By Josh Teder
It’s been six months since I received a Pixel 7 Pro from Google. Not only is it the best Pixel Google has ever made, it undercuts the competition from Samsung and provides tremendous value for those who want the best screen and camera in a phone that Google makes.
The Camera System
The first thing that really stands out to me about the Pixel 7 Pro is its camera system. It’s still the number one reason why I pick this phone out of all of the other smartphones I have to take with me somewhere when I know I’m going to be taking photos. During my six months with this phone, I found that I actually preferred the photos I got out of it over my iPhone in most circumstances. It just does a better job with skin tones, especially in challenging lighting situations. The photos have a bit more contrast and usually don’t look too overprocessed.
One new thing with this year’s Pixel 7 Pro is macro focus. Another thing Google has continued to improve is video. Video off of the Pixel 7 Pro is very usable now. I’d still give iOS’s video an edge, it’s just a tad better, but the Pixel 7 Pro’s video in most situations is right up there with it.
Now, the Pixel 7 Pro and all Pixel camera systems, for that matter, are also just more helpful than the ones from other competing phones, giving you suggestions like “level” and, of course, there’s now “Portrait Light.” It makes me glad that I have this feature on the Pixel 7 Pro. And another cool thing about this feature is it not only works with photos that you take with the Pixel 7 Pro, but it also works with any photo in your Google Photos library.
The Pixel 7 Pro, like all Pixels nowadays, also has Real Tone, which means that, especially for those with darker skin complexions, will be more color accurate in different types of lighting situations. Night Sight is also very good on this Pixel. In my Pixel 6a review, I compared this new camera system to the one in the 6a, and you can see that you get less noisy, more detailed images.
Thanks to the sensor upgrades in the Pixel 7 Pro’s camera system, it now boasts a 50-megapixel wide lens for the main camera and a 48-megapixel telephoto lens. That’s exclusive to the Pixel 7 Pro, which gives you a 5x optical zoom and then a 10x “Super Res Zoom,” which looks pretty good, but you will notice it’s not quite as good as the 10x optical on something like the Samsung S23 Ultra. Same thing for 2x, which also uses a bit of a sensor crop and then some computational magic. You still get a better image when you move closer to your subject and use the 1x main 50-megapixel sensor.
The next thing I like about the Pixel 7 Pro is its screen. It not only has a better refresh rate, but it doesn’t suffer from these same screen refractions that I still see on the Pixel 7 and 6a screens. Also new this year is face unlock, which I use almost every time I unlock my Pixel 7 Pro, and it works quite well.
In my experience, another thing I’ve been really digging about the Pixel 7 Pro is the new design this year. Google gave the Pro a polished aluminum frame, which gives it a more premium look. Plus, the construction of the camera bar is much better. It’s not part of the polished metal side rails, and it looks really sleek. The weight distribution of this phone is also very good, given its size. Typically, I’m a bit apprehensive recommending a phone of this size for everyone, because these things usually weigh a ton, but Google distributes the weight on this phone in a way that makes it feel like it weighs less than 212 grams.
Another standout feature of the Pixel 7 Pro is the typing experience. And like with past Pixels, the Pixel typing experience is the best, most accurate typing experience I’ve ever had on a smartphone. It does a better job at correcting mistypes, not changing cuss words like iOS, and it still defaults to “and it’s.”
The typing feature is incredibly good. Plus you get a haptic typing experience, which is great. The keyboard is certainly one of the standout software features of this phone. But there are a lot more to talk about new this year.
You get Direct My Call, which shows you menu options for a number that you’re calling. I’ve used this when calling customer service lines. And as with Pixels in the past, you get the great Google Assistant, Call Screen, and Hold for Me features as well.
Also new this year is Clear Calling, where the Pixel will enhance the clarity of the conversation and eliminate wind noise and traffic from the background of your call. And I’ve overall found call quality on this phone to be excellent. Google, out of all of the smartphone manufacturers, seems to actually be doing the most to try to improve the calling experience of a smartphone, with all of their nifty software tricks.
And, of course, with the Pixel you get Android the way Google intended it to be used, with a proper app drawer and nifty features like Unused Apps, which will protect your data from apps that your Pixel has noticed you haven’t used in a while. The updated security and privacy area that alerts you to things that you need to look over, either with the security of apps on your Pixel or in your Google account as well.
All of that information is presented in one place. Adaptive Charging extends the battery life of your device by charging it steadily during longer charging periods, versus fast charging. Adaptive charging is based on your activity and usage cycle. So the Pixel, for example, can guess that it can charge the phone slowly overnight when you normally don’t pick your phone up at 4 AM.
Smart Lock allows you to keep your phone unlocked when it’s on you at a specific location, like your home or office, or when you connect it to a trusted device, like your car, headphones, or Pixel Watch, which I’ve also reviewed.
Now let’s talk about downsides and what I haven’t liked about the Pixel 7 Pro over the past six months. The first thing I noticed is the standby battery life of this phone, as well as the Pixel 7 for that matter. It’s not as good as a phone like the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which can last days on a single charge.
When I do use the Pixel 7 Pro as my main phone for the day, the battery life does last me all day. The back of this phone is basically slick as butter. It’s going to slide off a ton of different surfaces if you do not put a case on it. And the case, by the way, this year, I think the case Google made for the Pixel 7 Pro is a slight improvement over the case for the Pixel 6 Pro last year, which I really wasn’t a fan of. They seem to have fixed the area around the volume rocker, which just wasn’t very tight on the Pixel 6 Pro case.
Another new feature that came with this Pixel is the ability to separate speakers in the Recorder app. Now this worked okay when I tested it with a podcast, but it’s not as accurate in my experience as just the main recorder on the Pixel. And I found that if you leave this feature enabled, the accuracy of the recorder for generating closed captions for a single speaker will actually become much worse.
The last issue I encountered with the Pixel 7 Pro is a weird bug that seems to be capping the Wi-Fi speeds I was getting on this phone. I was doing speed tests for our Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro review. I had the Pixel 7 Pro right next to the S23 Ultra on the same network, just doing its speed tests. Because I noticed that this phone was getting like half the megabits per second it should be. And sure enough, the S23 Ultra was getting what it was supposed to but not this phone.
Now luckily I did a restart of this phone and that seemed to fix the issue and it hasn’t come back since but still kind of a weird bug to encounter.
So now let’s talk recommendations. Do I recommend the Pixel 7 Pro? Yes, it’s the perfect Pixel for those who want the best camera system. Google currently offers an excellent screen, build quality, and great performance, which I didn’t even mention yet. But the performance of this phone for my needs has been great.
I’ve noticed that with gaming, specifically, Google’s latest generation Tensor 2 chip seems to get less hot than Tensor did on my Pixel 6 Pro. If you’re looking at the 7 Pro and then something like the S23 Ultra, unless you’re in Samsung’s ecosystem or you want the S Pen functionality on the S23, given the cost difference right now, my thinking is, I would go for the Pixel 7 Pro. Sometimes Google’s photos look better than Samsung’s. And while the 10x optical on the S23 Ultra is great and usable, I’m not sure it’s worth paying the price difference between these two devices.
Now, if you don’t care about the camera system or the screen quality, or you just want a smaller sized device, that’s why I would look at going for the less expensive Pixel 7 or Pixel 6a, which I’ve also reviewed. You can click here to see my thoughts on the Pixel 7.
And here to read my thoughts on the Google Pixel Watch, which pairs perfectly with any Pixel smartphone, as well as other Google hardware products check out my full review.
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