6 reasons you’ll want to switch to the Google Pixel

Pixel 5
Google’s Pixel phones have a lot going for them.Juan Garzon/CNET

There’s a handful of tempting reasons you should consider buying a Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 5A or Pixel 4A.

Are you looking for a smartphone with Google Photos, Chrome, Gmail and Google Drive integration? If so, a Pixel might be a good choice for you. Google offers many iterations of its Pixel phones, including the Pixel 4A and Pixel 5, and now the new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro come with the company’s in-house Tensor chip.

Read more: CNET’s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro reviews

Pixel phones are known for taking great photos. But it isn’t just about having an excellent camera and luxurious hardware: Software and the services that a phone ties into are also important. Let’s get into a few of these.

Unlimited storage for Google Photos 

One big reason to get a Pixel is unlimited storage in Google Photos. Unlike other non-Pixel handsets, Pixel phones have no data cap for backing up photos to the cloud. Photos you take on a Pixel will be saved in their original quality, not automatically compressed to save space. The extent of this benefit varies based on the Pixel you pick up: If you can find the first Pixel phone released in 2016, you should be able to upload photos at original quality for the life of the device. 

Google One Plan Upgrade when Google Photos Unlimited ends
Pixel phones will enjoy unlimited storage on Google Photos. Other handsets will not.Sarah Tew/CNET

Later Pixel phones, such as the more recently released Pixel 5 and Pixel 4A 5G, allow unlimited photo uploads at a compressed storage-saver quality. Google outlines the rules for each Pixel phone on this support page.

Unfortunately, it does appear the 2020 Pixel phones will likely be the last to get the unlimited storage benefit. Google does not plan to extend this benefit to the next wave of Pixel phones, according to several reports from The Verge and Tom’s Guide, among others.

No bloatware, ever

The menace of unwanted apps, services and often redundant software features continues to plague most Android phones subsidized by US wireless carriers. Not so with Google Pixel handsets. What you get is the pristine Android OS the way Google originally designed it, not masked with odd skins, proprietary overlays or strange UIs.

Pixel phones have access to beta software like new OS versions and features.Google

Fresh Android OS updates

Besides unfettered storage for photos, Google has pledged to make updating its Pixel phones a priority. Whenever a new Android OS version or security patch rolls out, it’ll arrive on Pixels first. That includes new features separate from full OS updates. And for the truly adventurous, Pixels have first dibs on beta Android versions as well. 

All Pixel phones are available in Google Fi cellular network versions.John Kim/CNET

Google Fi is always an option

While not a massive force in the wireless carrier market, Google does offer its own cellular service for mobile devices. Called Google Fi (not to be confused with Google Fiber), this MVNO-style system offers pay-as-you-go data plans. It also uses technology that enables seamless switching between Wi-Fi and cellular networks during voice calls.

All Pixel phones come in versions specifically designed to operate on Google Fi. These phones are also unlocked so you can port them over to another carrier if you’d like. For instance, the Pixel 5A is available in both Unlocked and Google Fi (also unlocked) versions.

Things get more complicated, though, when choosing a Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro. Google sells three varieties of each: Verizon, Google Fi (unlocked) and Unlocked (no specific carrier). The models without a specified carrier will work on all major US carrier networks. That said, they aren’t all fully compatible with each carrier’s 5G network.

Squash that spam

If you’re constantly assaulted by a deluge of unwanted scam or shady marketing calls, then you’ll find this Pixel feature compelling. The Pixel Call Screen functionin the phone app works with Google Assistant to stop robocalls from reaching you. Together they can prevent unknown callers from making your phone ring, or screen calls for you in real time.

A sweet phone deal

Right now one of our favorite phones on the market is the $399 Pixel 5A. Compatible with 5G cellular networks, this budget-friendly handset has an excellent ultrawide camera and a big OLED display. It also enjoys strong software support from Google and the promise of timely updates for up to three years. And at $500 less than the price of the $899 Pixel 6 Pro, or $200 less than the $599 Pixel 6, it’s a tempting alternative.

All Rights Reserved for Brian Bennett 

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