I was fortunate enough to receive a Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel watch as a gift from Google this year as part of the #TeamPixel program. Lucky for me, both devices arrived in my preferred color, Hazel, which is, in my opinion, the most attractive option in the lineup. Today marks a week since I received the products, and thought I’d let you all know my thoughts on the Pixel 7 Pro so far and my experience with it coming from a Pixel 6 (not Pro).
My first thought upon seeing the device is how much more attractive the device looks in person. Watching videos and looking at pictures does not do it justice. Google’s version of the color “Hazel” looks more like a light gray with a hint of green. Still, the most stunning part is how it looks against the gold-colored polished aluminum that wraps around the trim on the sides and the camera bar that houses the 3-camera array, giving it a seamless look.
Going past the looks, the next thing I took notice of while continuing my setup was how good the vibration motor was. The haptics are insanely good and better than those of any other phone I’ve used. I’ve also heard the same from Apple and Samsung users that have tried this phone, so this seems to be a consensus among those who have had a chance to type on this device.
Coming from the regular Pixel 6, my impression of the screen is that it is a night and day difference. The 6.7-inch quad HD display gets nice and bright with up to 1000 nits in HDR and up to 1500 nits at peak brightness. Using the phone outside in the bright sun didn’t impact my experience in any way either, as I was able to clearly see the screen in spite of the surrounding brightness.
Speaking of HDR, this phone is capable of shooting video at 10-bit HDR at 30fps, but if you don’t need HDR, you can also shoot at 4K 60fps from either of the phone’s three cameras. That’s something we could not do before, and welcome addition for those that like to record more active scenarios, such as a child’s sports game.
The phone also supports Smooth Display at up to 120hz, if that’s something that you really feel strongly about. For me, that’s not a dealbreaker, and I know that this is not the case for everyone. If you are used to screens with a higher refresh rate, you may be disappointed at the fact that this refresh rate is not constant and that the phone will regularly go from 60hz to 120hz, depending on the content.
One common complaint from the Pixel 6 Pro last year was the steep curve on the display’s sides, which made it more difficult to swipe from the edges. Fortunately, this curve is less pronounced on the Pixel 7 Pro, and I found it easy to swipe from every angle. It’s good to see that Google listened to these concerns from last year and used them to make improvements on this new generation of devices.
One of the things that surprised me most was that the Pro didn’t seem as big as I initially thought it was, which is what always kept me from going with the Pro models in the past. This may be due to another change Google made to this phone stemming from last year’s feedback. This happens to be the location of the power and volume rocker buttons, which are now placed lower on the device, allowing those with smaller hands, such as myself, to handle this Pro-sized phone with ease.
But, on to what everyone else is talking about regarding this phone, and that is how good the cameras are. Google is reclaiming the throne as smartphone camera king with a 50MP wide shooter, a 12MP Ultrawide, and a 48mp telephoto with 5x optical zoom and Super Res Zoom at up to 30x, which is quite impressive. It can also do macro photography, which it detects automatically when you’re trying to take a picture of something up close. Pixel 7 users can now also enjoy Cinematic Mode, which we did not have before. It is still in its infancy, and I do find that it still has more to go in order to look like a DSLR, as Google claimed.
However, there is one more thing the Pixel 7 series has this year that it hasn’t had for a while, and that is face unlock using the front-facing camera. It’s fast and convenient, and you can set it up so that it completely skips the lock screen and takes you right into your phone. However, because it is just using the front-facing camera and not using specialized hardware to illuminate your face and detect depth, it is considered a class 1 biometric. This means that it will unlock your phone, but it won’t be enough for things like making contactless payments or filling in passwords.
The fingerprint sensor is also much better this time around. It’s still not ultrasonic, but trust me, I find that it works faster. I’ve heard the same from other people as well, so I’m trusting that the combination of various system updates and the prowess of the Tensor G2 chip has been enough to get it to a place where using it feels “snappy.”
And finally, we gotta address battery life. It is honestly very impressive how much the battery on this phone lasts. Google’s specs state that it should last you about 24 hours, and honestly, I can attest to that being the case for me when I’m not streaming video and music and refreshing social media sites. Typically though, if I’m doing all these things, I expect to get about a full work day and then have to put it back in the charger in the evening,
I feel that Google went out of its way this year to deliver the best smartphone experience possible with the Pixel 7 Pro. The design refresh, the updated chip, and the camera improvements alone are enough for me to consider this the smartphone of the year. Still, if I’m being honest, it is always the Pixel experience that reels me in. Having now experienced the Pixel 7 Pro, with its more user-friendly side buttons, I can confidently say that I could never go back to the non-pro version of the Pixel, which is perfectly great in its own right.