Last year’s Pixel 6 smartphone was, by no means, a failure. Its sales numbers were great, and Google bragged about how many Pixel 6 and 6 Pro units it eventually shipped. But if you went by forums, blog posts, and subreddits, you found a different story unfolding, with owners complaining about overheating, unreliable battery life, and even security vulnerabilities. We didn’t encounter these problems in our review units, but knowing all this, I didn’t bother to upgrade my personal phone and instead turned to phones made by other brands. But with the Pixel 7, it’s a different story.
My OnePlus 9’s camera is starting to get a bit long in the tooth, and I want a new phone with the best photo-taking abilities. The Pixel thus far still wears the crown for best Android camera, and because 7 is a lucky number, I decided now was a good time to give the Pixel another shot.
I had a chance to preview the Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro and liked what I saw at first glance. But I haven’t been able to test any of the hardware yet. After hearing Google’s talking points, it seems to be hinging its bets on the AI prowess of the Pixel 7. I won’t know the phone line’s full capabilities until I get it in for a thorough review, but here’s what to look out for if you’re considering waiting for the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.
Meet the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro
First up is the Pixel 7. It starts at $600 and is the entry-level variant of the two flagship releases. The Pixel 7 has a 6.3-inch FHD+ OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate. It has an always-on display, HDR support, and a peak brightness of 1400 nits outdoors or up to 1000 nits with HDR.
The Pixel 7 is the smallest of the two Pixel devices. Its 4355 mAh battery pack boasts a “beyond 24-hour battery life,” and Google says you can get up to 72 hours with Extreme Battery Saver mode. The device is capable of fast charging up to 50% in half an hour with a compatible power brick and cable. There’s also battery share available and fast wireless charging.
The Pixel 7 has 8GB of RAM and is available with up to 256GB of storage. Both it and the Pixel 7 Pro have the same Google-made Tensor G2 processor, which features the Titan M2 security chip. Its clock speeds indicate that the Tensor G2 processor is only a slight bump from its predecessor, but that’s to be expected, as Google’s main hardware play is what it can do to facilitate artificial intelligence tricks. I’ll get into what else this chip can do with photography in just a bit.
As for software updates, Google promises five years of security updates and countless “Pixel Drops” in this device’s lifetime. New Pixel users will also get the perk of access to Google’s built-in VPN, available through the company’s Google One program.
For something a little punchier, the 6.7-inch Pixel 7 Pro might be more to your liking. It starts at $900—about $100 less than Apple’s recently released iPhone 14 Pro—and features most of the same hardware as the smaller Pixel 7. It has a larger 5000 mAh battery, which Google says is also capable of “beyond” 24 hours of life. We’ll see about that. The Pixel 7 Pro runs 12GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage.
The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro both have in-display Fingerprint Unlock and Face Unlock capabilities. Face unlock is a welcome return to the Pixel lineup, as it hasn’t been offered since the Pixel 4. The Pixel 6 Pro was supposed to have the ability built-in, but Google ultimately left it out.
Both Pixel 7 devices come in a spectrum of colors. The Pixel 7 comes in Obsidian, Snow, and Lemongrass (which is a cool lime-green). The Pixel 7 Pro comes in Obsidian, Snow, and Hazel (which looks like a deep gray). Renders do not do these stylish smartphones justice. Stay tuned for a showcase of Pixel 7 and 7 Pro photos directly from the launch event.
Brand new cameras
The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro have similar Tensor-powered camera systems. But if you want to shoot far away shots, you’ll have to look toward the pricier Pixel 7 Pro, which features one extra camera lens.
The Pixel 7’s primary camera setup is a 50-MP sensor with an f/1.85 aperture and an 82-degree field of view. The second camera is a 120-MP ultrawide camera with a 114-degree field of view. The main camera features both optical and electronic image stabilization.
The Pixel 7 Pro is nearly similar. It has the same 50-MP sensor and aperture rate, though the second camera has a wider 125.8-degree field of view. The third camera sensor is a 48-MP telephoto camera with f/2.5 aperture and up to 5x optical zoom.
The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro offer what Google dubs Super Res Zoom. This lets you take close-up shots from far away with up to 30x digital zoom on the Pixel 7 Pro and 8x on the Pixel 7. Each device has the same 10.8-MP front-facing camera with a fixed lens and a 92.8-degree field of view.
Google typically makes a big to-do about what its Pixel lineup is capable of with its AI. The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro will have access to certain abilities not available on other Android smartphones due to its Tensor chip. These features include the new Cinematic Blur, which helps the Pixel 7 take sharper videos with more presence. In particular, Google claims it produces “Hollywood-like videos.” Again, we’ll see how the feature stacks up, especially when compared to the iPhone’s similarly-named Cinematic mode.
Photo Unblur is another feature that gets the spotlight on the Pixel 7. Google hopes you’ll use it for digital photos and to help archive any old photos you’ve scanned in. I saw the ability in action on a photo snapped with black and white film. It smoothed out the image so that there was more of a profile in the blurred person’s face, but there’s only so much that AI can do to restore your memories. At the very least, it makes these legacy pieces more shareable.
I can’t wait to get my hands on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro and see how they compete with the latest smartphones, including the iPhone and Samsung’s foldables. The phones are up for pre-order now, and go on sale proper starting on October 13.