Once upon a time, there were only two options for high-end smartphones: Apple and Samsung (sorry BlackBerry, RIP). The previous statement is no longer accurate. Google’s Pixel line made a splash when it debuted last year with a sleek new look, a top-notch camera system, and some seriously clever software. The Google Pixel 7 Pro is a brand-new top-dog smartphone. It will either feel like a revelation or give you a strong case of deja vu, depending on whether you used last year’s model or not.
So, what’s new this year?
It has been improved rather than redesigned, like the iPhone 14 series this year, and at first glance, we have to confess that it appears very similar to its forerunner. This is the greatest Pixel phone yet, especially if you’re new to Google’s ecosystem, thanks to a few tweaks that have been made behind the scenes.
It boasts an improved camera, longer battery life, a sleeker design, and the ability to unlock with your face. We’ve been using the Pixel 7 Pro for over a week, alongside the stylish new Pixel Watch, and here’s the short version: it’s the best Android phone money can buy if you care about screen quality, battery life, and cameras, but it’s not essential if you already own a Pixel 6 Pro, and you can get most of the same features in the cheaper Pixel 7.
— Pixel 7 Pro Guy (@HTC_Gallery) October 14, 2022
The Pixel 7 Pro’s obvious resemblance to the Pixel 6 Pro is one of the first things you’ll notice about it. Although the camera bump and sides fit more snugly than before, this year they are constructed of highly polished aluminum (the regular Pixel 7 uses a matte metal) rather than glass. While we appreciate the design, we can’t help but worry that the port may be damaged by careless use of the charging cord.
It’s a huge phone, measuring 6.7 inches, making it roughly the same size as the iPhone 14 Plus and the S22 Ultra and towering above the regular-sized iPhone 14.
In the beginning, we found the size to be a hindrance, especially when using it with one hand to do things like check social media and Reddit feeds right before bed (yes, we know that’s bad), but now we’ve gotten used to it and find that it shines when we throw on a random YouTube video or stream movies from our phone (forgive us, Christopher Nolan). Fortunately, the screen is bright enough (Google claims 25% more than the 6 Pro) that we had no trouble seeing websites on the OLED panel even in direct sunshine.
Swiping through our apps and menus was incredibly smooth, and it’s fantastic to see the refresh rate goes up to 120Hz (it’s up to 90Hz on the regular 7 and still a pitiful 60Hz on the iPhone 14). The quality is amazing. Settings allow you to adjust both the resolution and the refresh rate; reducing either can help you get the most out of your battery life.
Sadly, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Uncle Esquire says that anyone thinking about purchasing a 7 Pro and planning to use it in landscape orientation should invest in a case. Your phone might as well have legs if you don’t have one. While the camera protrusion aids in holding the device, the all-glass construction makes it surprisingly slippery without a back cover.
We would wager our cat on the fact that the Pixel’s camera is one of the main selling points of the device. There’s a reason it has such a stellar reputation: it’s a tried-and-true method for capturing stunning images, day or night. You can take advantage of a high-quality primary camera with 50 megapixels (MP), an ultrawide camera with 12 MP and an auto macro mode for getting close-ups, and a telephoto camera with 48 MP. There’s a 10.8MP camera up front for all those self-portraits and FaceTime chats.
There is no fancy new feature like the iPhone 14’s Dynamic Island, but there’s also no massive notch. Still, both devices produced outstanding results in our tests, with the Pixel 7’s 120mm telephoto lens giving it a slight edge in zoom (the iPhone 14 Pro has a 77mm telephoto).
In contrast to the Pixel 6 Pro, this one has both an optical zoom of up to 5x and a “super res” zoom of up to 30x. We took it out for a spin on the streets of London during a sunny day and obtained stunningly vivid and precise color results. There is no need to spend time retouching photos before uploading them on Instagram. You’ll find a small sample of unedited, straight-from-the-camera pictures below.
Gallery: Pixel 7 Pro Sample Photos
We enjoy how easy it is to use the menu, which offers four zoom levels (0.5x, 1x, 2x, and 5x) and six different shooting modes (night, motion, portrait, camera, video, and cinematic). Google Lens, accessible via the menu item located far to the right, may be used to translate foreign languages on the fly using the camera, which will come in handy while trying to decipher the writing on a bar or restaurant menu abroad. A quick and precise translation of both text and speech is possible.
You won’t locate the Tensor G2 chip, which does most of the heavy lifting if you disassemble a model from before 2018. The new smartphones’ processors not only improve economy and performance but also help power a range of cutting-edge editing options. A brand-new feature is the Photo Unblur setting.
If your subject was moving when the photo was taken, it can clean up the mess, and a blurry selfie will be much clearer. Nonetheless, we adore how the function is embedded in Google Photographs; now, even those blurry photos from your wild college days may be restored, no matter how old your phone or how drunk you were.
The Magic Eraser option is just as effective as its predecessors when it comes to erasing unsightly backgrounds from images. It works great for getting rid of a single or a few people from your photos, but it won’t do the trick for a group shot. While the new Macro mode is useful (it engages automatically as you zoom in on a subject), it’s not something most of us would use regularly.
The cinematic video mode, which makes your recordings more mysterious, did not impress us. Some of the clip’s items had severely warped edges that we could make out. Google’s software updates might be able to magically fix this problem.
Android 13 is the brains behind the Pixel 7 line. Neither bloatware nor any other unnecessary software has been installed, thus it runs quickly and smoothly. The program allows you to customize your home screen by adding themed icons and resizable widgets, and it provides extensive control over which apps can access certain data. To keep track of the power reserves on our phone, Pixel Watch, and Bluetooth headphones, we utilized one that does so.
Face unlock is making a comeback for the first time since the Google Pixel 4. Recent years saw a mysterious absence, so its return is greeted with the enthusiasm of a long-lost companion. Fast, but not as quick as Apple’s Face ID.
You can use facial recognition to rapidly unlock the screen, but you’ll need to use your fingerprint to make any kind of financial transaction. Fortunately, Google improved the under-screen sensor significantly for the Pixel 6, which had been one of the device’s primary complaints. The review unit’s fingerprint sensor worked well for the biometric unlock.
Even under heavy load, such as when switching between multiple programs at once, streaming, or playing intensive games, the performance was consistently seamless. You can handle it without gloves, but it’ll still be noticeable.
The Pixel lineup has excellent long-term support, with Android upgrades promised until October 2025 and security patches released until the same month in 2027. The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL feature auto-crash detection (take that, Apple!) and, like the previous Pixels, fall detection, albeit it won’t be available until next year.
The Pixel 7 Pro has a battery life of just over a day, though this may be reduced when using the device at its maximum refresh rate and display resolution. We settled into a pleasant nightly ritual of charging the smartphone and viewing and eventually came to terms with the fact that two-day battery life was unrealistic.
We were able to get around two days’ worth of use from it with regular use, including playing Spotify on the way to and from work every day and checking email, reading the news, and viewing videos at various points throughout the day. Though we don’t spend much time on mobile games, we anticipate that they, along with live-streaming material on sites like Twitch and YouTube, will be significant resources.
With a 30W wall charger (yep, like other flagships these days, there is no adapter in the package, just the USB-C cord), we were able to get the battery from dead to 50% full in around 30-40 minutes. The 7 Pro is compatible with 12W Qi wireless charging, and its Battery Saver mode can considerably increase the life of the device’s battery.
When we didn’t have access to a charger, we found this to be a lifesaver. Keep in mind that activating this substantially restricts app use; we accidentally activated the maximum setting and were immediately prevented from accessing our Instagram.
Trouble in Paradise
Let’s talk briefly about the issues that exist with the Google Pixel 7 Pro. One of the major problems we had before utilizing a case that Google cunningly included with our review unit is that it is very slippery, and we have discussed this at length (well played).
And that’s not all: unless you pay for more cloud storage, you’re stuck with the handset’s fixed storage capacity, which is either 128 GB, 256 GB, or 512 GB; and the enormous size may be off-putting to those who prefer smaller phones (or anyone with smaller phalanges).
Despite the phone’s reasonable price tag (£849, or £250 less than the iPhone 14 Pro), it’s not exactly cheap in an era when it seems like a day’s worth of energy prices could soon cost more than a weekend at Glastonbury. Finally, a free VPN that is being included inside Google One is still missing, for the time being.
Should you buy the Pixel 7 Pro?
This year, our top pick for a premium Android phone is the Pixel 7 Pro. It’s a honed version of a reimagining, one that enhances the best pocketable cameras by adding features like face unlocking and a flashy new camera bump from last year’s model.
While the Pixel 7 (£599) offers nearly identical functionality for a lower price, and the Pixel 7 Pro isn’t a no-brainer upgrade for anyone with a Pixel 6 Pro (£719), the 7 Pro is undeniably one of the most stylish smartphones you can buy in 2022, and it has returned with the self-assured grace of a device that knows just how good it is.
- Fantastic camera
- Unique design
- Now has face unlocking
- Not too much has changed
- No expandable storage
- Some missing features
- Pixel 7 Pro: The Need-to-Know
- Screen size: 6.7-inches
- Resolution: QHD+ (1440 x 3120 pixels) OLED
- Operating system: Android 13
- Processor: Google Tensor G2
- Cameras: 50MP wide, 12 MP ultra-wide, 48MP telephoto, 11MP selfie
- Battery: 5,000 mAh
- Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
- RAM: 12GB
- Weight: 212g
- Water resistance: IP68
- Micro SD card slot: No