I don't like using a case with my phone, and more often than not this decision means I pay a fairly hefty price in the look and feel of my phone over time. Most of that is because I'm also pretty clumsy, and generally speaking that's a bad combination. But this also gives me a decent look at how my personal phone holds up daily abuse over extended periods of time, and for the last six months that phone has been Google's Pixel XL in Quite Black.
Here's what I've found when I take a closer look at this phone.
Lets start with the most obvious damage, the stuff that would be there on every phone no matter what. This phone is covered in scratches, with little flecks of paint missing all over the edges. My phone has shared a pocket with keys, taken more than a couple tumbles off of my dresser and night stand, and has met the pavement at least twice while out and about. Scratches are expected at this point, and while you have to really look to notice any serious damage on the front glass, the back of this phone looks like it survived a warzone.
It couldn't be more obvious that the front and back glass on this phone are not made of the same stuff. This rear glass, which only exists as a way to ensure NFC and wireless radios work without issue, doesn't offer much in the way of visual aesthetic to begin with. The front, on the other hand, has some slight rubbing marks on the bottom corners, but only in the bezel area far from the actual display. The one scratch that is clearly visible on the display is only noticeable in direct sunlight, and it's off to the far right edge of the screen so it doesn't impact the ability to use the phone at all.
Light scratches started showing up on the back of this phone within the first week of use, so this is about what I expected after the six month mark. My biggest concern here is a scratch coming across the camera lens, which so far hasn't happened. The camera is under the same glass as the rest of the phone, so it seems like one of those things that will eventually happen to this phone if the phone falls in the wrong way. That fall would almost have to be directly on the lens for that to happen, so it's probably not a real concern.
As for the paint chips, the good news is most of them are entirely cosmetic. Despite all of the drops this phone has seen, there are no noticeable dents and only two scrapes I can actually feel with my finger as I run it across the phone. The rest of the visual damage isn't deep enough to indicate any damage to the inside of the phone, which is awesome. It speaks to the superior build quality here, and is a solid indicator that Google went with the right company to do its manufacturing.
Pardon my splotch
This is by far the weirdest "damage" I've ever had on a phone, and I'm not the only one to notice this particular issue. For whatever reason, the oleophobic layer in the top right corner of this phone has worn away in this odd stain pattern. It's almost like I dropped some kind of acidic jelly on this corner of the phone, and it sat there just long enough to eat away at the microscopic layer on this glass that pushes away oils from your skin.
Whatever causes this particular issue, it's unique to the Pixel.
That didn't actually happen, of course, but the stain is there all the same. It's only visible when I've run my finger across it and deposited oil on the glass. When I wipe away smudges with a microfiber cloth, that stain goes away entirely until I touch that area again. That corner typically requires a little more polish than the rest of the front of the phone, but after it looks fine. I've taken dozens of photos of the front of this phone where that splotch is completely gone, but every couple of days it returns.
The most bizarre part of this stain existing is not being able to explain how it got there. I don't pick the phone up from that corner, there's nothing about my day to day activities that causes me to interact with that corner, and I haven't spilled anything on the phone or used any cleaners I wasn't supposed to use. Most of it isn't even on the display, but up in the bezel.
I'm not the only one with this particular splotch on my Pixel, but I am the only one I've spoken to with this splotch located where it is. Most others have variants of this issue on the bottom corners of the phone, but it's never the exact same pattern and not usually in the exact same place. Whatever causes this particular issue, it's unique to the Pixel and once you notice it you tend to never leave your house without a microfiber cloth.
What about your Pixel?
Despite the many cosmetic issues my Pixel has, it's still holding up incredibly well and that's what is important. This is a solid phone that may or may not have a weird oleophobic problem, which is great news for anyone looking at what might come with the Pixel 2 later this year.
Before you drop into the comments to scold me for not using a case or skin, which isn't going to accomplish anything because I know what I'm doing isn't great for the phone and I'm not going to stop, I invite you to take a real close look at your Pixel and tell me what you see. Look at the places around the edges of your case, especially that back glass, and share what if any damage you see.