I think that in many times, the phone's hardware can distract people from giving more emphasize on the innovative software of features that exists in the device, and I think this is especially true when it comes to Google Pixel. If you compared the Google Pixel phone to other high-end devices, you might find the Pixel to be lacking in some ways. Its processor is inferior to the iPhone 7 one in terms of sheer performance, it has inferior water-resistant IP rating, it lacks stereo speakers among other differences that don't really goes for its favor.
I think that there is little innovation in recent years in the mobile phone industry. New phones are obviously more powerful, have better cameras, have better displays and improved battery life, but if you look at a phone as a whole, there aren't really so much significant differences between them. Many of the new high-end devices have an excellent camera (some are good, some are less good), the screen is excellent, but yet again, some will perform better than the others. The question that you need to ask yourself is whether or not these changes really have an impact on the overall experience and really improve its usability. I think you might find out that your previous phone isn't that much different than your new one. Your older phone could probably run all the games and apps the same, the battery life is more than adequate for your needs and you didn't see any huge difference when taking photos. If you are upgrading from like two generations back, you probably going to notice a more significant difference, but one generation to another, the differences are relatively very small.
Google put a great deal of attention on the software side. I think that that side is sometimes overlooked by many people who mainly compared the hardware specifications, rather than putting a greater effort in understanding the benefits that come with new software. I think that most of the Google Pixel innovation isn't the hardware, but lies in what the software side brings. The Google Assistant is an excellent example of that. I think this is one of the best software features we've seen in years and one that is really useful when used in our daily lives. Many phone manufacturers bundle their phones with tons of apps that you probably won't even used them after the first day of trying all your phone's features out. Just ask yourself, How many of the bundled apps you actually use? You'll probably realize that not that many. A good software should have a great impact on how you use your phone and make it easier for you to do things that you do many times a day.
Google Assistant is exactly one of these apps that are integrated into the Android OS and allows you to get information really fast and even help you get information that you even didn't think that is necessary to get. Your phone is full of data, and Google Assistant can help you make the most out of it, find information fast give you the exact information you need at any given time, probably faster and in a more efficient way than any other phone on the market.
I think that the Google Pixel and Pixel XL are more focused on delivering great software experience and Google has developed the Google Pixel and Pixel XL to be able to deliver those experiences without needing to be tight and rely on third-parties. This is also a great opportunity to compete against Apple in its own game. If you have control over the hardware and the software, you can deliver better experiences. Apple did it amazingly well with its iPhone. The iPhone has the identity of an all-around Apple device and people were very pleased with the results that you get with it. Anything from usability, performance, and proprietary apps worked amazingly well and smooth and people just enjoyed using them. Android has its problems due to fragmentation of its operating system and the fact that there are many Android phone manufacturers, each one puts its own proprietary apps and this can have a negative impact on both performance and also usability.
I think it's time to get back to the Android Vanilla experience. I think that people will enjoy an overall better experience, the same experience that iPhone users are so proud of and one of the main reasons many people prefer buying an iPhone device of an Android one. I think that might change now after the introduction of the Google Pixel and Pixel phones. I think that the software-centric strategy will work well for Google now with the introduction of the new Pixel phone and in the future when those features are improved and more smart apps are introduced.