Android’s iPhone? Next joke! Problems switching to the Pixel 7 make me reconsider Google’s promises
Switching from iPhone to Android or vice versa has always been a hot topic in the tech world – what you gain, what you lose, what’s better and what’s worse on each platform has divided opinion forever now. But what if you’ve already decided to switch to Pixel and you’re coming from an iPhone or even an older Pixel?
this week, and I discovered a few quirks that are worth more attention than the slight variations in image quality or which camera line design is better.
As it turns out, transferring data from another Android device to the Pixel isn’t as smooth as transferring data from iPhone to iPhone. Before you take the plunge, you should also be aware of Google’s existing face unlock, multitasking/RAM management, and video quality shortcomings, because otherwise they might catch you off guard.
I used over an hour trying to transfer my data from my old Pixel 6 Pro to the new Pixel 7 Pro with the USB-C cable. At some point in the process, the two Pixel phones started to “quarrel” over whose fault it was – the Pixel 6 Pro showed a message saying: “Continue setup on Pixel 7 Pro”, while the Pixel 7 Pro said: “Check your other device!”.
At first glance, it seems pretty easy to transfer data from an old Android phone to the Pixel – you grab a USB-C cable; connect both phones to each other; and follow the instructions on the screen. But in reality, the connection between Google’s own Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 7 Pro dropped every time I touched the cable (without disconnecting it).
Reconnect the cable; Cable disconnected; Reconnect the cable to the Pixel 7 Pro – It took me a good half hour to finally get it working (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 like you can with iPhone
Some important Pixel 6 data cannot be transferred to the Pixel 7, let alone an iPhone or a Galaxy.
Once you transfer “all” your files from your old Android phone to your Pixel 7, you’re all set, right? Well, not quite.
First, some of the data and settings from the old device cannot be copied, such as non-Google Play Store apps or ringtones. While that’s understandable, I was really surprised by some of the other things you can’t transfer from one Pixel to another:
- Downloads (such as PDF files) cannot be moved from one Pixel/Android to another
- Photos, videos and music received via text also don’t go from one Pixel/Android to another (this makes sense since Google doesn’t have a 1:1 WhatsApp, iMessage equivalent)
- Voice recordings – for some reason the Pixel doesn’t transfer your voice recordings (which is especially annoying for someone like me who has hundreds of them); worst of all – when you share your nearby Pixel 6 voice recordings with the Pixel 7, they go straight into the Downloads folder instead of the Recorder app, meaning you can’t get your voice memos unless you have access to a PC and are willing to transfer them manually
Switching from one Pixel/Android phone to another is far less seamless than switching from iPhone to iPhone. Thanks to iCloud and Bluetooth, Apple lets you transfer everything from your old iPhone in minutes without the need for a cable. Ironically, despite being wireless, the connection doesn’t drop, and all (and I mean all) of your files make it to your new device, including those old (and embarrassing!) voice memos.
Switching from iPhone 14 to Pixel 7 won’t be good if you love Face ID, record tons of TikTok videos and use multiple apps all day long
Face Unlock and the under-display fingerprint reader on the Pixel 7 aren’t as convenient or reliable as the current version of Face ID
I’ve had a brief but complicated relationship with Apple’s Face ID over the years…
Back in the early days of Face ID, I just couldn’t get used to the inconvenience of the slow and not-so-flexible face unlock method on my iPhone XS and iPhone XR. I ended up getting rid of them to buy a Huawei P30 Pro. But today, my experience using Face ID on iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 14 Pro is far better!
Face ID is fast, it works from multiple angles (still not just any angle), and I find swiping up to unlock my iPhone less of a problem than hitting an optical fingerprint reader just in the right place to unlock my android. For the record, I find “proper” Touch ID (like the one on the iPhone 8) as convenient as ever – better than optical sensors and perhaps on par with Face ID.
What’s not so lucky is that Face Unlock on the Pixel 7 is slower than Face ID, and not nearly as flexible or reliable in different lighting conditions. Of course, it’s nowhere near as secure as the sophisticated system on the iPhone either, but that’s hardly surprising given that the Pixel only uses the camera to do the trick.
The thing is, the other unlocking method – the under-display optical fingerprint scanner on the vanilla Pixel 7 is still likely to misread your touch, just like the Pixel 6. Interestingly, I find the Pixel 7 Pro’s reader to be less likely to miss, but it’s a story for another time. In a nutshell, the Pixel 7 has two unlocking methods now, but neither 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 is not as good or reliable as on the iPhone
Although the image quality of the Pixel 7 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro is very comparable, the same is not true for videos. Unless you have a perfectly lit scene, Pixel 7 videos tend to be very noisy, not as well stabilized (this one is close), and especially bad when using the ultra-wide-angle camera in low light.
The other thing that stands out is that Cinematic Mode on the Pixel 7 is a hot mess compared to the second-generation Cinematic Mode on the iPhone 14 Pro. Google’s phones only record cinematic video in 1080p at up to 24 frames per second, but that’s forgivable. What I can’t see past is that Google has delivered the worst version of a cinema mode compared not only to Apple’s, but also to Samsung and OnePlus phones. Cinematic mode on the 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 loaded the Pixel 7 with a very early beta version of this feature, which could have stayed away from the Pixel 7.
RAM management on the Pixel 7 is not as good as the iPhone, even with 50% more RAM
And for the last point of things to be aware of before switching from iPhone to Pixel 7, you might want to know that RAM management on Google flagships is still far less efficient than on Apple devices.
Historically, there’s nothing new under the sun – that’s why iPhones have less RAM than Android phones. However, in my testing it has been more reliable opening and switching through about 20 different apps (social media, a game, video streaming, etc.). When it comes to keeping 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 is a very unscientific experiment, I have come to the conclusion that Apple’s iPhones are about 50% more RAM efficient than the Pixel, while in practical terms my iPhone 13 mini is certainly not a multitasking master as it often kills apps in 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 has 50% more memory bandwidth thanks to the presence of LPDDR5 memory versus LPDDR4X on vanilla iPhones.
For the record, the Pixel 7 Pro is also reported to have LPDDR5 RAM, and I think the RAM management is very good (definitely better than on the vanilla Pixel 7), but probably not as good as the one on the iPhone 14 Pro.
Switching to the Pixel 7 from the 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 like the ones mentioned in this story, but that’s to be expected, right?
Google is much newer in this software-hardware program compared to Apple and Samsung, but other than that, the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are more affordable and will only get 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 can be literally over 100% cheaper than paying 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 aren’t exactly chump change, to begin with, given the current economic situation.
Plus, the Pixel 7 takes arguably the best photos and delivers the smoothest Android experience you could ask for, so what’s a handful missing… Right?