There’s a new Pixel in Tech City. Google unwrapped the Pixel 7a, the cheapest of the Pixel 7 lineup, at Google I/O. As always, the excitement around the arrival of the new Pixel prompted the question of what exactly sets Google’s line of phones apart? After all, according to many, there were other devices on the market with similar or even better hardware and design, and also running Android. So what exactly is in the Pixel range that not only makes it different, but makes it so different that Google can actually charge a premium for it? After all, the Pixel 7a, the most affordable Pixel 7a, starts at Rs 43,999, which is much more than other phones with similar specs (the OnePlus 11R being a prime example), and the Pixel 7 Pro comes with a price tag that’s in the iPhone 14 territory.
Well, the truth is that the Pixel range is more than just spec sheet details and software benchmarks. These phones are in a territory of their own, which is why there’s a lot of hype and excitement every time a new Pixel launches, even if it seems relatively routine on the surface.
What makes the Pixel special? Many things, but these nine stand out:
Distinctive design – the camera has its own bar
The Pixel range has one of the most distinctive designs in the smartphone world. While other brands have fluctuated between different materials and shapes, the Pixel range over the past few years has stuck to a very distinct yet consistent look. Pixel phones around the world feature the distinctive camera bar on the back – a metal bar on the back that contains the cameras and flash. It makes the world realize from afar that what you have in your hands is a pixel. The brand is also known for its innovative color schemes, such as charcoal, obsidian, hazelnut, and more. In some cases, even the power/display button had a very distinct shade that matched the color of the phone. It is also one of the few brands still releasing relatively compact (A-series) phones. In a world of phone design confusion, the Pixel has a consistent design language. Predictable, some might say. Yes, but it’s also special. There’s no way you can mistake another phone for a recent Pixel phone. Or vice versa.
Special Handlers – Tense the opposition with Tensor
Most Android phones come with processors from Qualcomm (Snapdragon), MediaTek (Dimensity), or Samsung (Exynos). In the case of Qualcomm and MediaTek in particular, you can find devices with the same processor from different brands. Well, the Pixel has its own processor. After initially making most of its phones with Qualcomm, Google decided to roll out its own chipset for the Pixel range. The result is the Tensor series of processors, now in its second generation. You won’t find this chip on any non-Pixel phone. If you want a Tensor chip, you’ll have to get a Pixel!
Better integration between software and hardware – good times!
You know how they say iPhones are special because Apple makes the hardware and the software and optimizes both for each other? Well, it happens with the Pixel range as well. In its early days, Google used to make software for phones, but the processor came from Qualcomm. But with Google choosing to make its own Tensor chip which it has so far kept exclusive to the Pixel range, the search giant is in a position to closely integrate hardware and software, ensuring that both not only say “hello” to each other but are also in a fruitful partnership. Thanks to this, Pixels often outperform devices that have better specs on paper. Google apps and features are designed exclusively with its processor in mind. Which also means that other devices are often not able to run them as easily or smoothly as a Pixel device can!--
Camera Magic – Pixels go beyond megapixels
Google’s Pixel range has been known for its camera magic. And this flows not only from the camera sensors and hardware on the Pixel phones, but from Google’s software processor. In fact, the Pixel group made “computational photography” a thing long before other brands (especially one from Cupertino) even cottoned to the term. As a result, Pixel phone cameras deliver performance that often defies their specs. For example, the digital zoom on many Pixel phones is close to the optical zoom on others, thanks to Google’s software algorithms. Pixel phones are also known for capturing an amazing amount of detail — some would say that sometimes the cameras show details the photo didn’t even know existed. Don’t judge a book by its cover, or a person or Google Camera by its megapixels or even the size of its sensor!
Software and smart features – Pixel first
Google’s Pixel-wide hardware and software integration often results in a number of smart features in Pixel devices that you don’t find in other Android phones.. Features like Smart Transcription (which automatically converts everything spoken into written text), Speech to Type (which lets you compose and edit messages just by speaking), Call Erase (which suppresses background noise while you speak), and Magic Eraser (which lets you remove unwanted objects from an image) Many others came first to the Pixel and so far tend to run more smoothly on Pixel devices. Some of these features have made their way to other Android devices, but many are still Pixel exclusives. And in some cases, like Magic Eraser, it still works better on pixels.
Standard Android – OG Android phone
There are many brands in the market that claim to offer stock Android or semi-stock Android experience on their smartphones. But if you’re looking for the benchmark in terms of pure or regular Android, you’ll get the Pixel, which comes with OG Android. The Pixel is often the first phone to come with a new version of Android and showcase many of its features. It’s Google in all its glory on its smartphone.
Only Android – bloatware? What is bloatware?
If you get a Pixel, you get Android and Android alone, with no third-party apps taking up space on your phone. There is no chance of ads popping up from any nook or cranny or getting strange notifications from apps or services running in the background without your knowledge. It’s quite the opposite of the slightly cluttered experience one gets on many running Android phones, especially those with a feature-laden user interface and pre-installed third-party apps. In some cases, even the wallpapers come with ads. Those who have not used Android on a Pixel before may find it simple but those who enjoy controlling and customizing their smartphone according to their tastes will enjoy the sheer ease of Android on a Pixel.
Always up-to-date – the first to get updates
The timing of Android updates is one of the biggest issues in the smartphone world as many smartphones are running on an old version like Android 10 even today. But this is not the case with the Pixel. Since the Pixel comes from Google’s product, the master and pioneer of Android, Google updates its devices faster and more frequently than most other Android phones. There is no conspiracy here. It’s a simple matter of hardware and software tuning, and since Google controls both with the Pixel, it’s easier for the company to roll out updates, which unfortunately isn’t the case with other brands. So, if you have a Pixel phone, rest assured that you will be among the first to update to a new version of Android or get the latest security patch!
In keeping with the future – beta testing future Android versions
Not only do Pixel users get access to the latest Android builds, but they can also get a sneak peek at what new features are coming in the next version of Android before it’s officially launched. Google provides betas of upcoming versions of Android for different devices, and it’s no surprise that Pixels often get priority in this regard as they are devices from the same house as Google. Thus, those who signed up for the beta to test future Android versions can get a feel of what Google is working on, on their Pixels. Phones from select other brands also have access to beta versions of Android, but there are fewer such versions. So, Pixel not only gives you the best seat in the house of the latest Android show, but also lets you view trailers for future releases. A word of warning – it’s often a lot of fun to get access to new features and functionality before most of the world gets to them, but beta versions of Android can be buggy too.