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Hands-on with the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro: something familiar


This has been a refrain over the past couple of months, so you probably won’t be surprised to learn that the Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro look and feel a lot like the devices that came before them: the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Their price tags — $599 and $899, respectively — remain unchanged, too, which is a welcome sight in this Year of Price Hikes and Relentless Inflation. But aside from a slight design tweak and more subdued color options, the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro don’t have much to show on the surface that’s new.

Google’s official listed dimensions for the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro suggest that they’re ever so slightly smaller than their predecessors, just by a millimeter here and there. In reality, they both still very much look and feel like big phones.

Pixel 7 Pro (left) and Pixel 7 (right). Big phones are still big.

The Pixel 7’s screen diagonal measures 6.3 inches compared to the Pixel 6’s 6.4-inch display, and Google says the bezels have gotten slimmer, too. I’m taking Google at its word on this; I certainly couldn’t tell a difference. The Pixel 7 Pro is still listed as a 6.7-inch display and is still just as smooth-scrolling as the 6 Pro’s display, with the same 120Hz top refresh rate. The Pixel 7 sticks with a 90Hz screen, and while both claim a 25 percent improvement in peak brightness, we weren’t able to see this for ourselves without taking the devices outdoors.

Something you can’t spot from the outside is the Pixel 7’s upgraded selfie camera. Underneath the display’s hole-punch cutout is the same 10.8-megapixel sensor that the 7 Pro (and 6 Pro) includes. It offers a wider 20mm equivalent focal length to get more people in your group selfies, and it’s capable of 4K / 60p recording, whereas the Pixel 6’s selfie camera was limited to 1080p.

1/5

Hazel is our “fun” Pro color this year.

Overall, Google is sticking with the same design ethos as last year, keeping the horizontal camera bar with a slight update. Rather than a high-contrast black finish, the look is a little more reserved, with a metallic finish that blends into the phone’s side rails. Personally, I’m still not in love with the overall design, but I think this is an improvement.

Like last year, the Pro model’s aluminum frame features a polished finish, while the standard Pixel 7’s frame uses a matte finish. They’re still IP68 devices, and they still look and feel like the real deal: true flagship phones.

The lemongrass Pixel 7 is the best Pixel color this year. Don’t at me.

The lemongrass Pixel 7 is the best Pixel color this year. Don’t at me.

Of course, the real star of the show isn’t visible from the outside: Tensor G2, Google’s second-gen custom chipset. It’s behind many of the improvements Google is touting in the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, like better call quality, a faster Night Mode, and the new Cinematic Blur feature for portrait mode-style bokeh during video recording. I tried Night Mode with the camera covered by my black shirt, and even going for the maximum exposure and processing time, it did seem quite a bit faster.

There’s a new 2x zoom mode, too, available on both devices. It crops into the center of the main camera sensor to create a 12-megapixel final image that doesn’t require any up-sampling. It’s similar to what Apple is doing with the 14 Pro camera, and like on the iPhone, it’s available (and really well suited) for Portrait Mode.

The 7 Pro includes a 10x crop mode using its 48-megapixel telephoto camera’s sensor.

The 7 Pro includes a 10x crop mode using its 48-megapixel telephoto camera’s sensor.

On the 7 Pro, you also get a 10x zoom using the same method on the 5x telephoto camera. Interestingly, there’s a 5x setting available for quick access in the camera app, but you have to manually zoom to 10x to find the longer crop mode. The Pro has a new macro mode, too. It’s made possible by the addition of autofocus to the ultrawide camera, but it’s automatically activated when you’re using the 1x main camera with a close subject.

There’s more that Tensor G2 does, of course, but Google’s announcement today doesn’t give the impression that the experience of using the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro will be drastically different than the previous generation. At least right now, these latest Pixel devices seem awfully familiar.



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