One qualm I had giving up the iPhone was my love for the Apple Watch. I spent a few months not wearing anything and being OK with it — which says something in itself, I guess — but eventually found myself wearing a Nokia Steel HR.
It took me a long time, mostly because I was saddened by the state of Android Wear (er, wearOS), that appears to be in some sort of suspended animation with few compelling, simple pieces of hardware I'd actually wear.
The Nokia Steel HR was a conscious choice for a few reasons: it plays well with Android with native calendar/SMS/call integration, and has a killer battery life of over 30 days while still maintaining the heartrate sensor I loved from the Apple Watch.
Reviewing the Steel HR itself is out of scope here, but it's awesome while not breaking the budget and freeing me from the curse of charging a stupid watch every night.
I'm bummed that while Nokia has done a great job with its Health Mate app, it doesn't integrate with Google Fit as deeply as I'd like. Maybe that will change if Google acquires them, like is rumored, but I'm not all that hopeful.
Google Fit is, like many Google projects, a fantastic start on a HealthKit competitor — but it needs building out. The basis is there, and it's compelling enough to use on a regular basis for things like goals, but it can't do all that much today. I'm hopeful that I/O will address this.
The section you were probably waiting for all along: how is the hardware doing after six months of full-time use? I wondered about the longevity of the device going in, because Google's hardware bets are still at an early phase and it's hard to know how it'll hold up to the test of time.
One of the biggest concerns out there surrounded the OLED display on the Pixel 2 XL, and I remain of the opinion that it might be the biggest non-issue of all time. Color reproduction is fabulous, and the screen's contrast ratio is just lovely when compared with an LCD screen, even six months in. Not even a problem, and haven't thought of it once.
The screen remains relatively scratch-free, which is an impressive feat, and the body itself looks good. There is a caveat: some of the painted edge did chip away after a few months of usage, leaving a tiny, but nasty looking gash at the bottom of the phone. It's probably my fault, because I bike with the phone in my pocket and it's enormous so it rubbed against the pocket's eyelets, but it is a bummer nonetheless.
Since that incident, I've been using a Google Fabric case on the phone. I'm not a case person at all but this one won me over; it's like putting it in a cozy sock! It's so comfortable to hold and adds an extra layer of grip, so I just don't care that it adds heft for once. I love how different it is, and it's just such a great idea for a case (yes, it gets dirty sometimes, but a cloth wipes everything off).
I've also managed to not smash the back glass, which I was worried about. I used the phone without a case for a good four months and I half-expected it to be broken by then, but all good. Others I know, however, have broken the back glass already and it's not cheap to fix.
The front-facing speakers on the face of the screen are so fricking good that it's unbelievable I didn't mention them in my original review. These have changed the way I watch videos, and now I'm actually willing to watch YouTube or Netflix on my phone while on the couch, which I'd never done before.
Having the sound project straight out toward you is awesome, and it's surprising how great these speakers really are. I won't be blasting music in public anytime soon, but these actually changed how I interact with my device on a regular basis.
Finally, a surprise delight on the hardware side has been how great USB-C is to use. I went into this dreading it, and have come out better off!
Unlike in a previous lightning-laden life, I use just a single cable now: the charger from a 15-inch MacBook Pro, despite not actually owning one. With that cable I can charge my Dell XPS, the Pixel 2, a Nintendo Switch and my battery pack -- no more dongle bags!
OK Google, you did great