The Google Pixel 7 retains what made the Pixel 6 a success, right down to the design, camera setup, and processor choice. But the improvements across the board make it a worthy upgrade and a continuation of Google’s excellence in the smartphone department. This is the phone you need if you want Google’s vision for Android.
SoC: Google Tensor G2
Display: 6.3-inch FHD+ OLED display, 90Hz
Storage: 128GB, 256GB
Operating system: Android 13
Front camera: 10.8MP, f/2.2, 92.8° FoV
Rear cameras: 50MP wide-angle (f/1.85), 12MP ultra-wide-angle (f/2.2, 114° FoV)
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6e, 5G (sub6 / mmWave), NFC, Bluetooth 5.2
Dimensions: 155.6 x 73.2 x 8.7 mm
Charging: 20W wired, up to 20W wireless
IP rating: IP68
Price: From $599 USD
Improved design and hardware throughout
Face unlock is back, and the on-screen fingerprint reader is much better
Improvements to last year’s iterative camera software
Factor in inflation, $600 is an even better deal than last year’s Pixel 6.
Still no camera with telephoto lens
Phone gets quite hot during intensive use and charging
Fingerprint sensor and face unlock are still not as reliable as they should be
Battery life is good, but not great
Google Pixel 7: network availability and connectivity
The Google Pixel 7 is available in a total of 17 markets at launch, including the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and some European countries. Google is once again expanding the availability of this phone to Norway, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands. This is also the first time since the Pixel 4 that Pixel flagships are available in India.
In the US, you can buy the Pixel 7 from the Google Store, a retailer of your choice, and your wireless carrier. If you’re considering the phone, find out where to pre-order the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. It works on all US networks. Both the unlocked and Verizon and AT&T locked versions are compatible with mmWave 5G. However, T-Mobile’s mmWave network is not compatible with the Pixel 7, so only the Pixel 7 Pro offers the super-fast speeds promised by mmWave 5G.
Since Google switched to its own Tensor SoC (and a Samsung-made modem), many Pixel 6 and 6 Pro have been plagued by network issues. I personally haven’t had any major connectivity issues in the year I’ve been using my Pixel 6, and I’m happy to report the same for the Pixel 7. The phone comes with an updated Samsung modem, which should improve the situation for those who have had more serious issues with their devices.
The Android Police team, spread across several continents with different network environments, had the same experience. Our own Will Sattelberg at T-Mobile in the US, who wrote our Pixel 7 Pro review, had consistent speeds and good connectivity during his time with the Pixel 7. The same goes for our news editor Stephen Schenck. In the UK, editor-in-chief James Peckham also had none of the dreaded and often discussed Tensor connectivity issues. Either we are all lucky, or Google has been working hard to improve the connectivity of the Pixel 7, which is the most plausible explanation.
Google Pixel 7: Design
The Pixel 7 takes the design that Google introduced with the Pixel 6 and builds on it. When you see them side by side, the kinship is immediately obvious, but the Pixel 7 looks like a refined version of its predecessor, as befits a second-generation design. The new Pixel phone retains the display-style camera array with its bar on the back, only this time it’s made of aluminum rather than glass. It is made of the same material as the phone’s frame, so it looks like the visor gently curves around the edge.
The theme of refinement continues throughout the device. Unlike the Pixel 6, which came with a black bezel regardless of color, the Pixel 7 varies its appearance depending on the color variant. The lemongrass variant comes with a gold border, making the combination instantly recognizable and beautiful. The black and white versions have a more traditional silver and black anodized bezel respectively and are made from recycled aluminum.
If you look at the colors, you will also notice that the two-color look is gone. The Pixel 6’s color was softer under the screen than on the small stripe at the top; the Pixel 7 offers the same look across the back glass.
I’m glad that Google made the Pixel 7 a little smaller than its predecessor with its new 6.3-inch screen, dropping a few millimeters in all dimensions. The Pixel 7 is a little easier to handle this way. I find that it fits better in one hand and is more comfortable to hold without the screen becoming too large.
Unfortunately, the back of the Pixel 7 is still a magnet for fingerprints, as Google opted for glossy glass instead of the matte look the company offered on older phones like the Pixel 4 (or, you know, what Apple does on its current iPhone Pro models). While it wasn’t a big problem on the review unit I have, all of the Google-supplied phones were seriously smudged and unpleasant to the eye after a few minutes. Like any other phone, the Pixel 7 comes with an oleophobic anti-fingerprint coating, but this wears off over time, so a matte finish is a good idea. To keep it clean (and safe), you should buy your Pixel 7 by the case.
The new visor design also easily catches lint from your pocket. Since the visor is no longer black on the Lemongrass and White model, the accumulation of dust and dirt is very noticeable and difficult to clean. I had to pull out some cotton swabs to get the job done.
However, all of these points are minor complaints. Overall, the Pixel 7 is a step up from its predecessor. It’s nice to see that Google has finally found a design that sets it apart from the rest of the industry and is instantly recognizable on other phones. This is the third model with this design after the Pixel 6 and 6a, and it looks like it is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
The Pixel 7 is probably one of the most recognizable Android phones on the market. It comes right after the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, with its unique camera on the back, with each lens out.
Google Pixel 7: Display
The Pixel 7 offers much of the same display as the Pixel 6. As mentioned above, it is a bit smaller at 6.3 inches diagonally instead of 6.4. Unless you hold both phones side by side, you may not notice this difference. What bothers me is that the side and top edges have been reduced, while the bottom edges have remained unchanged, making the device appear even larger. This comes at a time when other android manufacturers are finally figuring out how to put uniformly sized bezels on all sides of the screen.
The Pixel 7’s display offers the same 1080×2400 FHD+ resolution as its predecessor and a refresh rate of up to 90Hz. That’s right, Google does not yet offer 120Hz in its mid-range offering and reserves the high refresh rate for its Pro model. It’s a shame, as many manufacturers are moving to offer 120Hz in their flagships, as Samsung does with the Galaxy S22 (actually, it already does in the S20 series). Many international brands even offer this technology in their cheaper phones. Even if the difference between 90Hz and 120Hz is hard to tell, it is a technological advance that should no longer be reserved for high-end devices these days.
However, there are some notable improvements over the Pixel 6. The Pixel 7’s display can reach a maximum brightness of 1,400 nits to give you an extra visibility boost when you’re out in the sun. When viewing HDR content, the Pixel 7 can achieve a sustained brightness of up to 1,000 nits. That’s about the same as the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro at maximum brightness (1,100 nits), so you can enjoy the content on your screen longer when you’re outdoors. Google promises an improvement of up to 25%, and if you hold the two phones side by side, the improvement is noticeable.
Google Pixel 7: hardware, performance, and content in the box.
The subtle increase in screen brightness sets the theme for the rest of the Pixel 7’s hardware. It’s very similar to what we saw in the Pixel 6. The Pixel 7 offers 8GB of RAM along with 128GB or 256GB of storage, depending on what price you’re willing to pay. The processor, called the Tensor G2, is a slight upgrade from the first SoC Google introduced with the Pixel 6 line. It is made up of largely the same cores and oversized, large and small structure as the chip before it, although the cores have a slightly higher clock speed. There are 2 oversized ARM Cortex-X1s, 2 large A78s and 4 small Cortex-A55s. This refined architecture allows for a slightly higher clock speed, although it is hard to notice a performance increase in real life. However, the package is more efficient, which is good news given the slightly smaller battery.
Google has been focusing much more on what it’s really good at: improving the extra cores and machine learning hardware. The Pixel 7 is said to take better night photos with its new chipset, which we’ll get to later. The new Tensor chip is also accompanied by the improved Mali-G710 GPU. It offers a more significant upgrade than the Tensor CPU, but again Google doesn’t specify better performance or battery life. The company wants you to focus on the experience that the Pixel offers, not the numbers. The new GPU is accompanied by a second-generation Titan M2 security chip, a new image processing DSP, and an improved TPU that focuses on machine learning, called the Tensor Processing Unit.
The Pixel 7 gets hot if you use it a lot, even if you are just browsing the web. So far, however, I haven’t experienced any slowdowns when this happens, but we’ll have to do more testing; stay tuned for our testing update later this month. All in all, the thermal situation so far doesn’t look much different from the Pixel 6.
In terms of feel, Google has made significant improvements with this generation. It’s not iPhone-level, but it’s closer than the previous Pixel 6. Whether you’re tapping or going through recently opened apps, the vibrations are comfortable and don’t feel mushy. You can even distinguish between different interactions, including vibrations for notifications. It’s a pleasure to use and I’m glad Google wants to lead the way in this regard.
For phone calls, I was also surprised at how well I could hear the person I was talking to when I held the handset close to my ear, even when Clear Calling was not yet available on the phone, a new software-based feature that
is designed to help you hear and sound better. Overall, the speakers reach a decent volume when you watch your favorite videos or listen to your Spotify playlists, all without much distortion, even at high volume. The quality level is about the same as the Pixel 6, which is a shame. I have fond memories of my Pixel 3, which gave me better results than the new version. As with all phones that use the headset as one of the two stereo speakers, the sound is a bit uneven, with bass and midrange better reproduced in the bottom speaker than the top.
The package contents of the Pixel 7 are as minimalist as you would expect. The small box contains only the phone itself, a charging cable, a USB-A to C adapter, the usual SIM eject tool, and a small manual; as with last year’s phone, no charger is included. I’m glad that Google has removed almost all the plastic from the packaging. Even the screen protector that is attached during shipping is paper, and only a thin film touches the screen, which is not paper. This may not seem like a major environmental measure, but considering how many phones are shipped each year, such a measure could end up saving tons of plastic. Of course, longer software support would be another factor in helping to produce less waste in the form of the hardware itself, but more on that in a moment.
Google Pixel 7: Software
The Google Pixel’s software is the Android variant we’ve covered the most, and of course the Pixel 7 uses all the features that make Pixel phones so good. On the Pixel 7, you get Material You and (some) themed icons for your home screen, quick system and security updates, dictation and assistant features, call screen and phone spam protection – features we know and love the Pixel series for. The Pixel 7 adds a few more to that collection, but not as many as you’d expect from a big new release like this.
Many of the things that are “new” on the Pixel 7 are actually part of the Android 13 update that all current Pixel phones have received, and you can read all about that in our Android 13 review. However, Google has gone out of its way to include at least a few different features that differentiate the Pixel 7 from other Pixel phones running Android 13. The new dual biometric authentication should address some of the shortcomings of Google’s first under-screen fingerprint reader, and there are new health features like cough and snore detection to help you monitor your sleep.
New biometric data:
The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro finally support face unlock again, a last option Google supported on the Pixel 4 with its built-in infrared scanner. This time, however, Google has opted for a much less fancy option. The Pixel 7 does not feature an IR scanning unit or dot matrix, instead relying solely on its new 10.8MP front-facing camera. In the past, this has been one of the more insecure options for unlocking, but Google tells us that the company has implemented measures to prevent someone from simply holding a photo of themselves in front of the camera to get in without going into detail. However, it’s clear that the company has done something: The phone can only be unlocked if you look directly at it; if you look past the screen or close your eyes, it doesn’t work. I also tried holding printed pictures of myself in front of it, but was not let in.
The company still doesn’t trust this method enough to make it a true alternative to the fingerprint reader. Face unlock only works for logging into the phone, but not for logging into secure applications like online banking or password manager. For that, you can only use your biometric fingerprints. Already during setup, it becomes clear that the face scanner is just a convenience feature. When setting up the phone, there is only the option to add both fingerprint and face; it is not possible to use just the face.
Speaking of the fingerprint scanner, although Google initially refused to confirm it, the company has added new hardware to the phone that makes fingerprint recognition much more reliable. Compared to my Pixel 6, on which I’ve been practicing my fingerprints for all of last year, the Pixel 7 already feels much faster and more accurate. Occasional scanning errors still occur, but they are much less frequent and don’t really interfere with the use of the phone. It doesn’t feel worse than other fingerprint scanners on the display. It can usually be fixed by simply scanning the same finger again, and you are rarely forced to enter your unlock code.
Face unlock complements the fingerprint scanner to unlock your phone. In many cases, you don’t even need to scan your fingerprint, as the phone tells you that all you need to do is press and hold the position of the fingerprint reader to unlock the phone after it recognizes your face. This does not happen as often as you might imagine. Since the face unlock system is camera-based, it cannot be used in the dark. Also, it often doesn’t recognize me, but then the faster fingerprint sensor does without getting in the way.
The Google interface solves the problems very well, and I don’t even notice that it doesn’t work because I can put my finger on the fingerprint reader to unlock it, regardless of whether the face scanner works or not.
Cough and snore detection
Another feature enabled by Google’s new coprocessors is cough and snore detection, which is part of the Digital Wellness sleep mode. You can access it through the system settings. Google will also prompt you to enable this feature if you want to charge your phone at night. Sleep mode can be automatically activated on a schedule, like on older Pixels, but the Pixel 7 adds a new dimension. You can activate it automatically when you plug the phone in within a certain time period, for example, between 11 pm and 7 am. You can then decide whether to log your sleep interruptions and have your Pixel 7 detect when you cough and snore during the night – all of this is processed completely offline on the device itself.
The Pixel 7 definitely can’t compete with a sleep tracker, a fitness band, or the second-generation Nest Hub when it comes to recording sleep, but it does give you a clean summary of your most important stats throughout the night. You can see when and what you used your phone for during your scheduled bedtime, and another graph tells you when and how long you coughed or snored. While Google doesn’t do much to explain or analyze this data, it can be a valuable tool for finding clues about a problem like sleep apnea, where you can’t breathe properly at night. It’s a great addition because it protects your privacy, it’s a part of your phone that you probably have next to you in bed anyway, and it can alert you to things that could lead you to see a doctor.
Software updates and other features
Google used to be the pioneer when it came to software updates, but while the company now controls all major aspects of software and hardware (thanks to its Tensor chips), it still hasn’t committed to supporting the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro with security patches for more than 5 years. The company kept mom about Android update support at the unveiling, but it is now clear that Google will only give the Pixel 7 three major Android updates.
Compared to the industry standard set by Samsung, this is a poor showing. Samsung’s high-end devices can expect up to four Android version updates and five years of security updates these days. Google should have already overcome this with the Pixel 6, which upped the promise of security updates to five years compared to previous models, but the company has once again decided to stick with this bad strategy.
Google’s Pixel phones are basically the showcase of what Google envisions for Android, and if the company behind the operating system is unwilling to provide more than five years of support, why should anyone else?
You can expect some updates, though. A new clear call feature will help you better understand the person you’re talking to in noisy environments, and Google One VPN will let you get online later for free and securely.
You can also look forward to the latest and greatest Android features for the next three years, which will be introduced as part of the full version updates and quarterly Pixel feature drops.
Google Pixel 7: Battery life and charging.
Let’s get this out of the way right away: The Pixel 7 has a smaller battery than its predecessor, 4,355 mAh compared to 4614 mAh in the Pixel 6. This makes sense, as the new phone is smaller in all dimensions, and the battery is just the part that makes up most of the bulk. Still, I am impressed with the battery life. Google seems to have made the Tensor G2 more efficient than the first generation chip, and the slightly smaller screen may also play a role.
I have yet to drain the battery in a single day, despite being out for most of the weekend. In a mixed environment where I took a lot of sample photos in different lighting conditions, did a bit of surfing on public transportation, wrote some reports in Google Docs, and did a lot of scrolling through Twitter, Reddit, and Chrome, I managed to get five hours of screen time, with 5% remaining at the end of the most extreme day-I have to say I would have been a bit worried if I didn’t have a battery with me.
During the test, I took the phone off the charger at 8 or 9 in the morning and used it until 10 or 11 at night without charging. I didn’t change any settings for these experiments, I just set the battery saver to 20% and then the extreme battery saver to 10%, as recommended by the software notifications.
When the Pixel 7’s adaptive battery goes live in the coming weeks, we will continue to test how the battery holds up, but these first experiences are promising and consist of a lot of mixed use, especially on mobile networks, which tend to pull the battery more than Wi-Fi connections.
One notable issue, which was already an issue with the Pixel 6, is battery consumption in standby mode. We tested this by leaving both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 outdoors overnight with identical settings and the screen always on, and both lost about 10% of their charge during that period. In another test, we left the AOD off, so the battery was drained by 6% overnight. That’s more than many comparable phones, and even the Pixel 4a 5G we used for testing never used that much power in standby mode with identical settings. It’s possible that the problem is specific to the Tensor chipsets, which remain largely the same in the Pixel 6 and 7.
The charging situation hasn’t changed from previous Pixel generations, and that’s a shame if you don’t want to charge your phone overnight. The Pixel 7 supports 21W fast charging (Google says this speed is achieved with the separately available 30W adapter), which is significantly slower than the competition at this point. We can confirm Google’s claims that the Pixel 7 charges from 0-50% in 30 minutes, which is good for a quick charge before going out at night. It still pales in comparison to what the OnePlus 10T, for example, offers with its 150W charger (125W in the US). A full charge takes over an hour and a half on the Pixel 7. We charged from 1 to 100% in 1:40 hours with a 30W charger.
Google Pixel 7: Camera
Google’s Pixel range has always been at the forefront of mobile photography, and that doesn’t change with the Pixel 7. In fact, the Pixel 7 significantly raises the bar when it comes to the camera, especially when it comes to night shots, all while retaining the camera setup that Google introduced with the Pixel 6. In the new phone, you get a 50MP main camera complemented by a 12MP Ultrawide camera.
Thanks to the Tensor G2 chipset, the Pixel 7 is noticeably faster than the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro when taking photos in night mode. Google claims that this is a 50% improvement in speed with no loss of quality, and this proved to be true in my comparison. The Pixel 6 and 7 offer virtually the same quality and brightness, and the 7 can capture and process full-size images much faster than the 6.
The Pixel 7 takes things further, though. When it notices a dark environment, it displays a small timer in the bottom right of the viewfinder that shows you how long it will need to capture a shot to provide a clear image. When you hit the shutter button, you will then even see a countdown showing you how long it will take until the image is fully captured and you can start moving again. This is still joined by the level in the middle of the screen that helps you keep your hands stable during the shot.
The new camera software also gives you more manual control over night mode. When you tap the timer, you get to choose between three different modes: standard night mode, max night mode, and no night mode.
No night mode, standard night mode, max night mode
The first option is great to have for quickly moving objects or subjects you’re happy to capture at all, even at the expense of a darker and grainier image. The standard night mode emulates that of the Pixel 6, only that it’s much faster. The third mode is new, and it allows you to capture a much brighter and more detailed image at night than what you were previously able to. The best part about it is that even this mode is slightly faster at capturing the scene than the Pixel 6, all while providing you a much clearer and brighter image.
1st and 2nd: Pixel 6 vs Pixel 7 at 2x zoom — 3rd and 4th: Pixel 6 vs. Pixel 7 at 2x zoom, cropped in to show difference in details
In daylight, you can also look forward to some enhancement. Google has introduced an upgrade to Super Res Zoom (a term first used on the Pixel 3) for the Pixel 7, and it works just like the iPhone 14’s crop. The Pixel 7’s main 50MP sensor usually scales images down to 12MP by default by combining four pixels into one for the final image. For 2x cropped images, Google changes this formula and uses all the individual pixels in the sensor that are responsible for this cropped-in area. This gives you ever-so-slightly better images. You’ll be hard-pressed to notice a difference when you don’t have anything to compare against, but a quick comparison to the Pixel 6 (which has the same hardware but not the same cropping mechanism for 2x) reveals that it’s a fine but neat improvement in details.
Pixel 7 at 1x (moved closer to the subjects) vs 2x (moved further away from the subjects)
Overall, this is the right direction to move to, though I would have preferred a 3x telephoto camera as a good optical compromise. The 2x zoom the Pixel 7 offers comes closest to what you will naturally strive for in portrait photography, and the computational improvements do their part to make for a better quality of exactly these shots.
A collection of shots from the Pixel 7
Unblur, True Tone, and Guided Frame
Google has also taken the Tensor G2 chip and added a feature that helps you restore old, blurry memories. The Pixel 7 series adds an exclusive unblur tool to Google Photos, and it works surprisingly well on when motion blur is present. The tool isn’t fully magic, though. Images that are exorbitantly grainy or so blurry you can’t make out what you’re looking at with your own eyes, the tool will not work. Still, as I went through my library of older photos, I was surprised just how well it works for a majority of soft photos. Yes, the technology works on both old photos you’ve saved to your Google Photos library ages ago and for those you’ve taken on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes to other phones as part of Google One at some point, too, just like what Google did with the Magic Eraser feature that debuted on the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro.
Both pairs of images: Blurred vs. unblurred
The one annoying thing about unblur is that just like Magic Eraser, it’s not possible to save the new result as a revision of the original photo. Instead, you’ll get a brand-new photo that’s stripped off metadata like the location of the photo. I really wish it was possible to just override the original photo instead—after all, there are little to no reasons to keep an objectively worse, blurry version of the image around, quite in contrast to Magic Eraser, which more drastically alters the original.
Google is working hard on making those with no or low vision less dependent on others to take selfies, too. The new Guided Frame accessibility option helps you get the perfect selfie without being able to see the screen, with instructions that tell you how to position your phone and when to smile. It seems to work pretty well, though you have to use some common sense when you want to take advantage of it. A selfie shot at an arm’s length away, with your hand held as high as your phone, is naturally going to get you a better result than a shot from the bottom. TalkBack doesn’t make any difference between these two.
True Tone has also seen some improvements, according to Google. True Tone is part of Google’s photography and videography algorithm that controls the camera and is supposed to get great, natural-looking results, regardless of which skin color your subjects have. The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro come with further refinements in that area.
Despite all these improvements, including Super Res Zoom, I would have still loved for Google to include a telephoto zoom camera with the regular Pixel 7. It doesn’t have to be a 5x zoom camera as on the Pixel 7 Pro, but optical zoom will always beat digital crop. For example, Google could have added the 4x zoom camera from the Pixel 6 Pro, giving Pixel 7 owners something more than only improved digital zoom (which has been and is still impressive on the Pixel lineup, I’m not denying that!).
Google Pixel 7: Should you buy it?
If you’re a Google fan, the Google Pixel 7 is the phone to buy. Like the Pixel 6 before it, it’s the phone that offers the best bang for the buck in Google’s phone lineup. It gives you access to more advanced features and a more futuristic look than the Pixel 6a that sits below it, and at $600, it’s not as prohibitively expensive as the $900 Pixel 7 Pro, not to mention something like the $1,200 Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. The Pixel 7 really hits the sweet spot, offering almost anything you could want in a modern Android smartphone without breaking the bank. And with trade-ins and other Pixel 7 pre-order deals, you won’t even have to pay that full $600 for it.