Diary of a Galaxy Z Fold 4: What I miss about a Pixel every time I use a Samsung phone
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 brings the foldable formula one step closer to perfection, and it’s a device I enjoyed enough to make it my personal smartphone. But every year, I end up switching to a Samsung phone, which lacks some of the features of my usual Google Pixel.
Although one UI is excellent, it ignores what makes Google’s software so great.
Samsung’s skin on top of Android was once considered the scum of the platform, but that has changed dramatically in recent years. One UI is fantastic, and One UI 4.1.1 based on Android 12L provides a fantastic experience for the Galaxy Z Fold 4.
Review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Android 12L boosts this iterative but significant upgrade
To be honest, I’m not sure I’d want to use a foldable with any other experience right now. What Samsung has created here is simple to use, quick, and takes full advantage of the larger screen real estate.
Regardless of how well-executed Samsung’s One UI is, it is the polar opposite of Google’s approach. For better or worse, Samsung crams almost every feature into the device. Google, on the other hand, provides a more focused experience that is simply more enjoyable to use. Furthermore, Google’s experience does not feel like it is competing with third-party apps, whereas Samsung’s look and feel frequently contrasts with other apps on your phone.
Of course, this is not to say that Google does everything correctly, or that Samsung does everything incorrectly. One of the most serious issues is that Google updates always seem to introduce the most bizarre bugs, whereas Samsung updates rarely do.
Still, there are so many small things I miss about a Pixel when I’m using my Fold or any other Samsung phone, but the list has been drastically reduced over the years.
Of course, there are the cameras.
It wouldn’t be a Pixel post without mentioning cameras, which is something I always miss when switching to a Samsung phone.
The camera experience provided by Google is consistent. Samsung’s, however, is not.
The camera hardware on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Pixel 6 Pro is very similar – 50MP primary, 12MP ultrawide, and a telephoto lens – but the Pixel produces consistently better photos. Why? Specifically, software.
In some cases, Samsung’s photo processing is overly saturated and does not accurately reflect real life. Until you look at the details, you’re likely to get a pleasing shot. However, for every good shot, there are bound to be a couple of bad outtakes. Taking a photograph of a dog? If it’s not a statue, there will be movement from when the shutter was snapped. Trying to capture some dramatic evening lighting? Samsung’s processing will most likely blow it out and completely negate the effect.
The real kicker, however, is that Samsung’s camera app still can’t display anything close to the final product from the viewfinder. I’ve had several occasions where I was pleased with a shot in the viewfinder, but Samsung’s software then overprocessed it and effectively ruined the image. It doesn’t happen every time, but it happens frequently enough to be extremely frustrating.
Pixels, on the other hand, provide a fairly accurate representation of HDR when the shot is taken. It may be tweaked to bring out details or adjust the exposure, but what you see in the viewfinder is more or less what you’ll get in the final shot.
I don’t mind shooting on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 because I know I’ll get a usable shot at the end of the day, but I don’t trust it to take a great one… ever. That’s probably what I miss the most about my Pixel 6 Pro since switching to Samsung’s latest.
Google’s Digital Wellbeing app is actually useful.
This is a minor point, but it irritates me every time I move away from a Pixel. Google’s approach to Digital Wellbeing is actually quite useful.
Digital Wellbeing is an idea that is typically manifested as a way to understand your online habits in order to work toward perhaps reducing screen time, muting distractions, and generally having a better balance between what’s happening on your phone and what’s happening in the world around you. It’s an idea about which I usually have mixed feelings.
Personally, I couldn’t care less about seeing how many times I’ve unlocked my phone in a day, or how many notifications I’ve received. I just want to be able to quickly disconnect from work or Twitter so that I can enjoy an afternoon at home or even a vacation.
Google Pixel makes this incredibly simple. If I’ve had a long day and don’t want to hear from my email, Slack, or Twitter, I can “pause” those apps from my homescreen. With a few quick clicks, they’re all turned off for the day. There was no need for me to dive into settings or configure anything previously. And if I need to go back in for any reason, it only takes one more click.
I mean, I literally have to flip my phone over to turn it completely off. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.
However, on a Samsung phone, this process is far from convenient.
On a Samsung device, Digital Wellbeing is as simple as digging through a few layers of settings and using “Focus Mode” to block out a pre-selected list of apps. Except that those apps are on an allow-list rather than a block-list. If I only want to disable a few apps, I have to manually allow every other app on my phone. The only other tool I have access to is “App Timers,” which is a great option but, as previously stated, does not help what I want to do.