This year I skipped on Pixel and went with the OnePlus 6T
Back in 2016 after the Galaxy Note 7 debacle, I fell in love with Google branded smartphones, specifically the Pixel XL. Despite the uninspiring iPhone-like design, the experience was smooth, quick, and easy. It also helped that there was no bloatware whatsoever. And the camera. The camera was simply outstanding. No other smartphone at the time could beat it. The phone got me excited for the second generation Pixel XL.
A year later, the Pixel 2 XL was released and I, of course, upgraded to it. The design was so much better, even with the large bezels. It had front-firing speakers, a larger display, water-resistance, and a sexy black and white trim which was labeled "Panda." Even the camera was noticeably better from the original and it took some eye-popping photos. The camera legitimately blew me away and the software was once again incredibly smooth. Not even the screen's blue tint bothered me. At this point, I deemed myself a tremendous Pixel fan and I was already looking forward to the Pixel 3 XL.
A few months ago, when the rumors and leaks started to come in the droves, I became disappointed. It became apparent that Google copied Apple's horrendous notch style design that debuted on the iPhone X. Even with the backlash Apple and other manufacturers received for incorporating the horrible notch, Google decided to go ahead with it. They completely disregarded fan sentiment. Not only were they including the notch, but it appeared like the Pixel 3 XL would be a very modest upgrade and also even more expensive.
I was strongly against Apple for selling a phone for $1,000, but when I learned the Pixel 3 XL 128GB variant would also be $1,000, I got disgusted. To me, instead of being original, it looked like Google was trying to be Apple. Releasing modestly upgraded phones at a higher price point is an Apple thing, not something I expected from Google. In addition, I appreciate innovation and keeping up with the times. Google did not innovate with the new Pixel and refused to catch up to their competitors by not including wireless charging or a rear dual-camera configuration, but hey at least we got dual front-facing cameras that no one asked for!
Then, leaks of the OnePlus 6T emerged. I was not a fan of the OnePlus 6 that released earlier this year, basically because it too had a notch. However, the 6T was different. It had a moderately more tolerant notch design -- a waterdrop notch, and it brought new technology to the US by incorporating an in-display fingerprint sensor. In addition, it's wicked fast, has stellar battery life, has top notch specs, and has basically stock Android pre-installed. The best part: it costs less than $600.
Yes, I know the OnePlus 6T doesn't have wireless charging, foolishly omitted the headphone jack, and skipped out on an IP water-resistant rating, but it appears like they're trying to be different. They're trying to be innovative, fair, and, for the most part, they listen to their consumer base. My Mirror Black OnePlus 6T has double the amount of RAM the Pixel 3 XL has, 128GB of internal storage, a larger battery, a better design. and cost me $580 ($280 at the end of 2 years thanks to T-Mobile's trade-in promotion).
I'm still holding onto my Pixel 2 XL, because even in the last quarter of 2018, the camera is still among the best. For the next year, however, the OnePlus 6T will be my daily driver, bumping my Pixel 2 XL down to my secondary phone. I'm hoping next year, Google goes back to it's Nexus ways (cheap, better and uniquely designed, high-end flagship phones), but at the moment it appears that OnePlus is the new Nexus.
Stay tuned for a 120 Second Review on the OnePlus 6T!