Google finally took the wraps off their new hardware at the Made By Google 2022 event in New York City on October 6th, and while we’ve known quite a bit about the Pixel 7 since it was clearly revealed back in May at Google I/O 2022, we now have all the details we’ve been waiting for on Google’s latest hardware, so let’s talk about what Google has delivered with Pixel 7 and some thoughts I have about this phone after a few days of use.
I thought after all the early press the Pixel 7 has had, there’d be no need to discuss design, right? We’ve all seen it in countless photos at this point and the truth is, the aesthetics Google is employing on these new phones isn’t wildly different from the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro that came before them. But getting my hands on the Pixel 7 actually made me reconsider those thoughts almost immediately.
If you recall, last year as I struggled to decide between the larger, sleeker, more flagship-esque look and feel of the Pixel 6 Pro and the decidedly more old school aesthetic of the Pixel 6, I went with the Pixel 6 for quite some time as I felt it better held on to the design cues of Google’s past phones. I wasn’t yet comfortable seeing a Google phone with the fit and finish of the Pixel 6 Pro, and it took some time for me to get used to and make the eventual jump over to the Pixel 6 Pro.
This year, there won’t be any struggle with those types of decisions as the Pixel 7 feels far more like the Pixel 6 Pro than it does the Pixel 6. There are small differences in overall design between the 2 new models, but there’s no doubt that the more-pristine Pixel DNA that came along with the Pixel 6 Pro is now part of the Pixel 7. And I’m really loving it.
The side rails and camera surround are a matte finish and, being blunt, I like it better than what we see on the Pixel 6 Pro and 7 Pro. Shiny sides are fine, but I really like the powdered finish on the Pixel 7. The glass back, flat glass front and overall attention to detail don’t feel like the Pixels of old any longer. The Pixel 7 is 100% new-school Google, and I like it a lot.
The screen comes in at 6.3-inches with a 1080p+ resolution, but this year’s iteration looks a bit more vibrant to my eyes than that of the Pixel 6. You still get a 90hz refresh rate and I still tend to like flat screens versus curved ones, so I really like the look of the Pixel 7 when I hold it in my hand. Put simply, it feels far more like a smaller version of the Pixel 7 Pro this time around rather than feeling like a completely different device like we saw with the 6 and 6 Pro. Versus the Pixel 6, the Pixel 7 is a bit more compact, too, giving those looking for a smaller Pixel a better option this time.
Inside, there’s the Tensor G2, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB or 256GB alongside a 4355mAh battery inside that should provide decent longevity compared with the Pixel 6. While last year’s phone had a bigger battery inside, the Tensor G2 should be far more efficient, so it will be interesting to see what real world battery consumption is like over the coming weeks. For me, a few days isn’t enough to really get a grasp on this.
The Pixel 7 includes a dual rear camera assembly with a 50MP wide-angle and 12MP ultra-wide lens, which can record up to 4K video at 30 or 60 fps. Around front, it has a 10.8MP selfie camera that can also record 4K video at 30 or 60 fps and slow motion video at up to 240 fps. And while I’m excited to see 4K available on the selfie camera, I’m more excited about the face unlock feature that is here, too.
After using it for a couple of days, I’m very happy with the results. Though not secure enough for things like banking apps, it gets your phone unlocked quickly and leaves you only having to rely on your fingerprint for the most-secure items. And the fingerprint scanner feels upgraded, too, registering far faster than we saw with the early builds of the Pixel 6.
As always, software is the star of the show, and these new Pixels have quite a few great features up their sleeves, specifically in the camera department. Notably, Google showed off the new Cinematic video, finally bringing portrait mode to 24fps video, big leaps in digital zooming via AI and ML algorithms, and the ability to unblur photos taken on any phone in your Google Photos library – Pixel or not.
In my couple of days with these new phones, I can at least vouch for the results I’m getting on the Unblur, Cinematic Video, and zooming features. Unblur reliably makes older, out of focused photos a bit better on the eyes, Cinematic Video gives you portrait mode blurring for video, but still feels a bit like a gimmick at this point, and the new pixel binning and machine-learning for zoomed photos works incredibly well. For the Pixel 7, that means you can get up to 8X zoom with some very impressive results, though I wouldn’t say it fully replicates an 8X optical lens.
The Cinematic video, on the other hand, is definitely a limited-use feature for now. If you stick to one person and don’t move around too much, it looks OK. Bouncing back and forth between subjects and moving around the room a bit, the effect falls apart pretty quickly isn’t really usable. I’d recon it will get better over time, but for now, just stick to the video camera in its normal state: which is VERY good.
Google has really stepped up with HDR and the quality of the video on the Pixel 7, and the results are so much better than before. Dynamic range looks amazing, the audio capture is solid, and overall, taking video on the Pixel 7 is finally beginning to approach what Apple manages to pull off with their iPhones. We need more time to test it all, obviously, but I’m very impressed at this point with what I can capture without any real, working knowledge of how to set up and expose a shot.
On that same front, I’ve already noticed a huge improvement of the dynamic range and low light capabilities of the Pixel 7. While the Pixel 6 wasn’t a slouch by any stretch of the imagination, the Pixel 7 takes it to the next level with insane levels of HDR that make it so simple to properly capture any scene you are looking at without any real setup whatsoever.
Tensor G2 performance
One other thing I’ve been very happy with early on is the performance. Though Tensor G2 isn’t a massive year-over-year upgrade versus the G1, one of the big improvements I’m seeing at this point is in the graphics and gaming departments. Where the Pixel 6 Pro is limited to medium graphic settings with most games I play, the Pixel 7 lets me crank it all the way up. Apex Legends Mobile and PUBG Mobile let me push the settings to the high end of things and performance is still fantastic. I’m really excited to be able to have a Pixel phone with all the fun photo/video features of Tensor that can also let me play games at a high level as well.
Clearly, there’s a lot to be excited for with these new phones, and with the Pixel 7 keeping the same $599 starting price, it’s easy to recommend for those wanting to check out the latest Pixel phones from Google. This year, its all about refinement, and if these early looks tell us anything, its that Google tightened things up where needed, and these could be the best Pixels yet.