I’m an unapologetic Android purist – I like Android when it’s vanilla and done properly, the way Google intended. And I like Pixel hardware. A lot. I’ve fallen in love with it since I bought the Pixel 2 XL six months ago, trading in my trusty iPhone 7 in jet black, and I haven’t looked back since.
But my love affair with vanilla Android didn’t start there. It started way back with the Google Nexus 5 which I bought second hand in Hong Kong (where I lived before Singapore) after trading in my Samsung Galaxy Note 2, which I had in turn bought after trading in my wonderful HTC One X just a few months earlier.
I used to spend way too much money on smartphones, even while being a broke student, switching up to a new model twice a year. It was also around the time I was starting out as a tech journalist, so I justified it to myself as researching my field and mastering my subject (lol!).
Yes, my journey with Android is long in the making. That’s why I’m so thrilled that Google has doubled down on its Pixel hardware, now in its third year. (I also love the look of the upcoming Slate and am excited at the prospect of a Pixel Watch sometime in the hopefully not-too-distant future).
Smartphone purchasing power and choices in Asia may surprise you
Recently, walking around Singapore, I’ve noticed low-paid manual labour workers resting by construction sites on the side of the road, under the shade of a palm tree or fence, playing on their… wait for it… iPhone X. At first, I couldn’t believe it: these guys earn notoriously little. Now, I’ve seen it so often it no longer surprises me.
Except I’m thinking about it now, as the Pixel 3 prepares to go on sale next week in Singapore (with Singtel and Starhub). I’m thinking that, at US$799 (for the 3) and US$899 (XL) to buy outright – or a fraction of that if you take out a monthly plan over two years – this is not only cheaper than the new iPhone Xs (US$999) and Xs Max (US$1099), but for those that want Android it’s the perfect alternative.
For Asia’s rising working and middle classes, not only is the Pixel 3 affordable compared to the competition (which some clearly already own!), it’s also the successor to the best smartphone camera on the market – the Pixel 2 XL. Not only will they enjoy reliable system updates for years to come (meaning less need to spend on a new device and hence saving money) as with Apple’s products, but they’ll also arguably get the best Android software available. Because, yes, to my mind Google still does it best.
So yes – I’m a fanboy of the Pixel range. I like what Google is doing in the hardware department. And here in Asia, where people can’t afford to upgrade their phone every year or necessarily buy a new iPhone, picking up a Pixel on contract with a local carrier is starting to look like a very attractive, affordable, and reliable option.