New phone: Care about camera and storage space. Google or Samsung?
August 5, 2022 10:36 AM   Subscribe

I have a Samsung S20+ 5G. I broke it. What new phone should I get? It looks like the two contenders are the Samsung S22+ or the Google Pixel 6. The things I care more about are having a fantastic camera and having lots of space on board for pics and movies. I do my basic photo editing (and viewing/cataloguing/backing up) in Google Photos if that matters. Also, I care a little about smooth transition between phones.

I think I remember that there are some Google Photos features that are only enabled on the google phones for new versions?

Re Phone transition: I mean if I can just lay the phones on top of each other and copy everything over that's pretty sweet.

I have windows computers and Google Home and Alexa devices.
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Technology (13 answers total)
Google just launched Pixel 6a, IIRC.

The Google exclusive features are listed here: Link to AndroidPolice Article
posted by kschang at 11:11 AM on August 5

I'm happy with my Pixel 6, personally. You might not be if coverage is poor in your area. I haven't had any issues, but I live in a major metro with a couple of macrocells less than a mile away from my house, where I spend most of my time. I haven't had issues on the few occasions I've left the neighborhood since I got it, though.

The camera is quite good, battery life is excellent for my use (7+ hours of screen on time even when only charging to 80% and charging when it gets to 20%), and the voice typing is crazy fast compared to Gboard's normal cloud-based voice typing. Live caption and live translate are also really cool, but less often useful for me. It's pretty freaky having a WhatsApp conversation that looks like straight English to me but is actually entirely in Spanish, and translated surprisingly well.

As far as the exclusive photo features, Magic Eraser is fantastic..when it works. I haven't needed face unblur because in any kind of even half decent lighting it can avoid any blur in the first place. Night sight is crazy good compared to my last phone for those times it's needed. Almost too good since it can be hard to tell it's actually night sometimes.

As far as transferring data from your old phone, it'll do that, though I'm not sure how well from a Samsung. I'm sure it would pull in pics and such just fine, but if you were using Samsung's apps it may not be able to do anything with that. I can't say for sure since my last phone was running Android One, so it was all Google (with the exception of the camera app) despite not being a Pixel. It does require using a cable, though. If you've got a USB-C cable that will work, and if not it comes with an adapter so you can plug a USB-A end into the Pixel. I still don't own any proper USB-C cables, just A-to-C, so that came in handy.

I remain annoyed that it didn't come with a cable or charger, but that seems pretty much universal lately. Thankfully, it'll charge at 10W on my older chargers, which is fast enough for me. It takes about 2 hours to fully charge from stone dead doing it that way. If you need faster, you have to spring for a USB-PD charger.
posted by wierdo at 11:35 AM on August 5

The high end Sony Xperia have great lenses well-calibrated sensors and the Xperia 5 mk III is currently priced as if mid-range. It can take 512GB SD cards and has an OLED screen like your Samsung did.

I think the migration would be part USB-C rather than Wi-Fi or BlueTooth.
posted by k3ninho at 11:37 AM on August 5

Android phones tend to have SD card slots, but I have so much Google drive space that I mostly use the space for podcasts that I never listen to. Then I switched to a used $200 Iphone SE 2020 with mediocre battery life, but the camera is so good that I can never fly coach again. We also bought a four year old used car recently and the entire is so quiet that we quickly realized we had been driving like peasants our entire lives. The hedonic treadmill is real. I currently carry a ten year old Canon S95 on my hip that takes pictures with similar quality to an iPhone, with a few more options.
posted by mecran01 at 11:53 AM on August 5

Android phones tend to have SD card slots

For the most part, this has not been true for many years. There are exceptions, but not in the high end Samsung or Google phones meant for the North American market.
posted by dobbs at 12:25 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]

I have a Samsung Note20 Ultra and highly recommend it. The S22+ is also a great phone (though I'd get the Ultra as I like the stylus and you can go up to 1TB of storage -- even the Pixel 6 Pro only has a pathetic 256GB max.)

I have tried many Google hardware devices and have now firmly placed the company into my "Never Again" category of companies. They have dreadful customer service and have left me hanging many times. The final two times:

- Bought one of their Pixels (forget which). At the time, they offered a 14 or 30 day trial period where you could get a full refund. Two days into using the phone, there was an issue with the microphone. They were out of stock on the phone but agreed to send me a replacement when they got more stock. It took a while, and the new phone arrived. (I'd been using my previous phone in the meantime.) After receiving the new phone and using it for about a week, I decided I didn't like it and wanted to take advantage of the trial period. Google said, "Nope, that's expired." They refused to back the policy because they say the date started from the time they sold me the broken phone, not from when they sent me the working phone. I asked for clarification: If I'd sent the broken phone back instead of agreeing to a replacement, I could have gotten my refund and repurchased the phone when the new stock came in and I would have been fine, right? Yup.

- While travelling in the US, I purchased a maxed out Pixel LS laptop, which was around $2K. When back in Canada, I turned it on one day and it told me, "There is no operating system on this computer - Call this number." I called and they talked me through some steps but it didn't work. I would have to send it in. When they found out I was now in Canada, they refused to honor the warranty. I said I'd cover the shipping, which is the only thing I thought they were objecting to. They refused. I said I would be back in the states in 3 months and would send it in then. They agreed. I did so; they sent a replacement. I left the country and 3 months later exactly the same thing happened and of course they again refused to honor their warranty. I still have that computer. It's a brick. A couple years ago Google had an authorized fixit service in Toronto. I drop off the laptop. Even they could not fix it, saying it would have to be sent to the States, but that they weren't willing to do that.

I've probably had 10 Samsung phones in my life. I've never had to get anything on them repaired.
posted by dobbs at 12:46 PM on August 5

Here's MKBHD talking about the S22 Ultra cameras.

Also, I care a little about smooth transition between phones.

It would be pretty similar between the Samsung and the Pixel. But since you mentioned this aspect specifically, I'll say that Samsung has an app that makes it seamless.
posted by dobbs at 12:59 PM on August 5

I wrote a comment but accidentally deleted. Long story short, I say get the Pixel 6 for your specific situation. I've had it since it came out. I like it, it makes interacting with Google stuff very seamless and takes out the layer of Samsung nonsense/interference/clutter, the camera is great and the AI chip stuff seems to do something all around. The voice typing definitely is very fast. Don't buy their earbuds or their phone cases. Find somewhere you can try doing all the stuff you want to do with it and taking some photos if possible.
posted by lookoutbelow at 9:38 PM on August 5

I forgot to say regarding transition - if you are a heavy user of Samsung things, this may be a slightly bigger factor and worth researching. I always avoided any of the Samsung apps which made the transition easy, but it's a separate ecosystem a bit (as compared to the totally seamless transfer between Samsung phones). I think a slightly bumper transition might be worthwhile though if you already like using Google Photos.

I have the smaller of the two models (but bigger than the one that just came out) – if I recall correctly the bigger one has a zoom camera.

Also, the Samsung fingerprint scanner is very likely better but the Pixel one is fine – you will have missed out in the gloriously inconvenient bug mine had where of you let the battery die the fingerprint scanner broke until you performed a factory reset! And after they fixed it I still had to perform a factory reset! I digress. Other than that, it feels like good quality and it is a more interesting looking phone than most (I have it in a clear case and it looks great)
posted by lookoutbelow at 2:25 AM on August 6

Get the upgraded Samsung. I tried to switch to Pixels and had a similar experience to dobbs. Never again.

These days I just get the absolutely maxed out samsung (most internal memory available) and they seem to last about 3 years of very heavy use.

Also, Samsung frequently offer trade-ins that can cut the cost of your new device.
posted by fake at 5:34 AM on August 6

I switched from a Samsung S10 5G to the Google 6 Pro and love it. The phone feels quicker and having stock Android is great (fuck you, Bixby). The camera is amazing.
posted by Faff at 12:15 AM on August 7

FWIW, I used to lust after all the new phones, and for the longest time I was running OLD Android phones. I think I kept the original Droid for years before moving to Droid Bionic, then Samsung Galaxy S6, then Moto X4, and only earlier this year I got a Pixel 6. (not pro). I'm happy with my phone, not for the Pixel-y features though. I wanted a phone that's not excessively big, but decently supported by accessories. That pretty much means Samsung for the Android side. But as I changed the phone, I started to realize most of my requirement was due to lack of battery life, and my previously hobby of messing with phone custom ROMs. Right now, my phone's left stock, and it'd easily last me a day or two. AND I have it on normal Qi wireless charge docks.

So evaluate your needs more closely. You can probably do with a lot less than you think.
posted by kschang at 12:48 AM on August 8

Response by poster: Thanks all, I ended up lusting after the S22 Ultra with it's 10x and 3x optical zoom lenses, but there's no way I could justify that expense, especially since I needed the 256G (212G used on my current phone). Anyway, I got the Samsung S22+ for the optical zoom lens, which I figure will be useful for photographing kid activities from the distance.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:46 AM on August 8

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