The Google Pixel 7 may not appear all that different from the Pixel 6 on the surface, but this smartphone smartly builds on everything established by its predecessor, resulting in a device that’s much improved in just about every way. While there are still a few issues that keep it from achieving perfection, this is easily the best phone to bear the Google Pixel moniker in the past several years, perhaps ever.
I’ve been using the Pixel 7 daily for just under a year now, with the Pixel 6 and Samsung Galaxy S20 previously occupying my coveted pocket space. Even after all this time, it continues to prove itself as the best Android phone I’ve ever had, particularly when it comes to the quality of its software and camera array. Truthfully, there’s nothing outright bad about it, but not all its features are of the same standard, and gaming performance can be a little disappointing.
- Fantastic photo and video quality
- Buttery smooth software
- Undeniably high value
- Tensor G2 gets noticeably toasty running games
- Photo Unblur is merely fine
- The fingerprint sensor is unreliable
Price and availability
Coming in at $599 (£599), the Pixel 7 price remains unchanged versus the Pixel 6. However, given we’re well past its launch window, you can often find it cheaper than you might expect at major retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy.
Even at its full price, the Pixel 7 presents incredible value. Despite its lower price point, the experience it offers handily competes against its similarly aged competitors, such as the iPhone 14, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S23.
Thankfully, finding a great deal on the Pixel 7 should come much easier with the Google Pixel 8 release. Discounted or not, though, I’d sooner opt for the base model than the Pixel 7 Pro or even the Pixel 7a. While the former does have a 120Hz screen and a telephoto lens, the curved design of the display isn’t something I’ve enjoyed in the past and a higher-quality zoom isn’t something I find myself needing often. The latter compromises too much on the base specs for too little of a price difference to be worthwhile. As such, I find the Pixel 7 to be the best Google Pixel phone to balance value and features.
|Display||6.3-inch AMOLED (1080 x 2400 / 90Hz)|
|Front camera||10.8MP (f/2.2)|
|Back cameras||50MP (f/1.9) Main
12MP (f/2.2) Ultrawide
|Dimensions||6.13 x 2.88 x 0.34 in (155.6 x 73.2 x 8.7 mm)|
|Colors||Lemongrass, Snow, Obsidian|
The Pixel 7 and its siblings are the first phones to pack Google’s Tensor G2 chipset, which the company claims is “60% faster and 20% more efficient” than the previous generation when it comes to applications that can leverage its machine learning capabilities. There are also upgrades to its GPU and clock speeds for better gaming performance, with other improvements boosting battery life and camera capabilities.
The amount of RAM remains unchanged on the Pixel 7 versus the Pixel 6, at 8GB, but this is still plenty for most users and is the average amount you can find for around $600. Meanwhile, battery capacity has actually fallen to 4355 mAh, down from 4614 mAh, but some of the software counteracts this decline in hardware, as I’ll touch on later in the review.
Google Pixel phones have long leaned on the appeal of their software, providing a no-frills stock Android launcher. The Pixel 7 is no different. Arriving with Android 13 out of the box, it packs all the latest features of the operating system, with Google committing to supporting every further version over the next three years.
Material You returns from Android 12, with this improved iteration providing new ways to customize the look and feel of the Pixel 7. Chief among them are app icons with themes that try to match your phone’s wallpaper, mostly with great effect. Unfortunately, some apps like Facebook Messenger still don’t play nicely with this feature, almost a year on from its debut, spoiling an otherwise welcome attempt to create a unified aesthetic.
The new media player performs well on both the lock screen and dropdown menu, providing a convenient and visually appealing interface for managing your music. I particularly appreciate the ability to quickly swap the playback device, allowing me to transition between my Pixel Buds Pro and smart speakers with ease.
These software tweaks are welcome, but the thing that impresses me most about Android 13 running on the Pixel 7 is just how stable and bug-free it is. I encountered far more issues with the Pixel 6 in the short time I had it than I have in almost a year of using the Pixel 7, but this is likely partly due to the generational improvements in the Tensor silicon.
A surprise addition to the Pixel 7 feature set is the inclusion of ‘VPN by Google One’ at no extra charge. This is something I end up using quite often as I regularly connect to open Wi-Fi networks in coffee shops, trains, and hotels. It’s not the most robust of options out there, with no way to change your geolocation, but I do appreciate knowing that bad actors aren’t snooping on me while I browse the web.
Both Call Screen and Now Playing are also back, with each technology feeling that much more responsive thanks to the power of Tensor G2 driving them. Even the already excellent Recorder app is better, with greater speech-to-text accuracy plus the ability to distinguish and label individual speakers.
Frankly, I’m hard-pressed to find something that the Pixel 7 falls short on when it comes to software. However, I am less than impressed with the phone’s fingerprint scanner, as it remains as temperamental as it was on the Pixel 6. No matter how many times I try to fix it by scanning my thumb again and again, it still behaves erratically. This is less of a problem than it was, thanks to the inclusion of Face ID, but it still sours an otherwise stellar user experience. Hopefully, we’ll see an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner on the Pixel 8.
In what shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, the Pixel 7 cameras are, in a word, sublime. Both the front and back lenses continue the long-established tradition of Pixel phones punching well above their weight when it comes to photography, thanks to the seemingly incomparable wizardry of Google’s camera software.
The rear camera array on the Pixel 7 is the exact same configuration that you can find on the Pixel 6, namely a 50MP (f/1.9) standard lens complemented by a 12MP (f/2.2) Ultrawide. Those looking for a telephoto lens will need to pony up some extra cash for the Pixel 7 Pro, but the 2x digital zoom available on the base model is still plenty good.
No matter the lighting condition, the Pixel 7 rises to the challenge. In ideal conditions, the detail and dynamic range captured in its photographs easily rank among the best in the market. It’s also fantastic in low light settings, providing you afford Night Sight adequate exposure to lift finer points out of the darkness. Briefly touching on Portrait Mode, it isn’t something I’m particularly keen on, regardless of whatever smartphone I’m using, but those that do find themselves well catered for here.
This smart software of this device matches the design of the Pixel 7 itself, now crafted from a single piece of matte aluminum that takes over from the glass camera bar of the Pixel 6. It’s a subtle change that greatly improves the look of the smartphone, but also appears to have solved one of my biggest issues with the previous generation model: sliding. No matter what surface I place it on, the phone remains firmly rooted in its position, unlike its predecessor, which took any and all opportunities to slip and slide about the place.
The Pixel 7 is available in three colorways: Lemongrass, Snow, and Obsidian. I opted for Obsidian to help hide any scuffs, despite the fact that it’s spent most of its life in a Dbrand Grip Case. I think they’re all pleasant enough to look at, as the phone is equally nice to hold in the hand with or without a case. That said, my heart yearns to see a Coral option return.
Glancing at the specs sheet and the phone itself, the Google Pixel 7 display doesn’t appear to be all that different from the screen on the Pixel 6. Sure, it’s slightly smaller at 6.3 inches, but it retains the same 1080p AMOLED panel with a refresh rate that tops out at 90Hz. The big change here is in brightness, and what a difference it makes.
Google claims the Pixel 7 is up to 25% brighter than the Pixel 6, capable of reaching a peak brightness level of 1,400 nits. While I’m not able to verify this, I can attest that it is noticeably brighter to the eye. Its is most noticeable on bright sunny days, as the difficulties I had in making out the screen of the Pixel 6 in direct sunlight have all disappeared on the Pixel 7.
This brightness boost also gives games, photos, and videos a more vivid and contrasting appearance, making consuming content on the Pixel 7 all the more enjoyable. The bezels surrounding the display are also nice and thin, and I’m still surprised at how often I tune out the selfie camera while I’m immersed in a game or stream.
Turning to the front of the Pixel 7, the 10.8MP (f/2.2) selfie camera is a clear step up from the Pixel 6. My individual selfie skills could probably do with some practice, but I’m frequently making use of the group selfie feature to take pictures of me and my partner, my dog, or group shots with friends.
Thanks to the Tensor G2 chipset, the Pixel 7 can now record in 10-bit HDR with its rear cameras. Additionally, all the lenses can capture 4K/60fps video. While I personally prefer the look of footage captured on the iPhone 14, the Pixel 7 still puts in a strong showing regardless, especially when you consider the price difference between the two phones.
Outside the camera eyes, Google brought back ‘Magic Eraser’ from the Pixel 6 and added a new ‘Photo Unblur’ tool to the Pixel 7. While the former is as useful as ever for removing the odd passerby spoiling your perfect shot, the latter is okay in a pinch. As much as the technology is impressive, I never find myself wholly happy with the final result and rarely use it.
Google quotes “beyond 24-hours battery life” on the Pixel 7 product page, with the average time between charges landing around 31 hours. Naturally, how close you get to this varies depending on the intensity and duration of your usage, but these claims largely hold up in my experience.
My Pixel 7 spends the majority of its time sitting in a wireless charging dock, sipping back 20W for hours at a time. While I wish Google had taken the release of the Pixel 7 as an opportunity to push charging speeds further, they’re decent enough for now, as my phone is often sitting pretty at 100% charge.
That said, on days that I’m away from my desk and don’t feel like lugging around a portable battery charger and USB Type-C cable, the Pixel 7 hasn’t let me down and still has a fair chunk of charge come the end of the day.
Alongside the Tensor G2 chipset, the Pixel 7 also serves as the debut for Google’s more powerful GPU, the Mali-G710. However, this pairing isn’t a huge step up versus the configuration found in the Pixel 6, providing merely decent uplifts in performance.
Even so, the Pixel 7 provides a solid gaming experience. It doesn’t matter what you throw at it, whether you’re an Apex Legends aficionado or a Genshin Impact gamer, you can still almost max out the game’s settings and have a fun time. Although, I did notice that the phone can be a touch toasty under load. It’s certainly not molten, but warm enough to raise an eyebrow.
Should you buy the Google Pixel 7?
- Yes: If you want the best phone camera setup for $600.
- Yes: If you like customizing the look and feel of your phone.
- Yes: If you’re looking for the best iPhone alternative.
- No: If gaming is your top priority.
- No: If you need a telephoto lens.
The Google Pixel 7 is everything that the Pixel 6 should have been and more, pairing the exemplary camera array with an equally spectacular software experience. While it’s not the most powerful smartphone out there, it does feel like the smartest in many respects, with its Tensor G2 chipset proving to be user-friendly in multiple ways.
If the Google Pixel 7 isn’t for you
If, after all, you decide the Google Pixel 7 isn’t the smartphone for you, we’ve got a couple of suggestions for alternatives below.
Apple iPhone 14
Like the Pixel 7, the Apple iPhone 14 is now available below its launch price. While this smartphone is markedly different from the Pixel 7 when it comes to software, it shares many of the same advantages, such as fantastic cameras.
Google Pixel 7 Pro
The Pixel 7 Pro takes everything great about the base model and pushes its best qualities even further. The main benefits to opting for the Pro are its telephoto lens, higher resolution display, and higher 120Hz refresh rate. Read our full Google Pixel 7 Pro review.
Google Pixel 7 packs just about everything you could want in a midrange smartphone, punching well above its weight when it comes to software and camera quality. Most mobile gamers can be content with the performance it offers, but enthusiasts will want to look elsewhere for top-tier specs.