Let’s begin our Google Pixel 7 Review.
- Fantastic value
- Incredible cameras
- Excellent performance
- Great-looking display
- Smooth Android 13 experience
- No telephoto camera
GOOGLE PIXEL 7 SPECS
|Google Tensor G2
|6.1 by 2.9 by 0.3 inches
|1080 by 2400
|Camera Resolution (Rear; Front-Facing)
|50MP, 12MP; 10.8MP
|Battery Life (As Tested)
|12 hours 10 minutes
Google’s Pixel 7 fits comfortably between the $449 Pixel 6a and the $899 Pixel 7 Pro in the company’s lineup for $599. And that is the sweet spot in many smartphone shoppers’ budgets. It also happens to be one of the most feature-rich, affordable phones on the market. The Pixel 7 easily outperforms most similarly priced handsets and competes with Samsung’s $799 Galaxy S22 in terms of performance and camera quality for the price. Though its minor spec bump and low-key external design refresh may appear to be incremental year over year. You simply won’t find a better Android phone for $600. With that saying it makes the Pixel 7 our winner for affordable flagships.
The Pixel 7 retains Google’s distinct design language from last year’s Pixel 6. Most notably, it keeps the phone’s horizontal camera bar on the back. Google’s elongated bar stands out in a world where Samsung uses a vertical camera array and Apple uses a square. In the case of the Pixel 7, two lenses are tucked into the camera module. It has a matte aluminum cover rather than the previous model’s black glass. The phone comes in three colors: Lemongrass, Obsidian, and Snow. The frame is constructed of recycled aluminum. The phone’s front and back glass are both glossy. But they don’t appear to attract fingerprints.
The screen is 6.3 inches in size (0.1 inches smaller than the Pixel 6) and features a punch-hole camera and nearly edge-to-edge bezels. The OLED display has a resolution of 2,400 by 1,080 pixels and a pixel density of 416ppi. The refresh rate can reach 90Hz, which is slower than the 120Hz display on the Galaxy S22 or Pixel 7 Pro. But it is noticeably smoother than a 60Hz display. The screen has a brightness of 1,000 nits (typical) and 1,400 nits (peak), which is comparable to Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro. The contrast ratio is one million to one, and 24-bit color and HDR are supported. In comparison, the S22’s screen is 6.1 inches in size and has a similar resolution. But the refresh rate is increased to 120Hz.
Design: Google Pixel 7 Review
Year after year, the controls, ports, and other functional elements remain the same. The power and volume buttons are on the right, and the physical SIM card tray is on the left. Though the Pixel supports eSIM (as does the new iPhone 14 family). It can also use a regular nano SIM card when necessary. The USB-C port and speaker are located on the bottom edge of the device.
In terms of durability, the phone has Gorilla Glass Victus on the front and back. It should keep it safe from drops. It also has an IP68 rating for dust and water ingress. These are essential features of modern flagships.
Has Google improved the Pixel 6’s under-display fingerprint reader? In a way. Training the embedded reader is as simple as training any other phone. And we’ve determined that the scanner is indeed faster and more reliable than the sensor on the previous phone (though it still lags behind the performance of other top handsets). Google has brought back the secure facial recognition tool in addition to the fingerprint reader for security. You can use this feature to securely record an image of your face and use it to unlock the phone or authorize payments. It performs admirably, though perhaps not as quickly as Apple’s Face ID.
Performance: Google Pixel 7 Review
The Pixel 7’s performance is out of the ordinary. It doesn’t outperform the Pixel 6 in benchmarks, but it feels incredibly smooth and fast in real-world use. Google tunes its custom-designed Tensor G2 system-on-a-chip differently than competitors’ off-the-shelf MediaTek and Qualcomm chipsets.
Google is more concerned with machine learning and artificial intelligence features and the capabilities they can provide than with raw horsepower. The Tensor G2 features an octa-core processor, an ARM Mali G710 MP07 GPU, a custom Tensor Processing Unit, DSP, ISP, Context Hub, and Titan M2 security chip. This final section handles biometric data such as fingerprints and facial recognition images.
The phone has 8GB of LPDDR5 RAM and storage options of 128GB or 256GB. Because there is no microSD card slot, make sure you get the right one for your needs (which has become standard for flagship phones). The S22 has the same RAM and storage options as the Pixel 7 Pro, but the Pixel 7 Pro has 12GB of RAM and a 512GB model.
Benchmark numbers aren’t necessarily bad; they just don’t dazzle as other phones do. On the PCMark Work test, for example, the Pixel 7 scored 10,571, while the Samsung Galaxy S22 scored 13,974. The Pixel 7 scored 1,032 on the single-core test and 2,749 on the multi-core test on the GeekBench 5 processor test. The Galaxy S22, which is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, received 1,216 and 3,448 points. However, the phones’ real-world performance feels much closer than these numbers suggest.
The Pixel 7 averaged 25fps on the GFXBench Aztec offscreen 1440p benchmark, while the Galaxy S22 averaged 29fps. On a test designed to push a smartphone’s graphics hardware to its limits, those are fairly similar frame rates. We also played Genshin Impact at medium settings and 60 frames per second, and it ran flawlessly. And there were no major hiccups or frame rate drops, which is all that can be asked of a graphically demanding game.
It can’t be emphasized how much better the Pixel 7 feels than its benchmarks indicate. The overall fluidity of the phone, combined with the features Google provides with the Tensor G2 chip, results in a truly smooth overall experience.
Battery: Google Pixel 7 Review
Battery life is another important aspect of a phone’s performance. The Pixel 7’s 4,355 mAh battery performed admirably, but it didn’t blow us away. The phone lasted 12 hours and 10 minutes in our power drain test, in which we played a YouTube video over Wi-Fi with the screen brightness set to maximum. In comparison to the Galaxy S22, which lasted only nine hours. Google’s affordable flagship performs admirably, though neither comes close to the iPhone 14 Pro’s 16-hour battery life.
When it comes to charging, the Pixel 7 supports up to 30W charging (though no adapter is included). When fully charged, it took 95 minutes to reach capacity. It is adequate but not particularly impressive. The S22 recharges faster at 85 minutes. Google does not specify the rate at which the Pixel supports fast Qi wireless charging. It can also wirelessly share its battery with accessories like headphones or smartwatches.
The stereo speakers on the phone are excellent. We listened to The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” our bass test track. It sounded good even at high volumes through the Pixel 7. We then switched to Gojira’s “Stranded,” which emphasizes treble, and the Pixel 7 avoided distortion while sounding crisp and clear.
Connectivity: Google Pixel 7 Review
Google provides all of the key connections you’d expect from a top-tier smartphone. That means 5G with mid-band and mmWave (on select models) for fast wireless performance. Wi-Fi 6E, the most recent version of the wireless standard, is included, as well as Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, and GPS.
We compared the Pixel 7 to the Samsung Galaxy S22 at various ranges when testing Wi-Fi.
On our Wi-Fi 6 network, the Pixel 7 performed admirably. It averaged 680Mbps down when close to the access point, while the S22 averaged 662Mbps down. The Pixel averaged 385Mbps down and the S22 averaged 364Mbps down when the range was extended to the other side of an apartment with three doors closed in between. In other words, the Pixel is competitive on Wi-Fi.
Unfortunately, the Pixel 7 fell short in some areas when tested for 5G. With a strong T-Mobile signal, there was almost no difference in download speeds between the Pixel 7 and the S22, with 725Mbps and 704Mbps, respectively. However, in areas with poor signal strength, Samsung’s device consistently outperformed the Pixel 7. The Pixel had far more variance and couldn’t run the speed test at all at times.
Speeds were slow across the board, with each test phone registering between 2 and 3Mbps down. But Samsung was more consistently able to connect on the network’s edge. We know the S22 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon X65 modem. Google claims to have updated the Pixel 7 series’ modem (the Pixel 6 had an Exynos modem). But the company has not specified the exact component.
The Pixel 7 has good call clarity and volume, with the phone peaking at 77.9dB through the earpiece and 95.6dB through the speaker. In comparison to the competition, those figures are average. Call clarity is excellent on both ends. Everyone we spoke with said they could clearly hear us, and we could clearly hear them. Clear Calling is a Google feature that uses machine learning to filter out background noise, but it wasn’t ready for testing at launch.
Google has also introduced a new calling feature called Direct My Call, which uses the company’s Duplex technology. When you call a company with a complex menu tree, Google will transcribe the menu options and display them on your screen for you to tap. The feature has been enhanced in that the menu tree is now displayed in its entirety rather than piecemeal as the assistant speaks the options. We tested the feature with a local business and it worked exactly as advertised. It’s certainly more convenient than having to wait for the robot to read all of the options one by one.
Cameras: Google Pixel 7 Review
When you first look at the Pixel 7 camera specs and see that they’re essentially the same as last year, your first reaction might be a disappointment. After all, we expect to see advances in camera technology every year. The main camera has a 50MP sensor, an aperture of f/1.85, and an 82-degree field of view. The 12MP sensor on the ultra-wide camera has an f/2.2 aperture and a 114-degree field of view. Both use optical and electrical image stabilization to produce sharper images. The Galaxy S22 from Samsung has three cameras, one of which has a telephoto zoom.
On the front, there’s a 10.8MP selfie camera with an f/2.2 aperture and a 92.8-degree field of view. That is a significant upgrade over the Pixel 6, which had an 8-megapixel front camera with an 84-degree field of view.
While the rear camera hardware remains unchanged from last year, Google is leveraging the power of the Tensor G2 to add some impressive features to the Pixel 7 that make capturing and editing photos more enjoyable. Perhaps the most impressive of these features is Photo Unblur, which can take any image (even ones not captured on the Pixel 7) and sharpen any blurriness in the Google Photos app. This means you can use the Pixel 7 to recover older photos, which is a truly game-changing feature.
The Pixel 7 lacks optical zooming capability, as do the Pixel 7 Pro and Galaxy S22. But that doesn’t mean it can’t zoom. The phone employs Google’s Super Res Zoom to generate up to 8x zoom by combining digital cropping and machine learning to fill in and sharpen the gaps. Furthermore, by capturing images with the central 12MP of the 48MP sensor, the phone can provide 2x “optical” zoom. It’s not as sharp as dedicated telephoto glass, but the software does a good job of cleaning up the images so they’re usable.
A new feature called Guided Frame is intended to assist people with visual impairments in taking selfies by using verbal cues. While it won’t improve the experience for a large number of people. It’s still a useful feature that we’re glad to see included. It performs exactly as expected.
The selfie camera takes good pictures even in low light. And if a photo doesn’t turn out exactly how you want it to, or if someone walks through the background, post-processing tools like Magic Eraser can help.
Comparing with S22
Of course, the Pixel 6’s key photo features are carried over to the new phone. Night Sight, Motion Mode, True Tone, Face Unblur, Top Shot, and other features are included in addition to Magic Eraser. Google adds its all-encompassing Real Tone technology to the Night Sight and Portrait modes for more accurate skin tone results across the camera app. The S22 has a lot of camera features as well, but no Real Tone.
When working in low light, Night Sight and the versatility it provides almost guarantee a good image. We compared it to the Galaxy S22’s night mode and discovered that the Pixel 7 consistently produces better images.
During the day, the differences between the Pixel 7 and Galaxy S22 are less noticeable. Though we prefer the Pixel 7’s softer colors over the S22’s brighter colors. Of course, that is a personal preference.
The Pixel 7 has a plethora of video recording options, including 4K30 and 4K60 resolutions, as well as 240fps slow motion. The Pixel 7 also has a Cinematic Blur and Cinematic Pan feature. That works similarly to Apple’s Cinematic mode on iPhones, blurring the background while focusing on the subject. It also includes optical image stabilization tools. It allows you to record video with minimal camera shake. The S22, on the other hand, ups the ante by supporting 8K video capture.
Finally, whether you’re a pro photographer who wants to play around with white balance, aperture, and shutter speed, or you just want to point at a subject and get a good photo, the Pixel 7 is one of the best camera phones you can buy. And it’s not far behind the more expensive Pixel 7 Pro.
Android on Pixel 7
The Pixel’s Android 13 experience is the cleanest and most pleasant of any smartphone. Sure, Samsung’s OneUI is fantastic, and there are plenty of companies with clean and functional Android skins. But there’s something to be said for the pure version that comes with Pixel phones.
Google has added some useful features to the Pixel 7 as part of the Android experience. When you receive a voice message, Google will automatically transcribe it. If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t hear a message, this is a useful feature to have.
Google guarantees security updates for five years and Android version upgrades for three years. Similarly, Samsung has pledged to provide five years of security updates as well as four generations of Android system upgrades. These are the best commitments across the entire Android device landscape. However, your Pixel phone will almost certainly receive Android system updates faster than a Galaxy device.
Conclusion: Google Pixel 7 Review
If there’s one thing Google gets right with its base model Pixel phones every year, it’s the price. Google has created an absolutely fantastic smartphone with the $599 Pixel 7 that has most of the features of the more expensive Pixel 7 Pro but for $300 less. Stepping up to the larger Pro gets you a faster, sharper screen and a powerful telephoto camera. But for many users, the extra money isn’t worth it.
Furthermore, the Pixel 7 outperforms the Galaxy S22 in camera and battery performance for $200 less, even if it falls short in cell connectivity. The Pixel 7 has virtually everything you could want in a $600 phone, thanks to its solid performance, stellar cameras, and unique design, earning it our Editor’s Choice award.