I’ve been a long time user of Apple’s iPhone – since 2008 to be exact. I got my first iPhone as a birthday present and it was the original one that started it all. Every year since then, I’ve upgraded to the latest and greatest Apple has to offer (most recently the iPhone 14 Pro), and I’ve never regretted my decision.
But since I started at Digital Trends, I’ve broadened my horizons by trying out Android devices. There are many different manufacturers and each has its own version of Android. But my favorite so far has been Google’s own Pixel 7. To me, it’s like Google’s version of an iPhone, and it’s quite beautiful.
Android is to Google what iOS is to Apple
Apple unveiled iPhone in 2007, which was equipped with iPhone OS. Android was originally developed by the Open Handset Alliance and its first commercial sponsor was Google. In 2005, Google bought Android, Inc., and it helped fine-tune the Android operating system before launching the first Android phone, the T-Mobile G1, in 2008. Although there are many Android manufacturers today, it is primarily Google that is developing the Android operating system. Individual brands have highly customized versions of Android on their devices, but Google still leads the pack.
With the Pixel 7, the hardware is designed by Google, and the version of Android on it 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 has definitely been the Pixel series. One of the biggest reasons is that the software doesn’t feel like bloatware.
As someone who has been using iPhones for over a decade, I feel like the Google Pixel 7 running Android 13 is pretty similar. Android 13, without any third-party tweaks, is fast, snappy, and responsive. It also feels a lot like iOS 16; I picked up 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 up longer to open the app switcher, swipe down from the top to show notifications and quick settings, swipe from the left to go back, etc. I’ve applied what I knew about 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 mainly use Gmail, I already have a bunch of photos backed up in Google Photos, my primary calendars have always been in Google Calendars, I reluctantly use Google Drive/Docs/Sheets/Slides when needed, and I have my address book kept in Google as a failsafe.
So even though I use an iPhone (and other Apple equipment), most of my data is in Google, meaning I can access it from anywhere. I love that once I log into my Google account on the Pixel 7, all my important stuff is already on the device and I don’t have to set up a third party account (as with Samsung, OnePlus, etc.) to back up my data.
While I like Android 13 on the Pixel 7 so far, I find some things are still done better on the iPhone. For example, it’s a bit jerky when I’m scrolling through something, then suddenly stops when I hit the bottom. I also like tapping the top of the status bar on my iPhone to just go back to the top of the screen, which apparently isn’t a thing on Android. When it comes to little things like that, I still appreciate iOS and how it adds a bit of elasticity and bounce to scrolling. They are small details, but they are important to me.
The Pixel 7’s design game is too good
I’m a bit of a butterfinger, so as soon as I get a new phone I put it in a case if I have one – and the Pixel 7 is no different. However, when I take it out of a case, the glass material for the back makes it feel premium, even with the aluminum body.
I really wish my iPhone 14 Pro had an aluminum frame instead of stainless steel as I’m not a big fan of the glossy finish (fingerprint marks). 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 did for the camera with the camera bar design. Again, as someone who’s used iPhones, the three-lens camera array on the iPhone 14 Pro is a bit tiresome at this point, and the camera bar is unique and distinctive – similar to how iPhones were when they first came out. I also like how the camera bar has a matte aluminum look, as it’s an extension of the aluminum frame; it adds a nice contrast to the glossy back.
Oh, and let’s not forget that the camera lenses are flush with the camera bar. While the bar protrudes like the camera bump on the iPhone 14 Pro, the camera bar protrusion isn’t noticeable once you’ve put a case on the Pixel 7.
Apple devices have always been considered premium in terms of aesthetics, but I’m very impressed with what Google has come up with in the Pixel 7, even if it’s not the Pro version. To me, the Pixel 7’s hardware, combined with a pure version of Android 13, just makes me think that if an iPhone was made by Google, this would be it.
One of the main reasons I always upgrade my iPhone every year is the camera improvements Apple adds to the Pro models. However, the Pixel 7’s performance as a camera really impressed me, especially the post-processing tools.
While my iPhone 14 Pro remains my primary device, I’ve enjoyed testing the Pixel 7 camera in my time with it so far. Images I’ve taken with the Pixel 7 are balanced with the correct colors you’d see in real life, which are very similar to the results I get with the iPhone 14 Pro. I didn’t take any photos that looked washed out or artificial, unlike other Android phones I’ve tested, such as the OnePlus Nord N300 5G. Sure, the selfie camera on the Pixel 7 isn’t the best due to skin-tone inaccuracies, but the dual rear camera system is an asset.
While I could easily point the Pixel 7 camera at anything and get good results, it’s not my favorite feature of the phone. No, I’m actually more fond of Google’s photo editing tools, which is what I wish Apple would add to the iPhone. The Magic Eraser tool in particular is the biggest selling point for me, and one of the reasons I’d buy a Pixel if I weren’t an iPhone user.
As someone who has primarily used iPhones just for photo editing, the built-in editing tools in the Photos app are pretty barebones. You only have the basics and a few filter-like effects. I’d like to see Apple add a tool like Magic Eraser, as I’ve enjoyed using it to remove strangers in the background of some of my favorite Disneyland photos. I also like how Google uses its artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze a photo and make suggestions to improve it. I don’t always use the suggestions, but I like having the option in case I need some inspiration.
I haven’t fully exploited all the features the Pixel 7 has to offer in terms of camera and photo editing, but it’s easy to use and takes great photos, and editing has never been easier. I really wish Apple would have some similar features in iOS later on.
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 love how fast and snappy Android is on it, without the custom Android forks that other manufacturers use on their hardware. The overall aesthetic and feel of the Pixel 7 are also very well done, and the camera and photo features are great.
I know there’s still a lot for me to try out in the world of Android, and I’m just getting started in the water. But the Pixel experience has been so enjoyable for me so far. While other manufacturers also have their own strengths, I wish all Android devices could be as good as the Pixel.