As tech writers and reviewers, we often try to take a step back from our emotions and analyze products from an objective point of view. When we recommend a product, we try to give the most complete picture. When we fall for one, however, it’s a little different.
The beauty of human interaction is that everyone has different views and different opinions. This is especially true when it comes to tech products. Even within our small team of editors, we have plenty of scope to squabble about what’s great and awful about the devices we have on our desks. The truth is, there are some products that we know are flawed, but we still love them anyway.
Google Pixel 4
Flaws: appalling battery life, no wide-angle camera, where are my updates?
The Google Pixel 4 is a flawed smartphone. I know that. The battery life is poor. When you force the display permanently in 90Hz mode and use lots of motion controls and take lots of pictures with the wonderful camera, is goes from poor to atrocious. There’s no wide-angle camera when virtually all of the competition has one. Even the so-called strength of the Pixel phones, timely updates, is falling behind.
The Pixel 4 has a lot going for it too, with new features being added and plenty of tricks up its sleeve that rarely get mentioned such as Live Captions, an amazing Live Transcribe feature, and more customization than ever. But, for some, it is unusable due to that battery life. I would not recommend a reader to spend $700 on it.
And yet, despite all of this, it’s still the phone I want in my pocket. Sure, I could use a Galaxy Note 10 Plus or the latest OnePlus smartphone, but the truth is I don’t want to. I love my little Pixel. It’s the greatest compact Android phone you can buy today. The camera is still amazing. I am addicted to 90Hz displays. And I don’t care if it dies before I’ve even eaten my dinner. Whenever I use another phone for a review I can’t wait to get my SIM back in the Pixel. It’s like the temptress that keeps me pulling me back in, even when I know logic suggests I shouldn’t.
A flawed smartphone? Absolutely! Would I trade it for something more perfect? Absolutely not!
Jessica Murgia – Huawei P30 Pro
Flaws: bulky body, face unlock that does not work in the dark, and mono audio.
The Huawei P30 Pro is the smartphone I use as my main device and the smartphone I often recommend to those looking for an all-round flagship. The reason? The camera is versatile and offers high-quality shots even when the light conditions are not good. The portraits are great and the wide-angle lens is my favorite travel companion.
Moving from one screen to another or from one app to another is a walk in the park, everything flows smoothly on this smartphone and I can count on it to stream TV series, play videos or play games during dead times of the day, on public transport or on the sofa at home. With the Huawei P30 Pro, I’m sure I’m not alone because the 4,200 mAh battery keeps up with the most challenging days, including tech events and concerts.
It does well in almost every field. Almost. Yes, because I recognize that the P30 Pro is not a perfect smartphone. First of all, it’s not a smartphone that can be described as compact, which means that it’s not practical to handle with one hand and that jeans pockets are not a real option. From this point of view, the LG G8 ThinQ or the new Pixel 4 do better without a doubt.
Unlocking via facial recognition does not work in the dark, and that’s a shame. That on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro or Pixel 4 is not only safer but also more comfortable, especially when you want to unlock your smartphone quickly while watching a TV series in bed, in a room, or in the evening on the way home.
The Huawei P30 Pro also has another weakness, mono sound. Personally, I don’t find it a big lack because the volume is high and powerful, but considering that it is a high-end smartphone Huawei should provide it with a stereo sound like most competitors.
So no, the Huawei P30 Pro is not a perfect smartphone but for now, I have not been able to find a valid replacement.
Shu On Kwok – Google Stadia
Flaws: A cloudy launch, yet with a chance of changing a gamers’ lives
Google Stadia is, if you look at the current status, a nice look into the future, which still has to struggle with restrictions in the present. Some would even say that Google has not kept its promises. First of all, there is the possibility to “play games in 4K at 60 FPS”. This feature should be available for all Stadia games if you play them via Chromecast Ultra with LAN cable. Unfortunately, the showpiece Stadia game, Destiny 2, is streamed “only” at 1440p and when played via Chromecast Ultra is upscaled to 4K.
Also the restrictions in terms of supported end devices, i.e. smartphones, hinder online gaming fun with friends. As a Founder Edition buyer like me, you have the possibility to invite a friend to Stadia via Buddy Pass, but he would have to have a Pixel smartphone to enter the invitation code at all. And when he then throws on his “normal” Chromecast Ultra and thinks he could play Destiny 2 over it with me, he can’t. An update for the Chromecast Ultra is still missing. Currently, you can only enjoy Stadia on a TV with the Chromecast Ultra that came with the Stadia Founders or Premiere Edition. Unfortunately, nobody can say when Google will roll out the update yet, but I assume that the current restriction serves to keep the user base a bit smaller.
I could still live with the two points mentioned above, but the last point of trouble is probably the worst: Google doesn’t force publishers to integrate crossplay into their games. Without crossplay, i.e. the possibility to play online games with friends across platforms, a lot of charm is lost and catapults us gamers back into the past instead of into the future. The success of Fortnite, Rocket League and Minecraft is certainly due to crossplay. But that even Bungie’s Destiny 2 doesn’t have at least one crossplay with the console versions is sad. Surely you can’t just blame Google for this, you have to criticize Bungie too, but Google certainly should have insisted on crossplay in the negotiations with the game developer.
The criticism sounds harsh, but nevertheless I have to admit that I love Stadia with all its current limitations. Why? Google demonstrates with Stadia what game streaming has over consoles like Xbox One or PlayStation 4. Don’t wait until the console has installed the latest firmware update and don’t wait any longer if the game itself needs an update. As a longtime friend of mine from the games business had already said via Facebook: with Stadia, the era of convenience gaming has really started.
What are some flawed products that you still love anyway? Let us know in the comments below.