The Google Pixel lineup has never been an incredible success for Google. It was recently uncovered that Google has only sold 27.6 million units since the Pixel’s inception in 2016. However, the number of phones sold have been jumping each year. In May it was reported that Google sold 1.2 million units in 2021, that’s up from around 200,000 from the year before. So Pixel is growing, but is the Pixel 7 the pinnacle for Google? Is this where the Pixel finally really starts to make Samsung and Motorola scared? Let’s find out.
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Google Pixel 7 Review: Hardware & Display
Last year, Google unveiled a new redesign with the Pixel 6. Finally getting away from the design that it has basically had since the Pixel 2. It morphed over the years, but the design was mostly the same all these years, up until the Pixel 6. That’s where Google introduced the camera bar that goes across the top of the back of the phone. Well, now in 2022, Google is refining that design. And dare I say, it looks even better.
So Google actually showed off the Pixel 7 series at Google I/O back in May. So we knew what the phone was going to look like back then. Including the new redesigned camera bar. I wasn’t a fan of the camera bar at first. I preferred the Pixel 6 camera bar which was all glass. Whereas the Pixel 7 is metal with cut outs for the cameras and the flash. Now that I’ve seen it in person and used it for a week, I love it.
The back is curved a little bit, making it easier to hold in the hands. The sides and the camera bare are also matte. Which is something I wish Google had used on the Pixel 7 Pro. So it does feel and look better in the hands than the Pixel 7 Pro does.
The back and front are using Gorilla Glass Victus, which should keep it from getting destroyed as easily. But that does typically mean the glass is a bit softer, so keep that in mind for scratches. The Pixel 7 still has a flat display, and the edge is a bit sharp. Nowhere near as sharp as the iPhone has been in recent years. And if you pop on a case for it, you’ll be just fine.
Now that display. It’s a FHD+ 90Hz AMOLED display, and it looks amazing. It’s 90Hz, which is a step down from the Pixel 7 Pro and most other Android phones. But it’s still faster than the 60Hz that the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus use, which starts at $799 – $200 more than the Pixel 7. This display is amazing. It’s vibrant, and very contrasty. It is not quite as bright as the Pixel 7 Pro’s display, but it’s still plenty bright for outdoor viewing. I’ve had no issue using it outdoors on sunny and overcast days.
Google Pixel 7 Review: Battery
If you look at the specs of the Pixel 6 versus the Pixel 7, you’ll notice that the battery is actually smaller this year. It went from a 4614mAh battery in the Pixel 6 to a 4355mAh battery in the Pixel 7. About a 5% decrease in capacity. But you also can’t forget that the Pixel 7 is also smaller this year, compared to the Pixel 6. Which is why it is important not to put a lot of faith into specs like that.
The Pixel 6 sported a 6.4-inch display, while the Pixel 7 has a 6.3-inch display. Going from dimensions of 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9mm to 155.6 x 73.2 x 8.7. So it’s smaller in every aspect. Meaning a smaller battery was needed here.
So how good is that 4355mAh capacity battery? As it turns out, pretty good. I was able to squeeze over 8 hours of on screen time on this phone a couple of times. And hit 7 hours pretty consistently. Now one of the battery life cycles shown below is in the 6 hour frame, and I believe that was mostly due to how much I used the camera that day. I used it a lot to shoot pictures of the changing leaves, since it is fall now. And naturally, the camera does use a good amount of battery.
It’ll get you through a full day without any issues. And for some lighter users, you may even get two days out of it. But then there’s the charging. Google has been very conservative with charging speeds for quite some time now, and it’s rather unfortunate. The Pixel 7 charges at 21W wired and wireless. That’s pretty decent for wireless charging, but pretty terrible for wired. I used the OnePlus 10T a few months ago, which has 125W charging in the US, it can charge from empty to 100% in under 30 minutes. That’s about how long it takes the Pixel 7 to go from empty to around 30%. That’s a huge difference.
Google has battery life down, now they need to work on the charging speed.
Google Pixel 7 Review: Performance
Let’s get this out of the way. Tensor G2 is not a powerhouse. It is not going to beat the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 or the A16 Bionic chipsets in benchmarks. The Tensor G2 was designed specifically for the Pixel 7, and therefore prioritizes what Google wants. Which is machine learning and AI. Don’t get me wrong, the processor is plenty fast. I never noticed it really slowing down. And it really only got warm with long periods of using the camera or gaming. Which is the case on basically every phone.
But many are wondering why benchmarks are so low on the Tensor G2, and well, that’s why. It’s not as fast as a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. Because Google is looking to make a great overall experience, and not the fastest possible chip.
There’s 8GB of RAM paired with the Tensor G2 here, which is pretty decent. Of course, more RAM would always be better. I did notice that some apps were taken out of memory and had to be reloaded when I reopened them. And this happened a bit more often then on the Pixel 7 Pro, which does have 12GB of RAM. If that’s something that will annoy you, then you may want to look at the Pixel 7 Pro.
Google Pixel 7 Review: Camera
If you have ever used a Pixel phone before, then the camera here won’t be a big surprise to you. It takes some incredible looking images, and with its computational photography, it does have some neat tricks up its sleeve. Like the new Photo Unblur feature, which is exclusive to the Pixel 7 right now. This works on any photo, even ones that Google Pixel did not take. Essentially, it can unblur faces in the image. The one caveat here is that the face does need to sorta be in focus. It can’t be totally blurry. It’s not a magic fix for those old photos, as expected.
The camera on the Pixel 7 is basically the same as the Pixel 7 Pro, with the only features missing being Macro and the Telephoto lens. That means that you don’t get the 5x, 10x or 30x zooms here. It only goes to 2x. Technically, you can zoom in further, but it only offers 0.7x, 1x, and 2x stops in the camera app. There’s also no macro here, which is annoying since it has the hardware – it uses the ultrawide sensor – but Google needed more reasons for you to buy the Pixel 7 Pro.
Portrait mode, which is still one my favorite modes on a Pixel camera right now, has also improved since the Pixel 6 series. Noticing that it does a much better job with edges. Though it still has trouble with the edges of my glasses, when taking a selfie. Which is the case with just about every phone.
Below, we have posted a ton of photos taken with the Pixel 7. And since it’s fall, many of them are of the falling leaves.
Google Pixel 7 Review: Software
The Pixel 7 comes with Android 13 installed, which is what you’d expect. Since that is the latest version of Android right now. Of course it does also come with a bunch of Pixel exclusive features, which we will be talking about here. If you want to see what’s new in Android 13, you can check out guide here.
Google spent a good bit of time on the actual phone part of the Pixel this year. We have features like Call Screen and Direct My Call, which aren’t really new. Call Screen has been around for a while, allowing you to screen calls when they come in. This is especially useful for telemarketers and scam callers. Direct My Call will show you the menu for automated calls. Say you called Comcast, and you need to press 1 to get to where you’re going. Google will show you the entire menu on the screen, so you don’t have to wait for the voice to tell you all the options. It’s a very simple thing, but extremely useful. Direct My Call does not work for all businesses. But the big ones, it does.
Continuing with phone calls, there’s also Clear Calling. Basically, it’s able to block out the background noise, and make it easier for those on the other end to hear you. This works well if you’re in a club, or a noisy restaurant and get a call that you need to take. It’s actually really useful, and done really well.
Another favorite app of mine that is only on the Pixel is the Recorder app. I attend a lot of briefings ahead of products being announced, and other meetings, so having the Recorder app open and transcribing everything is so very helpful. And now, with the Pixel 7, the Recorder app is able to identify multiple speakers. It will label them, and later on, you can go back through and identify who Person 1 was and who Person 2 was. Making it even cleaner. Somehow this app continues to get even better.
Google is also providing the Google One VPN for free to all Pixel 7 users, though it’s not yet live. I have used it, since I get it with Google Fi and Google One already. And it works just like a regular VPN. Though it’s worth noting that if you use sportsbetting apps like DraftKings or Fanduel, you will need to turn off the VPN first.
Otherwise, it’s the usual Pixel experience that you have come to know on the Pixel 7. Google has also added the ability to see notifications from the Nest Doorbell in the At A Glance section. Ring doorbells will be supported soon.
Finally, Google is promising three years of Android updates and five years of Security updates. That means the Pixel 7 will get Android 14, 15 and 16, at the least. Google could also opt to keep it supported even longer.
Google Pixel 7 Review: Should you buy it?
The Google Pixel 7 is the new default Android smartphone that everyone should consider. It’s just $599 (or $699 if you’re on Verizon, due to mmWave 5G). Which is super cheap for a flagship smartphone. Considering Apple’s cheapest iPhone 14 model is $799, and Samsung’s cheapest S22 model is also $799. Making it super competitive.
Google has checked just about every box with the Pixel 7 here. The only major drawback is really the charging speed. And if you’re only charging at night, then it’s not really a big deal.
You should buy the Google Pixel 7 if:
- Your phone is two years or older
- You don’t want to spend a ton of money on a new phone
- You enjoy Google’s take on Android
- You want a good camera in your pocket, but don’t need telephoto
- You just need a phone that works
You shouldn’t buy the Google Pixel 7 if:
- You want a larger phone
- You want faster charging
- You want a faster refresh rate (120Hz is available on the Pixel 7 Pro)
You can also check out review on the Pixel 7 Pro here, to find out which one is the better option for you.