I’ve been using Apple’s iPhone for a long time, since 2008 to be exact. I got my first iPhone as a birthday present, and it was the original that started it all. Every year since, I’ve upgraded to the latest and greatest Apple has to offer (most recently, the iPhone 14 Pro), and I don’t regret my decision at all.
However, since starting at Digital Trends, I’ve broadened my horizons by trying out Android devices. There are a ton of different manufacturers out there, and each has their own version of Android. But so far my favorite has been Google’s own Pixel 7. To me, it’s like Google’s version of an iPhone, and it’s kind of lovely.
Android is to Google what iOS is to Apple
Apple unveiled the iPhone in 2007, which was equipped with iPhone OS. Android was originally developed by the Open Handset Alliance, and the first commercial sponsor was Google. In 2005, Google purchased Android, Inc., and this helped refine the Android operating system before releasing the first Android phone, the T-Mobile G1, in 2008. Although there are many manufacturers of Android nowadays, it is mainly Google that handles the development of the Android operating system. Individual brands have heavily customized versions of Android on their devices, but Google is still leading the charge.
With the Pixel 7, the hardware is designed by Google, and the version of Android is quite pure compared to other brands. The Pixel 7 also uses Google’s own Tensor G2 chip, similar to Apple and its A-series Bionic chips in iPhones.
I’ve tried a handful of different Android smartphones over the past few months, but my favorite so far is definitely the Pixel series. One of the main reasons is that the software does not look like bloatware.
As someone who’s been using iPhones for over a decade, I feel like the Google Pixel 7 with Android 13 is pretty comparable. Android 13, without any third-party customization, is fast, fast and responsive. It also looks a lot like iOS 16; I took the Pixel 7 and started using it naturally with the swipe navigation gestures I know from iOS, and it’s pretty much the same. Swipe up from the bottom to return home, swipe longer up to show the app switcher, swipe down from the top to show notifications and quick settings, swipe from the left to go back, etc. I applied what I knew from iOS, and it worked perfectly on the Pixel 7.
Like most people my age, I’ve had a Google Account for most of my life. I mostly use Gmail, I have a ton of photos already backed up to Google Photos, my main calendars have always been on Google Calendars, I reluctantly use Google Drive/Docs/Sheets/Slides when needed, and I’ve kept my address book in google as failsafe.
So even though I use an iPhone (and other Apple gear), most of my data is in Google, which means I can access it on anything. I love that once logged into my Google account on the Pixel 7, all my important data is already on the device and I don’t need to set up a third-party account (like with Samsung, OnePlus, etc. ) to save my data.
While I love Android 13 so far on the Pixel 7, I notice some things are even better on the iPhone. For example, it’s a bit jarring when I’m scrolling something, and it suddenly stops when I reach the bottom. I also like tapping at the top of the status bar on my iPhone to just go back to the top of the screen, which apparently isn’t the case on Android. When it comes to little things like that, I always appreciate iOS and how it adds a bit of springiness and bounces when scrolling. These are small details, but they matter to me.
The Pixel 7’s design game is too good
I’m a bit of a butter, so as soon as I get a new phone, I’ll put it in a case if I have one – and the Pixel 7 is no different. However, when I took it out of a case, the glass material of the back shell gave it a premium feel, even with the aluminum case.
Honestly, I wish my iPhone 14 Pro had an aluminum frame instead of stainless steel because I’m not a big fan of the glossy finish (fingerprint smudges). Of course, since my Pixel 7 unit is the obsidian black variant, it gets fingerprints easily.
I’m also a big fan of what Google has done for the camera with the camera bar design. Again, as someone who uses iPhones, the iPhone 14 Pro’s triple-lens camera array is a bit tiring at this point, and the camera bar is unique and distinctive – similar to how the iPhones were when they were first released. I also like how the camera bar has a matte aluminum look since it’s an extension of the aluminum frame; it adds a nice contrast with the glossy back.
Oh, and let’s not forget that the camera lenses are aligned with the camera bar. Although the bar protrudes like the camera bump on the iPhone 14 Pro, once you put a case on the Pixel 7, the camera bar protrusion isn’t noticeable.
Apple devices are still considered high-end in terms of aesthetics, but I’m very impressed with what Google has offered in the Pixel 7, even though it’s not the Pro version. For me, the hardware of the Pixel 7, combined with a pure version of Android 13, makes me think that if an iPhone were made by Google, this would be it.
One of the main reasons I always update my iPhone every year is the camera improvements that Apple adds to the Pro models. However, the Pixel 7’s performance as a camera really impressed me, especially the post-editing tools.
Although my iPhone 14 Pro is still my primary device, I’ve enjoyed testing the Pixel 7 camera so far. The images I captured with the Pixel 7 were balanced with the proper colors you would see in real life, which are quite similar to the results I get with the iPhone 14 Pro. I didn’t take any washed out or artificial photos, unlike other Android phones I’ve tested, such as the OnePlus Nord N300 5G. Sure, the Pixel 7’s selfie camera isn’t the best due to inaccuracies with skin tone, but the dual rear camera system is brilliant.
However, while I can easily point the Pixel 7 camera at anything and get good results, it’s not my favorite feature of the phone. No, I like Google’s photo editing tools more, which I wish Apple would add to the iPhone. Specifically, the Magic Eraser tool is my biggest selling point and one of the reasons I would buy a Pixel if I wasn’t an iPhone user.
As someone who has only used iPhones primarily for photo editing, the editing tools built into the Photos app are pretty straightforward. You only have the basics and some filter type effects. I would love to see Apple add a tool like Magic Eraser because I really enjoyed using it to remove the aliens from the backgrounds of some of my favorite Disneyland photos. I also like how Google will use its artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze a photo and make suggestions on how to improve it. I don’t always use suggestions, but I like having the option in case I need some inspiration.
I haven’t fully utilized all the features the Pixel 7 has to offer in terms of camera and photo editing, but it’s easy to use and get great photos, and editing hasn’t never been so simple. I really wish Apple had similar functionality in iOS later.
The Pixel is Google’s iPhone, and that’s a good thing
I’m still going to use my iPhone 14 Pro as my primary device, but if my iPhone connection wasn’t so strong, the Pixel 7 (maybe even the Pixel 7 Pro if I tried one) would be my phone of choice . I just like how fast and snappy Android is, without the custom forks of Android that other manufacturers use on their hardware. The overall aesthetic and feel of the Pixel 7 is also very well done, and the camera and photo features are excellent.
I know I still have a lot to try in the world of Android, and I’m only just beginning to tread water. But the Pixel experience – so far – has been so enjoyable for me. Even though other manufacturers also have their own strengths, I wish all Android devices were as good as the Pixel.