Pixel 7

Google Pixel 7 smartphone: a polished gem (review)

8.8

Rather than a great leap forward, the Google Pixel 7 continues to refine the slick Pixel experience.

Considering Google’s relatively short attention span when it comes to developing and then abandoning many of its products and services, the longevity of the Pixel smartphone range speaks to how central it is to Google’s grand plan. It’s a chance to showcase the strengths of both the Android mobile operating system and Google’s own Tensor chips. The result has been some very impressive smartphones.

With the Pixel 7, Google continues to iterate on a form factor that has remained constant since the introduction of the rear camera bar with last year’s Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. Under the bonnet is the new Tensor G2 chip, helping the smartphone stand out from the Android crowd. 

Details: Google Pixel 7

Price (RRP)$999
ManufacturerGoogle
Product pageGoogle Pixel 7
Warranty2 years
Country of manufactureChina
AboutGoogle 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.

First impressions

The Google Pixel 7’s premium build and gloss finish make for a great first impression. While the rear camera bar is an acquired taste, the switch to aluminium means it looks less out of place. The design still certainly stands out from the crowd, although the polished glass body makes for a slightly slippery sucker. 

The 6.3-inch 2400 × 1080 screen is actually a tiny bit smaller than the 6.4-inch on last year’s Pixel 6, but not enough to complain about. In return, the handset is a smidge smaller and lighter. 

The 20:9 aspect ratio means the handset looks a little tall, although that’s becoming more common these days. Combined with the camera bar, it makes the phone a little top-heavy, but not so much as to be of a concern, and it soon grows on you. 

The display retains the 90Hz refresh rate, which helps onscreen action remain silky smooth but falls short of the best-in-class 120Hz found on some rival Android handsets including the Google Pixel 7 Pro, which starts at $1299. For the extra money, the 7 Pro gives you a 3120 × 1440 pOLED display, which is slightly brighter.

Fire up the Pixel 7 and the OLED screen ensures a vivid image that is 25 per cent brighter than its predecessor. While this makes the screen easier to read in direct sunlight, it also helps it make the most of HDR support – which extends to your own photos and videos as well as streaming services like Netflix.

The screen’s white balance is quite cool and the colours are a tad saturated. This is because colour is set to “Adaptive” by default, but you can easily change this to “Natural” if you wish.

Turn the phone over in your hands and you’ll find power and volume buttons on the right of the display, easily accessed by your thumb. At the bottom is a USB-C port, accompanied by a speaker and mic. The handset uses the top earpiece speaker to produce stereo sound when you’re viewing in landscape mode.

You won’t see a fingerprint reader, as it’s built into the screen, plus Google has reintroduced support for Face Unlock.

Around the back you’ll find a rear dual camera array in the camera bar, consisting of a 50MP primary lens and 12MP ultrawide, along with a flash. You miss out on the Pixel 7 Pro’s third lens, a 48MP telephoto with 5x optical zoom.

On the front, there’s a 10.8 MP selfie camera – featuring a wider field of view and larger sensor for better nighttime photos.

Google Pixel 7 specs

Screen size6.3-inch, 2400 x 1080
Screen technologyOLED, 90Hz fresh rate
Operating systemAndroid 13
CPUGoogle Tensor G2
GPUARM Mali G710 MP07
RAM 8 GB
Battery4355mAh
Storage128 GB or 256 GB
Rear cameras50MP (f/1.85) main; 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide
Front camera 10.8MP (f/2.2)
ConnectivityUSB-C 3.2 Gen 2
Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax) with 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz + 6 GHz, HE160, MIMO
Bluetooth v5.2
NFC
5G Sub-6
SIMDual SIM (single nano-SIM and eSIM)
RuggednessIP68 (dust and water resistant)
Dimensions155.6 height x 73.2 width x 8.7 depth (mm)
Weight197 gm
ColoursObsidian, Snow, Lemongrass

Features – hardware

The Google Pixel 7 still runs an uncluttered flavour of Android 13, like its predecessor, with Android 14 not set to be unleashed until 2023. That’s okay when Google promises three years of OS upgrades and five years of security upgrades for the Pixel 7.

While the Pixel 7 build is sleek with slight screen improvements, that new Tensor G2 chip is the real standout hardware feature. It delivers plenty of grunt, with Geekbench results of 1055 single core and 3276 multicore a respectable step up from the Pixel 6’s 984 and 2665.

Thankfully it doesn’t take an extra toll on the battery, even though the capacity is only 4355mAh, down from the Pixel 6’s 4,614mAh. It should still get you through the longest day, with the Extreme Power Saver mode promising up to 72 hours if you’re running on fumes.

When you are feeling rundown, it supports 30W wired fast charging with USB-PD PPS, along with 15W wireless charging.

Features – software

Most of the phone’s notable new features are software-based, putting that new chip’s smarts and grunt to good use.

For starters, Google Assistant gets an upgrade on the Pixel 7 with faster and more-accurate dictation, transcribing and translating on the fly. You can also feel the fingerprint reader is more snappy when unlocking the handset.

The more striking improvements are focused around the camera, as we’ve come to expect from the Pixel range.

The headline feature is a new Photo Unblur which uses AI to attempt to salvage photos which are out of focus, similar to how the Magic Eraser feature removes distracting people and objects from your photos. 

As you’d expect, the phone is taking an educated guess with the benefit of machine learning, so the results can vary. It does its best work on faces which are slightly out-of-focus, helping perhaps save a family action snapshot. But don’t expect miracles. The phone sometimes focuses its unblurring efforts in the wrong areas, to produce unnatural looking images, but thankfully you can dial the unblur effect up and down to find the sweet spot.

Google has also improved Super Res Zoom, the handset’s computationally-supported digital zoom which attempts to compensate for the lack of true optical zoom. It certainly puts traditional digital zoom to shame, but once again your mileage may vary and some images end up looking sharp but a little over-processed.

Meanwhile, Night Sight can capture great low-light photos more quickly, and Google has also enhanced its True Tone algorithms that aim to accurately represent every skin tone true to nature. The speed boost is a little hit-and-miss depending on the low light, but the results offer a noticeable improvement on the Pixel 6. 

When it comes to capturing video, Cinematic Blur adds a shallow depth of field to your videos to help them look more polished. Active Stabilisation is an advanced form of video stabilisation to help compensate for unsteady hands.

GadgetGuy’s take

The Google Pixel 7 is a worthy addition to the lineup, especially considering it’s kept a sub-$1000 price tag despite everything that’s going on in the world. It’s a compelling offering for the Android faithful, offering a range of improvements on the Pixel 6, although probably not enough to convince you to ditch last year’s model. Especially when you consider that most of the improvements are software based, meaning they may well eventually come to earlier Pixel handsets.

If you are in the market for a new Pixel, also keep in mind that the Pixel 7 Pro isn’t actually that much more expensive. If you care about things like the Pixel 7 Pro’s improved screen, extra RAM, telephone lens or 5G mmWave, then you might consider it extra money well spent. 

Would I buy it?

Yes, if I was sure I didn’t need the Pixel 7 Pro.

Google Pixel 7 smartphone: a polished gem (review)
With plenty of iterative improvements on its predecessor, the Google Pixel Pro 7 is a great addition to the Pixel line up.
Features
8.5
Value for money
9
Performance
8.5
Ease of use
9
Design
9
Positives
Sleek design
Great OLED display
Face unlock and improved in-display fingerprint scanner
Improved camera features and Google smarts
Negatives
No optical zoom / telephoto lens
Only 90 Hz refresh rate display (not 120 Hz)
Only sub-6 5G, no mmWave
8.8