Why buying a Google Pixel in Kenya is unwise: A well known talker experiences buyers remorse?

I own the Pixel 6a, which, as expected, takes clean images that similarly priced phones cannot reproduce – but it is a terrible phone beyond that.

People around me love their phones. This is because phones do many things nowadays: they are pocketable computers that can run a business just fine, besides the norms like entertainment and communication. However, some usually want more from their handhelds, such as a great camera, overall superior hardware, and feature-packed software to boot. Finding these features in one device is almost impossible, and those who attempt to make a ‘perfect’ phone charge users a lot of money for it.

Nonetheless, if there is a feature that a person close to me wouldn’t compromise on, it is camera performance. We document our lives and the world around us using smartphone cameras, and you can bet that anyone would want the best optics out of their smartphone. It has become quite obvious that the primary difference between an affordable phone and a premium one is in camera output.

This brings me to the thesis of this post: why do some Kenyans buy Google Pixel phones? Well, the answer is really simple: their cameras are unmatched, and they do not cost as much as competing Apple devices, or any other comparable device in the market. But for a local (Kenyan) context, using a Pixel phone has been nothing short of a disaster. And I have data/commentary/confessions to back me up. I also own one, the 6a, which, as expected, takes clean images that similarly priced phones cannot reproduce – but it is a terrible phone beyond that.

So, shall we begin?

Terrible network
Perhaps the biggest concern with a Pixel phone is its network performance. To note, this issue only affects modern Pixel devices powered by Tensor chips. Tensor, which is based on Exynos (another controversy in its own right), is untested in Africa.

Obviously, Google does not sell its devices here; hence, it doesn’t see the incentive to ensure that its radios perform admirably across the world (Apple, for instance, does this very well, despite not officially selling its phones in multiple African countries). You could also say that, well, at least the device works well, say, in the US. But no: users there have for years faulted Tensor and its faulty radios that can’t catch up with entry-level or mid-range devices in terms of network strength.

In Kenya, Tensor-powered Google Pixel phones simply don’t work well on the Safaricom network. Calls are not clear, and internet performance is horrendous, for lack of a better word. It is an issue that cannot be fixed by any tricks because we have tried.

The solution? Try using Airtel Kenya. A rep from Kenya’s second-biggest telco told me that Pixel phones support some Airtel bands, and sure, this is actually true. But most people around me use Safaricom (for obvious reasons), and Airtel has a knack for poor internet connection once you move away from major towns. This basically makes it useless when you are out of town, and no one wants to live like that.

Qualcomm-powered Pixel phones never used to have this problem, and it is unlikely that future Pixels will rock one on account of the investment that Google has made toward the development of Tensor. Did I also mention that you can forget connecting to 5G networks in Kenya (both on Safaricom and Airtel)?

So-so performance
Still, on Tensor, its performance is not the best. It frequently throttles under ordinary loads and heats the device. This should not be the case in modern times, especially when rivals like MTK have tuned their chipsets to perfection. It is kind of embarrassing, considering Google’s financial muscle and in-house talent.

And do I have to mention how many times people have faulted me because of this issue, simply because I suggested that they pick a Pixel?

Sofware updates always break something
Google does a good job updating its Pixel phones, but the feature drops (if you are on beta) always break something. For instance, the updates messed up my earpiece, making my calls sound horrible while on loudspeaker. And none of these updates have fixed that. I even rolled back to the stable software, but the issue is still around and drives me up the wall.

Dead motherboards
Pixels users have also reported that their phones died suddenly. Investigation shows that their motherboards were fried, for whatever reason (the argument is that other than being adept at selling ads, Google is not a hardware company).

Lucky ones (in the West) have had this issue fixed. But if you are in Kenya, you’re better off buying a new phone. It doesn’t matter if your vendor ‘officially’ sold a Pixel to you, and under warranty. That warranty, by the way, is just limited to software fixes. Hardware issues (a dead motherboard or a cracked screen) are not covered. And that’s just sad because accidents do happen.

These are my major issues with the Pixel, although there are smaller ones that are probably subjective or can be swept under the carpet. Still, if I were to document them, this post would be too long.

The bottom line is that these phones are just not made for the Kenyan market. They will frustrate you, and you are better off with another device if you really care about yourself. Having a good camera (which I really appreciate) should not entice you to buy a Pixel because it is quite mediocre in other aspects. Love yourself, and buy a phone that is supported in Kenya.

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Pixel ambassador @Nyamgondho over to you in the studio

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The @Nyamgondho was unable to navigate the new UI. What a shame!

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Pixels, especially 6A was a flop. I got one I play around with for Software testing, it always overheats, and got so many bugs straight out of the box, I wonder why Google, who are so proud of building it let in the market half baked.
@Nyamgondho is a fraud.

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Apart from camera, there’s nothing good in a pixel

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Say That Again Andy Richter GIF by Team Coco

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I own pixel 7, smooth and clean software experience. Downside is Battery, I get 3-4 hrs of screen on time while on 4G and 8-10hrs on WiFi. So every time I must carry around my mifi.

That is shitty battery, anybody buying a Pixel 7 7 Pro going down knows they’ll need to walk around with a Powerbank because zina battery average sana, 8-8 Pro si mbaya, unfortunately Samsung & iPhone are still the monopoly.

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Simu ni battery minimum 5000maH, RAM minimum 6GB na ROM.minimum 128GB. Hizo features zingine ni upus

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Nokia c3 ni tops. Battery ya wiki moja. DCI cannot trace your ass. Call reception excellent

Ama iphone 4e. Hizo zingine ni micheso

Shida ni their in-house chip, they should revert back to Snapdragon chips