Google Pixel 7 Review: This is the Best

When Google refreshed the Pixel lineup last year with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, we gave both phones mostly positive marks in our reviews. These were two Google phones that actually tried to be great, even if they ended up falling short, mostly in the heating and networking department.

I never really loved the Pixel 6 Pro because of its size and curved display, so I ended up spending the most time with the Pixel 6. While I liked it, there were things that kept me from sticking with it for a year. among other phone tests. The display wasn’t my favorite, the slipperiness of the frame and the overall width in the hand had me looking elsewhere for a phone I could use on a daily basis.

And now we have the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. After spending almost a month with the regular Pixel 7, I think Google has not only addressed the few complaints I just mentioned about the Pixel 6, but has produced a phone that is without a doubt my favorite in quite some time. This is the phone for me.

Now let’s talk about why – this is our Google Pixel 7 review.

What do I like about the Pixel 7?

Camera. Taking pictures with your phone is supposed to be fun. For many phones, including some in the $1,000 range, this action can be anxiety-inducing instead, as you still have to worry about the quality of the result depending on the (lighting) situation. Pixel 7 puts the fun back into taking pictures because it’s always so good. Seriously, I haven’t enjoyed taking pictures this much in a long time. The Pixel 7 brought back the motivation to take more pictures that I had been missing in my life for the past few years. I’m ready to get back to documenting it all thanks to this phone.

With a main (and new) 50MP camera alongside a 12MP ultra-wide camera, you have a lot of flexibility to capture most of your shots. This regular Pixel 7 lacks the dedicated telephoto lens and its charm from the Pixel 7 Pro, so keep that in mind. As someone who doesn’t use a telephoto lens often, I’m fine without it. I would also totally understand how this could be a deal breaker omission for some. That shouldn’t detract from this phone’s 2x SuperRes Zoom capabilities though – it’s good.

So when you go to take a photo with the Pixel 7, the camera launches quickly, you point at your subject, it immediately autofocuses, and then you click. The trigger is as fast as any other, the image preview is immediately visible in the gallery shortcut, and then you decide what to do next without hesitation. The camera app is smart enough to recognize situations in case you need to switch to night vision. Its Portrait mode is insanely good at keeping edges or hair from looking funny. Its autofocus is smarter than I expected, and can detect nearby or moving objects to lock on to before you tell it to. I was incredibly impressed by this Pixel 7 camera app in more ways than I have time to describe.

As for complaints, I have two. The first is in the camera app mode layout at the bottom. I should be able to customize this area like almost any other phone. Google won’t let me, so I have this annoying “Motion” mode permanently placed there, where instead I’d like Night Sight to be a shift closer. Google could (obviously) fix it, but I’m guessing they won’t.

Another complaint concerns the missing Macro mode. Pixel 7 Pro has an improved ultra-wide-angle lens that lets you take macro shots from as close as 3cm. I really want that mode. I like a good macro.

Below you will see some sample images I took that I think you will like. This camera is always on. Full-resolution images (and some others not shown here) can be found in this Google Photos album.

Display. One of the few areas where Google has improved the Pixel 7 over the Pixel 6 is the display. The display is slightly smaller at 6.3″, but has increased the maximum brightness to 1400 nits to help in sunny conditions. It stays at Full HD resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate, plus it’s as responsive as any other display I’ve used. Colors are nice and slightly punchy in adaptive mode out of the box, and low brightness levels are acceptable when you’re in a dark room like your bedroom right before you pass out for the night.

It is also still flat. It’s weird that we have to keep pointing this out because it sure seems like curved displays haven’t been loved for years, but here we are. The Pixel 7 keeps the flat display from the Pixel 6, while the Pixel 7 Pro still curves things in a way that hasn’t been cool since the Galaxy S7 Edge in 2016.

Overall, it’s a really good display. Off-axis tracking doesn’t present much color distortion, touch the screen to perform actions, swiping can be precise and content looks great, both video and all the photos you take with the incredible camera.

Size and design. Google’s recently released Pixel 6a is probably the perfect size for a phone, but it lacks the high refresh rate display that’s a must. Fortunately, Google has managed to shrink the Pixel 7’s overall footprint from last year’s Pixel 6 to create a phone that somehow feels like a big upgrade instead of a minor one.

Google’s measurements show that the Pixel 7’s display and height have shrunk by 0.1″. The width is apparently unchanged. Still, when you hold the phones at the same time, there’s some magic going on that helps the Pixel 7 feel better or smaller or something. After a month of use I can’t quite figure out what it is, I just know this phone is made for my hand.

Google also gave us a lot of the premium metal feel of the more expensive Pixel 7 Pro, with the only difference being a matte finish on the metal frame. With last year’s Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, I’d argue that they both definitely looked and felt like phones on different levels (the Pixel 6 being cheaper). I no longer feel that way with the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. The Pixel 7 only comes as a smaller but still very premium version of the 7 Pro.

In the design, Google has improved the shine for the Pixel 7. Gone are the matte black metal sides and specific color frames depending on the color design. With this version of Lemongrass, you get a semi-gold finish that isn’t slippery at all and has a subtle curve that makes it feel soft in the hand. The camera bar is also now wrapped in metal, which is a big change from the Pixel 6. We have cutouts for the camera instead of the all-black camera bar that some clearly love and others hate. I happen to like the change because it looks more put together.

Let’s not get it wrong – it’s still a big phone. Using it with one hand is not easy, although it is not impossible. Google has definitely nailed the size and overall design of the Pixel 7 by mysteriously shrinking it and increasing the premium aesthetic. Since the jump from the Pixel 6 to this Pixel 7 isn’t massive on paper, we were hoping Google would find ways to sell us on this upgrade. In that design department, I think they totally nailed it. This is the best looking phone from Google yet.

Performance. The Pixel 7 runs on Google’s new semi-custom chip, the Tensor G2. It’s a 5nm chip that won’t win the benchmark battles, but it should handle everyday tasks in a way that won’t bother you. In other words, it should do all your daily work without hiccups, it just might not play a game at super HD 120fps without getting hot and stuttering a bit. I don’t play games on my phones, so the Tensor G2 ran great. I have no complaints and would lean towards being impressed with the performance.

When you combine a 90Hz display with a tuned chip and Google’s own software, the Pixel 7 is smooth like you don’t often see. OnePlus phones are known for being extremely smooth in normal use and I think Google has now matched that. The Pixel 7 is really buttery smooth almost all the time, and no animations are as good as Google’s. Touching the settings menu or opening a folder, closing an app or waving the fingerprint reader, swiping down the notification panel or bouncing at the bottom of the scroll all show a company that has achieved a level of sophistication in software design that few can match. It’s all smooth and beautiful all the time.

One area where I think you will definitely notice an improvement is the camera handling. Those night vision shots in near-black environments or cat shots in Portrait mode will now process in a fraction of a second, so you can review them before taking another shot. The same shots made you wait for processing. I think Google also wants you to believe that voice-to-text and Assistant tasks are faster, but there’s no way to know—they’re both fast tasks.

Google doesn’t want you to worry about the number of cores, clocks and benchmarks from the Pixel 7, because it wants you to use the phone as you are used to, and instead think about the camera or the smartness that they baked into this help. you per day. After nearly a month of testing, I can’t say I’ve given much thought to the Tensor G2 outside of writing this review. I think they succeeded here.

Software. The Pixel 7 runs Android 13 out of the box and will receive 5 years worth of monthly security updates. It will also see 3 more Android version updates during this time before Google discontinues it. For the first 3 years, you’ll have an iPhone-like update where your Pixel 7 will be the first to update when new Android builds arrive. It’s a great time for those of us who love updates and running the latest software as soon as possible. I wish Google would increase version updates to the same 5 years, or at least add a fourth to match Samsung’s level of support.

In addition to monthly updates, Google delivers quarterly updates that include Pixel Feature Drops, which are bundles of new software features that are usually exclusive to Pixel phones. These add value and excitement to owning a Pixel phone because it means new things to play with every few months.

As for the actual software on the Pixel 7, it’s my favorite in the Android world. Google has continued to improve its overall smoothness and appearance in recent years as it also adds more features. It’s still (arguably) minimal compared to Samsung’s bloated One UI, but Google does its share of bloat. New features are being added all the time, although Google adds them more slowly than others. Google’s software on the Pixel shines in areas like calling, where you can annoyingly screen incoming calls and get people to talk to Google Assistant. There are useful items like double-tapping the back of the phone to turn on the flashlight or take a screenshot, finding the names of songs playing nearby, and handling notifications properly, which are also outstanding. Google folders open in a way that doesn’t make me slam the door – I’m looking at both Samsung and OnePlus right now. The app drawer is vertical (!) and enables quick searches throughout the phone. There are other things too.

My point is that Google is the best at the basics of Android. When your phone is supposed to be a notification machine, it’s pretty important not to have to deal with how notifications scroll up or down or sideways (or arrive). When you want to browse your phone, it should be done in a variety of ways that are fast and accurate. When you want an update because a new update is available, you should get it immediately. Google does it all better than anyone else.

Fingerprint reader and face unlock. We don’t usually talk at length about how good or bad a phone’s fingerprint reader is in reviews these days, but since the Pixel 6 series had one of the worst fingerprint readers ever, we have to talk about it. Pixel 7. In short, quite usable. We still don’t know if Google used a new sensor, placed it closer to the cover glass, or tweaked the algorithm. What I do know is that this works. It’s just as fast as Samsung’s in my testing, plus Google has added face unlock as another way to bypass the lock screen.

I don’t know what else to say other than hooray. The Pixel 6’s fingerprint reader was really that bad. I don’t even know that I’d consider the Pixel 7 to be great in any way, it’s just that it now works the way you’d hope it would. It unlocks when you touch it, and in a reasonably short amount of time.

Price. The Pixel 7 is in a league of its own. I don’t know how you could argue against the Pixel 7 being the best Android phone on the market. For $599 (or $699 if you double the storage like me) you get an amazing camera that will top much more expensive phones, impressive performance, a solid AMOLED display (it’s flat!), a polished and premium design that you can actually hold, the best in-game software and updated for years and years. There is no other Android phone at this price that is as good. I’m not sure I can come up with an example of a phone that comes close, because when you start thinking about other phones, you immediately start worrying about cameras and software from those others.

what is not perfect

Battery life. If there’s one area I’m a bit concerned about, it’s battery life. Google put a smaller 4355mAh battery in the Pixel 7 (the Pixel 6 had a 4614mAh battery), and this phone shows it at times. I haven’t run out of juice during the day at this point, but I’ve certainly gotten close after many nights.

My charging schedule usually runs from 6 am to 11 pm or so with 3-5 hours of screen time. I’m a heavy Twitter user, but I also spend a lot of time on Instagram, Chrome, Telegram, Google News, and Reddit. I’m also currently investing in Fitbit thanks to the Pixel Watch. I’m not a gamer by any means, but my kid might grab his phone from time to time when we’re out of the house to play something.

I’d say every night this phone pops up a warning somewhere that I might want to turn on the battery saver, which is currently set to warn me at 15% or 20%. Since I ignore it and continue to use my phone until I go to bed, I put my Pixel 7 on the charger with about 10% battery most nights of the week. So the Pixel 7 accompanies me day and night, but it almost fails.

Google only lets this phone charge at 21W, so this isn’t one of those charging situations where you can get 50% charge in 5 minutes or so. Google suggests a 50% charge in 30 minutes, but look, in 2022, it’s not that fast.

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