Samsung launched new Galaxy-whatever models. Amazon pushed out new Echo devices by the dozen. As expected and anticipated, Apple launched new iPhones and a new Watch model; all are hits. Microsoft even updated the company’s highly ballyhooed Surface notebook tablet hybrids. Everything is coming up roses for Apple and all its competitors.
What about Google?
The search engine advertising company dares to be different; dares to step outside its self-imposed comfort zone of extracting personal information from users who love the free software candy, and despite lagging hardware sales, has decided to stick around in the hardware game for another year.
Last year Google sold less than 4-million Pixel 2 and Pixel XL models and it doesn’t look as if the 2018 hardware game is going to be much different. Why not? Google is sticking to software prowess more than its hardware capability. Jessica Dolcourt explains:
The single camera on the back of the Pixel 3 makes a brazen statement. In a landscape in which most high-end phones worth their salt have two (iPhone XS), three (Huawei P20 Pro, LG V40) or possibly even four (Samsung Galaxy A9) rear cameras, Google’s willingness to bet the farm on its Cycloptic lens is a play of confidence
Or, maybe not so much confidence than hubris. They are not the same. It’s beginning to look like Google is the company that thinks different. Google seems to be saying, “More smartphone cameras do not necessarily make for better photos.” So far I haven’t seen too many head-to-head iPhone Xs Max vs. Galaxy Note 9 vs. Google Pixel XL 3 photo shootouts, but of those I have seen they tell me one thing.
All these premium smartphones have very good cameras and take very good photos. Google thinks different by limiting the Pixel 3 to a single wide-angle lens for the back-facing camera. Is that a distinct disadvantage when compared to the multi-camera lenses for Samsung, Apple, Huawei, and others.
Is less more. Or, is more beautiful?
There are a few reasons phones have a second, or even third, rear lens. Many phones have a telephoto sensor, which can add depth for portrait photos and give you a better image when you zoom in. An additional monochrome sensor can take black-and-white photos without applying a filter, or be used to add details that enhance a color picture. The triple-lens Huawei P20 Pro has all three.
Over the next few weeks, as Apple’s iPhone catches up with early demand and the Pixel hits the streets you’re going to read comparisons of the premium phones and their photo and video capabilities. Sorry, Google fan-folk. Apple wins the video game already, and so far Google and Android lovers were easily fooled into thinking an iPhone selfie photo came from a Pixel 2.
I’ll give Google some credit for thinking different but the truth behind the single camera Pixel 3 might be an issue of just not being able to buy enough multi-camera sensors thanks to Apple and Samsung chewing up the market. Software matters, and Google is about software, but it won’t matter. Google won’t sell as many Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 Plus models in a year as Apple will sell iPhones in about a week.