Stand back, folks, this take is comin’ in hot. The Dynamic Island introduced with the iPhone 14 Pro is really clever. Apple turned boring sensors into an interactive element that’s very marketable and potentially useful. 3D Touch, on the other hand, was a flagship feature on iPhone 6s, but the very useful feature was hardly marketable and even less discoverable.
Pressure sensitive display technology is very cool! The tech feels like the sort of innovation that shouldn’t be thrown out, but instead maintained with the progression of the iPhone. Being able to distinguish between a tap and a deep press will always be quicker than a long press. Imagine if secondary-clicking on a Mac trackpad couldn’t be done with a two-finger tap and required a long press instead. No thank you.
Speaking of the Mac, it’s the last place pressure sensitive tech still exists for Apple. The feature is called Force Click, and it allows you to access “Quick Look, Look up, and variable speed media controls” on macOS.
Apple Watch debuted with its own version of a pressure sensitive display feature called Force Touch, but software support was removed and recent watches haven’t included the hardware for it. The same thing happened with the iPhone. In both instances, Apple replaced pressure sensitive input with on-screen buttons or long presses that are slower to access than firmly pressing the display.
Who can forget the awesome press and drag gesture?
The fact that Apple used 3D Touch, Force Touch, and Force Click to identify three similar features on different devices was certainly the butt of lots of jokes.
Practically speaking, though, you don’t need to know what the marketing name for pressure sensitive input features are given. The differences are inherent to the hardware. 3D Touch on iPhone allowed you to access different features on different parts of the screen, Force Touch on the watch was less specific and treated the whole display as a single button, and Force Click is the same thing but on a trackpad.
Best 3D Touch feature: firmly press anywhere on the keyboard rather than long-press the space bar to summon the cursor
So why did 3D Touch/Force Touch get retired? Discoverability was a major critique. If pressure sensitive displays returned, Apple could use the current long-press options and tie the same functions to 3D Touch. The watch could let you choose between visual buttons or a cleaner look with Force Touch. Best of both worlds, right?
The other reason for 3D Touch and Force Touch going away is battery life. The feature wasn’t power intensive, but it did take up physical space in a compact housing. Some people liked 3D Touch, but everyone enjoys more battery life. Removing the feature saved space for more battery capacity and other components.
A few things have changed since 3D Touch and Force Touch were discontinued though. Apple Watch Ultra sacrifices cutting-edge design for best-in-class battery life. I would buy a second-gen Apple Watch Ultra that factored in the extra battery life and made room for Force Touch. Appleis also rumored to be working on an iPhone Ultra that may make similar tradeoffs. Cost is another factor for omitting pressure sensitive display tech, but Apple Watch Ultra and the current iPhone 14 Pro Max are less price-sensitive than more compact devices anyway.
What does any of this have to do with iPhone 14 Pro’s Dynamic Island? Nothing really. I just think 3D Touch was instantly useful and Dynamic Island is taking more time to prove itself. 3D Touch was considered in almost every Apple app from the start. Dynamic Island adoption, even by Apple, is just getting started. Dynamic Island might even be useful by the time the iPhone 15 is unveiled! Firmly pressing the Dynamic Island to expand the blob could even settle the debate over what should happen when you tap and when you long-press.
Lenovo has found an abundance of success with the ThinkPad lineup, built as a tough solution for business professionals. Now, Motorola – owned by Lenovo – is coming up on its release of the perfect match, the ThinkPhone. Newly unveiled details suggest the ThinkPhone will be a legitimate contender once it comes to market.
The “Think” lineup takes the least flashy approach. Lenovo has for a long time designed these devices to take on a basic look, with minimal distracting touches. Regardless, those devices have always proven to be true professional products.
Looking to continue that pattern, Motorola is allegedly coming up on the release of its newest endeavor, the ThinkPhone (via TheTechOutlook). The ThinkPhone comes in at 158.7 x 74.4 x 8.3 mm, which results in a display footprint of 6.6 inches. That panel is a POLED display with a punch-hole camera centered at the top. Behind the cutout less a 32MP selfie camera with AF.
What really makes it a “Think” branded product is the subtle and simple design. The body of the ThinkPhone is rumored to be aluminum with an “Aramid Fiber Inlay” back plate, to give it some durability sans case. As far as the camera array goes, the Motorola ThinkPhone will come with a triple-lens system. That setup includes a 50MP primary sensor, 13MP wide-angle lens, and a 2MP depth sensor.
Under the hood, the latest leaks from SnoopyTech suggest the ThinkPhone will sport a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, giving it quite the edge in capability. With that, the device will have fast charging capabilities of up to 68W, which should theoretically get you a full battery in around an hour or even less. On top of that, it’s equipped with wireless charging.
The ThinkPhone is also rumored to run Android 13 out of the box, though there’s no word on reliability over a longer period of time and whether or not Motorola will promise future updates for the ThinkPhone.
Other uncovered tidbits include an under-display fingerprint sensor, a face-down do not disturb mode, and even apparent IP68 water and dust resistance certification.
Overall, the ThinkPhone is set to be a powerful device, whether you’re on the road or working from home. The takeaway point is that the ThinkPhone specs scream “competent” on paper, but only time will tell if Motorola’s version of Android 13 will play nice enough for the hardware to shine.
Security Keys for Apple ID provides users the choice to require a physical security key to sign in to their Apple ID account.
iMessage Contact Key Verification, Security Keys for Apple ID, and Advanced Data Protection for iCloud provide users with important new tools to protect their most sensitive data and communications
Apple introduced three advanced security features focused on protecting against threats to user data in the cloud, representing the next step in its ongoing effort to provide users with even stronger ways to protect their data. With iMessage Contact Key Verification, users can verify they are communicating only with whom they intend. With Security Keys for Apple ID, users have the choice to require a physical security key to sign in to their Apple ID account. And with Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, which uses end-to-end encryption to provide Apple’s highest level of cloud data security, users have the choice to further protect important iCloud data, including iCloud Backup, Photos, Notes, and more.
As threats to user data become increasingly sophisticated and complex, these new features join a suite of other protections that make Apple products the most secure on the market: from the security built directly into our custom chips with best-in-class device encryption and data protections, to features like Lockdown Mode, which offers an extreme, optional level of security for users such as journalists, human rights activists, and diplomats. Apple is committed to strengthening both device and cloud security, and to adding new protections over time.
“At Apple, we are unwavering in our commitment to provide our users with the best data security in the world. We constantly identify and mitigate emerging threats to their personal data on device and in the cloud,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “Our security teams work tirelessly to keep users’ data safe, and with iMessage Contact Key Verification, Security Keys, and Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, users will have three powerful new tools to further protect their most sensitive data and communications.”
iMessage Contact Key Verification
Apple pioneered the use of end-to-end encryption in consumer communication services with the launch of iMessage, so that messages could only be read by the sender and recipients. FaceTime has also used encryption since launch to keep conversations private and secure. Now with iMessage Contact Key Verification, users who face extraordinary digital threats — such as journalists, human rights activists, and members of government — can choose to further verify that they are messaging only with the people they intend. The vast majority of users will never be targeted by highly sophisticated cyberattacks, but the feature provides an important additional layer of security for those who might be. Conversations between users who have enabled iMessage Contact Key Verification receive automatic alerts if an exceptionally advanced adversary, such as a state-sponsored attacker, were ever to succeed breaching cloud servers and inserting their own device to eavesdrop on these encrypted communications. And for even higher security, iMessage Contact Key Verification users can compare a Contact Verification Code in person, on FaceTime, or through another secure call.
iMessage Contact Key Verification lets users verify they are communicating only with whom they intend.
Apple introduced two-factor authentication for Apple ID in 2015. Today, with more than 95 percent of active iCloud accounts using this protection, it is the most widely used two-factor account security system in the world that we’re aware of. Now with Security Keys, users will have the choice to make use of third-party hardware security keys to enhance this protection. This feature is designed for users who, often due to their public profile, face concerted threats to their online accounts, such as celebrities, journalists, and members of government. For users who opt in, Security Keys strengthens Apple’s two-factor authentication by requiring a hardware security key as one of the two factors. This takes our two-factor authentication even further, preventing even an advanced attacker from obtaining a user’s second factor in a phishing scam.
Advanced Data Protection for iCloud
For years, Apple has offered industry-leading data security on its devices with Data Protection, the sophisticated file encryption system built into iPhone, iPad, and Mac. “Apple makes the most secure mobile devices on the market. And now, we are building on that powerful foundation,” said Ivan Krstić, Apple’s head of Security Engineering and Architecture. “Advanced Data Protection is Apple’s highest level of cloud data security, giving users the choice to protect the vast majority of their most sensitive iCloud data with end-to-end encryption so that it can only be decrypted on their trusted devices.” For users who opt in, Advanced Data Protection keeps most iCloud data protected even in the case of a data breach in the cloud.
iCloud already protects 14 sensitive data categories using end-to-end encryption by default, including passwords in iCloud Keychain and Health data. For users who enable Advanced Data Protection, the total number of data categories protected using end-to-end encryption rises to 23, including iCloud Backup, Notes, and Photos. The only major iCloud data categories that are not covered are iCloud Mail, Contacts, and Calendar because of the need to interoperate with the global email, contacts, and calendar systems.
Enhanced security for users’ data in the cloud is more urgently needed than ever before, as demonstrated in a new summary of data breach research, “The Rising Threat to Consumer Data in the Cloud,” published today. Experts say the total number of data breaches more than tripled between 2013 and 2021, exposing 1.1 billion personal records across the globe in 2021 alone. Increasingly, companies across the technology industry are addressing this growing threat by implementing end-to-end encryption in their offerings.
Advanced Data Protection for iCloud uses end-to-end encryption to provide Apple’s highest level of cloud data security.
iMessage Contact Key Verification will be available globally in 2023.
Security Keys for Apple ID will be available globally in early 2023.
Advanced Data Protection for iCloud is available in the US today for members of the Apple Beta Software Program, and will be available to US users by the end of the year. The feature will start rolling out to the rest of the world in early 2023.
Here are the official specs and your first look of OnePlus 11
The OnePlus 11 is coming up quickly, and after announcing a launch event in India coming in February, the brand has now confirmed more details. The OnePlus 11 will launch in China on January 4, and the first official pictures have arrived.
Earlier this month, OnePlus announced its “Cloud 11” event which is set to take place in February. The event is confirmed to see the launch of the OnePlus 11 and the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 at least in India, but presumably also confirming some global details on top of that.
Shared on Weibo, OnePlus has added a few more details.
First and foremost, the initial launch of the OnePlus 11 will take place on January 4. That’s when the phone will launch in China exclusively ahead of its expansion to other countries.
OnePlus has also confirmed quite a few details regarding the specs of the OnePlus 11. The official specs include 12GB or 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM and up to 512GB of storage using the new UFS 4.0 standard. Android 13 will also be on board out of the box, though with Oppo’s ColorOS for this Chinese model, which all comes alongside the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 that’s already been confirmed. OnePlus has yet to announce what the camera specs will include on OnePlus 11.
Alongside all of that, OnePlus has also shared the first official images of the OnePlus 11.
And, finally, 91Mobiles has published a handful of OnePlus 11 hands-on images. While there’s a bit of room for doubt on the authenticity of these, they do line up with the official shots quite well.
For years, people have been able to run macOS on non-Apple computers thanks to Hackintosh tools. But when it comes to iOS, pretty much no one has been able to run it on other platforms – at least until now. One developer has successfully emulated the first version of the iPhone OS (remember that name?) on a computer using QEMU.
iPhone OS 1.0 emulated without iPhone hardware
Martijn de Vos, also known as devos50, has used a lot of reverse engineering to emulate the very first version of the iPhone OS released for the first-generation iPod touch in 2007, after the iPhone was launched.The project took more than a year to work as the developer had to figure out how to simulate things like multitouch support and other hardware components.
In a blog post, de Vos explains that the tricky part was emulating the hardware components of the iPod touch. This is why the developer chose to emulate the first build of the iPhone OS made for the iPod instead of the iPhone, since making the iPhone version work would require emulating even more components.
At the same time, de Vos also chose iPhone OS 1.0 due to the fact that this version has much fewer security mechanisms than more recent versions of the operating system. “Contemporary Apple devices contain many additional hardware components, such as neural engines, secure enclaves, and a variety of sensors that will make the emulation of such devices much more difficult and time consuming,” the developer explained.
Interestingly, the project only became a reality thanks to OpeniBoot – an open source implementation of Apple’s bootloader. The project was discontinued long ago, but it allowed users to do things like install Android on the first generations of the iPhone and iPod touch.
But is it functional?
Despite a few bugs, the final project seems quite functional, and iPhone OS 1.0 has been successfully emulated with QEMU – an open source virtualization platform.
The system is completely navigable using a mouse and keyboard, and most pre-installed apps work just fine. There are some situations that cause the system to crash, but it’s still impressive to see a version of iOS being emulated on another platform.
The developer notes that this is probably the first time someone has emulated the iPhone operating system using open source tools. Corellium, for example, sells virtual iOS devices, but all tools and code are private. Creating your own virtual machine is not exactly easy, but de Vos has shared all the details in a blog post for those interested in doing so.
For his next project, de Vos wants to emulate a second-generation iPod touch, which was released with iPhone OS 2.1.
On Pixel phones today, the Personal Safety app includes a full suite of features designed to make sure you’re ready should any type of disaster strike. You can add/edit critical medical information, assign emergency contacts, get alerts for nearby crises, and on some devices even call for help when a car crash is detected.
While this was originally built as an exclusive set of features for Pixel phones, with the release of Android 13, Google has decided to make Personal Safety available as an option for other phone makers. As noted by Mishaal Rahman on Twitter, there is already a small selection of phones that are gaining access to Personal Safety as part of Android 13.
While Samsung certainly has the broadest profile of devices on Android 13 today, no Galaxy phones are currently opted in for Google’s safety suite. Instead, the current list of non-Pixel Android devices with Personal Safety contains phones from Sony Xperia, Vivo, iQOO, and Nothing.
Nothing Phone (1)
Sony Xperia 5 IV
Sony Xperia 1 IV
iQOO 8 Pro
iQOO 9 SE
iQOO 9 Pro
Vivo X80 Pro
Vivo X90 Pro
The actual experience of using Personal Safety on these phones is straightforward and quite similar to the app’s older (pre Android 13) experience on Pixels. Rather than appearing as a dedicated app in the drawer, you can navigate to Personal Safety through the Settings app, in the “Safety & emergency” section.
From there, as expected, you can manage your emergency information and get enrolled for alerts. However, for all currently supported phones, the Android 13 update does not bring the car crash detection that Personal Safety is best known for.
Google has opened car crash detection to non-Pixel phones, but it requires device makers to implement Android’s “Context Hub.” This feature is designed to let small, ambient programs — such as sensing a sudden stop, in the case of car crash detection — run without using excess power. As adding support for Context Hub would require a system update, it’s not likely that any of these phones will gain car crash detection in Personal Safety any time soon. Despite that, it’s still great to see Google offer some of the Pixel series’ exclusive features to more Android phones.
Many iOS apps ask for precise location tracking permission by default the first time you open them. And it can be easy to forget how many or which apps you’ve given permission to. Here’s how to turn off precise iPhone location tracking.
The main choices when the location tracking dialog appears after opening an app for the first time are “Allow Once, “Allow While Using App,” and “Don’t Allow.”
It’s easy to miss that in the top left corner is a “Precise: On.” It’s actually a button that lets you make the choice to keep the precise tracking default enabled or change it to use your approximate location.
The difference is precise can be as accurate as a specific house or building you’re in (within feet) and the approximate iPhone location shows generally what city you’re in (within miles).
Here’s how Apple describes it, “Allows apps to use your specific location. With this setting off, apps can only determine your approximate location.”
How to turn off precise iPhone location tracking for apps
Note: Some apps may not work as intended without precise location tracking enabled
Open the Settings app on your iPhone
Swipe down and choose Privacy & Security
At the top, tap Location Services
Choose an app from the list to see if it’s using your precise location
Look for the toggle next to Precise Location at the bottom, tap to turn it off
Here’s how the process looks to turn off precise iPhone location tracking:
Remember, when you turn off precise tracking, apps can still track your location it’s just not exact. If you want to turn off tracking fully for an app, choose “Never” at the top.
And if you want to turn off all tracking across the board, you’ll need to toggle off the main Location Services switch.
How to check who can see your iPhone location
Apple holds privacy and security as two of its core values and it has detailed resources on how to protect your devices, accounts, and personal safety. Follow along for a look at the recommended steps to check who can see your iPhone location including how to make sure no one can track you.
Safety Check for iPhone: How to immediately stop sharing location and more in iOS 16
One of the important new features in iOS 16 is Safety Check. Designed as a tool for those at risk for domestic abuse or similar situations, Safety Check for iPhone lets users immediately revoke location access others have – including apps – and also walks through a security review.
Apple is known for its focus on security and privacy, and Safety Check in iOS 16 follows a Personal Safety User Guide that was first published in late 2020 and updated in 2022. It features a number of steps to take to limit iPhone access, limit sharing, and stop iPhone from sharing location data.
Now with iOS 16, instead of needing to go through various sections in the Settings app with multiple steps, users will have a panic button of sorts to immediately disconnect their iPhone from all people, apps, and devices.
Here’s how Apple describes Safety Check for iPhone:
“If circumstances or trust levels change, Safety Check allows you to disconnect from people, apps, and devices you no longer want to be connected to.”
There’s also the option to use Safety Check to manage who you’re sharing with without revoking all access.
And for a very small niche of users, Apple is also going to launch Lockdown Mode, which is different than Safety Check and will help protect against sophisticated cyber attacks.
Safety Check for iPhone: How to use in iOS 16
Running iOS 16, open the Settings app
Swipe down and tap Privacy & Security
Swipe to the bottom and choose Safety Check
Now you can use Emergency Reset or Manage Sharing & Access – Face ID/Touch ID or passcode is required
Emergency Reset will immediately reset access for all people and apps and help you review your account security
Manage Sharing & Access will let you customize which people and apps can access your information and let you review your account security
Here’s how it looks to use Saftey Check for iPhone in iOS 16:
Apple says to use the Emergency Reset Safety Check for iPhone option if you feel “your personal safety is at risk.”
Apple will not notify anyone that you were sharing with that you’ve stopped, but they may notice that sharing has stopped.
You can also tap Cancel or Quick Exit at the top of your screen if you don’t need to use the feature.
The software commitment of Android OEMs has been getting much better in recent years, with Oppo now the latest brand to commit to four years of major Android updates and five years of security patches.
In a press release this week, Oppo announced that its Android 13 rollout has been the fastest in the company’s history.
ColorOS 13 has rolled out to 33 devices so far, over 50% more during the same time period as Oppo managed with its Android 12/ColorOS 12 upgrade last year. The rollout started with the Find X5 series back in August, just days after Pixel phones, and has expanded widely in the time since.
But the bigger news from Oppo this week is that ColorOS is getting a new update policy, with Android updates promised for longer periods of time on select devices.
Oppo says that this new policy will guarantee four major Android updates and five years of security patches on “flagship” devices launched in 2023 and beyond. It stands to reason that the Find X6 series and perhaps the Find N2 Flip will be among those eligible for the new policy.
OPPO also announced the new ColorOS update policy. This includes the commitment to guarantee four major ColorOS updates with 5 years of security patches for global users on selected flagship models starting in 2023.Through it, OPPO aims to bring longer-lasting and more stable intelligent experiences to global users by continuing to build on ColorOS.
This policy mirrors that of OnePlus, which also committed to upping its software support timelines starting next year. Samsung, meanwhile, has offered the same guarantee on its flagship devices since early 2022, and extended that back to devices launched in late 2021 as well. Google offers a similar, although slightly lesser policy with three years of major Android updates and five years of security updates, though Google’s policy also extends to its more affordable A-Series devices.
The Fastest Rollout with ColorOS 13
• ColorOS 13 rolled out faster than any other version in its operating system’s history.
• OPPO guarantees four major ColorOS updates with five years of regular security patches for selected flagship models starting in 2023
SHENZHEN, Dec 20th, 2022 — Today, OPPO officially announced that ColorOS 13 rolled out faster than any previous version in its operating system’s history. The company also expanded its update policy for ColorOS to guarantee four major Android upgrades with five years of security patches for selected flagship models in 2023.
ColorOS 13 is the latest Android-Based operating system from OPPO. Designed for simplicity and comfort with its brand-new Aquamorphic Design, ColorOS 13 includes a series of impressive features such as Smart AOD, Multi-Screen Connect, and Home Screen Management that provide intelligent, and user-friendly experiences to global users.
Since launching on August 18th, 2022, ColorOS 13 has been delivered to 33 smartphone models globally, making it the fastest and biggest update in the history of ColorOS. During the same four-month time frame following their official release, over 50% more handset models were compatible with ColorOS 13 (data from August 18 to December 18, 2022) compared with ColorOS 12(data from October 11, 2021, to February 11, 2022).
OPPO also announced the new ColorOS update policy. This includes the commitment to guarantee four major ColorOS updates with 5 years of security patches for global users on selected flagship models starting in 2023.Through it, OPPO aims to bring longer-lasting and more stable intelligent experiences to global users by continuing to build on ColorOS.
Apple Music has gotten dramatically better since its initial release in 2015, but there’s still more that needs to be done. In 2023, there are two long overdue features that I hope Apple adds to Apple Music…both of which are already offered by Spotify.
Crossfade for Apple Music on iPhone and iPad
One of the glaring omissions from Apple Music on the iPhone and iPad is crossfade support. This is a feature that has been offered for years, even dating back to the days of the iPod. For some odd reason, however, crossfade hasn’t yet made its way to the Apple Music experience on the iPhone.
Crossfade, for those unfamiliar, is a feature that allows a song to fade in (gradually increase its volume) while the previous song is fading out. This prevents gaps of silence between songs. In general, apps allow you to adjust how long songs will crossfade for as well. For instance, on the Mac you can set crossfade to anywhere between one second and 12 seconds.
Making the omission even more bizarre is that crossfade for Apple Music is available on the Mac and Android devices. Why hasn’t Apple expanded this feature to the iPhone and iPad? Who knows. I just hope it’s something that finally gets addressed in 2023.
A Spotify Connect-style feature
Spotify Connect is a feature that Spotify has offered for years that lets you use one device to remotely control listening on another. For instance, you can be listening on your Mac and use your iPhone to control playback.
Apple Music offers similar features for HomePod playback, but there’s currently no support for a feature like this on other devices. In an ideal world, you’d be able to control Apple Music on all devices, regardless of where the playback is actually happening.
For instance, I’m imagining a world where you can have Apple Music playing on your Mac, and you could control that playback from your Apple Watch or iPhone. Currently, this isn’t possible. If you’re listening on your Mac, the only way to control that playback is from your Mac.
The groundwork for a feature like this seems to already exist with Apple’s Handoff and AirPlay technologies. Unfortunately, we just haven’t seen this expand to more of the Apple Music experience.
What’s on your Apple Music wishlist?
There are a number of other ways the Apple Music experience needs to improve. Most notably, this includes significant upgrades to the performance, reliability, and navigation of the Music app across all of Apple’s platforms.
Even though the Google Pixel lineup gets much media attention, it’s still rather niche due to its limited market availability. However, Google has been trying really hard for the last couple of generations to appeal to a wider audience by delivering some unique features. Even the stock Android running on today’s Pixels isn’t exactly stock, as it has some neat tweaks and exclusive features. There are even reports that Google plans to ship a record number of Pixels next year.
On the surface, the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro aren’t much different from the Pixel 6 series while introducing some small but notable upgrades. Maybe that’s part of the reason why we think the 7th generation has a good chance of winning over new fans around the globe. Although “the globe” might not be the best choice of words given the limited availability as usual.
The Pixel 7 offers a few key improvements over its predecessor, the Pixel 6. It’s now running on an improved Google Tensor G2 chip with better AI capabilities, Gorilla Glass Victus build all-around, a better selfie camera and a smaller display. As a result, the Pixel 7 is slightly smaller than the Pixel 6, which is a clear indication that Google is aiming for the compact flagship niche. And although smaller, the Pixel 7’s display is considerably brighter.
Google Pixel 7 specs at a glance:
Body: 155.6×73.2×8.7mm, 197g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass Victus), glass back (Gorilla Glass Victus), aluminum frame; IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins).
The camera setup on the back remains unchanged. We’ve got a big 50MP sensor doing the heavy lifting and a 12MP ultrawide camera helping out. There’s still no telephoto camera, but to be fair, that’s a rare find in the compact flagship class. Still, Google promises better image processing and improved overall camera quality through machine learning algorithms and better ISP capabilities.
It was quite the surprise to see the Pixel 7 go down in battery capacity coming from the Pixel 6 – 4,355 mAh vs. 4614 mAh, but in theory, Google could have offset the loss with other hardware improvements, such as display and chipset power draw. As we all know, specs sheets never paint a complete picture, so let’s find out what the new Pixel 7 is capable of and whether it is really the right phone for you.
Unboxing the Google Pixel 7
As one would expect, the Google Pixel 7‘s retail box is relatively small and contains only the user manuals, USB-C to USB-C cable for PD charging and a USB-C to USB-A dongle in case you find yourself with a standard charger that doesn’t have a USB-C connector.
Speaking of the charger, there is none. The device supports up to 20W Power Delivery charging, so finding one that works with the Pixel 7 shouldn’t be a big issue.
While the Pixel 7 Pro has a tough job competing in the ultra-premium segment where behemoths like Samsung and Apple dominate, the vanilla Pixel 7 has a niche of its own. The Pixel 7’s price remains €650, which is pretty good for a flagship phone with superb camera performance and capable hardware. The vanilla Pixel 7 is one of the few premium options for users to choose from. Or is it?
After a quick market research, we found quite a few compact alternatives to the Pixel 7. The Samsung Galaxy S22 and the Oppo Find X5 are both within the €600-650 range with excellent camera performance, top-notch display and heavily customized software. The Galaxy S22 even has a capable 3x optical zoom camera, while the Find X5 has a 2x zoom one, while the Pixel 7 relies on cropping from its main sensor. Its display lags behind with 90Hz refresh rate and considerably slower charging too. Its key advantages are the good battery life and the software features, which are best utilized in a handful of countries/languages. Maybe aside from the telephoto camera omission, the Pixel 7 has a slight advantage over its competitors in terms of overall camera quality.
In case you are willing to go up the price ladder, the Asus Zenfone 9 may entice you with a similar feature set. The Zenfone 9 is asking about €780 right now, and it’s even smaller than the Pixel with its 5.9-inch display. Asus’ contender doesn’t have a telephoto either, and it doesn’t offer the level of photography proficiency as the Pixel, but it can run for longer on a single charge and supports faster charging. Software-wise, the two are very similar. The Zenfone 9 is also on the “stock Android” path with a handful of Zenfone-specific, geeky software features.
Conversely, you can go down in price and consider the Xiaomi 12 instead. It’s priced around the mid-€500 with a 6.28-inch display, 120Hz at that. The 12 has a similar camera setup and prowess. And although battery life isn’t as good, it blows the Pixel 7out of the water when it comes to charging speed. The big difference in the software approach is what sets those two handsets apart the most. The MIUI is highly customizable and has a ton of niche features. At the same time, the Pixel 7 relies on Android-intrinsic features and a wide range of AI-powered functionalities, most of which are limited to certain markets.
Realme GT2 Pro
Perhaps the Realme GT2 Pro deserves mention as it’s an extremely well-rounded phone with only one big omission – no telephoto camera. Aside from that, the GT2 Pro is a bang for the buck, a true flagship killer costing a little over €600 with all the bells and whistles. But it’s easy to overlook if you need a compact phone because the GT2 Pro is anything but. It has a huge 6.7-inch display, which puts it in an entirely different category.
The Pixel 7 is definitely one of the best options in the €600-700 range. It has a flagship-worthy performance, although a bit lower than you’d expect; it’s one of the best phones for mobile photography, if not the best-in-class, and it has bright OLED, great-sounding stereo speakers, long battery life (with the size category in mind) and exceptional software ensuring timely updates and smart features.
Sadly, there are a few caveats to consider here. There’s no true telephoto camera; the display is limited to 90Hz; some of the most advanced software features are region-dependant, and the charging solution is just way too outdated for a 2022 flagship release.
All things considered, the Pixel 7, along with the Pixel 7 Pro, are the best smartphones from Google, and that means something in this context. We’ve seen Google messing up smartphone releases more than once. Luckily, the Pixel 7 isn’t one of those times.
So, do we recommend it? Yes, for sure! At that price, the Pixel 7 offers a unique combination of ultra-premium camera experience, long battery life and AI-based features that make it the smartest kid on the block.
Compact and premium build, easy to handle, unique-looking design, dust- and water-resistant.
Sharp, bright, color-accurate display.
Good battery life considering the phone’s size.
Android from the source, exclusive feature set, unrivaled perception of smoothness on this side of the OS divide.
Superb stereo speakers.
Overall, great camera quality with an unmatched character that has a loyal following.
The display is just 90Hz as opposed to competitors pushing beyond 120Hz.
Very slow charging by the standards of the day.
Certain software and hardware features are regionally limited – 5G, VoLTE, and much of the onboard AI stuff (though admittedly, so is the phone’s availability, to begin with).