Google Pixel 7 Review: Defines THE smartphone experience

    The Google Pixel 7 comes with a striking design, powerful camera and a bunch of novel software features. But is it a worthy investment? Find out.
    By: AKASH DUTTA
    | Updated on: Oct 29 2022, 12:13 IST
    Google Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro First Look: Google flagships are back in India
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    1/6 This is the Google Pixel 7, costing Rs. 59,999. The standard version has compact dimensions and a small display.  (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
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    2/6 Both the Pixel 7 models rely on the Tensor G2 chipset which promises better AI performance, faster overall processing and better power efficiency.  (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
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    3/6 And this is the Google Pixel 7 Pro, costing Rs. 84999. A larger display, larger battery, and a third zoom camera are the extras you get here. (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
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    4/6 The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro uses Google's new Super Hi Res Zoom feature to improve magnification at all levels. The Pixel 7 Pro also gets a 5X optical zoom camera.  (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
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    5/6 The Pixel 7 gets a 6.3-inch OLED display with a refresh rate up to 90Hz, while the Pixel 7 Pro has a 6.7-inch 10Hz-120Hz OLED display. Face Unlock also comes to the Pixel 7 Pro. (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
    Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro
    6/6 The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are available in various shades of green, white and black.  (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
    Google Pixel 7
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    The Google Pixel 7 can be purchased starting Rs. 59,999. (Amritanshu / HT Tech)

    After three long years, Google returns to India with its flagship smartphone Google Pixel 7, and it feels every bit worth the wait. Consider this. In a world where Android smartphone makers are in a race to offer the highest hardware features — be it 200 MP camera, 120Hz refresh rate displays or the fastest chipset — how many times do we hear about the software experience being a selling point? Almost never. But Google Pixel 7 changes that.

    Demanding a not so humble starting price of Rs. 59,999, the smartphone is an antithesis to general smartphone trends, if you go simply by its on paper assessment. It comes with an FHD+ OLED display with 90Hz refresh rate, a dual rear camera set of a 50MP primary camera and a 12MP ultrawide camera and a Google Tensor G2 chipset, which while boasts of Google's advanced AI and ML capabilities, probably does not give you the speed and performance of a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. So, then why should you focus on the latest smartphone by Google?

    Because, as I found out in the last two weeks of using the Google Pixel 7 and what I hope to elaborate upon as we go through this review, this smartphone excels in what most others fail to achieve — an experience that makes you fall in love with your device. But enough with the vague platitudes. Let's get into the brass tacks.

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    Google Pixel 7 design

    Google Pixel 7
    Google Pixel 7 design (Akash/HT Tech)
    Google Pixel 7
    Google Pixel 7 design (Akash/HT Tech)

    The design is where Pixel 7 hooks you in. Unlike any other smartphone in the market, Google adds a striking visor to place its two cameras. It stands out and in a good way. The design is not entirely new, however. We already saw it in the Pixel 6, which was not launched in India, and Google has evolved it into a more ergonomic form factor. With an aluminum build and matte finish, it definitely differentiates itself from other cookie-cutter camera modules. Whether you find it attractive or not may differ, but the fact that it is a head turner is unquestionable. Instead of the two-tone color scheme of the Pixel 6, it now comes in a single solid color and you get to pick between Obsidian, Snow and Lemongrass.

    The Google Pixel 7 comes with rounded edges which also adds to its premium aesthetics and gives it a polished appearance. It does cause a very minor issue of slipperiness. The phone almost slipped out of my hands a couple of times. And on other occasions, I ended up accidentally touching the screen, opening random apps. But that's the price you pay for a sleek looking device.

    The sides of the smartphone get a muted gold rail which connects with the visor at the back. The front gets the protection of Gorilla Glass Victus, although it still gets scratches easily, so make sure to get a tempered glass. There is no headphone jack, as the trend goes.

    Google Pixel 7 display

    Google Pixel 7
    Google Pixel 7 display (Akash/HT Tech)
    Google Pixel 7
    Google Pixel 7 display (Akash/HT Tech)

    Sadly, unlike the Pro model, it does not get any curved display or a Quad HD+ display but the flat FHD+ OLED display is still vibrant and stunning. Although you're getting just a 90Hz refresh rate (adaptive) display, it keeps up with your day-to-day smartphone usage speed. You can scroll through social media for hours and you will never feel out of sync. The display is also very responsive and the in-display fingerprint scanner is extremely fast.

    At 6.3-inches, the Google Pixel 7 is a small smartphone, but the display packs a punch. The color-tone is leaning towards natural, but it pops out the bright colors, making the viewing experience really nice. And to add to that, Pixel 7 is bright. Like really bright. With a peak brightness of 1,400 nits, even the sunniest days are fun to use the smartphone in.

    There is only one little let down and that is the bezels on its chin, which is significantly thick for a flagship grade smartphone. It doesn't take away much and after using the smartphone for a while, you barely notice it, but with an already small display, you do regret the missed screen real-estate.

    If you can let go of the chin problem, this display does not disappoint and outside of the iPhone 14 and Samsung S22, you'll struggle to find a better display.

    Google Pixel 7 performance

    Google Pixel 7
    Google Pixel 7 performance (Akash/HT Tech)
    Google Pixel 7
    Google Pixel 7 performance (Akash/HT Tech)

    This is where the magic happens. The Pixel 7 is powered by the Google Tensor G2 chipset and while it may not be the fastest, it is definitely the most intelligent. Google claims that it has focused on adding advanced AI and ML capabilities to the smartphone, and it shows.

    The smartphone unlocks the true potential of the Android OS and you get to do stuff that you probably cannot in any other smartphone. For example, Pixel 7 boasts of a photo-editing tool called ‘Unblur' that can sharpen blurry images that have not only been taken from the smartphone's camera but any other image. The results of this are very prominent.

    Even in day-to-day usage, you constantly get reminded that it is indeed a ‘smart' phone. The Pixel UI, that sits on top of a stock Android 13 OS is clean, intuitive and fast. It can pick out music playing nearby and tell you the name of the song, it can transcribe calls in real-time which you can then transfer to notes app and you get a voice assistant which helps you put your face in the front camera's focus before you take that perfect selfie. Coming to customization, the entire range of Material You theme is fine tuned for you to get that perfect home screen and lock screen appearance. Even the animations have been polished by the OS which really feels fresh.

    There are some more features such as the ability to identify different speakers while transcribing recordings, improving phone call quality with a Clear Calling capability and transcribing audio messages sent by your friends, all of which are slated for a December update.

    The Tensor G2 is more than capable of handling both day-to-day app usage as well as gaming, which was a surprise to me. I played COD: Mobile on the phone on a regular basis and it runs smoothly. I could even multitask while gaming and the smartphone would not miss a beat. But if you are a heavy gamer or fan of large titles like Genshin Impact, this might not be the smartphone for you. In that case, Samsung Galaxy S22 or iPhone 13 would be better suited for you in the same price range.

    The audio quality on the Pixel 7 is rich and has nice bass performance. The smartphone gets powerful stereo speakers which are slightly treble-heavy, but it helps to add loudness to the music. The overall quality is very nice, although there are surely smartphones with better speakers available.

    In conclusion, the smart features and the intuitive operating system will make you fall in love with daily smartphone usage and make you find excuses to use the Google Pixel 7 more and more, and that is not something most smartphones can claim.

    Google Pixel 7 camera

    Google Pixel 7
    Google Pixel 7 camera (Akash/HT Tech)
    Google Pixel 7
    Google Pixel 7 camera (Akash/HT Tech)

    It is not a secret that the USP of Pixel smartphones are their cameras and the Google Pixel 7 is no exception. It does miss out on the telephoto lens that the Pro variant gets but it gets the 50MP primary camera and the 12MP ultrawide lens. Looking at just the hardware might not impress you much, but accompanied with Tensor G2, it can create moments of magic unlike any other smartphone in the market.

    Thanks to the powerful post-processing, the images turn out twice as good compared to what they look like on the camera screen. The photos have a distinct quality to themselves which differentiates itself from both Samsung and Apple flagships. It does not have high saturation, making images look artificially enhanced and it does not rely on true-tone colors which can get dull at times. Instead the Google cameras add a nice touch of contrast to the images that add both a sense of drama and cool aesthetics.

    During daytime, the rear cameras are capable of taking some of the best shots around with great dynamic range and sharpness. Its exposure control ensures that the brightest parts of the images are well balanced with the darkest parts. But it is during night time when the images actually leave you in awe. The night mode highlights the dark areas without adding noise to the pictures and the details are almost never missed out. It also does an amazing job at picking out night lights and blending them in a cooler shade to give it a near-to true-tone range.

    The ultrawide camera also benefits from the AI processing of the images and manages to take some really detailed shots. Even at night time, the images barely lose out on any details and the images look impressive. The front camera treats the skin tone well, although it slightly bumps it towards the warmer side. The portrait mode separates the subject from the background well, although the camera can sometimes struggle a little with stray hair strands.

    What surprised me the most was the zoom feature on the Pixel 7. The camera has no optical zoom but can take up to 8x digital zoom. Super res zoom, a post-processing feature, cleans up the zoomed out shots and removes noise and adds details and it is ridiculous how well the pictures look. We would recommend not going beyond 5x on zoom however because after that the images begin fuzzing out and lose a lot of detail.

    And finally, you also get a ton of AI modes to play around with. My favorite was the long exposure motion blurs that let you take beautiful light trails of moving traffic. To imagine that you can take such images without a professional camera or editing tool is what makes the Pixel 7 camera so special.

    Overall, it is likely the best camera phone of the year and as long as you don't exclusively prefer the bright iPhone images, you will become an instant fan. Although in my limited time with the smartphone, I have witnessed it turn even iPhone fans to camp Pixel.

    Don't just believe us, check some sample shots from the smartphone here.

    Google Pixel 7 battery

    Google Pixel 7
    Google Pixel 7 battery (Akash/HT Tech)
    Google Pixel 7
    Google Pixel 7 battery (Akash/HT Tech)

    With a smaller body frame, the Google Pixel 7 could only accommodate a 4,355 mAh battery. But the Google Tensor G2 does some really heavy lifting to make it work. During the days I used the phone heavily and spent time taking photos and videos, scrolling through social media, playing games and going on calls, the phone lasted an entire day but I had to keep the phone on charging overnight. But with more moderate usage, the smartphone was able to make it to the next day with 10-20 percent charge still left in it. It is definitely not one of the best smartphones in terms of battery life, but it still gives a decent output.

    But it is its charging speed which becomes a real let down. The smartphone allows up to 30W fast charging but there is no charger in the box (they do offer a Type-C to Type-C adapter) and Google chargers are not yet available in India. My usual Android charger was able to fill it up entirely in 2 hours. This is a massive disappointment considering smartphones much cheaper than Pixel 7 can do the same in 20-30 minutes.

    Google Pixel 7 verdict

    Google Pixel 7
    Google Pixel 7 verdict (Akash/HT Tech)
    Google Pixel 7
    Google Pixel 7 verdict (Akash/HT Tech)

    The Google Pixel 7 is a top flagship smartphone candidate and competes with iPhone 13 (and by the same virtue, iPhone 14), Samsung Galaxy S22 and other flagship grade smartphones in the price range. And while it will always be debatable whether it is the better smartphone, we believe what can be said with certainty is that what it offers is definitely unique.

    In terms of camera prowess, there is no better alternative you can find in this price range or even beyond it. Its sheer range and diversity while taking images is what makes it my favorite camera smartphone of the year. In terms of pure performance, it is definitely not the most powerful and both the iPhone 14 and Samsung S22 will take the lead. It should be noted that while the CPU is every bit as capable, it's the GPU that lags behind for Pixel 7.

    The only complaints for me are around the charging speed, video recording which is still above average but leaves a lot to be desired and the bezels on its chin, I really don't have a lot I dislike on the smartphone. With a competitive price of Rs. 59,999, it becomes really difficult to ask for a lot more.

    If you are a regular smartphone user who likes to take photos (or wants to like to take photos) then this smartphone will make you fall in love with itself. And not just during the camera experience but even doing regular tasks would feel like a breath of fresh air. If your wallet can handle the price, we would definitely recommend that you go for it.

    Rating
    4.5 out of 5
    Price
    INR 59,999/-
    Product Name
    Google Pixel 7
    Brand Name
    Google
    Pros
    • Camera Performance
    • Striking design
    • Android experience
    Cons
    • Charging speed
    • Video recording
    • Thick bottom bezels
    Specifications
    • Display
      6.3-inch FHD+ OLED 90Hz
    • Chipset
      Google Tensor G2
    • Rear Camera
      50MP + 12MP
    • Front Camera
      8MP
    • OS
      Android 13
    • Battery
      4,355 mAh; 30W wired charging, 20W wireless

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    First Published Date: 29 Oct, 12:11 IST
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