Google Pixel 7 review: Crisp camera at a good price | Google

Google seems to have won again. The new Pixel 7 offers the same top-of-the-line software, camera, and intelligent AI systems that have made its phones winners, but at a price point that significantly undercuts the competition.

Priced at £599 ($899 / AUD1,299) it sits between the £849 Pixel 7 Pro and the budget £399 Pixel 6a, and competes very cheaply with rivals from Samsung, Apple and others, which typically come in at £700 – 800 area.

The new phone looks like a smaller, simplified version of the Pixel 7 Pro. It has a flat 6.3-inch OLED screen that’s bright and good-looking. The screen is pretty good. It has a refresh rate of 90Hz to ensure smooth operation. But it doesn’t hit the heady 120Hz peak or dynamically adjust to save battery like Android competitors tend to do.

The Pixel 7 (left) is smaller and feels better in hand than the Pixel 7 Pro (right). Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Pixel 7 is shorter, narrower, and lighter than its bigger brother and last year’s Pixel 6, which is a good thing. It makes the Pixel 7 a good balance of screen size and device size, similar to Apple’s iPhone 14.

The back of the phone has Google’s camera bar design that blends into the brushed aluminum sides. It looks and feels more premium than last year’s model.

Inside, the Pixel 7 has the same Google Tensor G2 chip as its bigger brother and performs similarly, with particularly fast AI systems like text-to-speech.

Battery life is similar to Google’s other phones, lasting around 35 hours between charges, with five hours of active screen use. That’s good enough for a day of heavy use, but falls short of the competition, some of which last close to two days.

The USB-C port on the bottom of the Pixel 7.
The Pixel 7 takes about 113 minutes to fully charge and hits 50% in 35 minutes with a 30W USB-C power adapter (not included), which isn’t overly fast compared to rivals. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

specifications

  • Screen: 6.3-inch 90Hz FHD+ OLED (416ppi)

  • Processor: Google Tensor G2

  • R.A.M: 8GB

  • Storage: 128 or 256GB

  • Operating system: Android 13

  • Camera: 50MP + 12MP Ultrawide, 10.8MP Selfie

  • Connectivity: 5G, eSIM, WiFi 6E, UWB, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2 and GNSS

  • water resistance: IP68 (1.5m for 30 minutes)

  • Dimensions: 155.6 x 73.2 x 8.7mm

  • Weight: 197g

sustainability

Google doesn’t state an expected lifespan for the battery, but it should last over 500 full charge cycles at at least 80% of its original capacity. The phone is repairable by Google and third parties, with genuine replacement parts available directly from iFixit. Similar to its predecessor, Google out-of-warranty screen repairs cost around £140 and battery replacements around £100.

The Pixel 7 is made from 100% recycled aluminum, which accounts for about 19% of the phone’s weight. The company publishes environmental impact reports for some of its products. Google recycles old devices for free.

Android 13

The Pixel 7 flat on a table with the camera and fingerprint scanner active.
New this year is camera-based facial recognition and a faster in-screen fingerprint sensor for unlocking the phone. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Pixel 7 runs the same version of Android 13 as the Pixel 7 Pro and Google’s other phones, with some exclusive features including the ability to use AI to blur faces and objects in the Google Photos app.

Google will provide software and security updates, including at least three major releases of Android, for at least five years. Samsung supports many of its phones for five years, while Fairphone aims for six years and Apple supports its iPhone for up to seven years.

camera

A view of a garden through the Google Camera app on a Pixel 7.
The Google Camera app has several useful tools for framing your photos, including automatic layer display and object-tracking autofocus. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Pixel 7 has two cameras on the back, including a 50-megapixel main camera and a 12-megapixel ultrawide, which lacks the 5x telephoto lens of the Pixel 7 Pro.

The 12MP ultrawide camera produces good images with very little distortion, even at the edges. But its 0.7x magnification isn’t quite as wide as the 0.5x of the 7 Pro or rivals, so you can’t fit quite as much inside. It also lacks the ability to work as a macro camera like on the 7 Pro, which isn’t a huge loss.

The 50MP main camera is the same as the 7 Pro and it’s simply brilliant. It captures an enormous amount of detail in a wide range of lighting conditions and produces 12.5 MP images. It can also “zoom” to 2x optical magnification, which works surprisingly well and is in line with what you’d typically get from a 2x optical zoom on rivals. From there the digital zoom takes over with reasonable results at 4x but soft in detail after that.

Google’s low-light night vision mode is faster and better than ever, producing great-looking and generally sharp images in near-dark conditions. With the phone on a tripod or set up, you can even take stunning photos of the stars with a special enhanced capture.

The selfie camera captures excellent 10-megapixel images in a wide range of lighting conditions. Video recording has been improved all round up to 4K at 60 frames per second in HDR and is catching up with the competition.

Overall, the Pixel 7 has a really excellent camera for the money, the only thing really lacking is an extended zoom.

Price

The Google Pixel 7 starts at £599 ($599 / AU$999) with 128GB of storage.

For comparison, the Pixel 7 Pro costs £849, the Pixel 6a £399, the Samsung Galaxy S22 £769 and the iPhone 14 £849.

Verdict

The Pixel 7 is a great top-of-the-line Android phone at a great price.

It offers most of what makes the Pixel 7 Pro one of the best smartphones of the year, with a few corners trimmed to under £600 at a time when the tech is getting pricier, not less.

You get a good-looking, powerful device with lots of smart features and good software with at least five years of support. You will have trouble finding a camera this good for the price. The 6.3-inch screen is a good size, if not the most advanced, and the battery life is solid, if a little short of the best.

With rivals costing over £750, the Pixel 7’s biggest problem is that Google’s other cheaper phone, the Pixel 6a, offers 70% of the performance of the new phone for around £400.

Advantages: Great camera, good screen, good performance, solid battery, face and fingerprint unlock, Android 13 with five years of security updates, thoroughly undercuts the competition on price.

Disadvantages: Limited zoom, face unlock option not as secure as some competitors, battery life near best-in-class, fairly slow charging, not a huge jump in performance.

The back of the Pixel 7 shows the aluminum camera bar.
The Pixel 7’s camera bar is made of brushed aluminum and stands out from the average smartphone. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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