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Google Pixels have one photography weakness, and it isn't their camera
Google’s phones have long stood out thanks to their unique camera experiences and impressive image quality. The Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 range upped the ante in this regard thanks to a relatively large 50MP main camera, impressive periscope lens on the Pro models, and a host of neat camera features.
It, therefore, goes without saying that recent Pixels are among the best camera phones on the market. However, there’s one notable flaw with Google’s Pixel line-up when it comes to the camera experience, and it has nothing to do with the phones themselves.
Where’s the accessory ecosystem?
Despite having a reputation for a top-notch camera experience, there are relatively few camera-related accessories out there for Pixel phones. Your choices are limited if you want to take your photography game up a level.
Sure, there are a couple of options like Moment’s (M)Force cases, allowing you to use MagSafe accessories on your Pixel. But that’s ironically about the extent of the third-party camera accessory ecosystem for Pixels.
Accessory choices are limited if you want to take the Pixel's excellent cameras up a level.
For what it’s worth, Google’s phones are also compatible with some universal accessories like mobile tripods, detachable lenses, microphones, and gimbals. Nevertheless, Pixel-specific add-ons are in short supply. And it’s not like other phone manufacturers haven’t offered their own cool accessories.
Standout photography accessories from other brands
This is a far cry from camera-related accessories for smartphones in the past. For example, 2013’s Nokia Lumia 1020 and 2016’s LG G5 both offered camera grips. These add-ons provided a shutter button and an extra battery, while the Lumia accessory also brought a tripod mount and the LG add-on offered a zoom wheel.
HUAWEI even released snorkel cases for 2018’s Mate 20 Pro and later, letting you take the phone into the ocean, complete with hardware buttons for more convenient camera controls. The Chinese brand went so far as to develop an underwater mode for its camera app too, mapping various functions to volume keys.
Huawei, LG, Nokia, and several other brands have all offered camera-focused accessories over the years.
Third-party brand Kraken has released universal dive cases over the last few years too, fulfilling a similar role as HUAWEI’s own cases. Google also built a Dive Case Connector app that connects to Kraken’s cases. But at $300 to $450 and with availability limited to North America, these cases aren’t exactly accessible for many people. And again, these are universal cases available for most phones in the first place.
We’ve even seen Essential offering a detachable 360 camera module for the ill-fated Essential Phone, snapping on the top of the device. Going a step further, Motorola’s Moto Z series of smartphones offered several camera-related Moto Mod add-ons. These included a 360 camera, Hasselblad camera, and a Polaroid printer.
Those are but a few examples of mobile device makers pushing the envelope on their phone’s photography experience and offering an accessory to augment it by allowing you to shoot in more environments or to create more unique snaps.
We want accessories to match Google’s camera ambitions
Now, there is an argument that camera-related accessories are at odds with the point-and-shoot nature of smartphones to begin with. We can understand this stance, as a big reason smartphone photography is so popular is that you can simply pick up your phone and shoot in the blink of an eye.
Do you think the Pixel needs camera-focused accessories?
Nevertheless, there’s still scope for Pixel camera accessories for enthusiasts or for specific situations. After all, you’ll need a protective case if you intend to take your phone into salt water. ASTROphotography also ideally requires a tripod rather than being a quick-fire handheld experience.
Either way, we’d love to see Google and its partners release exclusive accessories to take advantage of the excellent Pixel cameras. A first-party Google accessory or a specific Made For Google third-party option is likely to function better than any of the random and device-agnostic accessories we find these days. One can dream of a camera grip with an extra battery, tripod mount, microSD card slot, and zoom buttons. Or a gimbal that perfectly integrates with the default Google Camera, allowing you to switch modes and change settings on the fly. Or a tripod with a detachable remote that can trigger astro mode. But what would you like to see?