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The Pixel 7’s colors make me wish Google brought back Moto Maker
You’ve probably heard it a million times already but I’ll complain about it again — smartphone design has become a bit boring. That’s especially true in the flagship space, where manufacturers seem to think that higher prices merit subdued colors — devoid of any fun or playful charm. Google has historically been one of the few remaining holdouts in this regard. However, the color options for this year’s Pixel 7 and 7 Pro have left me wanting. More than that, they have me wishing Google would just bring back the Moto Maker design studio and let me customize my own smartphone.
Besides black and white this year, you can get the Pixel 7 in Lemongrass and Pixel 7 Pro in Hazel. However, I don’t think either of these is as bold as the Kinda Coral of the Pixel 6 or as quirky as the Purple-ish of the Pixel 3a. And unlike a few generations ago, there’s still no accented power button. Worse still, the Pixel’s signature dual-tone look has disappeared this year too.
But this is not the first time we’ve seen this happen. Looking back at the past few entries in the Pixel series, it almost seems as if Google oscillates between eye-catching and subdued colors every year.
The Pixel series seems to oscilliate between fun and subdued colors nearly every generation.
The Pixel 5 replaced the bright Oh So Orange of the Pixel 4 with a muted Sorta Sage color. A year later, Google gave us an assortment of colors with the Pixel 6, only to take them away with the Pixel 7 once again. These are odd decisions, especially when you consider that the company has done its best to associate its hardware with fun colors over the years. I still envy the gorgeous deep blue color of the first-generation Pixel. Even the Chromecast that’s meant to sit behind your TV is available in more playful shades than the Pixel 7 series.
Now, I know I don’t speak for everyone. In a recent Android Authority poll, over 50% of our readers said they liked Google’s color choices for the Pixel 7 series. Only 24% of respondents expressed disappointment, while another 20% said they were indifferent. That said, many commenters agreed that black and white aren’t really unique choices, leaving just Hazel or Lemongrass depending on the model you choose.
Covering up a premium glass back with a skin feels like taking a step back.
For others, smartphone skins negate the argument for color variety entirely. But I’m inclined to disagree. The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro feature glass backs that give the phone a premium, reflective look. Covering that up with a skin feels like taking a step back. Even if you think glass makes the phone slick, using a clear case eliminates that problem without hiding the phone’s beauty underneath. And that brings me to what I wish Google would bring back from the dead: an online Moto Maker-esque tool that lets me customize my phone before I buy it.
See also: The best Pixel 7 Pro cases you can buy
Nearly a decade has passed, but I still remember how easy it was to spend hours on the Moto Maker website coming up with fun, quirky, and downright ridiculous combinations for the Moto X. It gave you the same feeling of satisfaction as customizing your character in a video game. In addition to picking the phone’s color and accents, you could also engrave text on the back and add a custom greeting to the boot screen. But perhaps my favorite feature was the ability to select a different material for the back. Natural materials like wood and leather aged beautifully with use and would develop a unique patina over time.
Today, Samsung is carrying Moto Maker’s legacy with its Bespoke Edition Galaxy Z Flip 4 but the choices are nowhere near as exhaustive. You can only pick individual colors for the metal frame and two glass panels — that’s it. However, an interview with Samsung’s design team revealed that limiting options was an intentional decision to prevent overwhelming buyers. The company also admitted that it learned a lot about color preferences by listening to its millennial and Gen Z buyers. For example, Samsung’s upper management was hesitant to add yellow as one of the color options, but eventually relented when the survey results rolled in. Ultimately, yellow and blue ended up being one of the best-selling color combinations in the US.
While I’d like to see a full-fledged return of Moto Maker someday, I’d also be willing to accept Samsung’s limited customization on a Google smartphone. With any luck, we’d also be able select two different shades and bring back the Pixel’s signature dual-tone look. Here’s what the beloved Pixel 2 XL’s “panda” color scheme might look like on a modern Pixel, courtesy of a mockup by Twitter user Jonas Daehnert. The possibilities would be endless.
As much as I wish Google would introduce customization, though, I know it probably isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Global availability has never been the Pixel series’ strong suit (though thankfully it’s better this time around) and customizable orders would only further that problem. Besides, it didn’t work too well for Motorola either. Even though the company opened a factory in the US exclusively for final assembly, ordering a customized Moto X instead of a standard one increased the delivery time by about a week.
The Bespoke Edition Galaxy Z Flip 4 takes longer still from order to delivery — up to a month, according to Samsung’s website. Just last month, we learned that Google was considering moving some Pixel production from China to Vietnam and India, but that’s still pretty far from western shores. Most people simply won’t be willing to wait that long if they can pick up something else at a store or have it delivered to their doorstep within two days. Then again, that’s the cost of a phone that’s made exclusively for you.
The Pixel series is built and assembled in Asia, making user customization nigh impossible in the short term.
But perhaps the biggest reason why we won’t see a Moto Maker-inspired customizable Pixel is Google’s recent zeal for efficiency. Earlier in 2022, the company canceled at least seven “moonshot” projects that had uncertain prospects of profitability. A customizable smartphone would probably fall squarely in that category, given that Google reportedly hasn’t sold more than 10 million units of a single Pixel generation to date. Samsung foldable sales alone, meanwhile, surpassed 10 million in 2021. A customizable edition only really makes financial sense if the Pixel 7 is already flying off the shelves — it’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem.
Would you like to customize the colors of your smartphone?
At the end of the day, will the Pixel 7 series’ color options stop anyone from buying it? I’ll admit that it’s not very likely. The Pixel 7 Pro is one of the best Android phones on the market — playful colors or not. And at the very least, Google has you covered if you want to match your phone’s color with the latest in its ecosystem, namely the Pixel Watch and Pixel Buds Pro.