The new Pixel and Pixel XL phones from Google are devices that contain powerful, high-tech hardware. Inside they’ve got the latest, fastest processors that exist, nice OLED screens, and plentiful storage (128GB) and memory (4GB) options. And yes, as Google was very happy to point out (and include in its Pixel TV commercial), they’ve both got 3.5mm headphone jacks. But one feature that’s become table stakes for premium smartphones in 2016 is missing completely from Google’s Pixels: water resistance.
Apple’s iPhone 7 and Samsung’s two flagships — the Galaxy S7 and Note 7 — are built to withstand water in numerous scenarios. They’ll survive unforeseen swims in a pool (or toilet), and you can use them in a rainstorm without thinking twice. That’s a huge convenience for your average consumer. Lenovo’s Moto phones aren’t fully water resistant, but they’re nonetheless built to survive accidents thanks to a nano-coating that protects their circuitry from splashes and spills. Better than nothing.
But Google’s Pixel phones, which range in price between $649 and $869, aren’t water resistant at all. In previous years, the omission was perhaps understandable since Nexus phones (RIP) usually didn’t cost as much. But today Google made zero mention of any water safeguards on stage, and there are no surprises contained in the Pixel’s tech specs. I hope whoever took this sample photo using the Pixel’s camera kept it far from those waves!
What could be the excuse for leaving out something that’s so useful in everyday, real world situations? What made the Pixel team decide against this? Designing your phone around a unibody metal structure doesn’t require sacrificing water resistance; just look at the iPhone 7. Surely Google and its hardware partner HTC could’ve used similar adhesives and seals to keep water out.
Read next: the inside story of the Google phone!
This decision wouldn’t be very surprising coming from HTC, but Google is adamant that it led the creation of the Pixel and Pixel XL — so Google takes the blame here. From everything we saw today, these are promising, very powerful smartphones, but for this kind of money, they should also be water resistant ones. Accidents happen, even to those of us who are obsessively careful with expensive gadgets. Knock Apple for removing the headphone jack all you want; at least there’s the dongle. There’s no dongle that’ll protect my pre-ordered Pixel from the toilet or some other freak incident. In a best case scenario, the Pixels might unofficially offer some level of water protection like the iPhone 6S did, but I’m not too hopeful on that.