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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).
- Display: 6.30″ AMOLED, 90Hz, HDR10+, 1000 nits (HBM), 1400 nits (peak), 1080x2400px resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 416ppi; Always-on display.
- Chipset: Google Tensor G2 (5 nm): Octa-core (2×2.85 GHz Cortex-X1 & 2×2.35 GHz Cortex-A78 & 4×1.80 GHz Cortex-A55); Mali-G710 MP7.
- Memory: 128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 8GB RAM; UFS 3.1.
- OS/Software: Android 13.
- Rear camera: Wide (main): 50 MP, f/1.9, 25mm, 1/1.31″, 1.2µm, multi-directional PDAF, Laser AF, OIS; Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2, 114˚, 1/2.9″, 1.25µm.
- Front camera: 10.8 MP, f/2.2, 21mm (ultrawide), 1/3.1″, 1.22µm.
- Video capture: Rear camera: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps; gyro-EIS, OIS, 10-bit HDR; Front camera: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60fps.
- Battery: 4355mAh; Fast charging 20W, 50% in 30 min (advertised), Fast wireless charging 20W, Reverse wireless charging, USB Power Delivery 3.0.
- Misc: Fingerprint reader (under display, optical); NFC; stereo speakers.
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.
Samsung Galaxy S22 5G • Asus Zenfone 9 • Xiaomi 12 • Oppo Find X5
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 7 out 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).
- Ultrawide camera is underwhelming in low light.
- Selfies rarely come out tack sharp.