Is the Google Pixel 7 better than a new iPhone?
Slightly lower than recent iPhone Pro series devices. But, it’s a phone. It’ll eventually crack just like your Apple device when dropped on concrete.
Usable? yes. Can it best iOS in 2022? Perhaps. Read on for more.
I was a professional photographer/videographer in a previous decade, and I still dust off my trusty Canon 5D4 from time to time. But, that beautiful full-frame sensor also requires hulling some serious heft and glass on trips. Like most people in 2022, my smartphone is my daily camera.
For Photos, the Pixel 7 (note NOT 7 Pro) matches the iPhone 13 Pro in my real-life testing. i.e. Pets, construction projects, document scanning, etc. The Google Pixel 7’s 50MP main sensor really captures an image with outstanding clarity, even at 2-3x (~50-77mm). There are many vloggers who have high-quality comparisons out there so I’ll leave the ultimate verdict up to the reader.
Seems equivalent to my iPhone 13 Pro. I use it for many hours of the day browsing the web, ordering food, and watching YouTube videos. So far, I can’t tell a difference. I charge once a day, usually in the evening. Both devices can also charge while driving via MagSafe holder.
Web browsing feels equivalent. If not better. Google has elected to use a slightly wider viewport 412x742 pts compared to iPhone 13’s 390x844 pts. That 5% more web page width can make a subtle but nice difference (The iPhone Pro Max is 428 x 926 pts, but is physically larger… and heavier.)
The in-screen fingerprint is fascinating. Google has re-introduced 2D Face Unlock, but it’s only used for unlocking the phone’s lock screen. Unlike the iPhone (and Pixel 4), the Pixel 7 series does not have a dot projector for 3D facial mapping, and is less secure than Face ID or Pixel 4’s Face Unlock. The in-screen fingerprint reader is used to unlock the phone’s secure features like password managers, work profiles, and identity verification.
The screen is not as bright as iPhone’s screen. But, I have yet to become offended by the difference.
Verdict - Daily Driver?
Not quite. I still carry two phones. Everyone I communicate with regularly has an iPhone/iOS device and iMessage is king in the States. RCS… sure. Someday.
I might consider siwtching from iPhone 13 Pro to iPhone SE 2022 for maintaining iMessage conversations and using Pixel as my primary device. Will keep you posted there.
Now, for the backstory…
Google Pixel 7 - an Apple Fanboy Story
Let me start by saying I’ve been an Apple fanboy since before it was cool to be an Apple fanboy. Remember the excellent Performa 575 and substellar PowerMac 5260 that sometimes needed a reminder of where its single boot drive was located in the morning? I was that Apple guy.
As a long-time Apple fan, I’ve maintained and awareness of the Android ecosystem, mostly for testing work projects. Over the last decade I’ve owned a number of Google’s Nexus and Pixel phones. They tend to present the high-end Android experience for a reasonable price. With the Pixel 7, Google delivered once again, but this time, I find it makes my timeless iPhone experience feel… dated.
As my iPhone hardware version number increases with each passing year, so does its MSRP. But, selling last year’s phone and getting equivalent model year version remains doable for steep discount. As a yearly upgrader, I could justify this expense with statements like, “This year’s camera upgrade alone was worth the price.” Or, “The ProRes and ProRAW formats are worth it.” But, something happened with the iPhone 12-series. When the 12-series launched, it introduced 5G and returned to flat edge designs of years past. Was the 13-series worth it? Maybe, but only because I wanted a Mini. Which ended up freezing up, stalling, and failing to take a photo when I needed it. Ironically, despite all the hype online, I had zero problem with iPhone 13 mini battery life.
From the iPhone-like unboxing, to the lack of charger and ear buds, Google has learned from the greats and made it clear that the Pixel line of devices is ready to compete. In short, I can’t put the Pixel 7 down.
There are plenty of decent mobile device manufacturers out there, but where Pixel shines is really Google’s unique strengths. Google’s super power remains its unquestioned dominance over data. Privacy discussions aside, Google has captured and indexed, to the greatest extent of any single entity on the planet, all of the Internet. Google’s data graph represents a non-trivial percentage of human knowledge.
What does all this have to do with the Pixel? We’ve already seen that Google was at least 5 years ahead of any other company when Apple released it’s own Maps platform. This was due to Google’s high-quality map data. We know Google can build services, and connect them together to build bigger knowledge graphs. So, when it comes to combining on-device intelligence foundational services like email, calendars, chat, and contacts, I’m starting to believe that it might be time to look past Android’s short-comings in exchange for… well… reliable Exchange support.
If Apple has indeed perfected the iPhone’s hardware design, what does that leave? Software? iOS, like me, is aging. Many of the long-time frustrations with the platform have become public jokes, or known issues. Even as Apple insists (nearly forces) that SwiftUI is the best way to write an app, the
collision of iOS and macOS certainly leaves us long-time Macintosh users longing for our Cocoa apps. If Google can make hardware that rivals competitors it’s certainly time to pay attention.
So, you might ask, I thought this was supposed to be about Google’s Pixel 7? It is, I promise. My point is that I’ve now written over 1000 words trying to express that I can’t put this thing down. So what’s the problem?
The #1 problem with Google’s Pixel 7 is Apple’s ecosystem. I’m locked in.
In recent years, Apple has tightened its hold on my data. Everything from photos, personal calendar events and contacts, to my all important Notes library is seemlessly available across all of my Apple devices, backed by my iCloud+ subscription. In short, it just works. Mostly.
Let me be clear that I
have no complaint
don’t have much to complain about iCloud services. 99% of the time, it works as expected. But, for that remaining 1%, it’s best just to give up and sleep on it. It’ll probably work tomorrow, right?
The fact is, it’s 2022. There are many services that work 99% of the time. The difference being, when that 1% edge case hits, there are ways to RETRY without “Restoring your device to factory defaults.” Since, who has time to restore a device these days? Especially since Apple devices seem to take longer to re-image blazing fast flash storage than imaging an old 5260 from a CD-ROM drive. (I’m still waiting for someone to explain that one.)
Like iPhone, Google’s Pixel devices deliver a smartphone experience that I trust. The Google Pixel 7 is a modern take on the smartphone that really makes me want to leave my iPhone at home.
I’ve kept a recent Android phone on my desk for the last decade. My Pixel 7 is actually the fourth Pixel phone I’ve owned. As a software developer, I continue to be impressed with Google’s data-driven features. As a former designer, I crave Apple’s Ive-inspired attention to detail that makes a device “feel” amazing. If Apple represents the “Intersection of Technology and Liberal Arts,” Google’s Pixel 7 represents at least one corner of the intersection of Maths and the Public. It’s precision design may not be enough to impress Sir Jony Ive, but it’s more than enough to impress me into carrying it with me all day.
What led me here today is two things– three really.
My Pixel 4 received its final “feature drop” update.
New Macbook at work
Google’s Pixel 4 was proof that Google could answer Apple’s Face ID with similar precision. The addition of the Soli Radar sensor made for exquisitly simplistic features like turning off the “Always On” display overnight or when no one was around. This, so far, is the number one feature I miss when using the Pixel 7. I guess I’m looking for “Almost Always On” instead of “Always On” display. The Pixel 4 really pushed presence tech in a useful direction.
The Pixel 4’s battery was really the only drawback of the phone. Later, the lack of 5G radio became a disappointment.
I’m not even sad to give up my “Unlimited High-Quality” photo storage in Google Photos for this upgrade. I already pay for Google One for Drive storage, and I’d prefer to maintain original quality anyway.
New Work Macbook
I recently got a new Macbook at work. (Somehow another four years have passed.) This time, my Apple Notes library was stored “On my Mac” instead of Exchange. I wasn’t able to sync my 900+ notes, code snippets, and command line shortcuts using iCloud because my company prevents using iCloud data syncing. (Many companies prevent using third party services like iCloud for company data storage. Probably for good reason.) Have you tried getting stuff out of iCloud? The result was insane. I copied preferences, a 75MB container file, another container file, and another, only to find that my Notes were still missing. With no actual export option, I turned to Google to search what the influencers of the world had to offer. Turns out, some kid had a YouTube tutorial. (I have to say, I can’t stand video tutorials. Just write it so I can skim your content please. Who has time to watch a 7 minute video on Apple Notes data?) As it turned out, there’s a “Group Container” in addition to the “Container” that needs to be copied to glue all the non-iCloud data together. I guess I should write a tutorial for that.
Ultimately, this reminded me just how locked in I am to Apple’s “Digital Hub” and “iLife.” Maybe it’s time to poke my head outside the walls and make sure life hasn’t passed me by?
Apple Silicon’s refinement of the ARM architecture has certainly propelled computing into a far more sustainable product. By delivering software and hardware optimized for low-power usage, one can simply turn up the heat and make an incredible notebook or even desktop computer.
In only 2 years, aarch_64 adoption has made significant strides. But, still no plans for NVIDIA drivers. (Maybe in the next 30 days if an Apple Silicon Mac Pro is announced?) Sure, my 2020 M1 Macbook Pro smokes my 2018 i9 Macbook Pro when working in Blender, but what if I want more? I’m not a gamer, but I’ve recently re-discovered 3D modeling and animation during a remodeling project. I’d like to do more of this, so naturally, I’m looking for high-end graphics performance. Neither the M1 or M2 series provide raytracing abilities similar to high-end graphics cards. And, with the transition to Apple Silicon, eGPU support was left behind to the PC industry.
So now what? Okay, buy an Mac Studio with M1 Ultra, or Macbook Pro with M1 Max. But, these SoCs are built on designs originally destined for low-power devices. I don’t need my Blender machine to run 15 hours on a 45wh battery. I can plug it into the wall. So where’s the PRO in graphics?
By the way, M1 Ultra starts at $4000 USD.
All of this, and more, leads me to Google’s Pixel eco-system. Is it possible Google can offer a more open vision with Apple-like experience? Let’s hope so.
Stay tuned for more updates on my Google Pixel 7 experience.
Created on: Oct 15, 2022, 10:02 AM
Edited on: Oct 16, 2022, 9:30 PM