The Google Pixel is a notoriously hard phone to get a hold of. Persistent stock issues have plagued Google's first "in-house" handset from day one, and things really are little to no better in the six months since the launch has passed. Honestly, it's a bit embarrassing just how consistently incompetent Google seems to be at keeping a reasonable inventory of phones stocked. But setting that aside, as one of the Pixel's most ardent evangelists, I think there's something it's probably time for me to come clean on: Even if you could buy a Pixel today, I really think you shouldn't.
The Pixel is a product with generation-one product issues. The Bluetooth performance is horrid. It's not waterproof. The bezels really are due for a shrink. I don't think the exterior coating on the black and blue variants is of a particularly high quality. The glass window gets scuffed up incredibly easily. The Snapdragon 821 is officially old news. And it doesn't support proper advanced network features across all four of the big US carriers.
There are other flaws I could point to, and while none of them are too terrible, they do speak to the slightly-rushed development cycle this phone seems to have been subjected to. Sure, Google got some things astoundingly right: the performance, the camera, the larger software experience. In fact, I think the Pixel is easily the best Android smartphone ever for these strengths, at least if we're talking about me personally as a user (your mileage, obviously, may vary). But for all the great, smooth, fast, clean, pure, simple, natural, and various other adjective-members singing in the Pixel-praise cavalcade, this phone is not the one to buy right now.
For starters, Google continues to ask what is an increasingly laughable amount of money for the model most of us want - the 128GB XL - at a staggering $870. Sure, Apple charges the same for an iPhone 7 Plus 128GB, but I'm under no illusion that this comparison in any way favors Google. The iPhone comes with Apple customer service (with actual stores), a longer software support period going forward, and runs no real risk of poor resale value. The Pixel? Google's online support is iffy at best, we know the phone will be unsupported by October 2018, and I have a strong feeling generation-one Pixel resale values will drop like a rock once the new phones are announced.
And that really is why, if you haven't pulled the trigger on a Pixel yet, you should just wait. It's overpriced, under-supported, and competing phones like the Galaxy S8 offer a whole lot more technology for your money. The Galaxy S8+ is $20 less than a 128GB Pixel XL, and I would argue it is far and away the better smartphone value. That amazing display, brand-new Snapdragon 835 processor, jaw-dropping design and packaging, and the full support of all our American carriers' latest LTE advancements could each be a reason on its own to put the Galaxy S8 above Google's smartphone. Do I still prefer using the Pixel over the S8? Sure. But I wouldn't buy a 128GB Pixel XL over a Galaxy S8+ today. That would be, frankly, a bit silly. If Google was asking $670 and not $870, the discussion would probably change, but they aren't. You've got to pay full price, and there's no way I could recommend anyone do that.
If you're still on the fence about the Pixel, let me try to push you over: wait for the next generation. I realize that this sort of thinking can devolve into a rationale that encourages you to never upgrade anything because something newer, faster, and better is constantly on the horizon. But in this case, I think it's a consideration that is worth weighing more seriously than usual.
Many of the Pixel's biggest flaws relate to Google's inexperience producing a smartphone. Issues that only come up as you try to mass-produce and distribute a product with a real marketing campaign that creates real demand, and the phone gets into the hands of "real" users who aren't part of the now-derailed Nexus phone hypetrain. Inside Google, expectations were no doubt managed, realities realized, and priorities accordingly re-calibrated after this first launch. (Side note: if the Bluetooth performance on the next Pixel is as bad as the first one, I may scream, Google.)
Meanwhile, the things that make the Pixel great aren't going anywhere. The next Pixel will be fast, it will take great photos, and it will offer a wonderfully unfettered Android experience. Those that make it less than great? Google is no doubt drilling down through the worst of them in order to ensure the Pixel 2 - or whatever it's called - won't make the same mistakes that the original did (waterproofing, please).
And one of the primary reasons to try the Pixel in the first place - to be on the very bleeding edge - really only remains true from a software standpoint. Older phones like the Nexus 5X and 6P don't even let the Pixel have an advantage there, as they're on the same update track until around the time the next Pixel phones launch.
If you absolutely need a smartphone soon and the Pixel is tempting you, ask yourself this: Can you deal with a Moto G5 Plus for six months if it means having a better Pixel down the road? While as a reviewer I have the admitted luxury of not needing to consider such things, were I in such a position, I'd have little in the way of a counterargument to offer. Sure, you'll take a resale hit on anything you buy now, but the Pixel is going to face a much, much steeper devaluation curve in that time than any budget phone.
Buying a Pixel right now just doesn't make sense. I love my Pixel XL, but I'm officially done recommending the phone to friends and relatives. Instead, I'll tell them to wait, or to get the Galaxy S8 they were probably going to buy anyway.