Cases aside, the Pixel Stand is the first accessory that Google has made exclusively for Pixel phones. Last year’s Pixel Buds worked with all Android phones, the Daydream View headset works with a number of Samsung, Moto, and LG phones, and even the lower-latency USB-C to 3.5mm adapter is compatible with any phone running Android Pi.

pixel stand frontMichael Simon/IDG

The Pixel Stand isn’t going to win any design awards.

To be clear, the Pixel Stand will work with other Qi-enabled phones. It just won’t work nearly as well. With a standard Android phone, the Pixel Stand is basically an overpriced wireless charger. Set a Pixel 3 on it and it truly comes alive, with fast(er) charging and innovative Assistant integration.

But the Pixel Stand’s strengths are also its weaknesses. While the features it adds to the Pixel 3 are certainly intriguing, it also adds a frustrating level of proprietary persnicketiness that I expect more from Apple than Google. And if you’re going to make a high-priced accessory that’s built for a single phone, it needs to be great, even perfect. And well, the Pixel Stand is far from it.

Flat design

True to its name, one thing the Pixel Stand has going for it is it’s actually a stand. Where most other wireless chargers—including Apple’s missing-in-action AirPower—require the phone to lie flat, making it difficult to use, Google’s props the phone upright as it charges, letting you see the screen and tap to use it.

pixel stand sideMichael Simon/IDG

You can’t adjust the angle of the Pixel Stand.

But otherwise, the Pixel Stand is extremely pedestrian. Bland, really. It’s made of plastic wrapped in white silicone, and it feels cheap. The oval-shaped stand portion is attached to the circular base as if they don’t really belong together, and you can’t adjust the angle of the phone. Also, it only comes in white, even though the Pixel 3 is available in black and pink as well. A variety of colors to match the phone would have been a nice touch.

The pad itself it a bit slicker than on most other chargers I’ve used, but it’s unlikely the phone will slip off. Even though the Pixel Stand has an extremely short lip to stop the phone from sliding forward, I had a hard time forcing the phone off the charger. With a case on, it’s even trickier. Still, you’ll need to pay attention to how you place your phone on the Pixel Stand more than you would on a flat pad. Also, while its “sweet spot” is a bit more generous than that of other phones I tried, several times my Pixel 3 didn’t start charging until I lifted it off and put it back on the stand.

An assistant for Assistant

Google is billing its Pixel Stand as more than a charger, and to wit, it’s loaded with Assistant capabilities. Pop a Pixel 3 on the stand, and your always-on display screen becomes a quasi-smart display, with on-screen shortcuts to Assistant actions and exclusive routines.

pixel stand settingsIDG

The settngs for Pixel Stand are all over the place.

Because Google expects the Pixel Stand to live on your nightstand, the best things it does are mostly geared toward nighttime and morning activities. For example, you can set it to put your phone on silent automatically or turn on Do Not Disturb, turn the screen off completely in the dark, display a Photos album, or gradually brighten the screen before the alarm rings. They’re all good features that go a long way toward making the Pixel 3 + Pixel Stand worth the price of admission, but getting it all set up the way you want is a little wonky due to a variety of settings.



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