With the Pixel 7, ‘Pixel phone’ finally means something more than Android enthusiasm

the The Pixel 7 launch event is just a week away, and the expectations around this phone could not be higher. No matter how much we learn before the event, even from Google itself, it seems obvious that the pixel 7 is destined to mark itself as one of the best android phones around. Despite this, it still seems like the Pixel brand is struggling to carve out an identity for itself, even after more than half a decade of launches. It’s an issue that has likely affected the series’ sales figures as well; after all, we know that most phones haven’t been runaway successes. To that end, it’s worth reviewing what each Pixel brought to the table and how the Pixel 6 onwards serves as a fresh start for the lineup.


Let’s go back to the fall of 2016 and Android is in a very different state. Samsung has finally upped its hardware game with the Galaxy S6 and its successor, though the Note 7 debacle is still fresh in the news. LG is convinced the G5’s modular design will win over fans (it won’t) and HTC is only a couple of months away from unveiling one of its worst phones to date. The Android market, it’s safe to say, has seen better days.

Enter the first generation Google Pixel. both of the news cycle around this phone focused on declaring it an iPhone competitor, and it’s hard not to see why. No matter what you think of the design of that first Pixel series, it’s clear that Google was inspired by Apple. The rounded edges, the large top and bottom bezels – if you added a physical home button below the screen, it would look nearly identical to the just-announced iPhone 7, especially to the untrained eye.

Google’s premise with the first-generation Pixel was simple: If other Android makers aren’t going to step up to dominate Android hardware Y software, someone had to try it. Considering how positive reviews of the Pixel and Pixel XL were at the time, it’s clear the company succeeded: solid if imperfect hardware, up-to-date software based on basic Android with some exclusive features, and a fantastic camera system. This wasn’t your average Nexus device, something loved by developers and enthusiasts but with little brand awareness outside of these communities. These were real phones that could convince regular people to spend a few hundred bucks, assuming they were on Verizon, of course.

Google’s experimental phase struggled to keep up

A year later, the pixel series 2 Built on the foundation laid by its predecessor, though some design and display issues deflated the hype surrounding both phones. Unfortunately, it was around this time that the competition, namely Samsung, managed to catch up. The Galaxy S8 and S9 not only took a step forward in terms of hardware; represented a significant leap in software quality. Through the Samsung Experience, the company cut back on its excess, aiming for something more in line with basic Android but with some excellent quality of life touches. Although that skin would only last a couple of years before morphing into One UI, it was a huge step forward.

Meanwhile, Google was lost in the woods. the pixel 3 it was a strange misfire, as the smaller model copied the design of the Pixel 2 XL a generation too late, while the larger variant used the weirdest notch we’ve ever seen. A divisive design, poor (and mandatory) gesture system, and continued Verizon exclusivity basically scuttled this phone’s chances, even if it did hit other carriers in spring 2019.

Things didn’t get much better from there. the Pixel 4 and 4 XL it adopted Motion Sense and a Face ID competitor, neither of which worked flawlessly. Combined with poor battery life in the smaller model, the Pixel 4 series could never escape its lackluster reputation. Even our review, as relatively positive as it was, didn’t directly tell readers to pick one. the pixel 5 It was even weirder, ditching all the gimmicks for a smartphone that had all the right basics but with a price tag that didn’t quite align with its specs. That phone felt like it was floating on water, and it turned out it was. Google delayed any design review to get its Tensor chip ready.

Throughout all of this, there was one aspect that the company kept nailing: the camera. Year after year, pixels represented some of the best in mobile photography. If you cared about photos, that year’s Pixel phone was often the device to buy. Even though some of the competitors managed to catch up, Google’s smartphones continue to be the standard by which all other smartphones are compared. If the fundamentals fell into place, future Pixels could easily become the best smartphones on the market.

And don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that any of these phones are necessarily bad, if you loved them, despite or even because from anything I called a flaw, more power to you. I have a lot of love in my heart for the Pixel series, even ones I haven’t had personally. But it’s clear that after the lineup’s initial success as an “iPhone rival,” Google struggled to fill that space. As it kept trying new ideas to stand out, Samsung’s software and hardware slowly merged into a much better experience, winning the hearts of most Android users in the US forever.

Of course, there’s one constant in all this mess that I haven’t mentioned: the Pixel a series of mid-range phones. Perhaps without the burden of constant gimmicks and lack of “flagship” status, all four generations of Pixel a-series phones have been winners. Striking a balance between affordability and power has meant that any of Google’s low-cost Android phones has been an easy recommendation for years. More importantly, this success gave these mid-range models an identity.

The Pixel 6 offered a soft reboot to a struggling franchise

So, on the eve of the Pixel 7 launch, what niche is Google carving out for itself? All the answers to that question. lie on tensioner. The first generation SoC was evaluated well enough, directly competing against the current Snapdragon 888 at the time. Google built its architecture to be powerful enough to handle anything that comes its way, with two Cortex-X1 cores to tackle big tasks while using two older A76 cores. for jobs that require less energy. By all accounts Tensor was a decent, although flawedfirst attempt at custom silicone.

Source: Google

It’s the rest of Tensor that I think is interesting, namely the TPU or Tensor Processing Unit. Google uses this core to power almost all machine learning and AI-based features you think when you hear the word “Pixel”. Think of Live Captions or Live Translate, both of which make the language easier to understand or understand. remember how awesome Google Enhanced Voice Typing was when we first saw it in action last year? It still feels that way compared to other smartphones. And let’s not forget Google’s continued focus on computational photography through tools like Motion Mode and Magic Eraser.

the the software has evolved to match this strategy. Google’s At a Glance widget only gets more powerful every year, with reminders, appointments, camera alerts, and more. We’ve seen the ever-present search widget become an essential way to find anything on your phone. Even Material You feels like an attempt to make customization something that happens automatically in the background.

Simply put, a modern Pixel phone wants to do things for you, often before you even think of it, in a way no other smartphone can.

And hey, Google has finally nailed the design too. The camera bar can be divisive (I like it; your mileage may vary), but it’s instantly recognizable in a way few modern devices are. Both the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro feel like premium phones, perhaps a step down from Samsung’s best, but certainly impressive, and the Pixel 7 series seems to only get better in this regard.

Simply put, a modern Pixel phone wants to do things for you, often before you even think of it, in a way no other smartphone can.

Good hardware, great software, and a chipset designed from the ground up to power all of its most impressive features. It’s a winning strategy, at least when it comes to making good phones. Whether Google can convince consumers to ditch Samsung and Apple for a Pixel remains to be seen (and, frankly, the answer is “it probably can’t”), but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. Google has finally mastered the concept of what a Pixel-branded phone is it is. If you can fix those last few nagging Tensor issues (draining battery life, poor network performance, and a slow fingerprint sensor in particular), you’ll have some real winners on your hands. With any luck, the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro could fit the bill.

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