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Life with Pie: A Pixel Two Years On

Google Pixel Live of Pie 300pxAs you may recall, I had something of an issue with my Pixel mobile phone back in September. The August update to Google’s Android Pie OS badly mismanaged the Wi-Fi radio, resulting in battery life measured in minutes vs hours. On a typical day, with limited use, the phone needed to visit the charger by 1pm simply because the Wi-Fi was enabled. This was entirely unacceptable for phone just 16 months old.

Like a good fan-boy, I reported the trouble to Google, who took as much information as I could give, without ever admitting to a problem. Their team of online volunteers handed out anecdotal info, essentially home remedies, without regard for reality. Some users simply thought that 12-18 months was about all you could expect from the battery, and it was time to replace the phone.

Google’s own support team (Tier 3 no less!) took over six weeks to advise that the battery was faulty and should be replaced. This did not jive with my experience, which was that the behavior started when an OS update was installed.

I explored the battery replacement with our local uBreakiFix store. I was referred to them by Google. That was an $80 remedy that could possibly mask the underlying issue. I decided not to bother.

Time passed.  A few more OS updates arrived. Now, as my Pixel turns two year old, its battery life is back to normal. If it comes off the charger at around 7am, with Wi-Fi enabled, it lasts the full day with light use. It no longer gets warm in my pocket. It seems that Google eventually addressed the problem of managing the Wi-Fi radio. The problem that they never admitted existed.

Last week I had to spend some time at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists. I had only expected to be there a couple hours, but it turned into almost the entire day. As I was mostly killing time in the waiting area, I was using the Pixel heavily. By 2pm its battery was so depleted that I ran to a nearby shop to purchase a USB-C charging cable. That was to be expected, given the age of the phone and my preference for a bright screen.

In September, I was angry at Google. They were difficult to deal with and did not seem willing to take responsibility for their product. They were evasive, which I found deeply offensive.

It’s finally rolled around to time that I would normally be considering a new phone. I’m not angry anymore, but I do still feel like I was burned by Google. Not enough to jump to Apple. Maybe enough to consider Samsung. I haven’t carried a Samsung phone since the Galaxy Nexus back in 2012.

Google needs to get it’s head in the game. If you make the product, you need to take ownership of the issues. Openly and honestly. Their present support effort is seriously lacking.

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