend to play around with. The Google Pixel has a screen that can get far dimmer than the HTC 10 (and maybe a hair brighter, too), and while the unlocked US HTC 10 has been getting relatively steady updates, nothing gets updates faster than a Google Pixel. For the latest and greatest of Google's vision of Android, the Pixel is still perfect. It's just not perfect for me.
I savor both of these phones, but I bought the HTC 10 because it fit my life, it fit my Android style, and it fit my wallet. And that's why I'm coming home to it.
Also, dat chamfer.
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Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.
Manufacturing complexity is also the excuse they use for why us business travelers can no longer swap in charged batteries. And weight. If my phone weighs more, I want it to be because it has a big battery. On the flip side, I don't want the chassis to weigh so much that they don't include a bigger battery. The kicker is the impact shock susceptibility (more easily cracked screens and internal damages) because metal doesn't have shock damping properties. If there was a plastic HTC 10 with a swappable battery, I'd pay S8 money in a heartbeat AND change carriers.
The finger print sensor is a decent argument but just put a darn pin on you phone and unlock face up like that.
On iMore, a writer there wrote about why she's going back to the iPhone SE after using the 7 Plus for a bit. That was published either last week or the week before, can't recall exactly. Additionally, the same writer wrote about being happy about the storage bump for the SEs last week.
I never understood why so many believed that a rear fingerprint scanner was better. I thought I was the only one who realized that's true only if your phone is always on your pants pocket. The speed with which the HTC 10 wakes and unlocks in one motion means I don't need to resort to Smart Lock outside of the Bluetooth in each car. Best phone I've used to date!
My phone spends a lot of time in docks, mounts, cradled in coffee mugs stuffed with old textbook covers, and a lot of time just laying on the desk next to the video switcher and keyboards in the control room." AMEN! I hate to see Samsung go to a rear mounted sensor on the S8 for this very reason. Even if the iris sensor works perfectly, you'll still need to pick the phone up to unlock it.
Our phones are truly our butlers; they not only have to be the jack of all trades, they have to fit our special needs and personalities as well. So I do understand why you made the choice to switch phones. Having said that, I'll just mention that the Pixel has a great OK Google voice detection unlock feature and it works well even in noisy environments. In my opinion, it is even more convenient than fingerprint or iris scan unlock. As for the bezels, I have the 128 gb Pixel XL and I find the bezels really handy when I'm watching videos in landscape mode, or playing a game. Looking at the S8 I can't imagine teaching my fingers new contortions to be able to hold that phone comfortably. The Bluetooth is a legitimate issue even though I personally have not experienced any thing unusual myself, before or after the update. I have 3 Bluetooth headsets/earphones (sennheiser, sony, jaybird) and my car is always playing Spotify via Bluetooth.
My first Android phone was HTC Desire and I've been an Android user ever since, switching between HTC , Samsung and Sony mostly. I'd confess that in terms of overall experience, the Pixel XL has been the best android phone that I've ever used. Great screen, fast and buttery smooth UI, no bloat, great camera, contextual Google assistant, night light, timely updates, excellent battery life, quick charging, unlimited full resolution pics and 4k video storage on Photos, VR ready..... there's just so much that they did right with this phone that I simply can't imagine switching to something else unless something catastrophically broke the phone. I'd love to have waterproofing and stereo speakers but those are minor quibbles that I can easily live without. This is the first phone that has truly integrated itself intelligently in my life, anticipating my needs and delivering precisely, like a great butler :)
I hope you give the Pixel another try.
The audio is top notch, the device isn't too large, it's fast, responsive, takes great photos, and it's durable. My only gripe is battery life.
The HTC should have a bigger a screen because it's a bigger device. 145.90mm x 71.90mm x 9.00mm
143.84mm x 69.54mm x 7.31mm I'll always prefer compacitive buttons and HTC finally gets it right without a super duper chin but when compared to the Axon 7 it's bezels are still behind the times. IMO the only reason the HTC 10 seems a bit favorable against the Pixel in regards to screen to bezel ratio or display size is because it's being compared to the only flagship Android device released in 2016 with bigger bezels than it! With that being said the HTC 10 is probably the first HTC phone I'd consider buying in years. I would finally take it over a galaxy or lg's current offerings up until these latest releases. I have to see how the new display ratio feels in my hand for the new flagships. Is it the new way larger phones/flagships will be built or is it a gimmick. HTC has avoided battery implosion and boot loop issues but they have had their share of QC issues on their OEM devices like the Nexus tablets. When compared to the Pixel.....I can see it squeaking by depending on what's important to the user. It is just an article....but man...