At 39 weeks pregnant, sleep is precious—and pretty elusive. Between back pain and nonstop bathroom breaks (thanks, tiny human resting on my bladder), I cherish every minute of shut-eye I get...especially knowing even those minutes are numbered.
That's why, one of the Google Pixel 3's least-buzzed-about features has quickly become my favorite: the Sunrise alarm. Like actual sunrise alarm clocks on the market, this feature gradually mimics daybreak, going from black to crimson to burnt orange to peach to yellow, all in the 15 minutes before your alarm's set to go off. The idea is that it wakes you up naturally, often before the jarring buzz of the alarm. And, since all you need is the wireless charging stand and your phone, it takes up a fraction of the nightstand space as a regular alarm clock.
I was intrigued, yet skeptical. Could a 5.5-inch screen really be powerful enough to wake me up, even if the display is HDR? Surprisingly, yes. It's bright enough to illuminate one side of the room gradually, as if I had floor-to-ceiling windows (and didn't have to leave for work before the actual sunrise). Every morning I gradually wake up well before the actual alarm--about 3-5 minutes early, depending on the day—feeling less groggy and more refreshed. Even if I was up eight times that night. It's made even the roughest Monday mornings feel manageable, and helped me jump out of bed on a 38-degree morning, when I'd normally want to hide under the covers.
It took me some searching to find the sunrise alarm (you'd think it'd be a box you check in the Clock area, where you set your alarm, but it's in settings, under connected devices, and it pops up when you first dock your phone on the Pixel Stand). But once it's set, it's an a.m. game-changer.
Of course, a cool alarm clock isn't reason enough to splurge on a $799+ phone, another $79 on its wireless charging stand. First, the phone: It does everything you'd expect from a smart phone...only more thoughtfully. Like the Sunrise Alarm feature, the Pixel has a digital wellbeing section of its settings, designed to help you live better. You can track how much time you spend on or any other app and set timers to keep you from being your own worst enemy (I can't be the only one mindlessly scrolling Instagram at 2 a.m., right?!).
There's also Flip To Shhh, a feature that automatically puts your phone in Do Not Disturb mode when you set it on the table facedown. It's great to prevent having a friend's rogue Gchat about how she can't get over those Easter eggs in The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina pop up in the middle of your TPS Report review meeting at work.
Wind Down is another standout feature; it's like the Sunrise Alarm's bookend. It turns the screen grayscale, making it easier on your eyes to scroll as you get ready for bed, and it lets you set hours when the phone goes into Do Not Disturb mode. So you don't suffer a sleepless night when that midnight email comes through, alerting you to the aforementioned TPS review. Or worse, Sabrina spoiler.
Really, though, the best feature outside of the alarm is its camera. The 12-megapixel camera rivals that of the iPhone, and it includes several smart features, like the ability to adjust depth of field on a portrait shot after you've taken it.
While pricey, the Pixel Stand is arguably the best add-on you can buy (sorry, Live Case). It's sleek and compact, so it won't be an eyesore on your table. It also does what is designed to do—you know, charge your phone—exceptionally well, at double the speed you find from many wireless chargers on the market (10 watts vs. 5). The stand can charge other wireless-enabled phones too, albeit those refuel at the standard 5 watts.
And, since the Pixel Stand holds your phone upright as it charges, you can use it to display a rotating array of photos (which can be stored for free on Google Photos until 2022), or use it to take advantage of that sick Sunrise Alarm. You know what I'll be doing.
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