Ever since last October, the Pixel 2 has been my daily driver and go-to choice for the smartphone I want to use. It's ridiculously fast, has the best camera on the market, and is first-in-line for software updates and security patches as they roll out.
The Pixel 2's been a great phone and an all-around joy to use, but for the past couple weeks, I've found myself using the OnePlus 6 instead.
I still love my Pixel 2 and jump on it here and there to mess around with the Android P beta, but when it comes to the phone that's now in my pocket day after day, that title's gone to the OnePlus 6. Here's why.
Why the OnePlus 6 works better for me
In a lot of ways, the OnePlus 6 and Pixel 2 are more similar than they are different. Both have excellent displays, performance is blazingly fast, and even though the Pixel 2 has the upper hand, the OnePlus 6 still has a great camera.
These similarities aside, though, there are some aspects of the OnePlus 6 that I find better-executed than the Pixel 2 — the first of which is the software experience. That might sound preposterous considering that Google's Pixel phones are widely considered to have the ultimate Android experience out there, but there are a lot of things that OnePlus just does better.
After using both, I've come to prefer OnePlus's software over Google's offering on the Pixel phones.
Most notably, OxygenOS on the OnePlus 6 is much more user customization-friendly than the software Google's crafted for the Pixel 2. With the OnePlus 6, you can set custom accent colors, create your own actions for the on-screen navigation buttons, use icon packs with the built-in launcher, and turn on a system-wide dark theme that's light years better than Google's poor excuse for one in Android P.
Speaking of Android P, OnePlus's gesture system is easily ten times better than the jumbled mess Google's created. It's more intuitive, easier to use, and is a really solid alternative for folks like me that hate looking at Android's navigation bar 24/7.
Something else that continues to be a game-changer more than two years since it was first released is Dash Charge. The Pixel 2's quick charging does top its battery up rather fast, but the OnePlus 6 + Dash Charge is a combo that cannot be beaten. Even though battery performance itself isn't the greatest I've ever seen on a phone with the OnePlus 6, Dash Charge really does make up for it 100%.
Add all of this together with Reading Mode that turns the screen to a grayscale to be easier on your eyes, the physical alert slider for quickly toggling notification sounds on/off, and the mind-blowingly fast Face Unlock system, and you end up with a truly unique phone that's both fun and practical to use.
The things I miss from the Pixel 2
Even though the OnePlus 6 has proven to be a better fit for me, there are still some things about the Pixel 2 that I miss having.
Now Playing, the Pixel 2 feature that automatically detects songs that are playing in the background and shows them on your lock screen, is hard to live without after using it for so many months. It's an admittedly small feature, but the convenience it provides is something no other phone offers and one that I wish more OEMs would adopt.
Features like unlimited Google Photos cloud backup and Now Playing still help the Pixel 2 remain unique.
Another Pixel 2 exclusive I long for on the OnePlus 6 is the squeeze gesture to open up the Google Assistant. This sounded like the most gimmicky thing Google could have come up with when I first heard about it, but sure enough, it became something I used every single day.
Lastly, even though I don't take a ton of pictures or videos, I think it's fantastic that Google includes unlimited cloud backups in original quality for these on Google Photos. That peace of mind you get with not having to worry about storage for the memories you capture is almost priceless, and after owning both the original Pixel and Pixel 2, it's easily become one of my favorite features of Google's smartphones.
OnePlus is fighting to make a better Pixel than Google can
Ever since the OnePlus One was released in 2014, OnePlus has been all for creating high-quality smartphones that are fast, look good, and have excellent software for a fraction of the competition. That's something that continues with the OnePlus we have today, but recent decisions from the company are making it even more competitive with Google's hardware efforts.
Among all the things Google's Pixel phones do right, one of the main reasons so many people choose to go with them is the fact that they're first in line for software updates. This is something that's been true since the Nexus phones and something no other OEM will ever be able to perfectly match.
OnePlus has been making all the right decisions lately to be a true alternative to the Pixel.
However, OnePlus has been making all the right moves to copy this formula as best as it can.
On June 28, OnePlus announced its Software Maintenance Schedule. Under this, OnePlus guarantees two years of software updates for all phones following their release and three years of security patches that are sent out once every two months. That's not quite as impressive as Google's three years of guaranteed software updates, but it's a huge step in the right direction nonetheless.
OnePlus has always been snappy when it comes to OS updates, but with Project Treble improving turnaround time and the new Software Maintenance Schedule squashing any worries about long-term support, Google finally has serious competition in these regards.
Add that together with a software package that's just as smooth and clean as what Google's offering and the argument that Pixel phones are the only choice for the best Android experience around starts to lose a lot of weight.
What do you think?
With that said, I'll jump off my soapbox and let you have your say on the matter. Do you think OnePlus phones are becoming better alternatives to the Pixel line? Is Google still the top dog when it comes to Android phones? Does pineapple really belong on pizza?
Whatever you've got to say, drop a line down below and I'll do my best to respond!
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