Since 2016, Google has been on a mission to fulfill the company’s desire to design a smartphone that can bring the best Android experience to consumers. Known as the ‘Google phone’, each release was mostly met with feigned interest and never quite gained the traction they needed to make a splash in this very large pond. The release of the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro is a defining moment in the companies’ history as it has finally undergone the process of metamorphosis: the process of transformation from an immature form to an adult form in the life history of an organism.
Last year, Google reintroduced the Pixel line with the release of not one but two new smartphones that received a lot of attention. The Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro were applauded by consumers and the larger tech. community at first but unfortunately were beset with 1st generation problems that were eventually mitigated with software updates. Despite the rough start at launch, they received a lot of attention with the value-to-cost proposition they offered consumers. Offering a smart AI-based approach to the Android OS and bringing some groundbreaking features, a stellar camera experience, and fluidity to the Android space that has not been seen for some time. Now, Google has returned with a device that is not only the successor to the 6 series, but they are also the best phones the company has ever made.
For the sake of this review, we will be focusing on what has changed this year with the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro compared to last year’s offering, and let’s start first with the screen. Both phones come in the same sizes as last year with both a 6.3-inch and 6.7-inch variant featuring a vibrant LTPO OLED screen in either FHD+ or QHD+ resolution. The Pixel 7 Pro’s screen is also less curved than last year which is a change we gladly welcome and par for the course is that both phones retain a high screen refresh rate of either 90Hz or 120Hz for fast and fluid navigation around apps and the OS. This year there is a notable bump in screen brightness up to 1500 nits on the 7 Pro and 1400 on the smaller 7 and this is a necessary change in outdoor visibility. Again, we get the very convenient Always on Display but new is the return of Face Unlock, a feature notably missing from the last few generations of Pixel devices. This is another means by which users can unlock their devices quickly and satisfyingly. We are also happy to report that the Fingerprint scanner up front is also much improved and much more consistent than last year.
Around the back of the device, we also get the now iconic Pixel camera bar but this year it is flanked with a polished or matte aluminum frame that seamlessly blends into the body of the phone and it looks fantastic. We also get a more mature color palette, gone is the two-tone design of the 6 for a more muted and classy single color which brings some uniformity to the design. However, we do wish that the Pro variant would retain the matte finish of the 7 as it just looks better in our professional opinion.
The Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are both powered by Google’s new Tensor G2 chip, which promises advanced machine-learning capabilities and computational photography powers. The Pixel 7 features 8GB of RAM with 128GB or 256GB of storage and is powered by a 4,355 mAh battery for all-day use, while the Pixel 7 Pro features 12GB of RAM either 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB of storage and a massive 5,000 mAh battery which combined with the new Tensor 2 chipset has delivered some impressive battery life thus far on both devices. One area we would love to see an iterative improvement on for next year’s release is their charging. Yes, they both have 30 watts ‘fast’ wired and 23-watt wireless charging but there is no reason why Google can’t add a little speed to the recipe and bring that more in line with what some of their international competitors are doing.
A Pixel review isn’t complete unless we talk about the OS and those cameras. The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro come with Android 13 and next to Apple’s iOS, it is the most responsive and fluid Android experience. The best way to describe the experience of Android 13 on a Pixel phone is that it just works. You have the least amount of work to do to get a clean, working system up and running. Apps open lightning fast with not a snag or a stutter to mention. You also get granular control over app permissions; you can add themed icons and even resizable widgets to your main screen to make the device truly yours *cough, Apple*. Gaming has also been a pleasant experience on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, no, these are not dedicated gaming phones but, in our testing, we did not see any instances of slowdowns or thermal throttling to speak of. Then there are also the Pixel exclusive features which we would argue is a reason to buy the phone alone, features such as the powerful spam call killer – Call Screen, a powerful photo editor in Magic Eraser; Real Tone technology to better capture accurate skin tones and a new photo Unblur feature, which uses the power of A.I. to magically sharpen any photo to make it less blurry, even if you took it 15 years ago. Also of note, is the improvements this generation to Google’s speech-to-text technology, it is so good on the Pixel 7 line that this entire review you are reading now was transcribed using this feature!
Last and certainly not least are the cameras! The Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro both feature a 50MP main camera with f/1.8 aperture and a 12MP ultrawide lens with f/2.2, but the Pixel 7 Pro adds a 48MP 5x telephoto camera with up to 30x Super Res Zoom for zooming in even further than last years’ 6 Pro. The regular Pixel 7 may not have a dedicated telephoto lens, but it is capable of up to 8x Super Res Zoom, which in our testing did look pretty good for digital zoom. The Pixel 7 Pro also benefits from a wider field of view at 125.8 degrees vs. 114° for the Pixel 7 which means you can capture more in each frame. The improved ultra-wide lens on the Pixel 7 Pro also now has auto-focus which enables for the very first time a Macro Focus mode for enhanced close-up shots and boy do these look great. We also see across both devices a notable enhancement in their Night Sight mode, capturing details in low-light environments faster than ever before. Check out these Pixel 7 Pro photos courtesy of One Cut fan @dalevon_digital
On the video front, the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro also sport a new Cinematic Blur mode, like their competitors, this adds more depth to your footage while blurring out the background and creating a creamy bokeh effect. Both phones also now feature 10-bit HDR support, so there is a noteworthy improvement in the video output quality, especially for editing. Finally, even the front-facing camera on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro received an upgrade, there is now a 10.8MP shooter with f/2.2 aperture and 92.8° ultrawide field of view which should elevate your selfie game to new levels as it is a large improvement in picture quality. It should also be mentioned that Google has also worked with some of the leading social media apps like Snapchat, TikTok and more to optimize photo and video quality when shared across platforms.
To conclude, Google took the feedback it received on last year’s Google Pixel 6 line and made some quality-of-life improvements where it mattered with the Pixel 7 series. Google is one of the only companies this year that seems to have made this release more than just iteration but rather innovation. They have finally matured the Pixel line to the point where it is now a genuine competitor in the high-end, high-stakes smartphone market. They have metamorphosized the Pixel line to make it one of the most intelligent and consumer-friendly devices available to buy today, gone are the questionable aesthetic and janky OS bugs, they have come into their own as an established and complete alternative to the Apple’s and Samsung’s of the world.
Get yours today at https://store.google.com/ca/category/phones?hl=en-GB