With the Pixel 6 now in stores, the next big phone launch looming on the calendar is Samsung's Galaxy S22 series in early 2022. While Samsung has doubtlessly finalized many details for its next phone — rumors suggest many of the components have or will enter production this month — we still have some things we'd like to see Samsung copy from Google's playbook.
From camera features to AI, Google has leapt pretty far ahead of other Android phone makers in many areas. While the latest Pixel lags behind Samsung's top phones in things like battery life, it wins in many of the useful features it offers.
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That's not to say that Samsung can't point to an impressive repertoire of things its Galaxy S21 and Galaxy Z phones can do, but Google has perfected offering users things that truly enhance the smartphone experience. Its Call Screen feature for ferreting out robo-callers immediately comes to mind.
So while much of Samsung's future flagship may already be a done deal, here are five Pixel 6 features we want to see the Galaxy S22 copy.
Smarter Camera capabilities
First and foremost, Google has the Android photography crown. In our testing (as well some third-party testing), the Pixel 6 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max evenly trade blows in most circumstances. Where one leads, the other isn't far behind.
Samsung has some ground to cover to match or beat the Pixel 6 Pro, and that starts with photo post-processing and image quality. In the last several years, Samsung phones have strayed too far to an oversaturated, fantastical look with their photos. Even as recently as the Galaxy Z Flip 3, the Samsung effect remains strong. When compared to the Pixel 6 Pro, the images sometimes don't look very realistic.
Google can tend toward too much of a natural look, which can lead to photos appearing bland if the scene itself isn't very interesting. In those cases, Samsung can come out ahead by boosting the colors to make the final image more appealing. This is a rare case, however, and I want to see the Galaxy S22 tone things down. If Samsung wants its newest flagships to be mature camera phones, it needs to scale back the saturation.
But more than just that, Google offers extra features like Magic Eraser, a truly revolutionary thing where you can zap objects right out of your photos. It's not perfect and can get a bit confused on objects close by or with a lot of texture in the background, but about 80% to 85% of the time, it works.
Samsung does offer some neat bits like Director Mode, where you can record video from the rear and front cameras simultaneously, and Zoom Lock, which tries to keep your zoomed-in viewfinder steady for a sharper picture.
I think that Samsung has gotten a lot better with cameras recently, but Google is just that much better in most cases. It wouldn't hurt for Samsung to do what Google's doing, giving more people a stellar mobile photography experience.
Voice dictation is a feature on every smartphone nowadays, but Google really changed things up with the Pixel 6. Not only does the phone understand you better, but using your voice to dictate and send texts can be incredibly accurate on the Pixel 6. The Google Assistant can better capture the right words based on context (including picking the right contacts) and insert punctuation automatically.
It's pretty great and turned me into a speech-to-text fan. And then there's Google's Recorder app, which can very accurately transcribe anything you say — this is very useful for meetings if you have trouble focusing.
In contrast, Samsung has the dictation stuff we're used to. It's nothing special and I'd like to see the Galaxy S22 catch up to Google here.
Improved calling features
No one else comes to close to the awesome calling features Google offers on Pixel phones. Call Screen, Hold for Me, Wait Times, and Direct My call all offer ways to make calls, notably to and from businesses, that much easier.
Call Screen lets you screen your calls (go figure), where the caller must introduce themselves and state why they're calling before you decide whether to pick up or not. It can be pretty funny — you can get people thinking it's your voicemail, you might get people who cuss you out, or you'll get spam callers who immediately give up.
Hold for Me has Assistant hold on the line for you and pings you when a representative picks up. New to the Pixel 6, Wait Times gives you an estimate of how long you'll hold on the line based on historical data. And Direct My Call transcribes those pesky menu options, letting you see which one you might need instead of having to remember them all.
Samsung could stand to offer some of these, since they really are killer apps for Pixels.
A lower price
This is very simple — Google nailed the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro's pricing. With the regular model starting at $599 and the Pro at $899, Google has the best flagship value of any Android smartphone. Samsung needs to answer this in kind, though the rumored Galaxy S21 FE might be the company's attempt at offering a more affordable phone.
Samsung crept over the $1,000 mark a couple of years ago, so this one might be a lost cause. The Galaxy S21 dialed things back to $799, which was a good start, but the Pixel 6 Pro offers so much more for just another $100. Samsung better justify the Galaxy S22 Plus/Pro and Galaxy S22 Ultra's likely higher starting prices.
Longer security support
Here's where Google and Samsung are very close. Both companies support their phones better than other Android device manufacturer, but Google upped the Pixel 6's lifespan to five years of security patches, crediting its Tensor processor for the lengthier support. Sadly, Google has not committed to more than three years of platform updates for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, but we hope that changes over the coming years.
Samsung has a standard policy of three years of Android updates and four years of security patches for its phones. That's great, and Samsung deserves commendation for that. But with Google pushing to five years of patches, I'd like to see Samsung follow suit.
Galaxy S22 outlook
We're just a few short months away from the Galaxy S22's launch, so it's likely that most of its feature set is already finalized. Still, Samsung could improve things on the software side in the meantime, like the camera stuff and security patches. I doubt that we'll see anything as AI-based as the Pixel 6's calling or voice dictation capabilities right out of the gate.
The Galaxy S22 is going to be the premiere Android phone of the first half of 2022 and odds are that a lot of people will buy one of the models. In the interest of its customers, Samsung would do well to take a look at what the Pixel 6 did right and implement that into its own phones.