Google Pixel phones are renowned for their stylish design, cutting-edge performance (thanks to the Tensor chipset), and, of course, their outstanding camera quality. However, those who have used non-Pixel Android devices may find that some features they took for granted are missing on the stock Android.
In this write-up, we will explore some of these features and why they matter for a better user experience. We will also compare how other Android manufacturers implement them and how Google can improve its own software in the future.
Android Features missing on Pixel phones
Always on Display: One of my biggest gripes with Pixel phones is that much as they do have always-on display (AOD) it’s limited to only showing the time and notifications. And even that cannot be customized in any way. Come to think of it, there’s nothing called AOD in Pixel phones (only a setting to always show time and info). I dare say this is a missed opportunity, as AOD can be a great way to personalize your phone and make it more functional.
Switching mobile data: Secondly, switching between mobile data networks on Pixel smartphones is a test of patience. I find it incredibly inconvenient and time-consuming to have to rummage through the settings every time I want to switch mobile networks. It’s galling that Google hasn’t implemented a simple quick toggle for this in the notification bar, like other Android phones have. It sort of feels like Google never intended their Pixel phones to be dual SIM.
Restrict access to mobile data: Additionally, you can’t restrict mobile data access to specific apps. This is a major issue for me because I like to control which apps can use my mobile data and which ones can only use Wi-Fi. This helps me save data and avoid unwanted charges. For example, I restrict mobile data access to apps like Instagram and TikTok so that I don’t accidentally blow through my data when I’m on the go. On most other Android phones, you can easily restrict mobile data access for individual apps in the settings. However, on Pixel, you can only turn on or off mobile data for all apps at once.
Double tap to sleep: Another feature that has grown on me over the years is the ability to double-tap the screen to sleep. It’s a simple gesture that’s incredibly convenient for me. However, on Pixel phones, the only options you get are to use the power button (which can be quite loud in the dead of the night) or wait for the screen to black out by itself. And don’t tell me to flip my phone. I actually prefer it on its back. Most other Android phones allow you to double-tap the screen to put it to sleep. I had taken it for granted all this while only to get a rude awakening.
SMS verification code autofill: Now, I’m not sure if this is a localized bug on my Pixel or a general issue, but SMS verification code autofill doesn’t seem to work for most apps on my Pixel, even when the SMS verification codes autofill service is turned on. It has only worked on one app of the dozens I have. I don’t know about other Pixel users, but it’s a hassle for me, as I have to manually type in the verification codes from SMS messages every time I log in to certain apps or websites. Most other Android phones can autofill these one-time password (OTP) codes once you allow the feature in settings. It’s one of those features you never think about until it breaks.
Three-finger swipe: Last but by no means least, the three-finger swipe to take screenshots is not supported on Pixel phones. This personally isn’t a deal breaker. The native screenshot method has its own advantages. For example, I can edit, share, or copy links or images quite easily. This is not as quick or easy as the three-finger swipe, but it is more powerful and versatile.
The authentic Pixel Experience
Let me make this clear, these missing features do not take away from the gem that is Pixel. Pixel phones offer a better all-round experience than most Android smartphones despite these shortcomings. That said, the lack of these features may not be deal-breakers for everyone, but they certainly affected my satisfaction and enjoyment of the phone. But not by much.
We have written this post to highlight some of the challenges you might face when switching on Pixel phones and not to discourage you from making the shift. I hope Google will address these issues in future updates or models, and make Pixel phones more user-friendly and customizable.