Every Android phone has always been a little compromised, and everybody knows it. There's been a veil of bullshit between you and what Google intended on all of them.
Sometimes that veil looks like ugly, bad, and usually unnecessary extra software. Sometimes it looks like a carrier failing to send out timely software updates. Other times it means getting something inexpensive, but fundamentally flawed in some way. Even the Nexus phones were behind the veil, little more than reference designs with hardware that was mostly determined by a third party before Google made tweaks here and there.
Just because Android is everywhere doesn't mean that Google is everywhere on mobile. There has been a lot of talk about Google being more "opinionated" about what a phone should be, and Google's opinion has always been hidden behind that veil. That situation might be okay at the low end, but at the high end (where all the profit and mindshare is), Samsung and Apple have expressed the only opinions that really matter. With Note 7s off the market and Samsung hedging its bets against Google's services, that situation was going to become untenable someday.
Someday is today: Google is making a phone for the first time. It's called the Pixel and it’s a Google phone inside and out, sold directly by the company to a mass audience for the first time. With Pixel, we finally get to see behind the veil and get an unmediated experience of Google's very best shot at a phone. All the excuses that existed before for Android phones not living up to their potential won’t work here.
No more excuses. This is my review of the Google Pixel in Really Blue.