Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro Smartphone Review

Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro Smartphone Review

The latest Pixel phones get a new chip, plus camera and video tricks

The Pixel 7 (left) starts at $600, while the Pixel 7 Pro costs $900 and up.

By Melanie Pinola

In the sea of ​​smartphones, Google’s Pixel series has long stood out for its stock Android interface, capable cameras and competitive prices. This year, as expected, Google added some notable hardware and software improvements to the new Pixel 7 and 7 Pro.

First up is the Tensor G2, the successor to Google’s homegrown chipset, which the company introduced with last year’s Pixel 6 phones. According to the company, Tensor enables the phones to perform advanced AI and machine learning tasks, such as generating captions from conversations and videos. The new Tensor version brings even more skills, especially for photos and videos.

I asked Google to lend me press samples of the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro to see some of these tricks firsthand while we wait for the final results from CR’s own lab testers. As always, CR buys the phones it tests in a store to make sure we get the same devices you wanted.

Both Pixel phones are available for purchase now. The 6.3-inch Pixel 7 starts at $600 and comes in black (“Obsidian”), white (“Snow”) and a bright yellow-green (“Lemongrass”). The 6.7-inch Pixel 7 Pro starts at $900 with the same black and white colors plus a “Hazel” option, which looks greenish gray.

Here are my impressions after using the phones over several days for typical things like surfing the web, watching videos, playing games, and taking photos and videos.

Pixel 7 and 7 Pro Design

The new Pixels retain the previous phones’ characteristic horizontal line, which houses the rear cameras. This year, however, the camera bar wraps all the way around the sides of the phone for a more cohesive look. The Pixel 7 has a matte aluminum frame and camera bar, while the Pixel 7 Pro has a polished, glossier frame and bar.

I have to say that the design looks quite elegant, especially with the muted Hazel and contrasting rose gold colors on the Pixel 7 Pro review unit I received. While I don’t usually think of phones as fashion accessories, this is the kind of phone you want to show off if you ever find yourself at a fancy soiree.

See also  8 Apps You Need When Visiting National and State Parks

You should still put the phone in a sturdy case, because the rounded edges and smooth back make the device a bit slippery to hold.

Both phones have a bright OLED screen, which looked sharp even to me in direct sunlight. And both have the simple Android 13 interface, uncluttered with extra apps or UI overlays that other manufacturers like Samsung and OnePlus add.

Setup and performance

Both models feature face unlock, a first for Pixel phones. (Until now, you had to use a PIN or your fingerprint, a feature that has recently caused some bugs). The review devices I tried unlocked flawlessly every time I used Face Unlock, and when I turned it off, with Fingerprint Unlock.

During setup, I had a problem with the Pixel 7’s onscreen keyboard: I couldn’t call it up, whether I was trying to set up a password or search Google. At first I thought I had a dud phone, but after fiddling with the keyboard settings a few times – eventually turning off “voice typing” and adding and removing the US keyboard – it started working. This is just an information if you should encounter this strange behavior.

As mentioned above, the phones have bright OLED screens. The Pixel 7 Pro has a 120Hz refresh rate, which provides smoother scrolling and animations than the older Pixel’s 60Hz refresh rate, especially when playing games. I found the phone to be quite smooth for everything from strategy RPGs like Fire Emblem Heroes to games that require a lot of dexterity like Fruit Ninja. The Pixel 7, which has a 90Hz refresh rate, was no slouch either.

Because Google touts the Pixels’ AI and machine learning capabilities, powered by the second-generation Tensor G2 chipset, I also tried the Recorder app, unique to Pixel phones, which can now identify different speakers as it transcribes audio to text. It’s a journalist’s dream tool.

Unfortunately, I found that it was hit and miss depending on the environment. During a long car ride with a few friends and music playing softly in the background, the app failed to detect any of our conversations and made quite a few mistakes on the speech it captured. Under ideal circumstances—a room with minimal background noise and everyone talking loudly—the app performed better, but not with 100 percent accuracy. (Note that it’s not just the Pixel; a CR analysis shows that speech-to-technology technology falls short on a number of platforms.)

See also  Heifer International Showcases Young Tech Talent Delivering for African Farmers, Selects ThriveAgric, DigiCow and Brastorne as Winners of 2022 AYuTe Africa Challenge

We’ll know more about how the phones stack up against the competition once we’ve run our test spectrum. Our performance ratings take into account processor speed, upload and download speeds, and the amount of available storage compared to stated storage, which varies quite a bit depending on the size of the operating system and how much other software comes preloaded. The Pixel 7 comes with 8 gigabytes of memory and either 128 GB or 256 GB of storage, while the 7 Pro has 12 gigabytes of memory and 128 GB, 256 GB and 512 GB storage options.

Pixel 7 and 7 Pro cameras

Both phones have the same camera setup as last year’s models. The Pixel 7 has a 50-megapixel wide and 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens on the back, while the 7 Pro adds a 48-megapixel zoom camera.

But Google has made some tweaks to the camera’s hardware. The 7 Pro now has 5x optical zoom compared to last year’s 4x zoom. The 7 Pro can also digitally zoom in up to 30x compared to the previous generation’s 20x. I tested this in a large pumpkin patch in Long Island, NY, zooming in on pumpkins of various sizes and colors. All the pictures I took came out sharp, at least to my eyes.

In addition, both phones now have autofocus for close-ups. I don’t often feel the need to photograph insects on flower petals, but if macro photography is your thing, this is a welcome new feature.

The best improvements to the cameras are delivered by a mix of software and hardware upgrades. Last year, Google debuted Magic Eraser, a Pixel 6-exclusive feature that removes random objects and people from your photos. With Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, in addition to Magic Eraser, you can now fix blurry photos and blur the background when shooting videos thanks to Tensor G2.

Unblur is my new favorite feature. It works not only on photos taken with a Pixel 7 or 7 Pro, but on any photo taken at any time with any phone. Here’s a photo from 11 years ago of my daughter on Halloween, taken with a Samsung Galaxy S2. Nothing is in focus here, but after using Unblur in the editing tools, my girl’s face and some of the details of her costume are clearer.

See also  The best meditation apps to help you find inner peace

The Pixel 7 series’ new Unblur feature can bring blurry old photos into better focus.

Photo: Melanie Pinola/Consumer Reports

Just to set expectations, Unblur can’t perform miracles and fix dramatically blurred photos. Maybe that’s why Google didn’t name it Magic Unblur.

On the video side, the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro now have a Cinematic Blur mode, which blurs the background behind the subject. That’s pretty cool. When I filmed my dog ​​running around with sticks in his mouth, the camera kept him in focus instead of my messy garden. At times it looked a little unnatural, like in older CGI movies where the edges of the computer-drawn subjects stand out too much from the rest of the scene, but in certain situations this might be the look you’d go for.

We’ll report back when our lab techs run the phones through more thorough camera tests to see how they compare to the best smartphone cameras.

Pixel 7 and 7 Pro battery life

Google says that both the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro can last more than 24 hours on a single charge and up to 72 hours on extreme battery saver mode. They also support 30 watt fast charging.

I had no issues or concerns with the battery life during long day trips filled with photo shoots with pumpkins and kids, but again, we’ll know more soon after we finish testing the devices in our labs.

More from Consumer Reports:
Top choice tires for 2016
Best used cars for $25,000 and under
7 best mattresses for couples

Consumer Reports is an independent, non-profit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2022, Consumer Reports, Inc.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *