There is no truly complete Android experience right now

    Google is disappointing if you’re expecting a major Android upgrade to address deep-seated issues, at least based on the details shared so far. The company didn’t spend much time discussing Android 13, and most of the updates announced are known, minor, or both. They are mainly identified by media and privacy controls. The release as-is will not be a disclosure unless you are. While we may not have seen all of the features of Android 13 yet, there have been some really useful improvements (such as the status quo that will largely remain intact.

    And that’s unfortunate. While Android is a very capable platform with some special hardware to match, there’s no one device that guarantees every experience is good. Buy a powerful phone and you may end up with weird software; Get the Android variant of your dreams and you might have to arm yourself with a mediocre camera or chip. It’s time for Google and manufacturers to work together to make devices that you can more easily recommend to others.

    Software: Too much or not enough?

    Sam Rutherford / Engadget

    To be fair, Google is only partially responsible for the current state of affairs. The very beauty of Android is the potential for vendors to add their own software – a unified experience created by Google will defeat this problem.

    Even so, the company still plays an important role and it is increasingly clear that they can do more. Use one or the other ‘pure’ and you’ll realize the stock OS, despite its intuitive and fluff-free mounting, is still relatively straightforward. You won’t get the enhanced camera app, multimedia integration, special browser features, or other clever tricks you normally get with a customized Android experience. Polishers aren’t always available either – just. Apple has shared confusing updates over the years, but it seems to have solved the glitches that Google occasionally leaves behind.

    You can install apps, launchers, and other add-ons to complete things, but that’s not practical for some users. I wouldn’t give the Pixel to newbies or anyone who wants out-of-the-box capabilities. Google can continue to improve its functionality and quality to compete more directly with partners beyond a handful of (usually) temporary (usually) Pixel exclusivity. Even though the company has recently shifted its focus more towards the usual feature drops than massive OS revisions, Android 13 as we know it is still a bit disappointing in this respect.

    It’s not about letting those partners go missing. While phone manufacturers don’t abuse customization as much as in previous years, some Android experiences that aren’t available still include their share of arbitrary tweaks. Samsung is a prime example. While One UI is much cleaner and friendlier to third parties, it still tends to duplicate Google features or push services that you probably won’t use. Do you really need two good browsers to buy apps from the Galaxy Store? You will also see some top Android implementations from Chinese brands, although we note that Xiaomi has improved in MIUI.

    And the situation seems to be getting worse in some cases. OnePlus initially appealed to enthusiasts precisely because its customizations were limited and often very useful, but there is evidence of the parent company’s growing influence of top-notch software design. Oppo on devices like this. For example, the OnePlus Price pop-up menu got in the way during our review. Likewise, update policies sometimes take a step back, as Motorola still doesn’t guarantee more than one major OS upgrade for some phones. It would be nice to see OnePlus and other vendors strike a more subtle balance, adding thoughtful touches without fiddling around with excessive or restrictive software updates.

    Hardware: Flies in ointment

    Motorola Edge (2021)

    Igor Bonifacic / Engadget

    Software glitches wouldn’t be so much of an issue if the devices were more mature. It has become all too common to find an Android phone that performs great in most respects, but has at least one weak point that affects the experience or even proves a problem.

    A quick survey of the major Android phones made this clear. The regular series is one of the best on the market right now, but it has modest storage, isn’t expandable, and a 1080p display (good, but not the 1440p some people covet) and reduced features in its smallest version. Pixel 6? An outstanding value, but fingerprint readers are notoriously picky and limited storage can kill interest quickly. The OnePlus 10 Pro is only a small improvement over its predecessor and still suffers from lackluster camera quality. You can get around some of these limitations with free flagships like Sony’s or Sony’s, but then you can spend more than $1,000 on the privilege.

    It becomes even more of a challenge with more affordable models. Motorola is increasingly popular among the average user, but its lack of features (like NFC) creates serious problems for shoppers. Samsung’s mid-range phones can be slow or uninteresting and even feel like a step backwards. Handsets like the Poco F4 GT and upcoming offer high-end processing power at a low price point, but you can rest assured that you’re making compromises in areas like camera technology. And don’t get us started with companies that offer large screens, but with low resolutions that can prove to be an eyesore.

    To be clear, every phone has its compromises. It is unrealistic to expect a perfect product from any brand, including those outside of Android. Apple is often conservative with iPhone design and slow to embrace Android’s popular features —120Hz and USB-C, anyone? More often than not, however, you’re choosing an Android device based on the major flaws you’re willing to accept, not because it’s clearly the best you can get for your money. . Combine that with the software dilemmas mentioned earlier and a truly complete Android phone can be hard to find.

    The glimmer of hope

    Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro


    This is not to say that the Android phone industry is in bad shape. It is the highlights at the heart of this section that emphasize how far the foundation has come. Android 12 (and soon 13) will certainly be more polished than previous versions. Once-obnoxious brands like Samsung have shown some limitations, and it’s much easier to buy a cheap phone that will leave you truly satisfied, even if there are obvious flaws.

    You can also point to some devices showing the road ahead. While Sony’s recent Xperia phones have been increasingly expensive and targeted at niche consumers, they tend to offer powerful performance, good cameras, high-end displays, and well-customized software. right. And if it can solve some of the glitches of its predecessor, it will likely be the Android phone to beat in the second half of the year.

    Instead, the concern is that there is plenty of room for growth. Companies should take a more holistic approach to phone design, where there are few obvious sacrifices in the name of price, bragging rights, selling more storage or peddling service. . Google can do much more to lead, such as incorporating more advanced software features of its supplier allies. It’s entirely possible to create a superior phone simply without its weaknesses – it’s just a matter of finding a solution to make it happen.

    All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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