Android's iPhone? Next joke! Issues when switching to Pixel 7 make me rethink Google's promises

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Android's iPhone? Next joke! Issues when switching to Pixel 7 make me rethink Google's promises
Switching from iPhone to Android or vice versa has always been a hot topic in the tech world - what you win, what you lose, what's better, and what's worse on each platform has been dividing opinions forever now. However, what if you've already decided to switch to Pixel and you're coming from an iPhone or even an older Pixel?

Well, it so happens that I was moving away from the iPhone 14 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro to the new Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro this week, and I discovered a few quirks worthy of more attention than the slight variations in photo quality or which camera bar design is better.

As it turns out, transferring data from another Android device to Pixel isn't as smooth as transferring data from iPhone to iPhone. Before making the leap, you also need to be aware of Google's existing Face Unlock, multitasking/RAM management, and video quality shortcomings because otherwise, they might catch you off guard.

Here's everything in a bit more detail…

If switching from iPhone 13 to iPhone 14 is smooth like butter, switching from Pixel 6 to Pixel 7 is smooth like peanut butter (the crunchy kind)

For starters, when moving from one phone to another, the first thing you'll want to do is transfer your existing data. At the end of the day, no one wants to start setting up their new phone from scratch, let alone lose valuable photos, music, chat histories, and other files. And, unfortunately, and surprisingly that's where my frustration with switching to Pixel 7 peaked - right at the beginning, ironically.

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At first glance, transferring data from an old Android phone to Pixel seems pretty straightforward - you grab a USB-C cable; hook up both phones to each other; and follow the instructions on screen. However, in reality, the connection between Google's very own Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 7 Pro dropped every time I touched the cable (without unplugging it).

Reconnect cable; Cable disconnected; Reconnect cable to your Pixel 7 Pro - that went on for a good half hour before I finally got it to work (I don't know how), and over an hour after messing with the two Pixel phones, it was all done.

You can't transfer all your data from Pixel to Pixel as you can with iPhone

Surely, once you transfer "all" your files from your old Android phone to Pixel 7, you're all set, right? Well, not quite.

First of all, some of the data and settings from your old device can't be copied, such as apps that aren't from the Google Play Store or ringtones. While that's understandable, some of the other things that you can't transfer from one Pixel to another had me truly amazed:

  • Downloads (such as PDF files) can't be moved over from one Pixel/Android to another

  • Photos, videos, and music received via text message aren't going from one Pixel/Android to another either (this one makes sense since Google doesn't have a 1:1 WhatsApp, iMessage equivalent)

  • Voice recordings - for some reason, Pixel doesn't transfer your voice recordings (which is particularly annoying for someone like me who has hundreds of them); the worst part - is when you Nearby Share your Pixel 6 voice recordings with Pixel 7, they go straight into the Downloads folder instead of the Recorder app, meaning there's no way you can get your voice memos unless you have access to a PC and are willing to transfer them manually

Switching from iPhone 14 to Pixel 7 won't be great if you love Face ID, recording tons of TikTok videos, and using multiple apps all day long

Face Unlock and the under-display fingerprint reader on the Pixel 7 aren't as convenient or reliable as today's version of Face ID

I've had a short but complicated relationship with Apple's Face ID throughout the years…

Back in the early days of Face ID, I simply couldn't get used to the inconvenience of the slow and not-so-flexible face unlocking method on my iPhone XS and iPhone XR. I ended up getting rid of those to buy a Huawei P30 Pro. But today, my experience of using Face ID on iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 14 Pro is far better!

Anyway, as you might know, Google's been testing its own version of Face Unlock for over a year now (we thought it was coming to Pixel 6 with an update), and now the feature is finally official on the new Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.

What's not so fortunate is that Face Unlock on Pixel 7 is slower than Face ID, and not nearly as flexible or reliable in different lighting conditions. Of course, it's also nowhere near as secure as the sophisticated system on the iPhone, but that's hardly surprising given that Pixel uses just its camera to do the trick.

The thing is that the second unlocking method - the optical under-display fingerprint scanner on the vanilla Pixel 7 is still likely to misread your touch, similar to the Pixel 6. Interestingly, I find the Pixel 7 Pro's reader to be less likely to miss, but that's a story for another time. In a nutshell, Pixel 7 has two unlocking methods now, but none of them seem to live up to the standard of an iPhone, or a Galaxy flagship, which is something to be aware of if you're looking to switch.

Pixel 7 video quality isn't as good or reliable as on iPhone

Although photo quality on Pixel 7 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro is very comparable, the same doesn't apply to videos. Unless you have a perfectly well-lit scene, Pixel 7 videos tend to be very noisy, not as well stabilized (this one's close), and particularly bad when using the ultra-wide-angle camera in low light.

The other thing that stands out is that Cinematic Mode on Pixel 7 is a hot mess compared to the second-gen Cinematic Mode on iPhone 14 Pro. Google's phones record Cinematic video only in 1080p at up to 24fps, but that's forgivable. What I can't look past is that Google's delivered the worst version of a Cinematic Mode compared not only to Apple's but to Samsung and OnePlus phones too.

Cinematic Mode on Pixel 7 is spotty, the blur is all over the place, and there's zero control over how much blur you want or where you want the focus to be. In other words, it looks like Google's loaded Pixel 7 with a very early days beta version of this feature, which could've stayed out of the Pixel 7.

RAM management on Pixel 7 isn't as good as the iPhone's, even with 50% more RAM

And to the final point of things to be aware of before switching from iPhone to Pixel 7, you might want to know that RAM management on Google's flagships is still far less efficient than that on Apple devices.

Historically, that's nothing new under the sun - that's why iPhones have less RAM than Android phones. However, in my testing, opening and switching through about 20 different apps (social media, a game, video streaming, etc.), has been more reliable on iPhone. When it comes to holding apps ready in the background:

  • My iPhone 13 mini with 4GB of RAM is about on par with the Pixel 7 with 8GB of RAM
  • My iPhone 14 Pro with 6GB of RAM is on par with the Pixel 7 Pro with 12GB of RAM

In what's a very unscientific experiment, I've come to conclude that Apple's iPhones are about 50% more RAM-efficient than Pixel, while In practical terms, my iPhone 13 mini certainly isn't a multitasking champion as it often kills apps in the background.

However, the iPhone 14 Pro is a beast when it comes to RAM management, as I often find apps that I had opened the day before to be ready to go the next morning - without having to reload. According to Apple, the A16 Bionic in the ‌iPhone 14 Pro‌ features 50% more memory bandwidth thanks to the presence of LPDDR5 memory versus LPDDR4X on the vanilla iPhones.

For the record, the Pixel 7 Pro is also reported to have LPDDR5 RAM, and I find its RAM management to be very good (definitely better than on the vanilla Pixel 7), although probably not as good as the one on iPhone 14 Pro.

Switching to Pixel 7 from Pixel 6, Galaxy S22 or iPhone might not be the smoothest experience, but that's not why you're buying a Pixel!

Sure, switching to Pixel from Galaxy or iPhone will come with some caveats as the ones mentioned in this story, but that's to be expected, isn't it?

Google is much newer to this software-hardware show compared to Apple and Samsung, but apart from that, Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are more affordable and will only be getting cheaper to get compared to alternatives from Cupertino or South Korea, and that's for US buyers.

If you live in Europe, the UK, or India, for example, getting a Pixel 7 flagship could be literally over 100% less expensive than splurging for that iPhone 14 Pro. In Germany, where I am now, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max start at a whopping $1,300 and $1,450, respectively, while the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro go for just $650 and $900, which isn't exactly spare change, to begin with, given the current economic situation.

Plus, Pixel 7 takes arguably the best photos and delivers the smoothest Android experience you can ask for, so what are a handful of shortcomings… Right?

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