5 Reasons the Google Pixel Phone Will Flop

Dan Price 14-10-2016

The Google Pixel phone Google Unveils New Pixel Phones, Chromecast Ultra, & More... Google has unveiled a host of new hardware, including new Pixel phones, the Chromecast Ultra, the Daydream View, Google Home, and Google Wifi. Read More is finally here. Rumors had been swirling for months, but it wasn’t until Google’s unveiling event in early-October 2016 that its existence was officially confirmed.


The phone is being billed as an iPhone competitor. The old Nexus line of handsets were cheaper and more accessible to the masses, but the Pixel will go head-to-head with Apple on price, features, and build quality. We’ll finally get the showdown we all dreamed about as the two most preeminent tech companies in the world get ready to do battle.

But will be Pixel phone be a success? I think there’s a strong argument to suggest it’ll be a giant flop. Here’s why.

1. Price

What was the best thing about the Nexus range of phones and tablets? A lot of people would say it was the pure “stock Android” experience. A lot more would say it was the price.

The Nexus offered everything that was great about the Android operating system for a fraction of the price of the top-end Samsung models. No bloatware, no manufacturer overlays, and no exploding devices.

That “pureness” won’t change with the Pixel, but the amount you’ll be paying for it will.


The 32 GB entry model costs $649, and the 128 GB version will set you back $749. The entry model is exactly the same price as the newly-released iPhone 7 and just $20 cheaper than an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S7.

Google Pixel on Best Buy

Compare that to the recent Nexus models. The Nexus 5 entered the market for $349 in 2013, and its successor, the 5X, was only $379 when it hit the shelves in 2015.

Whether or not long-time Nexus users will be prepared to shell out almost twice as much for a largely similar experience remains to be seen.


2. Distribution

At the unveiling event, the phone was only available for pre-order in five countries: the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Germany, and Australia. India was added to the list shortly after.

At this stage, there are no official plans to expand that market — and that puts it at a serious disadvantage.

Google Story Pixel Country

Roll the clock back to 2008 when the first iPhone was released. Apple made it available in more than 80 countries worldwide. Today, there are very few countries where you can’t buy an iPhone — they’re mainly places such as Cuba and North Korea where the United States has trade embargoes.


The Pixel might sell very well in the areas where it’s available, but the global sales figures won’t be close to either Apple or Samsung.

3. Rooting

One of the reasons tech enthusiasts love Android so much is because of the customization options available 9 Amazing Android Customizations Worth Rooting For Haven't rooted your device yet? Once you get a look at all this awesome root-only customizations, you might change your mind. Read More .

Want a new launcher What Is the Best Free Android Launcher? Nova launcher, Apex launcher, and dodol launcher are all solid free launchers, but which is the best? We put them to the test. Read More ? No problem. Don’t like being forced to use a certain built-in app Replace Samsung Apps With These Better Alternatives Whether you have a Samsung device and want to avoid the built-in apps, or you just want some of those cool Samsung features, these are apps you should check out. Read More ? Get rid of it. Want to overclock your device? Easy.

The catch? To be able to enjoy the vast majority of these customizations, you need to root your device. For those who aren’t sure what I mean, rooting gives you to access the phone’s entire operating system What Is Rooting? What Are Custom ROMs? Learn Android Lingo Ever had a question about your Android device, but the answer had a bunch of words in it that you didn't understand? Let us break down the confusing Android lingo for you. Read More . You can then install, tweak, and replace anything you want.


Sadly, rooting the Pixel will be harder than ever. This will be a shock to Nexus-lovers. Although the tide was starting to turn, the Nexus devices were historically some of the easiest to root and had some of the largest and most vibrant modding communities as a result.

Rooting Failure on Android

Since the release of Android Marshmallow Android 6.0 Marshmallow: What It Is and When You'll Get It Android Marshmallow is here -- but why should you care? Read More , Google implemented a new check that would make the phone fail to boot if the /system file was modified. Modders got around the problem by editing the ramdisk, but according to reports, the ramdisk will be in the /system file on the Pixel.

Will the community find a way around the issue? Almost certainly. But the process is becoming less and less appealing to the average user.

4. Daydream

Say hello to Google’s stab at virtual reality (VR). Called Daydream, it’s one of Google’s big selling points, and one they hope will revolutionize the way we use our devices. The software is baked into the Pixel phone, and the supporting headset is on sale for $79.

But do people want it Virtual Reality Still Has 5 Big Problems to Overcome Despite all of the hype surrounding the recent surge in virtual reality products, there are many challenges that still need to be addressed before VR goes mainstream. Read More ?

Sure, the advancements in VR over the last few years have been impressive. Devices from Oculus How the Oculus Rift Works and Why You Need One Why is there so much excitement over the Oculus Rift? Because it's a technological marvel. Here's how it works and why you're going to love it. Read More , HTC, and Sony have changed the way we think about the sector. But is mobile VR going to become a thing? The jury is still out. Maybe Google should’ve focused its efforts elsewhere.

5. Waterproofing

More and more phones are now becoming water resistant What Makes a Device Waterproof or Water-Resistant? A lot of devices are marketed as waterproof, but that can be severely misleading. Most are actually water-resistant. What's the difference? Here's everything you need to know about it. Read More (the days of pushing people into swimming pools are set to return!), but the Pixel’s waterproofing is conspicuous by its absence.

The Pixel’s two biggest competitors, the Samsung S7 and iPhone 7, are both water resistant. Apple’s offering has an IP67 classification, which means it can be submerged in water to a depth of roughly one meter for up to 30 minutes. The Samsung phone goes one better — it’s IP68, meaning it can be put into a depth of 1.5 meters for 30 minutes.

Why did Google omit what would certainly be a popular feature? You tell us!

A Success or Failure? You Decide

Will the Pixel range of phones be a long-term success? Very possibly.

The Pixel 2 — whenever it is released — is potentially the phone you should be waiting for. There is every chance that it will be the device that many onlookers hoped this Pixel would be. It will have more features, the teething problems from the original Pixel will have been ironed out, and Google will have a clearer idea of their long-term vision for the phone.

I’ve explained five reasons why I think the Pixel phone is doomed to flop, but I am sure many of you won’t agree.

Whether you think my points are valid concerns or meaningless worries, I’d love to hear from you. Let me know your thoughts on the Pixel phone in the comments section below.

Related topics: Google, Google Nexus, Google Pixel.

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  1. Mike Todd
    December 14, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    I had ordered the Pixel XL 10/24/2016. The ship date was 11/18, then 12/26, then 01/13, now it is up to 1/20/2017. What an EPIC failure. During the time I was waiting, there were several promotions, such as buy one, get one half price, and later half price for the Daydream VR headset- no such offers were extended to me, the customer faithfully waiting. If this is how they take care of customers that ordered in October and haven't even had the phone yet, what kind of service do you think they will provide when you already paid for the phone ? I gave up. Get an Iphone.

  2. Dan sure
    November 15, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    Very disappointed in Google. They picked the worst time to release an overpriced "premium" phone that's not so exciting at all. I was hoping for my new phone to be the next in the Nexus line but a big part of the charm was the competitive price. I think Google are overestimating their appeal. The new Pixel just made me less of a fan, not more. In fact, I'm pissed at Google. My next phone will most likely be Chinese. F you Google for being as greedy as Apple and Samsung without even earning it first.

  3. Sam
    October 31, 2016 at 4:34 am

    Everything about this article is wrong. People like Android because they can root their phone? What? Maybe 0.1% of Android users. Google Daydream... it is included... and you think that is a detraction... for no reason whatsoever. It is only $20 less costly than Samsung... that seems like a win for Pixel.

  4. Nor
    October 28, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    I got the Google Pixel and I'm very likely going to return it for refund.
    It does have a really great camera. It is a zippy cell phone. Google assistant is cool.
    However, the Pixel sorely lacks some very, VERY basic functions:
    1: There is absolutely no indication that the phone is charging nor when finishing changing, unless you pick up the phone and turn on the monitor, of course you can look at the small icon at top of homescreen. There's no LED light to indicate charging, whatsoever; this has been confirmed with Google support.
    2: The back arrow/button and home button are involved in the monitor display. Sometimes, during a video usually, those "buttons" disappear altogether and thusly there's no way at all to get back home or back out of.
    3: In Pixel's txt'ing app, (not 3rd party), there is no option to select all, as in when/if one wants to delete inbox. The ONLY option is to long-press one and, after that, can click on one at a time and then delete those that are highlighted. If I can't select all, it would take me like an hour or hours to individually click on all of the inbox.
    4: auto fill option is not available, with the exception of Chrome. For example, when in apps, and logging in by putting email/username, etc in, no bubble with the remembered email address comes up so have to put in the entire email each and every time...

    These functions are super basic and, yet, this highly expensive cell phone totally lacks. When I tried to resolve theses issues with Google, they offered only vague language and make no claims that they'll be addressed.
    Long story short: To spend $750.00 on a cell phone that lacks such basic/elementary functions is ridiculous. I'll be returning for a refund, although I really wanted this to be my next cell, it won't be.

  5. Craig
    October 27, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Well the author of this article has sure been proved wrong.

  6. Richard Bailey
    October 26, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    No dual, front facing speakers; no wireless charging; no IP 67/68. The average consumer walking into a Verizon store, after comparing the Pixel to the S7, iPhone7, V20, and the Droid Moto Z Force, is unlikely to walk out with a Pixel - unless the price drops to $500. This just doesn't match well with the current flagship offerings.

  7. lahorerang
    October 26, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    Waiting eagerly for this! Hopefully will be available in my country soon.

  8. likefunbutnot
    October 19, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    There's nothing in the "premium" Google software I care about. I would wind up disabling or ignoring most of what the Pixel would theoretically give me.

    I'd like to buy a clean Android build, devoid of carrier software. Unfortunately, Google is allergic to removable batteries and storage cards on its branded devices, making their hardware uncompellling. I wouldn't buy a Pixel any more than I'd buy an iphone. It's not going to do the things I expect to be able to do with my phone.

    Turns out that it's a lot easier to fix Carrier/OEM software bloat than it is to fix dumb hardware. By that mark, almost no smartphones are on the right track at the moment, but in particular I can't even begin to care about Google's extra software. It's definitely not enough to make their phone worth an extra $100.

  9. Jose Gonzalez
    October 17, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    The only other mistake was to use Verizon as the only one carrier to sell it. I presume you can finance it with Verizon, but you have to pay full price to use it with any other carrier.
    Rooting is not a problem because the bootloader is unlock.

  10. Mridul
    October 17, 2016 at 6:11 am

    I think google pixel will be a great competition to other players.But they should increase the reachability of the product by increasing its availability.Thanks for the article.

  11. Bikas
    October 16, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    1. Pixel's price is in line with all flagships. Also, it has (seemingly) best software and hardware compatibility for Android phones.
    2. Google is widely available in major markets and advertised in other (Brazil, Spain, etc.). Distribution is not even close to be an issue.
    3. Rooting - it's quite easy actually, especially given bootloader is unlockable.
    4. Daydream - Even if VR fails (which is not happening as of now), it's an added advantage, not a loss. It's just a feature and really nice to have stuff. It's hilarious to even think that it's a negative factor.
    5. Waterproofing - Unless waterproofing is a proven success (your point of mobile VR), it's not a big miss. See the records of all recent big selling phones.

    No. 5 can be argued upon but that's only one negative for this phone.
    Overall, it seems author is highly misinformed.

    • Judd Bonham
      October 27, 2016 at 1:44 am

      Don't say rooting is easy. That is a blanket statement that will confuse people. The Verizon version of the phone does NOT have an unlocked bootloader. How do I know? I have the Verizon version and the bootloader is locked down. When making comments please make your distinction between the Verizon and Google version of the phone.

  12. jjt
    October 15, 2016 at 1:32 am

    i rooted my marshmallow nexus just fine. do you have any proof of the pixel being harder to root or are you just speculating?

    • Ian
      October 15, 2016 at 6:08 am

      Rooting will be more or less the same. The bootloader on all Pixel devices not sold by Verizon will almost certainly be unlockable enabling custom ROMs, rooting, yada yada. The only difference is on images signed by Google (not AOSP based ROMs) will not allow modification to the system partition. So, if you want stock with root just flash a "stock" AOSP ROM.

    • Bikas
      October 16, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      Given the official statement saying Pixel's bootloader is allowed to be unlocked, I don't think rooting has any issue at all.

    • Kannon Yamada
      October 17, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      There was earlier speculation that the Pixel wouldn't be as rootable as a Nexus. That speculation was shot down a few days ago -- which came after the publication of this article.

  13. Patrick
    October 15, 2016 at 12:46 am

    Rooting a Pixel bought from Google will be the exact same procedure as a nexus device.


  14. michaelevan hammond
    October 15, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Google gets it right. First AI phone on the market. Tying every aspect you want together. Ubiquitous..

  15. Kev Quirk
    October 14, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    I'm not so sure personally. For quite some time I've been looking for Android devices that hit the quality of iOS, but have really struggled. When on the hunt for a new tablet recently, I ended up getting an iPad Mini simply because I couldn't find any really high quality Android tablets.

    Hopefully, devices like the pixel will allow people like me (who would rather pay a premium for quality, but would like to stick with Android) to have a viable alternative to iOS.