Google Pixel 7 Pro

Google Pixel 7 Pro puts the smarts back into smartphones (review)

100% human
9.5

Google knocked it out of the park last year with the Pixel 6 Pro and the tech giant is back at it again with the Pixel 7 Pro, offering a powerful camera, brand new Tensor G2 chip and powerful AI features. Best of all, at a $1,300 price point, Google’s flagship severely undercuts the best from Apple and Samsung. 

Details: Google Pixel 7 Pro

Price (RRP): $1,299 128GB, $1,449 256GB, $1,599 512GB
Manufacturer: Google
Product page: Google Pixel 7 Pro
Warranty: 2 years
Country of manufacture: China
IP68 water and dust rating: Yes (up to 1.5m for 30 mins)
About: Google is an American company that is most commonly known as a search engine. Although the company made its name as a search engine and the vast majority of its income comes from advertising because of this, it has branched out into a number of areas such as cloud computing, software and hardware.

Design

The Pixel 7 Pro looks almost identical to its predecessor with a large and bright 6.7-inch 120Hz OLED display on the front and striking camera visor on the glass back. The camera bar is now wrapped in polished aluminium allowing the sides to blend in seamlessly with the metal frame of the phone. 

The two-tone design is gone with the same colour above and below the camera bar. While the fun two tone design of its predecessor gave the handset a bit of character, the new design still looks premium and feels great in the hand. The camera bar is positioned naturally where my index finger rests, creating a more secure grip than other glass slab phones. 

The camera bar also eliminates the rocking you normally get with camera bumps from other handsets, allowing you to comfortably use the Pixel 7 Pro while it’s laying flat on a desk. 

While the edges of the front glass are curved, the viewable display doesn’t actually spill into the sides of the handset, which some may prefer. This does mean you get a bit more black bezel around the edges of the screen, making it look a little less premium compared to other flagships, but it’s something you forget about completely once you start using the phone. 

The under display fingerprint sensor is quicker than the one on the 6 Pro but still not quite as fast as the ultrasonic ones found on some competing devices such as Samsung’s S22 line. This time around Google has included face unlock that works fast and reliably when there’s good lighting around, but the lack of a depth and infrared sensor make it less secure and pretty much unusable in dim lighting. 

The Pixel 7 Pro comes in three colourways including obsidian (black), snow (white) and hazel (greyish green). 

All in all, the Pixel 7 Pro is a nice refinement over its predecessor while retaining just enough visual flourishes of its own that help set it apart visually from other glass slab phones. 

Display

The Pixel 6 Pro had a good looking 6.7-inch OLED display that mostly ticked all the boxes with its razor sharp resolution of 3120 x 1440 resolution and buttery smooth 120Hz refresh rate, matching other top tier flagships. However, it was noticeably dimmer and while it was still usable outdoors, I would struggle to see the display clearly while wearing sunglasses and HDR lacked that extra bit of pop you normally find on other premium smartphone displays. 

This time around Google has almost doubled the brightness of the display and the change is immediately apparent. Screen visibility was great regardless of the lightning conditions around me and it also passed the sunglasses test with flying colours. For me, the Pixel 6 Pro’s auto brightness was just so conservative that I eventually turned it off and relied on manual brightness adjustments instead. With a much wider brightness range on the Pixel 7 Pro, I never felt the need to do the same on the Pixel 7 Pro. 

Camera

The Pixel 6 Pro was one of the best smartphone cameras on the market and the same rings true with the Pixel 7 Pro producing stunning photos with excellent dynamic range, vivid colours and crisp detail as well as class leading low light performance. 

The 7 Pro largely uses the same triple camera array that debuted on its predecessor with a 50-megapixel main camera, 48MP megapixel telephoto and a 12MP ultrawide. However, there have been some notable improvements in image processing and features. 

Firstly, the optical telephoto zoom has been increased to 5x which, while not a huge boost in range, does give you that extra bit of freedom to crop in tighter and find more interesting compositions. Crucially, the 5x telephoto camera helps improve detail in images taken at  intermediate distances between 2x and 5x but also as you veer out into digital zoom territory of 10x and beyond. 

Of course, the Pixel 7 Pro’s telephoto camera at 10x digital zoom isn’t going to look sharper than a proper 10x optical zoom found on the S22 Ultra but the results are more detailed than they have any right to be. 

In the telephoto shots below for instance, you can see that the Pixel 7 Pro’s retains a good level of detail all the way up to 20x, allowing me to clearly capture the seagulls perched on the rusted out hull of a ship.

Or in the shot of the port included in the gallery below, the Pixel 7 Pro’s telephoto camera at 20x zoom was able to produce shots sharp enough for me to clearly make out the text on the ship while standing on the other side of the ocean. The telephoto also does a really nice job of keeping the scene stable which made it easier for me to keep the subject in focus. 

While there’s a significant drop off in clarity and colour range once you go beyond 15x zoom and hit the maximum range of 30x, it still looked significantly better than other digital zoom implementations found on competing handsets. Of course, going beyond 5x optical zoom in low light doesn’t hold up anywhere near as well so you’ll want to stick to using the extravagant zoom during the day. 

One issue that I did notice is that there’s a noticeable shift in colours from the moment you hit beyond the 5x optical zoom range. Hopefully Google will continue to improve this through software updates. 

Another new camera feature is the macro mode which leverages the ultrawide camera so you can get within a few centimetres from your subject, revealing more detail to the more tiny things in the world such as flowers and other interesting looking textures. It works well enough but the results are too noisy if the photo is taken in anything but under ideal lightning conditions. 

Unblur your photos

In the event you do take a blurry shot, Google has you covered with its ‘unblur’ tool built into Google Photos, which attempts to sharpen blurry or out of focus images. The nice thing is that it will work with photos not just taken by the 7 Pro but by any camera or phone. I tried a whole bunch of photos from my library and found that it did make a noticeable improvement to the clarity of faces that were otherwise mildly out of focus. It won’t do much of anything if there is too much motion blur or if the subject is too far out of focus but it’s still a useful tool to have on hand in any case. 

Although you can use the unblur tool on photos that were taken from any smartphone camera, the feature will only be accessible on Google Photos if the photo is being viewed on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. Google claims that this is because it leverages the Tensor G2 chip to do its face unblur magic even though it seems like it’s actually just a tool built into the Photos app. 

Shooting video

On the video side, there’s support for recording in 4K at 60fps in HDR. I didn’t get a chance to test this extensively but after reviewing some initial 4K HDR recordings, which were largely done on a bright sunny day walking through a path with a lot of trees and leaves, it did appear to be noisier and overexposed when compared to recording in regular SDR. 

The autofocus in video was clearly improved over the Pixel 6 Pro picking up the finest of objects and tracked focus worked well enough to stay locked on my kids while they ran around.  

Software and performance

The Pixel 7 Pro uses Google’s new Tensor G2 chip which in terms of raw CPU and GPU performance is largely comparable to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip found on most flagship Android smartphones released this year. 

The 7 Pro had little trouble in powering through demanding games such as Genshin Impact and Apex Legends at smooth frame rates on max settings while dipping in and out of apps was swift and lag-free. 

Where Google’s Tensor G2 chip shines the most is in AI and machine learning related tasks and this mostly manifests itself into enhanced assistant and speech recognition features. Somehow the 7 Pro is even faster than the 6 Pro at voice typing that I found myself composing text messages more often with my voice than I did actually typing it out. Voice typing even supports emojis which works surprisingly well. Similarly, transcribing conversations whether it’s through Google’s Recorder app or translating from different languages on the fly, all work a little bit quicker on the 7 Pro. 

There is also a new speech enhancement feature that does an impressive job of removing the heaviest of background noises and amplifies your voice so you sound as clear as possible while on a video or voice call.

While Google’s Material You felt a little rough around the edges when it first debuted on Android 12 last year with the Pixel 6 series, the version of Android 13 that ships with the Pixel 7 Pro feels polished to a sheen. Little touches such as how I can change the wallpaper in real time directly from the homescreen without diving into any additional menus or the short instructional videos sprinkled throughout the experience speaks to the added care and attention. 

Battery life

Battery life was very similar to the 6 Pro which I found to be excellent. I never struggled to get through a full day of heavy use during the review period and would often end up on around 30% left in the tank by the end of the night. Charging speeds are the same as well taking a little over 90 minutes to fully charge with a 30W charger (not included). 

GadgetGuy’s take 

Pixel 7 Pro might seem like an iterative update but there’s a lot of small improvements that amount to a solid upgrade. It’s easily one of the best smartphones on the market and an absolute steal at $1,300.

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Google Pixel 7 Pro
Google Pixel 7 Pro delivers flagship features, such as an outstanding camera, top-tier processing power and clean Android interface, at a price much less than the competition.
Features
9.5
Value for money
10
Performance
9.5
Ease of use
9.5
Design
9
Positives
Best in class camera
Stellar battery life
Smooth, polished and bloatware-free Android experience
Google Assistant-based call screening and call waiting are as useful as ever
Second to none voice typing
Undercuts rivals on price
Negatives
Basic face unlock
9.5