The Pixel 7 is Google’s iPhone, and that’s why I love it

I’ve been a longtime user of Apple’s iPhone — since 2008, to be exact. I got my first iPhone as a birthday present, and it was the original phone that started it all. Every year since then, I’ve upgraded to the latest and greatest that Apple has to offer (most recently, the iPhone 14 Pro), and I don’t regret my decision one bit.

However, since I started at Digital Trends, I’ve broadened my horizons by experimenting with Android devices. There are many different manufacturers, and each has its own version of Android. But so far, my favorite phone has been the Pixel 7. To me, it’s just like Google’s version of the iPhone, which is pretty cool.

Android is to Google what iOS is to Apple

Google Pixel 7 gradient rainbow home screen on a blue tablecloth
Christine Romero Chan/Digital Trends

Apple unveiled the iPhone in 2007, which came with the iPhone OS. Android was originally developed by the Open Handset Alliance, and the first commercial sponsor was Google. In 2005, Google bought Android, Inc. , and helped improve the Android operating system before the launch of the first Android phone, the T-Mobile G1, in 2008. Although there are many Android manufacturers these days, it is Google that mainly handles the development of the Android operating system. Individual brands have heavily customized versions of Android on their devices, but Google still tops the charts.

With the Pixel 7, the device is designed by Google, and the Android version on it is pretty pure compared to other brands. The Pixel 7 also uses Google’s own in-house Tensor G2 chip, similar to Apple’s A-series Bionic chips in iPhones.

I’ve tried quite a few different Android smartphones in the past few months, but so far, my favorite has definitely been the Pixel series. One of the biggest reasons is that the software is nothing like bloatware.

As someone who has used iPhones for over a decade, I feel the Google Pixel 7 with Android 13 is pretty comparable. Android 13, without any third-party customization, is fast, snappy and responsive. It’s also very similar to iOS 16; I picked up the Pixel 7 and started using it normally with the swipe gestures I’m familiar with from iOS, and they’re pretty much the same. Swipe up from the bottom to go home, swipe up to show the app switcher, swipe down from the top to show notifications and quick settings, swipe from the left to go back, and so on. I applied what I know from iOS, and it worked flawlessly on the Pixel 7.

Quick settings on Google Pixel 7.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Like most people my age, I’ve had a Google account most of my life. I mainly use Gmail, have a lot of photos already backed up in Google Photos, my primary calendars have always been on Google Calendars, use Google Drive/Docs/Sheets/Slides reluctantly when necessary, and keep my address book in Google as safe from failure.

So, even though I use an iPhone (and other Apple gear), most of my data is in Google — which means I can access it from just about anything. I love that once I sign into my Google account on the Pixel 7, all my important stuff is already on the device, and I don’t need to set up any third-party account (like Samsung, OnePlus, etc.) to back up my data.

While I like Android 13 so far on the Pixel 7, I’ve noticed that some things still work better on the iPhone. For example, it’s a bit annoying when I’m scrolling through something, and it stops abruptly when I hit the bottom. I also like to tap the top of the status bar on my iPhone to simply 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 little flexibility and bounce when scrolling. It’s a small detail, but it matters to me.

The Pixel 7’s design game is pretty good

The back of the Google Pixel 7 is Obsidian Black
Christine Romero Chan/Digital Trends

I’m a bit of a butter lover, so the minute I get a new phone, I’ll shove it right in the case if I had one — and the Pixel 7 is no different. However, when I take it out of the box, the glass material of the back cover makes it feel premium, even With aluminum case.

I sincerely wish the iPhone 14 Pro had an aluminum frame instead of stainless steel because I’m not a huge 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 to the camera with its camera bar design. Again, as someone who uses iPhones, the triple-lens camera array on the iPhone 14 Pro is a little tired at this point, and the camera bar is unique and recognizable — similar to how the iPhones were when they debuted. I also enjoy the look of the matte aluminum camera strap because it’s an extension of the aluminum frame; Adds a nice contrast to the glossy back.

Google Pixel 7 side.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Oh, and let’s not forget that the camera lens is flush with the camera strap. Although the strap sticks out like the camera bump on the iPhone 14 Pro, once you put a case on the Pixel 7 the camera strip bump won’t be as noticeable.

Apple devices are always considered to be aesthetically pleasing, but I really like what Google came up with in the Pixel 7, even if it’s not a Pro version. For me, the Pixel 7 hardware, combined with a pure version of Android 13, only makes me think if the iPhone was made by Google, this would be it.

A man holding a Google Pixel 7 like a camera.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

One of the main reasons I always upgrade my iPhone every year is because of the camera improvements that Apple adds to the Pro models. Still, the Pixel 7’s performance as a camera made a huge impression on me, especially its post-editing tools.

While the iPhone 14 Pro remains my primary device, I’ve enjoyed testing the Pixel 7’s camera in my time so far. The photos I took with the Pixel 7 were balanced with the right colors you’d see in real life, which is 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, like the OnePlus Nord N300 5G. Of course, the selfie camera on the Pixel 7 isn’t the best due to the lack of resolution in skin tone, but the dual rear camera system does.

Using the color pop feature when editing a photo on Google Pixel 7
Christine Romero Chan/Digital Trends

However, while I can easily point the Pixel 7’s camera at anything and get decent results, it’s not my favorite feature of the phone. No, I actually like Google’s photo editing tools more, which is what I wish Apple would add to the iPhone. Specifically, the Magic Eraser tool is the biggest selling point for me, and one of the reasons I buy the Pixel if I’m not an iPhone user.

As someone who has primarily used iPhones only to edit photos, the editing tools built into the Photos app are pretty abstract. You only have the basics and some filter-like effects. I’d like to see Apple add a tool like the Magic Eraser because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using it to get rid of strangers in the backgrounds of some of my favorite Disneyland photos. I also like how Google will use its artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze an image and make suggestions on how to improve it. I don’t always use suggestions, but I like to have the option in case I need inspiration.

I haven’t taken full advantage of every feature 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 has never been so simple. I really wish Apple had some similar features in iOS later.

The Pixel is Google’s iPhone, and that’s a good thing

iPhone 14 Pro and Google Pixel 7 Pro.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

I’m still going to use the iPhone 14 Pro as my primary device, but if my iPhone bond isn’t too strong, a Pixel 7 (maybe even a Pixel 7 Pro if I try one) would be my phone of choice. I simply love how fast and fast Android is, without the custom Android forks that other manufacturers use on their devices. The overall aesthetics and looks of the Pixel 7 are also very good, and the camera and photo features are great.

I know there’s still a lot for me to experiment with in the Android world, and I’m just beginning to tread the waters. But the Pixel experience – so far – has been a lot of fun for me. Although other manufacturers also have their strengths, I wish all Android devices were as good as the Pixel.

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