Google Pixel 7 review: Bringing the 'smartphone' back to the smartphone

Google Pixel 7 review: Bringing the ‘smartphone’ back to the smartphone

The arrival of the Google Pixel 7 was no surprise, but now that it’s finally here, you might be wondering what’s new. Just like the new Apple iPhone 14, the major changes to the Pixel 7 are probably better classified as iterative rather than revolutionary.

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However, the decision to polish rather than renew isn’t always a bad thing, and that’s where Google looks to influence. In addition to doubling the “smart” part of the smartphone, the Pixel 7 is Google’s smartest flagship to date, but with minimal hardware changes, is it worth upgrading to it?

Google Pixel 7 review: What you need to know

One thing is for sure, the Pixel 7 already has the iPhone 14 edge when it comes to internal upgrades. Where the iPhone 14 uses the same A15 Bionic chipset as the previous model, the Pixel 7 is powered by the new Tensor G2, the natural successor to last year’s first-generation Google Tensor chip.

It is not lacking in key features either. Flag-bearer for Android 13 (the all-new version of Google mobile OS), Pixel 7 strengthens its camera capabilities, with improvements for low-light photo capture, smoother video stabilization and expanded facial detail capture. It does all this using a pair of rear cameras: a 50MP main unit and a 12MP, 123MP main unit.

The small 6.3-inch AMOLED display on the front has a resolution of 2,400 x 1,080 (FHD+), refreshes at 90Hz and supports HDR10+ video playback. The phone also comes with 8GB of RAM with a choice of 128GB or 256GB of internal storage (not expandable).

Google Pixel 7 review: Price and competition

With manufacturing costs rising and phone makers adjusting prices with each new release, Google is doing the opposite and isn’t asking for any extra money this year. Not only that, but the Pixel 7 is one of the cheapest flagships on the market, priced at just £599. 128 GB model and £699 for 256 GB version.

To put that in context, the iPhone 14, which didn’t get a recommendation in our review, starts out at huge rates £849 That’s £150 more than the Pixel 7. It’s not just Apple: The Galaxy S22 may have dropped in price recently but it’s still moving About the £650 mark.

Of course, there is also the Pixel 7 Pro to consider. Same price as iPhone 14 (£849), this gives you an extra 5x telephoto zoom camera, as well as a large 6.7-inch screen with higher QHD+ resolution and a faster 120Hz refresh rate.

Google Pixel 7 review: Design and key features

The Pixel 7 received a major design overhaul for 2022, and now it comes with a new “zirconia brushed aluminum finish” made from 100% recycled materials. The horizontal rear camera bar is similar to the Geordi La Forge that was introduced on the Pixel 6, but it looks a little different this year, as the two rear cameras are now housed in a separate bean-shaped enclosure next to the LED flash unit.

The phone comes in three colors: obsidian (black), icy (white) and lemongrass (a kind of pastel green). An Obsidian model has been submitted for review, which you can see in the photos throughout this review and looks rather nice with the aluminum camera bar and glossy glass back panel.

Speaking of glass, there is a protective layer of Gorilla Glass Victus on the front of the phone, which provides an extra degree of protection against drops and scratches, and the Pixel 7 is also IP68 rated against ingress of dust and water.

In terms of size, there’s a lot to like here. It’s a smaller phone than most modern flagships, measuring 156 x 73 x 8.7 mm (HWD), which means it’s the model you should buy if you have smaller hands or pockets – and it also doesn’t weigh much at 197 grams.

As I mentioned earlier, the base storage is 128GB or you can pay a little extra for 256GB of internal space. Unfortunately, like last year, there’s no room for a microSD card to expand this and it lacks a dual nanoSIM slot. It’s also worth noting that Google doesn’t provide a wall charger in the box, only a 1-meter USB-C to USB-C cable and nothing else.

The Google Pixel 7 is rated at a maximum charging speed of 30W, and in my testing, I found that it went from zero to 50% in just over 30 minutes. It also supports 20W wireless charging via any Qi-compatible charger and can reverse sharing power with other devices like Google Pixel Buds Pro. The new Pixel Watch cannot be charged, as these devices do not support wireless charging.

Google Pixel 7 review: Display

Given its lower price, it makes sense that the Pixel 7’s display would be smaller and lower-resolution than its more expensive Pro-branded sibling, but there’s still plenty to like. The Pixel 7 has a 6.4-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 2,400 x 1,080 (FHD+), a 90Hz refresh rate, and is capable of displaying HDR10+ content — that’s much better than the iPhone 14’s screen.

As for color performance, there is practically nothing wrong here. With the phone’s screen setting on “Normal”, colors look as good as they can be with a Delta E (color accuracy) of 0.81 when tested against sRGB. The entire color palette is displayed as it should, but if the enhanced color saturation is more to your taste, you may find more fun with the “saturated” display setting.

The main thing this year is to increase the brightness of the screen in general, especially when viewing HDR content. Viewing a white square on a black background in the default video player app and using our screen colorimeter I found the Pixel 7’s HDR brightness peaked at a much improved 974cd/m2 (compared to Netflix shows and movies that will look a little different this year.

Google Pixel 7 review: Performance and battery life

Google’s second generation chipset, the Tensor G2, is exclusive to the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. It still retains the 2+2+4 core combo from the original Tensor but the maximum clock speed is now 50MHz higher at 2.85GHz. This translates to a slight improvement in multi-core processing, but not much else.

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Running the multi-core Geekbench 5 CPU test, the Pixel 7 scored 3,309 against the 2,843 Pixel 6: a generational improvement of about 16%. That score puts the Exynos 2200 within walking distance of the Galaxy S22, but the Pixel is still way off the year-old A15 Bionic inside this year’s iPhone 14.

There’s an even bigger leap when it comes to graphics-related tasks, but it’s here where the Pixel 7’s 90Hz screen allows for a little underside. As you can see, the smoother 120Hz refresh rate on the Galaxy S22 puts it at the top of the leaderboard, with off-screen GFXBench Manhattan testing showing that the Pixel 7 is more than capable of hitting frame rates above the screen’s 90fps limit.

When battery life wasn’t the Pixel 6’s strong suit last year, stamina is undoubtedly the star of the show in 2022. With battery life increased to more than four hours in our choppy video test, the Pixel 7 lasted 22 hours and 43 minutes before it needs to be recharged. Google also says that if you enable the “Extreme Battery Saver” options in the phone’s settings, you may be up to 72 hours between charges.

Google Pixel 7 review: Android 13

The Pixel 7 runs Google’s latest mobile operating system: Android 13. There’s not much to say on the software side of things this year, aside from the SMS app’s new voice-messaging feature, but Google has promised at least five Years of monthly security updates.

During the launch, Google also claimed that the Tensor G2 is “smarter” and “more secure” than last year, thanks to improved AI and machine learning algorithms. Titan’s built-in M2 security chip is also back, and all Pixel 7 owners will get free access to a Google One VPN, although this wasn’t available at launch.

While we’re talking about the subject of security, it’s worth briefly mentioning that the Pixel 7 finally supports biometric face unlock. The first Pixel phone since 2019 Pixel 4 To use this unlock method, its comeback isn’t entirely surprising: the Pixel 6’s fingerprint scanner was reported to have gone viral last year.

Google Pixel 7 review: Cameras

Photography has always been the name of the game for previous Google phones and it’s no different from the Pixel 7. However, it’s a bit odd that the device hasn’t really changed this year, with the return of the 50MP main camera and f/1.9 lens along with an ultra-wide sensor. 12 MP resolution and f / 2.2 lens slot.

Google says the ultra-high-resolution photos on the selfie camera are “optimized” but doesn’t get into much detail about what that means, and in my tests, the 10.8MP photos looked the same as last year.

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The company stated that all cameras can now record in up to 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, and this makes a huge difference in video quality, especially if you often record with the selfie camera. A new feature called Dual allows you to record video on both front and rear cameras simultaneously as well.

Software improvements include an expanded image noise canceling mode, including the ability to digitally enhance blurry faces in photos taken with your old phone in the Google Photos app. Night Sight shooting is also twice as fast as before – which makes a big difference when shooting in low light, as it only takes a second to take a picture.

Elsewhere, Google’s facial skin tone algorithms work better than they did with the previous generation and cinematic blur can now be applied in videos, with a shallow pseudo depth of field applied in shots at 24 fps. Stability is greatly improved across the board and you can now prioritize speech sound over background noise, which works fine but is disabled at 60fps.

In terms of general image quality, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the Pixel 7 never faced a challenge again. Even in difficult lighting conditions, the images are filled with intricate detail, with good use of HDR and soft, natural and realistic color reproduction. You get great shots when you hit the shutter and the best thing about all of this is that you don’t have to fiddle with any of the settings if you don’t want to. Just point the camera and shoot; Thats all about it.

Google Pixel 7 review: Verdict

While the price of most goods is on the rise, the Pixel 7 comes as a welcome change. The differences between generations may be slight overall, but the decision to charge the same fees last year — and to undermine virtually all competitors — is the smartest move Google could make in 2022.

Not only is the low price what proves attractive, but there are plenty of other things to love. The Pixel 7’s photography intelligence makes it one of the best options for Instagrammers on the go, and the massive battery life boost is a welcome improvement too. If you want a flagship phone but don’t want to pay premium prices, this is the phone to get.

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