Google has officially revealed all their new hardware at the Made By Google 2022 event in New York City last week, and while we’ve all been inundated with early info about the Pixel 7 Pro since it was clearly revealed back in May at Google I/O 2022, we now have all the actual details we’ve been waiting for on Google’s latest hardware, so let’s talk about what Google debuted with Pixel 7 Pro and a few thoughts I have on this phone after a few days of real world use.
If you’ve ever laid hands on the Pixel 6 Pro, you know what to expect, here. The main differences in the build quality come down to the metal around the cameras and a less-pronounced curve to the screen. While not flat this time around, the curvature of the sides of the front panel are far less pronounced and I love it. I got used to it eventually on the Pixel 6 Pro, but I still prefer flat screens. The Pixel 7 is definitely not flat, but the curve on the sides feels far less intrusive while still giving it the higher-end look Google is after.
The screen under that glass is pretty similar to last year’s version, coming in at 6.7-inches and a QHD resolution. Sat side-by-side, there’s not a massive difference in the look and feel of the 6 Pro and 7 Pro, and I think that’s exactly what Google needed this year. Apple has honed the yearly iteration upgrade and Google should follow suit. With the Pixel 7 Pro, it just feels like things were refined a bit and they didn’t do too much to overhaul what was already working in the Pixel 6 Pro. After getting set up and putting my SIM card in the 7 Pro, I immediately felt right at home.
We’ve known this already, but under the hood, we’re looking at the Tensor G2 processor, 12GB of RAM and 128GB, 256GB or 512GB of storage, starting at the same $899. With the same 5000 mAh battery inside, this phone should have great battery life with the Tensor G2 reportedly being more efficient at everyday tasks versus last year’s Pixel 6 Pro. So far, that has been the case for me as I’ve routinely been hitting the pillow with 30% left in the tank for the past few days.
When it comes to the cameras, the story is largely the same as last year from a hardware standpoint. We have a 50MP wide-angle, 12MP ultra-wide angle, and 48MP 5X telephoto lens to leverage. Around front, the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro share the same 10.8MP 93-degree front facing camera that comes with face unlock for the first time since Pixel 4.
After using that face unlock feature for a couple of days, I’m very happy with the results. Though not secure enough for banking apps, it gets your phone unlocked quickly and leaves you only having to rely on your fingerprint for the most secure items. And that fingerprint scanner feels upgraded, too, registering far faster than we saw with the early builds of the Pixel 6.
This year, software improvements are definitely front and center, and these new Pixels have quite a few great new features, specifically in the camera department. Notably, Google showed off Cinematic video, bringing portrait mode to 24fps video, a new macro mode that utilizes the ultrawide lens around back, impressive AI/ML-driven zoom features, and a new Deblur feature.
We’ll start with the macro mode. Using it on random items here and there over the past few days, I was able to get some photos from just a few centimeters away from different objects and the detail was pretty amazing. On the opposite end of that spectrum, these new AI and ML algorithms for digital zooming are impressive, allowing the 5X optical zoom of the Pixel 7 Pro to extend all the way to 30X with some staggering results. We’re already working on a camera-only video for this phone, so be on the lookout for that.
Oh, there’s also the ability to unblur photos taken on any phone in your Google Photos library, not just those taken on Pixels. Coming to Pixel 7 and 7 Pro via Google Photos, this feature could be a game-changer if it works well on older photos half as well as described. I’ve had good luck with a few photos, but I’ll need to dig back to find some truly old, blurry pics to give this a real test. If their AI can make my old, crummy photos get back into focus, I’ll be pumped to not only use it on my pics, but on those from friends and family as well.
While the macro, zoom and unblur features are pretty great so far, the Cinematic video 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 and 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, because it is really great.
Google has really stepped up with HDR and the quality of the video on the Pixel 7 Pro, and the results are unquestionably better than before. Dynamic range looks amazing, the audio capture is solid, and overall, taking video on the Pixel 7 Pro is finally approaching what Apple manages to pull off with their iPhones. We need more time to test it a bit more, obviously, but I’m incredibly impressed at this point with what I can capture my very limited 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 Pro for photos. While the Pixel 6 Pro wasn’t a slouch by any stretch of the imagination, the Pixel 7 Pro takes it to a whole new level with insane HDR correction that make it dead-simple to properly capture any scene you are looking at with great clarity and balance – with or without Night Sight.
One final thing I’ll mention that 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 Pro 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 has been great. 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 Pro keeping the same $899 starting price, it’s easy to recommend for those wanting to check out the latest flagship Pixel phone from Google. This year, its all about iteration and refinement for Google’s phones, and if these early looks tell us anything, its that Google tightened things up where needed, and these could be the best Pixels yet.