Google Pixel 7 Pro Review: Stellar cameras, Splendid experience
I did not expect to say this – the Pixel 7 Pro is simply mind blowing. Google's return to the flagship smartphone space after three years is marked by a phone that makes Samsung and Apple take note. Flagship phones need to feel special, connect to your soul, make you look at them with love – this combination has been missing from the iPhones and Samsungs of the last few years but this Pixel has it all. And when you look at what it costs, the Pixel 7 Pro makes me and many like-minded enthusiasts beg in front of their mother/wife to release the funds.
Before we jump in, note that the Pixel 7 Pro costs Rs. 84,999 in India and it comes in a sole storage variant of 8GB/128GB. Snow, Obsidian, and Hazel are the colours you can get the phone in.
Mamma Mia! In a world where phone designers simply stick camera lenses in horizontal or triangular layouts, Google adopts a big visor to decorate its three cameras. It is this metallic visor that sets apart the Pixel 7 Pro from any other phone in the market, and is honestly a breath of fresh air. The more I look at the phone's back, the more it grows on me. The same goes for the font, although it looks more like those Samsung flagships with the curved edge display. The Pixel 7 Pro has a sense of style that neither the iPhone 14 Pro, nor the Samsung Galaxy S22 have.
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Other than the pretty face, the Pixel 7 Pro is nicely built too. Aluminium rails on the side joined by the visor at the back, and Gorilla Glass Victus for the glass – this is a well built phone. It is water and dust resistance, and is fairly comfortable to hold – thanks to curved sides. That said, the display scratches easily on dusty tabletops and the metallic camera visor loves getting scuffs from just anywhere.
Having a 6.7-inch Quad HD+ OLED display with a variable refresh rate of 10Hz-120Hz justifies the premium pricing you pay for a phone like this. And no surprises here – this is a gorgeous display to look at. I find the colour tuning to be sedate, tuned for natural tones rather than saturated hues. It goes plenty bright under the Sun, although the iPhone 14 Pro Max brushes it aside with its dazzling screen brightness.
I am also a fan of the in-display fingerprint scanner, which is placed just right and has no issues with detection accuracy. The curved edges do show occasional ghost touches but you eventually get used to it and start dealing with it cleverly. On the whole, no complaints here.
Pixel phones are all about being smart rather than being blistering fast, and the Pixel 7 Pro loves to prove it everyday. The Google Tensor G2 chip comes in as the second generation Google chipset, bumping up the performance overall. Benchmark scores show the raw performance to be comparable to that of a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, although the GPU is a bit weaker. The focus has gone on boosting the AI and ML performance here.
In reality, I found the Tensor G2 to perform just as fast as a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 phone. Optimisation has been done incredibly for the Android 13 OS with the Pixel UI on top. Whether you unlock the phone, pull up the app drawer, run your social media apps, or have a go at Call of Duty: Mobile, the Pixel 7 Pro runs it all smooth and confidently. Android 13 is at its best here, weaning the Material You theme and Google's brilliantly tuned animations. The user experience is fancy and everything feels nicely laid out. Compared to Samsung's One UI, I love Google's treatment of Android customisation – there are granular controls over the system theme colours and the wallpaper decides the colour tones. The colour coordinated icons are the icing on the cake.
That said, it is those small smart bits that make the Pixel THE Pixel. The keyboard dictation, for example, is a bliss to use. The “Now Playing” option is a boon to a music lover, while the “At a Glance” widget is a great way to be reminded of meetings, schedules, alarms, and route planning.
As for longevity, Google promises three Android OS updates and five years of security patches. Not the best in the business but most Pixel 7 Pro users might be willing to upgrade by then.
The Tensor G2 supports 5G connectivity but at the time of writing, Google hasn't rolled out the “5G update” yet for Airtel 5G. On the 4G LTE networks, I have had no issues with calls and connectivity. I was also astonished to see the Pixel 7 Pro latching on to the network in my basement parking – an area where the iPhone 14 Pro Max lets go of everything.
Then there's the audio quality out of the stereo speakers – it is great. There's depth in the audio and there's ample bass performance. The highs are a bit tinny but that allows the overall volume to be quite loud. The Xiaomi 12 Pro still has the best speaker system along with the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Fortified with new camera hardware, the Pixel 7 Pro's triple rear camera system looks good enough on paper. It is all the Google software that does the magic and gives the Pixel 7 Pro its own identity.
Out of the box, the Pixel 7 relies a lot on post processing to deliver its final results. In daylight, the main and ultra-wide cameras show exemplary dynamic range but the post processing amplifies contrast and shadows slightly. The telephoto camera has a slightly varying colour science but the image quality at 5X zoom is superb. Move beyond 5X and go up to 15X – the Pixel does a good job at upscaling, keeping everything sharp. Even the zoom performance between 1x and 5X is great. The skin tones on humans are towards the warm side as well. The selfie camera works wonderfully, keeping the skin tones intact and slightly mixing up the skin texture. I also liked how the portrait mode separates the background with the artificial blur. The ultra-wide camera can also help in taking macro photos and it works as advertised, although not as good as the iPhone 14 Pro's macro camera. The auto tracking feature helps in situations like these.
It is the night where the Pixel 7 Pro shines. It outclasses the Galaxy S22 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro Max with its incredible details, artifact control, real colour tones, and great noise suppression. This also helps in indoor photos, where the Pixel 7 Pro keeps returning beautiful selfies and portraits.
And then there's the AI-based modes. I loved using Long Exposure to get those fancy light trails in traffic, and the Action Pan is good for blurring out the background. The colour science changes a bit here, hence, use them only if required. In the Photos app, the Magic Eraser is super useful in deleting unwanted objects, while the Photo Unblur does a good enough job of sharpening up human portraits. Combining all of these make this a great still camera phone to play with – I took more photos on the Pixel 7 Pro than I have taken on any other phone this year!
Sadly, the video performance could be as good. For most general purposes, the video recording works great in 4K and 1080p resolution, and the stabilisation works like a charm. However, there are jitters to be seen occasionally and the transition between lenses is not smooth. The iPhone and Galaxy S22 Ultra are far superior in this regard.
I expected the 5000mAh battery to make the Pixel 7 Pro outlast a whole day's moderate usage. Sadly, the Tensor G2 isn't efficient at sipping power, and combined with the Quad HD+ display, I had to leave the phone for overnight charging. Most of the days when I used it for 3-4 hours of voice calls, social media browsing, music streaming, and an hour of photography, the Pixel 7 Pro ended the day mostly under 30 percent. The overnight drain is significant and Google needs to optimise this better.
I also wish the charging was faster than the 30W wired standard Google chose this year. With no charger in the box and none available in India from Google yet, I had to rely on a 30W Apple adapter for charging and it took almost two hours for a full charge. The standard Qi-standard wireless charging is slow as well, and it takes almost 3 hours to fill it up.
The Pixel 7 Pro is a handsome looking smartphone by all means, drawing more eyes than what the iPhone 14 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra could manage. It is built nicely too but it can age fast with those scuffs and scratches. I only wish Google had continued offering those interesting colour options on the Pixel 6 Pro on this one – the current colours don't do justice to the design.
Then there's the rest of the phone stuff. The Pixel 7 Pro has my favourite still camera system of any high-end smartphone in 2022. The things it does at night only boggles my mind; Night Sight is unmatched for its sheer image processing. The Tensor G2 seems to be doing its job well, and it also handles all of the Pixel smart features well. The general performance is great but battery life has room for improvement.
However, you should buy the Pixel 7 Pro solely for its Android experience. It is sublime and is designed carefully; every interaction feels organic and every design element feels natural. No Samsung Galaxy or iPhone can match this level of intuitiveness. If you have a budget of Rs. 90000 to spend on a smartphone, ignore the iPhone 14 Plus and get this. You will love it.
- Stellar still photography
- Looks great
- Sublime Android experience
- Battery life
Display6.7-inch Quad HD+ 120Hz OLED
ChipsetGoogle Tensor G2
Rear Cameras50MP + 48MP + 12MP
Charging30W wired, 20W wireless