Google Pixel 7 & 7 Pro Review - Ridiculous.
Table of Contents
So let's start with design. I'm gonna be honest with you, when I first picked up these phones, I thought to myself, what have you done, Google? The two-tone colours that we had before were more interesting than the flat colour options we have now. And there was something quite cool and mysterious about how the last phones just had this entire continuous band that was filled with unspecified Google camera magic. Compared to now where it's a bit more standard, like, okay, this bit here is a camera lens, this bit is, well, empty space. But since then, the Pixel 7s have grown on me quite a lot. I've started to appreciate the slightly more rounded corners, the clickier power button, how the sides now seamlessly connect to the camera visor on the back, as opposed to it feeling like a separate piece, and how the back itself is now made of a more scratch-resistant plaster last time. More than anything, I'm actually just really, really glad that they've kept this visor at all. It's a good design choice. It gives your fingers a natural place to rest, which isn't on the cameras. Even in landscape mode, when I'm playing games on this phone, I actually find that I'm using it as an additional way to grip the phone. And actually, the benefit of it being a matte finish this time makes that action feel a bit less...icky. Not to mention that because the visor is even across the entire back, it makes the phone sit flat when resting on a table.
The only thing that I can't get used to is the fact that the base Pixel 7, which has a flat display compared to the curved one on the 7 Pro, does feel a little sharp where that screen intersects with the body, which is not ideal given how much you're going to be swiping across it for gesture controls.
The screens themselves are good, though. You get a full HD panel on the Pixel 7 and a larger quad HD panel on the Pro. And I'm not actually bothered by the resolution. 1080p is plenty. The only thing that I don't love about the base model is the noticeably thicker chin at the bottom. It's not terrible, but having seen phones for less than $500 that have managed to get even borders all around would have been a nice touch. But once you get inside the phones, that's where things start to get juicy. Remember, the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro are the first phones to be powered by Google's second generation Tensor chip. That's a big deal. And yet nowhere has anyone mentioned how powerful it is. Not to worry, we'll do it.
If we pull up a quick geekbench on the Pixel 7s, you can see that Tensor Gen 2 is actually very much neck and neck with Samsung's S22 Ultra in CPU performance. Which is impressive for two reasons. One, that speed was a serious limiting factor last time and they seem to have fixed it. And two, that you're getting this top level performance not just on the $899 Pixel 7 Pro, but also the $599 Pixel 7.
And then to test the graphics capability, I run the Antutu benchmark, which shows us that the GPU within the Pixels is about 5% behind Samsung. And that if we run the test repeatedly, this is the result from my third consecutive run of this Antutu benchmark, all phones get about as hot as each other, and they all lose about the same amount of performance under sustained loads. Or in other words, if you're a serious mobile gamer, then you'll still get better performance on a proper gaming phone. But at the same time, it is a massive relief that we finally got enough power that it doesn't feel compromised. You can still pull up even the most heavyweight games Android has to offer, like Apex Legends, Genshin Impact, and pretty much max out the settings. But this Tensor G2 chip is not just about gaming. In fact, I don't even think Google mentioned gaming in their entire presentation. The key things that they focused on are how it benefits the day-to-day software experience, and how it benefits the camera. And these are, no joke, the two best things about the Pixel 7s. For one, the improved AI core added to it can make your phone better able to understand your voice. I've tested this, by the way, and compared to the iPhone, accuracy is definitely a grade above, even nailing the punctuation. I've tried talking quietly, I've tried talking really loud, same result. And so that's already quite a big deal. If your phone can understand your voice better, then that means you're going to have better comms with your voice assistant, you're going to be able to send messages faster, you're going to be able to translate things more accurately. But there's actually so many more times while using this software where I've just felt to myself, wow, Google has put some real care into this. For example, how you can change wallpapers in one tap from the home screen. How the status bar matches the exact curvature of the phone's physical borders, making it feel like software that was designed around the hardware. How the always-on display clock gently transitions into the lock screen clock. How they've sped up the fingerprint scanner and created this subtle blend of soft vibrations and sounds to make it feel like you're pressing a real button. How simple the whole thing is. How they give you everything you need to transfer your stuff quickly from your old phone. How it comes with just the bare minimum apps installed with no bloatware, and how it shows you demo videos of any feature that might be a little bit confusing. Stuff like this makes it so much easier to recommend to the less techie people that I know.
How accessible the phone is. How it caters for the hard of hearing with live captions of literally anything that you can see on your phone. And how it caters for the blind with guided access that makes sure that they can still take well-framed selfies. How the phone can predict what apps you're going to use next and display them on your icon dock. Which, by the way, so far has been spot on for me. Although I'm not hard to predict. And it all just happens really, really quickly. The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro both feel like well-oiled machines. You glide between apps, each opens and closes gracefully, and you're never really waiting for anything. I'm still slightly salty that this same smoothness still doesn't apply to switching between the various camera lenses. And I'm not super convinced by the stability of the software. I mean, the Pixel 6 developed a bit of a reputation for being buggy. And even here I've had two separate occasions where my phone seems to have forgotten what it was for a good five minutes. But I'm hopeful. Both Pixel 7s do get three years of major OS updates. Which, while not the best anymore thanks to Samsung sweeping in and now offering four, is still pretty good. And Google does tend to eventually figure out and patch the main bugs that any Pixel releases with.
Oh, and also the battery life is good. And a sub to this channel would be... Goooooood.
That was horrendous, I apologize.
- I don't think I can work here anymore.
Oh. Considering that the last phones had mediocre battery and that the battery capacities have not really gone up here, I was surprised with how much life I was getting out of them. Genuinely, the smaller Pixel 7 has got the battery life of most larger Pro phones. And then the 7 Pro is right there with the iPhone 14 Pro Max as not quite the very best, but in the highest tier. And I'd be willing to bet that the new Tensor chip has something to do with that, just like it does with the cameras.
Okay, let's talk about these cameras. So the base Pixel 7 has two cameras, a 50 megapixel main one and a 12 megapixel ultrawide. And I think you could make a pretty strong argument that there is no better camera system available for less than $600.
And step one of that is the photo processing. When you take a photo on the Pixel 7 and open it up, you'll always notice that it spends a second or two processing that image. Every phone does this to some extent, but there is no phone that improves the result as much as this can. Like, it's not just that it adds a bit of sharpness, this thing applies noise reduction. It stitches together photos from both your main cam and your ultrawide to improve sharpness. It uses AI to realistically reproduce your natural skin color on any one of the cameras and not just limited to the default camera app. It even optimizes the shape of your face, removing lens distortion, and combs through after you've taken to unblur features if you shook the camera too much. You can also use this unblur feature on any photo, even not taken on this phone. And it's kind of nutty, not gonna lie. Like I purposefully took a blurry selfie on my Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, and yet this Pixel is better able to unblur it than the phone that took it. It's got to the stage now where the processing is so good that I've just come to trust the Pixel 7. I trust that even though things may not necessarily look the best in the camera preview, that when I click that shutter button, the phone will figure it out. And it's almost an exciting process, waiting to see what it's going to do with your shots. And the fact that this phone has no zoom camera and yet can still take photos this sharp at eight times magnification, thanks to the same AI, is frankly absurd. Not to mention that in low light, while this isn't a giant leap over last year's Pixel, the fact that it captures those night shots in less time, leading to less blurry photos, combined with better dynamic range than the iPhone 14 Pro that controls the bright spots, keeps it very much on par with the best phones out there. The only caveats are a slightly exaggerated color palette, which I don't hate to be honest, and a slightly weaker ultra wide camera, which becomes apparent when you look at the sky in this shot. But here's the even more important news.
Google has significantly improved the video. It's not as good as the photos, but they have taken it from one of the weakest Android flagships for video to one of the strongest. It's still not quite at the iPhone's level of clarity, especially on that selfie camera. Like I have this regular discord call that I do with some YouTube friends, and my picture has become a little fainter and a little fuzzier since I switched from the 14 Pro. But this is still not to be laughed at. It picks up voices really clearly, thanks to something Google calls speech enhancement, which gets rid of background noise.
The auto focus is now surprisingly precise. Like it can pick out really fine objects and still nail the focus. And then if you want to focus on something moving, you have literally the best tracked focus available on a smartphone. The new cinematic mode also benefits from this impeccable focus tracking.
But the fact that it's capped at 1080p versus the iPhone, which can now do 4K, makes me not really want to use it.
Pixel 7 Pro
And then you've got the Pixel 7 Pro, which has the same core, but on top of that, it has a five times zoom camera, which paired with all the fancy optimizations Pixel 7s are doing to zoom shots anyways, means that actually you can take a zoom photo all the way up to about 12 times and not even be able to tell that it's not optical zoom. Way better than the iPhone 14 Pro zoom, but still not at the level of Samsung's. And it also has a wider ultra wide camera than the base 7, which includes auto focus, meaning that you can now get close to things and take macro shots, which are not quite as close as the iPhone, but definitely as good as the iPhone's macros, thanks to Google's processing, again, just coming in clutch. I could probably go on about this for another 10 minutes, but the crux of this video is that the Pixels this year are brilliant. They are fast, they are sturdy, they are helpful, and they capture your memories reliably. And I know that not everyone's gonna echo this sentiment, but I also think they're both priced really well for what they are. For the standard 7, I think they've picked all the right things to trim down, leaving you with less luxuries, but more importantly, functionally the same phone where nothing feels missing. And then for the Pro, they've made sure they give you enough luxuries, a more fluid body, better screen, bigger battery, more advanced camera, more RAM, so that if you are willing to spend $300 more, you're still definitely getting your money's worth. Now, if you are about to splash out on a Pixel 7 and you want the absolute best of the best to protect it with, this is the case to do it. This is the dbrand Grip, and it's great for drop protection, but that's not really what makes it special. It's more the little touches, the ultra grippy micro-dotted texture, the arches that protect the front of the phone, the clickiest buttons I've ever experienced on a case. And it's all dressed up in this brand new digital camo skin, which comes in glitch camo, navy camo, and my favorite, arctic camo. And it's not just for this phone. You can get it for anything from MacBooks to iPhones, Pixels, Samsung phones, gaming consoles, even a Rubik's Cube. Link below to check it out.