Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro Review: It's...Alright?
So Google has taken the stage last week to announce its newest lineup of Pixel products and among which, I have had the chance to try out the new Pixel 7 and the 7 Pro for the past few days. Well, my thoughts? It's...alright?
For context, I'm a longtime user of Pixel phones, from the Nexus 5, then to the original Pixel, the Pixel 3 and finally, the Pixel 6 so I'm mainly coming from that point of view. So without further ado, we have two phones here to talk about today so, let's get the design and specification out of the way!
The 7 and 7 Pro retains their familiar visor design as the 6 and 6 Pro but updates it slightly, instead of a piece of glass over the cameras, it's now a piece of metal with cutouts for the camera lens which curves around the visor to the sides of the phone. The metal piece also has the same finish as the sides to give it that unified look.
Similar to the 6 and 6 Pro, the 7 has matte finishing on its sides and now, its visor as well, while the 7 Pro has a much shinier glossy finish which attracts fingerprints like no other. Thankfully Google was kind enough to provide some matching cases to avoid that but horizontally holding the 7 Pro will still get fingerprints on the visor nonetheless.
Other than that, you'll find that the power and volume buttons for both phones are slightly more spaced now compared to their predecessors. The side curves on the 7 Pro aren't as prominent as the 6 Pro and on the regular 7, the visor is now placed slightly lower and the screen is much flatter compared to the 6. The overall footprint of the 7 is also slightly smaller than the 6 but you can't really tell unless you have them both side by side.
Now, here is where it falls slightly short of expectations. Considering the sleek design of the Pixel 6a and how flushed and thin the visor is, you'd think that the 7 series would follow through with that. But the visor on the 7 and 7 Pro is pretty much identical in dimension as that of the 6 and 6 Pro, so all things considered, other than the metal housing over the cameras and its slightly different button placements, there's really nothing new here.
The 7 sports a 6.3" FHD+ AMOLED display of up to 90Hz while the 7 Pro has a 6.7" QHD+ display, the 7 Pro's display is also LTPO with a variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz and it shows when consuming content or scrolling apps, the refresh rate is constantly adjusting itself to accommodate the use case.
The display for the 7 and 7 Pro also has a peak brightness of up to 1400 and 1500 nits respectively so you won't have to worry about whether your phone can be used under direct sunlight, it can.
Like all AMOLED displays, colours are vivid with a good amount of contrast so all your content can be enjoyed the way it's meant to.
Both pixels are also fitted with stereo front and side-firing speakers which get muddy and distorted at high volumes. I usually don't blast my music at full volume anyways so that's not really an issue for me, then again if I do, I'll usually just get a Bluetooth speaker for it.
The 7 and 7 Pro are both powered by the supposedly faster and more efficient Tensor G2. Despite that claim, the numbers I got from GeekBench weren't entirely satisfactory as there were barely any improvements over the original Tensor.
Google Pixel 6
Google Pixel 7
Google Pixel 7 Pro
But we are just talking raw numbers here and lower numbers don't necessarily mean it's a bad phone if the software is optimised. Well is Android 13 optimised? Safe to say, it certainly is, during my time with it I've experienced little to no hiccups and bugs aside from that one time when Google Assistant just outright ignored my voice command to open YouTube Music, other than that it's been a pleasant experience so far, not particularly new coming from my Pixel 6, but still pleasant nonetheless.
The Tensor G2 also brings some computational photography improvements, supposedly processing the images faster. Not entirely sure about that as the only noticeable change I could discern when using side-by-side with my Pixel 6 is that the night sight is much faster.
Other than that, 7 and 7 Pro also brings about several new features, such as Photo Unblur, which uses AI to sharpen blurry images, while it didn't work as well on this photo of the ROG mouse, it did sharpen this blurry photo a bowl of pasta quite well. It is still rough around the edges, but with further development, this could potentially be one of the most interesting features yet.
Another is Guided Frame which uses the Talkback feature to let you know if you are framing your selfies right, it's more catered towards blind and low-vision users and it performs just as it sounds so let's move on.
You can now type emojis with your voice by using the appropriate expression followed by the word emoji, while it won't work for every emoji and the term has to be specific, it could be quite a useful feature if you dictate your messages a lot.
New features that will be coming at a later time also include transcribing for voice messages, speaker labels for the recorder app, Clear Calling and a built-in VPN service which Pixel 7 users can access for free.
But amongst all, my favourite new feature is definitely face unlock, a very welcomed addition as we slowly phase out the donning of masks in Singapore.
Now, let's talk cameras, the Pixel 7 is kitted with a dual 50MP main and 12MP ultrawide while the 7 Pro has an additional 48MP telephoto. Although the colours are similar and true to life across both phones, the images produced by the 7 Pro do have a slightly stronger contrast.
Shots taken on any of the lens's native focal lengths also remain sharp as far as smartphone standards go. With the 7 Pro, you also get an additional Macro focus which allows you to get up close and personal with subjects. Not all subjects play nice with this function though, as this particular shot of my Gengar keycap is totally over processed, so is this shot of an artificial plant taken within our studio with controlled lighting.
The cameras also saw some feature updates on the video side of things, such as Cinematic Blur, 10-Bit HDR and Speech Enhancement for 4K recording. Here are some 4K samples with Speech Enhancement and 10-Bit HDR, have a look.
With Cinematic Blur, subjects that have rougher edges or tend to have erratic movements generally have trouble being effectively blurred out. For objects with finer edges like flowers, it will work fine.
And with that, let's talk a little about the gaming experience. Despite the lacklustre Geekbench numbers, the Tensor G2's 3DMark numbers look generally alright, although it's right below its competitors with the Snapdragon SOC.
Google Pixel 7
Wild Life: 5,689
Wild Life Ex: 1,785
Google Pixel 7 Pro
Wild Life: 6,019
Wild Life Ex: 1,826
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4
8+ Gen 1
Wild Life: 5,818
Wild Life Ex: 1,873
Less intensive games like Pokemon Unite will of course run just fine. It's even able to run more demanding games like Diablo Immortals at 60FPS over a sustained hour-long session without any hiccups and I'm speaking for both phones.
However, the Pixel 7 will get extremely hot to the touch, especially around the sides and visor as compared to the 7 Pro so that's something to take note of.
Lastly, it also performed superbly in terms of battery life. I started at 100% in the morning at about 10 AM and ended the day at about 10 PM with about 15% left with interval usage of photo taking, gaming, watching YouTube and listening to music. The Pixel 7 was running at FHD 90Hz while the 7 Pro was at QHD 120Hz, both with Bluetooth and location on.
The phones are now available at official and selected retailers in Singapore and start at S$999 for the 7 and S$1,299 for the 7 Pro. Both phones come in Obsidian and Snow with an additional unique colour each, Hazel for the 7 Pro and Lemongrass for the 7.
And with that, the conclusion, is the 7 and 7 Pro worth it? Long story short, if you are a Pixel 6 user like myself, probably not as you won't see much of an improvement aside from the additional software features. If you are coming from any other phone, this is very much like how the iPhone is for Apple, you're really in it for the ecosystem and you won't be disappointed on that front.
But between the 7 and 7 Pro, is it worth the extra S$300 for a slightly better camera system, bigger screen and bigger battery?
In my case, not really, how about yours?