I missed these Pixel features the most after switching to Samsung

The mint colorway of the Google Pixel 8
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Oops, I did it again.

After the Pixel 6 broke my heart, I ended up going back to the Pixel 8. Feeling lost? Let me recap.

There I was, enjoying my experience with my precious Pixel 6, and things were going great. It lived up to my expectations; it made me happy. Sadly, it was not a perfect relationship. Roughly two years of short-lived happiness ended abruptly, and we broke up.

The reason why I ended up dumping the Pixel 6 was simple: it just wasn't usable every day anymore. The device would hang up on me, I had a ton of network problems, and the Bluetooth would only play nice when it was in the mood. Google didn't design the Pixel 6 for sustained heavy usage, and the phone just couldn't take it anymore.

Google Pixel 6 Pro and Google Pixel 6 standing upright on a white table

(Image credit: Android Central)

Once that was done and dusted, my next primary device was the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. This was partly because I was curious and partly because I wanted to reaffirm my belief in the longevity of flagship phones. This experiment had a more cheerful ending, leading me to conclude that Samsung's phones age far more gracefully than Pixels.

Now, I have taken everyone — including myself — by surprise and have cautiously switched back to a Google Pixel — the Pixel 8, to be more specific. Before you grab your pitchforks and torches, calm yourself. No, I am not a "hater" of either phone, Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel, so I have no issue bouncing back and forth between either brand or even using both simultaneously.

What's ultimately the most important factor isn't brand loyalty. All I care about (and so should you) is a good quality product that's worth my while and my hard-earned money. But there's more to the story than just curiosity.

Sure, I wanted to test out the latest Pixel to see for myself whether it had improved over the Pixel 6. But I was also sorely missing a couple of Pixel-exclusive features that no other Android phone has.

Now Playing on the Pixel lock screen

Now playing on the Pixel lock screen

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

Now Playing is, in my opinion, the most underrated Pixel feature of them all. This music identification feature is seamless, automatic, and so darn good at what it's supposed to do.

You no longer have to ask, "Hey, what song is that?" because the Pixel does it for you. It records the song with a time stamp, lets you browse the list and favorite tracks, and you can even share songs right out of the Now Playing app.

Forget Shazam, Now Playing is the ultimate song tracker slash audio identification app, and it is baked into modern Pixels. I tried to use alternatives on my Samsung, but nothing came close to this. There isn't a lock screen widget that's as good as this, either.

Yelling STOP at my phone's alarm to turn it off

Alarm ringing on a Google Pixel 8

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

It had become somewhat of a weird tradition for everyone in the household to start yelling "STAHPP" at my Pixel every time the alarm would ring.

In case you weren't aware, you can simply command your Pixel's alarm to turn off verbally when it goes off. This includes simple answers like "snooze" or "stop," but because the alarm is pretty loud, you need to be a bit louder when speaking to your Pixel.

Call it an idiosyncrasy, but I missed screaming at my Pixel to turn off the alarm. It's dumb, it's chaotic, but it's also fun. The fact that it confuses people hanging around you is an added bonus. It's a great conversation starter if anything. Every phone should have this feature.

Pure, unadulterated stock Android with a Pixel twist

Google Pixel 8 review

(Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

After the Android 12 Material You facelift, Android on a Pixel is unmatched. The UI is mouth-wateringly delish to look at. Android 14 has an even better look, and I absolutely love the look of my Pixel 8 running it.

Although One UI and dynamic color theming as well as themed icons, it just doesn't have the soul of a Pixel. The charm of the stock Android phone lies in the little things like the shape of the Quick Settings menu, the clock, the At a glance widget, and the fluid animations.

It's so easy to get used to the subtle software tweaks added by Google. I almost forgot that all phones don't have the ability to copy text from just about anywhere or translate text selected within an app without taking screenshots or any extra steps. Then there's the Magic Eraser, Magic Editor, and Audio Magic Eraser, all of which deliver superior results.

Once you get used to Google's spin on stock Android, it's really hard to move on from there. Despite switching over to Samsung's better-functioning phone, I still yearned for these little built-in options and abilities. No one does cool, seamless software tweaks like Google does.

Peak Android photography

Hands-on with the Google Pixel 8

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

This section is extremely subjective, but I'm the expert here so bear that in mind before bullying me in the comments section. I've tested tons and tons of Android phones, and when it comes to picture quality and color, Google is the undisputed champ.

Between the iPhone 15, the Galaxy S24, and the Pixel 8, the Pixel wins the battle when it comes to photography. Hand on my heart, the Pixel 8's camera is superior. I find the camera app to be more user-friendly, with easily findable and usable modes and just better photography overall.

I love the color tones and accuracy that the Pixel 8 delivers, with vibrant hues that are true to life. The level of detail is stunning, and the motion unblur kicks Samsung and Apple's butts. Night mode is phenomenal, too.

I'm not here to persuade you that the Pixel 8 has the best cameras. Picture quality is subjective to the eye of the beholder. For me, Google has the right formula, but it might not be the same for you. However, this was a big feature that I craved when using the Samsung phone as my primary device. And it's not just my Pixel 8; my Pixel 6 could whoop the S22 Ultra with its hands tied behind its back. Photography is Google's forte, so if you ever ditch a Pixel, you'll miss the photography experience.

This doesn't make up for the poor build quality and longevity of Pixels in general, nor does it negate my poor experience with the Pixel 6. However, these features are enough to make me want to give Google's Pixel ecosystem another shot. It makes me hope that the Pixel 8 doesn't walk down the Pixel 6's path, and though there's no way for me to confirm this right now, only time will tell whether newer Pixels are built to last.

Namerah Saud Fatmi
Senior Editor — Accessories

Namerah enjoys geeking out over accessories, gadgets, and all sorts of smart tech. She spends her time guzzling coffee, writing, casual gaming, and cuddling with her furry best friends. Find her on Twitter @NamerahS.

  • bradavon
    The Galaxy S4 had the ability to say Stop to an alarm.

    It was part of a larger intelligence set of features that mostly sucked and Samsung killed them on the S5. Being able to speak to the alarm was one of the good ones to go sadly.
  • Lorenzo Mario
    I still have my P6 & operation is great! Updates feature drops & security patches has kept this beast nice & right🤗 I will operate this P6 one more year before purchasing another pixel. But yes software is why I purchased my pixel buds pro, pixelbook go Chromebook & pixel 6 phone.
    Only thing I miss is call screening. I did miss the unlockable bootloader but I'm enjoying my phone more now that I'm not constantly flashing ROMs if I'm being honest.

    Otherwise the alarm thing can be done with Bixby. The always spying, i mean music now playing, can be added with Shizuku.
  • Luscombag
    I'm still rocking my P6 and it's going well, but not perfect. I have had some issues with Bluetooth and a growing number of no signal issues (which are typically resolved by toggling on and off Airplane mode).

    I try to get 3 years out of my phones, so I'm looking to replace my P6 this year. I will probably miss some of the things mentioned, but I've been extremely turned off by Pixel's upcoming phone finding feature where it sends a Bluetooth ping even when off. While this would definitely have been a feature my daughter could have used in her teenage years, its encroaching on major privacy concerns.
  • deltatux
    Still rocking my P6 and it's going strong. However, I'm due for an upgrade next year. It will likely be down to the Galaxy S25+ or Google Pixel 10 Pro (or whatever they decide to call their 2025 flagship) depending who has the spec I'm looking for. One thing that I hope Google launches is the rumoured desktop mode. DeX is one of the features that's making me look at Samsung.
  • lutin
    I think the At A Glance widget on the home screen and lock screen is brilliant.

    Seeing a notification for upcoming tasks is fantastic (e.g "Take out the bins in 13 mins"). It's really helpful to see the task before it's due.