The Google Pixel 7 gets to tackle a bigger task than most new phones have to do. Most phones simply have to convince skeptical buyers that there are enough new features and improvements to warrant a purchase. Pixel 7 has to do this too, convincing all of us that Google might just be involved in something here with its self-designed silicon.
The Pixel dives into this challenge on its own. Along with the stellar computational photography we’ve come to expect from Google phones, the new device features an all-new Tensor chip under the hood. And that means new experiences and capabilities unique to Pixel 7 range that may simply convince people that Google’s phones deserve a chance.
Despite all its strengths – and there are many as we’ll soon find out in this Google Pixel 7 review – Google’s new phone is unlikely to overturn the Apple-Samsung duopoly that dominates the smartphone market. But Pixel 7 could prove that there are options beyond iPhones and Galaxy devices, and offering people an extremely smart smartphone is a great place to start.
Pixel 7 takes up the design introduced by Google with Pixel 6 and repeats it. When you see them side by side, the kinship is immediately apparent, but the Pixel 7 looks like a more refined version of its predecessor, just like a second-generation design should be. The new Pixel phone keeps the visor-style camera array with its bar on the back, only this time it’s made of aluminum rather than glass.
It’s the same material as the phone frame, so it looks like the visor curves smoothly at the edge. The theme of sophistication continues throughout the device. Unlike the Pixel 6 that comes with a black bezel regardless of color, the Pixel 7 varies its appearance depending on the color scheme. The Lemongrass variant features a gold rim, which creates an instantly recognizable and beautiful combination.
The black and white versions feature more traditional silver and black anodized bezels, respectively, and the versions are made from recycled aluminum. As you look at the colors, you will also notice that the two-tone look has disappeared. The Pixel 6’s color was more subdued under the visor than on the small stripe at the top; the Pixel 7 offers the same look all over the rear glass.
The Pixel 7 offers the same viewing experience as the Pixel 6. As explored earlier, it is a bit smaller with 6.3 inches diagonal instead of 6.4. Unless you keep the two phones side by side, you may not notice this difference at all. What bothers me is that while the bezels have gotten smaller on the sides and top, the bottom bezels haven’t changed, making them appear even larger as a result.
This happens at a time when other Android makers are finally trying to figure out how to add evenly sized bezels that surround all sides of the screen. The Pixel 7 screen offers the same 1080×2400 FHD + resolution as its predecessor and a refresh rate of up to 90Hz. That’s right, Google still isn’t offering 120Hz on its mid-tier offering, reserving the high refresh rate for its Pro model.
That’s a shame, as many manufacturers are moving to offer 120Hz in their flagship lines, as Samsung does. for the Galaxy S22. Many international brands even include the technology with their best value budget phones. While you may have a hard time noticing the difference between 90Hz and 120Hz, it’s still a technological advance that shouldn’t be reserved for the high-end highs these days.
Google Pixel software is the flavor of Android we cover the most, and of course, the Pixel 7 uses all the features that make Pixel phones so great. On the Pixel 7, you get Material You and (some) themed icons for the home screen, quick system and security updates, dictation and assistant features, call screen, and phone spam protection – features we know and love about the Pixel series.
The Pixel 7 continues to add more to this collection, but not as many as you’d expect from a big new launch like this one. Many of the “new” things with the Pixel 7 are actually part of the update to Android 13 that all recent Pixel phones have received and you can read all about it in our Android 13 review.
However, Google has gone to great lengths to include at least a few features. distinct, setting the Pixel 7 apart from other Pixel phones running Android 13. Its new dual biometric authentication wants to fix some of the flaws in Google’s first under-display fingerprint scanner, and there are new health features like cough and snore detection to help you monitor your sleep.
Hardware and Performance
The slight increase in screen brightness sets the theme for the rest of the Pixel 7 hardware. It’s pretty much the same as what we saw in the Pixel 6. The Pixel 7 offers 8GB of RAM paired with 128 or 256GB of storage. storage, depending on the price you are willing to pay. The processor, called the Tensor G2, is a small upgrade over the first Google SoC introduced with the Pixel 6 lineup. It consists mostly of the same cores and super-large, large and small build as the chip that preceded it, although the cores are clocked slightly higher.
We’re looking at 2x super large ARM Cortex-X1, 2x large A78, 4x small Cortex-A55. This refined architecture leads to ever-slightly higher speeds, although you will find it hard to notice too many performance increases in real life. The package is more efficient, however, which is good news given the slightly smaller battery. Google has focused much more on what it’s really good at: improving auxiliary cores and machine learning hardware. The Pixel 7 should be much better during night photography with its new chipset, which we’ll explore later.
The updated Mali-G710 GPU is also added to the new Tensor chip. It offers a more significant upgrade than the Tensor CPU, but even here Google makes no claims about better performance or battery life. The company would like you to focus on the Pixel experience rather than the numbers. The new GPU is also joined by a second generation Titan M2 security chip, a new imaging DSP and an improved TPU focused on machine learning, the so-called Tensor Processing Unit.
The Google Pixel 7 isn’t changing the game with its camera setup, but that’s not a big deal as the name of the game on Pixel phones has always been outstanding camera quality. The 50MP sensor and 12MP ultra-wide sensor have very little difference from those of the Pixel 6. That said, the phone can do magical things under the right conditions.
In everyday shooting, the Pixel 7 is able to easily capture pleasantly vivid images with crisp details. Whether it’s up close, at a distance or trying to fit everything in wide angle, everything works pretty well. The ultra wide-angle camera is more prone to noise in photos and struggles to achieve anything close to the sharpness of the main sensor, though.
Battery and Charging
Let’s try first: the Pixel 7 has a smaller battery than its predecessor at 4,355mAh, compared to the Pixel 6’s 4614mAh. This makes sense, given that the new phone is smaller in all dimensions and the battery is just the part that makes up the bulk of the volume. We are still getting impressed with the battery life.
It appears that Google has managed to make the Tensor G2 more efficient than the first generation chip, and the slightly smaller display could play a role as well. we still haven’t been able to drain the battery in a single day, even though we were away from home most days over the weekend.
In a mixed-use environment that involved taking lots of sample photos under various lighting conditions, some light navigation on public transport, some reviews on Google Docs, and a lot of scrolling on Twitter, Reddit, and Chrome, we were able of eke five hours of screen activation, with 5% remaining at the end of the most extreme day: we must say that if we hadn’t had a battery pack with me, we would have been slightly worried.
Price and Availability
The Google Pixel 7 was pre-ordered after the October 6 launch and began shipping on October 13. The device starts at $ 599 / £ 599 / AU $ 999, which Google rightly points out is $ 100 less than the latest iPhone 14 and matches the price of its predecessor, the 2021 Google Pixel 6. In select markets, Google also offered the new Pixel Watch as a pre-order bonus. The price above is for the 128GB base storage model, but there is also a 256GB variant which is priced at $ 699 / £ 699 / AU $ 1,129.
Unlike the iPhone 14 (and 14 Plus), there are no 512GB storage options, for that you’ll have to upgrade to the more expensive Pixel 7 Pro, although that phone’s 512GB variant is only available in the US and in Australia, not the UK. Also, there is no power adapter in the box, which means that if you want the fastest possible charging for your Pixel 7 (21W) – and if you keep it in the family – you’ll have to pay Google (from) an additional $ 25 / £ 25 / AU $ 45 for its compatible 30W USB-C adapter.
The Pixel 7 doesn’t make huge updates on the incredible Pixel 6, but it does make some impressive improvements that give the phone a much more refined feel. While you wouldn’t miss out on going with last year’s model to save a few hundred dollars, the updated Tensor G2 SoC may still prove its worth as the phone will receive more updates in the future.