Google Pixel 7 Pro review: Among the best of 2022
After a gap of several years, Google has been quite active in the past two quarters launching their Pixel phones in India. It started with the Pixel 6a in the previous quarter, which though not bad at all, seemed like a consolation prize given what the Google flagships are capable of. The following quarter, to everyone's surprise, the company decided to launch both their Pixel 7 phones here. We have been using the flagship, Google Pixel 7 Pro for the past month or so, and enjoying most of the experience. Right from pure, unadulterated Android 13 OS to the renowned Pixel cameras, it has been a fun ride. Now, it's time to give you more than a glimpse of the action. So hop on.
Premium design, good build, sharp display with 120Hz refresh rate
The Pixel 7 Pro feels premium due to its aluminum frame, glass back and curved display. The screen and the back have Corning Gorilla Glass Victus protection against scratches. The fingerprints are less conspicuous than on the Pixel 6a but are visible on the black variant. The phone has IP68-rated ingress protection. This is a sizable device that weighs over 200 grams. But the weight distribution is pretty good and the phone doesn't feel too heavy. Like in the case of the Pixel 6 phones, you get a prominent band at the back that hosts all the rear cameras. While it isn't aesthetically poor, I am not a fan of that as it makes the phone bulkier, and even worse, it accumulates a lot of dust at its base that needs frequent cleaning. Like most Pixel phones, the volume rocker as well as the power button are placed along the right edge. The placement of the in-display fingerprint scanner is spot on, and can be accessed without stretching the thumb much. But the scanner is a bit temperamental and doesn't work as expected at times. The SIM tray can be found along the left edge of the phone, while a USB-C port and a speaker are located on the bottom edge. A memory card slot and 3.5mm headphone jack have been omitted like in most flagship phones over the past few years. The Google Pixel 7 Pro has a 6.7-inch QHD+ LTPO AMOLED display with a resolution of 3120x1440 pixels and 1500-nits peak brightness. The HDR10+ compliant screen has a 120Hz refresh rate for flicker-free scrolling. The sharpness, color reproduction and contrast are topnotch. Google has opted to keep things simple by offering just two display modes (Adaptive and Natural) and no manual color adjustments. If you prefer more lively colors, opt for the former, and the latter for more natural tones.
Competent hardware, though not the fastest; only 128GB storage variant
The Pixel 7 Pro is powered by Google's new Tensor 2 processor, and is accompanied by 12GB RAM and 128GB UFS 3.1 storage. You do not get a higher storage variant of the phone here; a questionable decision on Google's part. The Tensor 2 SoC is still not as powerful as Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chips when it comes to raw processing power. As per popular synthetic benchmarks, the performance is a lot closer to the Snapdragon 888 SoC, which is still quite powerful for most tasks. One must also factor in the Tensor 2's AI and ML crunching capabilities which are hard to quantify using the usual benchmarking tools. The day to day performance of this phone was buttery smooth. Be it switching between multiple apps, browsing, chatting, photography, or gaming, things worked without a hiccup. The phone barely heats up during general use. It does get noticeably warmer if you indulge in 30 minutes of gaming, but nothing alarming. Speaking of gaming, you can play all the recent games on it at high settings comfortably. This phone has dual speakers, one behind the earpiece and the other along the bottom edge. They are loud and clear with a more than decent stereo separation. The lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack is compensated by Bluetooth 5.2 compliance to connect wireless earphones and speakers. You get tri-band Wi-Fi on this phone with support for a/b/g/n/ac/6E standards. The call quality and reception were perfectly fine on this 5G-ready phone during our testing.
The best of Android 13; average battery backup, slow charging
The Pixel 7 Pro runs the latest Android 13, and as you expect from a Pixel device, you get pure Android experience with the Material You design language. The user interface is smooth, lag-free and without any bloatware or bugs. This is easily the best Android 13 experience one can get on a smartphone currently. You also get a bunch of useful tools on this phone like photo enhancement, object recognition and voice typing. Using some smart AI and ML algorithms, the phone quietly delivers the goods. The popular Google image editing tools like the Magic Eraser and Camouflage are present here, and one can see some improvements. The Eraser lets you remove objects or even people from images by simply circling or marking them on the phone screen. Though not perfect, the results are better than what we got on its predecessor. Google has also added face unlock on the Pixel 7 Pro, but it is far from perfect and something I wouldn't recommend using at the moment. The battery backup of the Pixel 7 Pro is average. The 5,000mAh battery keeps it powered for a day of moderate use, which is fine. The bigger issue is charging time which is among the slowest around. With a standard 10W charger or even popular fast chargers from OnePlus or Realme (which also operate at 10W with this phone) the 7 Pro takes about 3 hours to charge fully. As is fashionable with premium brands, Google does not bundle a charger either. Thankfully, the 7 Pro does support 23W fast charging using USB-PD 3.0 chargers, and we tried a couple of third-party chargers with relevant 25W and 30W output to figure out how fast. The best we could manage was 105 minutes to charge it fully. That's a significant improvement over 3 hours, but nowhere close to what other brands not named Apple or Samsung offer these days.
Versatile cameras, excellent image quality, aided further by smart software
The rear camera department comprises a 50MP primary camera with optical image stabilization (OIS), a 48MP telephoto camera with OIS and a 12MP ultra-wide camera with 126-degree FOV and auto-focus. The 10.8MP front camera does a good job with selfies, with natural skin tones, broad FOV and support for portrait shots too. This phone can record 4K videos at 30/60fps, and 1080p videos up to 240fps. You get OIS and EIS support that works well. The captured footage is sharp and stabilized. The main camera is stellar in normal as well as low light. The colors in captured images are quite close to actual. The contrast and dynamic range are excellent; typical Pixel traits. The low-light performance is equally impressive with great detail and low noise. When the light drops a bit too much, the phone automatically switches to Night Sight that brightens up the image without blurring the detail. The 48MP telephoto camera offers 5X optical zoom and up to 30X digital zoom. The latter is something you generally brush aside as marketing mumbo jumbo, but not here. The AI and ML algorithms combine to deliver surprisingly good images even at full 30X zoom that are far better than anything with that level of digital zoom. Of course, the images captured with the optical zoom are noticeably better. True to tradition, the portrait shots are excellent on the Pixel 7 Pro with a clean foreground and background separation. You get a 2X zoom option in Portrait mode too, which is worth a try. The 12MP ultra-wide camera does a good job in well-lit conditions and the image quality is comparable to the main camera. But its low-light performance is nowhere as good. The ultra-wide camera can capture macro shots too, and when you get closer to a subject, the phone automatically switches to macro mode. The macro shots have good detail and colors.
One of the best flagship smartphones of 2022
The Google Pixel 7 Pro can be purchased for Rs. 84,999 in India with a one year warranty. You can currently get it for Rs. 10,000 less using HDFC cards on Flipkart. One cannot say that the pricing is great, but at least it is significantly cheaper than its two direct competitors - the Apple iPhone 14 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. A 256GB storage variant at that price would have made it a much better deal. Having said that, it is still arguably the best all-round Android phone in that price range. While the processing hardware doesn't top the benchmark charts, it is powerful enough, and in combination with the software delivers a great experience overall. Like all Pixel phones, the camera performance is excellent and one can expect the most recent version of Android on this device before others, followed by frequent OS and security updates for the foreseeable future. A fast charging solution is something that Google seriously needs to look at. But other than that, the Google Pixel 7 Pro is a great option around Rs. 80,000. Pro tip: If the primary camera and the software experience on this device matter to you more than anything else, along with frequent Android updates, and can do without a QHD+ curved display, you should strongly consider the Google Pixel 7 that sells for a good Rs. 25,000 less. Review coming soon.