Pixel 7 to show if Google takes flagship phones seriously: Chasing The Big Bugs or The Big Bucks

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Pixel 7 to show if Google takes flagship phones seriously: Chasing The Big Bugs or The Big Bucks
Alright, folks… I'll have to be honest! The Google Pixel 6 Pro is mostly a pretty good phone now. Yeeey! That's right! Nine months after their release, Google's flagships are finally starting to take the shape of phones that one could recommend (to buy from eBay because it's way cheaper)...

However, the thing is that… I paid $900 for a device that was only going to get "good" a year after I bought it! And there's no way that makes me a happy customer.

For the record, I was very enthusiastic when I pre-ordered my Pixel 6 Pro, and despite the bug infestation, there was (and there still is) plenty to like about Google's premium flagship (most of which also applies to the vanilla Pixel 6, which I ordered for my cousin):

  • The design is simply beautiful - sophisticated, yet it stands out (I have the Sorta Sunny color)
  • The Pixel 6 Pro has an excellent camera system, which includes my favorite camera (ever) on a phone - the 4x periscope lens
  • The great display and speakers make for an even greater multimedia experience - I don't need an external speaker to listen to music, and I can watch videos without reaching for my MacBook

But how can I overlook the fact that the fingerprint reader on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro is only just getting good-ish? Sure, users who are testing the Pixel with Android 13 beta say the fingerprint experience will get even better. But why? Why with the next version of Android a year later?

And why did my cousin's Pixel 6 have a (quite literally) unfunctional fingerprint reader for months before Google pushed an update to fix it? That shows that even the bugs on the Pixel 6 series were inconsistent, as the fingerprint reader on my Pixel 6 Pro always worked, despite being sluggish and spotty.

And why do the widgets on Android 12 still need to reload from time to time for no apparent reason? And why does the camera still have problems with processing photos, and shows a black screen when you want to view the picture you've just snapped?

Google's reputation as a phone-maker is severely damaged

Unfortunately, I can keep listing Pixel 6 bugs, but the point is that if Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, and even the soon-to-be-released Pixel 6A don't show an immediate improvement in Google's attention to the things that make a smartphone good and usable, I'd be hesitant to ever recommend you to pre-order a Google phone at launch again.

But you don't need to take my word for it… As reported, Google's Pixel devices have plunged drastically in popularity, and over 35% of Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro users in the US now consider buying a new phone from a different brand, because they're unsatisfied with the current maker of their phone with their current. In fact, even LG, which literally doesn't make phones anymore has scored -12% on the survey (vs -36% for Google).

For the record, TradingPlatform's survey lacks meaningful indicators, let alone evidence, but honestly - I don't need to see it to know that people are unhappy with the way the Pixel 6 series has been performing since day one - I'm not and my cousin isn't either. Moreover, you can find dozens of Reddit and Twitter threats related to "Pixel 6 bugs" with a simple Google search. This "statistic" isn't any less valuable than a survey...

Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro: Here's what Google needs to fix to make the Pixel great again

But the Pixel 6 and its bugs are a distant past now (I wish)... Instead, Google’s Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are on the horizon, or about three months away now, if previous releases are anything to go by.

They promise to bring an upgraded design, which was already shown off by Google; the second-gen Tensor chip, and of course, Android 13. But can tell you right now - this won’t be enough to make me recommend you to pre-order a Pixel 7! But here's what will...

Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro need an optimized Android 13 without tons of bugs that take forever to fix

It goes without saying, optimizing the OS operation as a whole is the most important thing for your experience with a phone. If the UI operation is laggy, buggy, and inconsistent, your cool wallpaper and new clock widgets don't mean much. It takes away from the user experience.

As mentioned, Android 12 on Pixel 6 is simply not as good as it should be. And sorry to those who'll get triggered, but it's not on an iPhone 13 level. As I mentioned above, Android 12's widgets constantly reload on Pixel 6; animations can show some lag (although that's rare), and basic tasks like changing a wallpaper used to take forever to complete a few updates ago.

And I'm not even focusing on more fundamental imperfections, like the fact that Android's gesture navigation is still not as smooth and consistent as the one on iPhone; or the auto-brightness issue that's still somewhat present on Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro (although it's gotten somewhat better).

Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro need a more powerful but also more power-efficient Tensor 2 chipset

I've already written a couple of opinion pieces on this topic, so you can go ahead and check them out - 1, 2. In a nutshell, Tensor isn't nearly as capable as other flagship processors when it comes to heavy-duty tasks like editing videos or playing games, and that's apparent both on paper and in practice (my main point of reference is the iPhone 13, which isn't even the best gaming phone out there).

On top of that, Tensor's one of the least efficient chips on the market right now (if not the least efficient). Battery life (especially on my Pixel 6 Pro) is far from what it should/could be with a battery as big as 5000 mAh. Check out our Pixel 6 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22 Ultra battery drain test to find out more.

Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro (desperately) need a new (preferably) ultrasonic fingerprint reader

I hope the countless news stories on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro's sluggish fingerprint readers have already managed to convince you that this one needs to be replaced because, at this point, it's not even a question...

The good news here is that Google is already working on this. Kinda. According to AndroidCentral, "a different in-display fingerprint sensor than the one used in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro" is coming straight to Pixel 6A! Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of devices and services at Google, has confirmed this to our colleagues from AC, but we don't know if the new fingerprint reader is from the ultrasonic variety or just another optical one.

Anyway, I maintain the idea that Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro must get one of the current-gen ultrasonic fingerprint readers used in phones like the Galaxy S22 Ultra and Vivo X80 Pro. They are faster and way more consistent than their optical counterparts, and work with wet fingers. And I don't know about you, but my fingers get wet all the time... It'd be a nice touch.

Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Proreally need a new and improved ultra-wide-angle camera

Again, I've covered this thoroughly in one of my recent stories, named "iPhone 13, Galaxy S22, Pixel 6 show Apple, Samsung, Google don't take ultra-wide cameras seriously", so if you're interested, you can head straight over there after you're done here.

And if you do, you'd see a very disappointing ultra-wide-angle camera performance from the Pixel 6 Pro, which seems to be the trend amongst flagship phones (that aren't made by Chinese companies). That's right - Apple and Samsung don't have it much better.

The thing is that the Pixel 6 Pro has some of the best wide and zoom cameras on the market right now, and it's one camera short of being close to awesome. It doesn't take much, Google. A new bigger sensor, preferably the same 48MP one that's in the Xiaomi 12S Ultra / Vivo X80 Pro, will do.

Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro need new camera lens coating that reduces lens flaring, especially at night

Surprisingly (for a Google phone), Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro don't have one or two camera issues. Now, I get that Google only just switched to the newer 50MP Samsung GN1 primary camera sensor after having used the ancient 12MP Sony Sony IMX363 for ages… Yes, Google might need some extra time to squeeze the best out of the Pixel's new camera sensor.

But some things don't need time. Some issues just need new hardware and some spare cash, which Google has a ton of. I'm talking about the off-putting lens reflections that can make some night photos from the Pixel 6 barely usable. It's practically the worst lens reflection issue I've come across, but the fix is simple...

Companies like Vivo and Xiaomi have reached out to lens-crafters like Zeiss and Leica, and guess what - they take some of the cleanest nighttime photos out there. Samsung also uses a special lens coating on its Galaxy S22 Ultra, which reduces glare. Come on, Google? The Pixel's camera used to be the etalon for smartphone photography...

The damage done by the buggy Pixel 6 is severe, but Pixel 7 could help recover Google’s reputation as a phone-maker

Sure, Pixels make up a mere 1% of Google's immense bottom line, but they were on track to gaining some momentum - it's something that Google's worked to get for a long time. People bought some Pixels in 2021-2022. Those are facts. They are Google's best-selling flagships ever.

But did Sundar Pichai & Co shoot themselves in the foot? The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro looked "too good to be true" from the very beginning, but no one (and I mean no one!) expected the massive platter of bugs that followed... So, in the end you kinda got what you paid for.

The countless news stories, Reddit threats, Tweets, and the fact that the most popular tech YouTuber on the planet called out Google for the buggy experience with not one, not two, but with three videos with nearly 10M views, won't play in Google's favor. I'll be shocked if this doesn't affect the public's perception on Google as a phone-maker.

And Google, if you're reading this, firstdo you have any vacancies? But second, the only way to rescue this buggy Pixel 6 mess is to make Pixel 6A, Pixel 7, and Pixel 7 Pro as reliable as possible. Copy Apple, Samsung, and whatever other company does it well. I don't care. The people who spend money on the Pixel 6 don't care. Reliability should be a priority at Mountain View. A buggy Pixel 7 could result in total self-destruction for Google's phone business, and I don't want that to happen...

So, let me know...

Would the bugs Pixel 6 users have been experiencing in the past nine months stop you from buying a Pixel phone in the future?

I won't pre-order a Pixel but I'd still consider buying one.

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