Review of the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro: Google continues to work its photography magic
There is no way to sugarcoat it: The camera on the Pixel 7 Pro is the genuine deal, no holds barred. I've never had more pleasure using a smartphone to take pictures.
Thanks to its special telescopic lens and macro focus capability, Google's Pixel 7 Pro can capture your subject flawlessly and without any hassle, whether it's so far away that it's literally on another landmass or so near that you can practically taste it. The new Tensor G2 technology that powers the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro cleverly employs software to perform tasks that the tiny smartphone lenses typically cannot.
The Pixel 7 starts at $599 and the Pixel 7 Pro starts at $899 when they both go on sale on October 13.
The two Pixel 7s may be considered a small disappointment because these Android phones are more than just portable cameras. The Pixel 7 series looks a much like the Pixel 6 line on the outside, with the exception of new textures for the camera bar and tweaks to the exterior color schemes.
On the inside, that is also true. The Tensor G2 chip enables a few useful new AI call and voice messaging features, but the usability of these new Google flagships in daily life hasn't altered significantly. And regrettably, the standard Pixel 7 lacks the best new camera features.
Despite having a less powerful camera than the 7 Pro, it is nonetheless quite attractive.
Because the Pixel 6s were excellent smartphones, that incrementalist strategy isn't the worst thing in the world. The Pixel 7 series is probably not enough of an improvement for those who purchased last year (or earlier this year with the Pixel 6a) to warrant an upgrade. But if you've been holding onto an older Pixel—or even want to go from an iPhone to an Android—now might be the time to make the transfer, preferably to the Pixel 7 Pro.
At the very least, your Instagram feed will appear much more current.
Two-tone color scheme is no more
The era of metallic camera bars has arrived.
Observed a Pixel 6 before? The earlier model was slightly more entertaining, but you've essentially seen a Pixel 7.
Google largely went with what worked on the Pixels 6 previous time around; there isn't any Dynamic Island-like innovation on display here. It preserved the recognizable horizontal camera bar, which is located towards the top of the phone's back and now has a fresh, more metallic appearance. Also nearly identical in size to their Pixel 6 predecessors are the two Pixel 7 smartphones. A tenth of an inch smaller than the Pixel 6, the Pixel 7 measures 6.3 inches, while the Pixel 7 Pro measures 6.7 inches. The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro both have smooth refresh rates of 90Hz and 120Hz, respectively, keeping things the same.
Having said that, even though I have quite acute eyes for that kind of thing, I can't say that I really noticed the refresh rate difference after extensively using both phones for a few days. If you can avoid it, avoid making that feature of the 7 Pro a selling point.
Every phone's body is made of glass from front to back, thus I strongly suggest using a case to protect it. On softer surfaces, both of my Pixel 7s have slipped and fallen, which is annoying.
The Pixel 7 lineup feels glossy and slick everywhere.
The removal of the two-tone color scheme that made the Pixel 6 series so instantly recognisable to the general public is really the only significant physical change Google made this year. Each Pixel 6 had slightly distinct colors above and below the camera bar last year, which not only made the device stand out but also drew attention to the lens array. This time, the colors are consistent throughout the entire phone.
Both the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro come in obsidian and snow hues, however only the Pixel 7 offers an exclusive lemongrass shade, and the Pixel 7 Pro offers a similar colorway in hazel.
The camera bar on this year's phones has a slick metal quality that I like, but I really dislike how the two-tone colors were eliminated. While this year's phones merely look like...phones, last year's Pixels had a lively and unusual appearance.
Thankfully, the functionality of the Pixel phones is far more important than how they appear.
30x professional zoom is accessible at the push of a button.
The rear camera setup on the two new Pixel 7 phones represents the physical difference that is most noticeable. Along with a 50MP wide camera and a 12MP ultra-wide lens on the back, both phones have the identical 10.8MP selfie camera. The Pixel 7 Pro, however, sports a 48MP telephoto lens on the back, much like last year. But unlike the Pixel 6 Pro from a year ago, zooming in extremely on distant subjects has never looked this fantastic.
This time, Google used Tensor magic to increase the maximum zoom length of the Pixel 7 Pro to a stunning 30x. For comparison, the iPhone 14 can only be magnified by 5x, whereas the iPhone 14 Pro can do it by 30x. The Samsung Galaxy Fold 4 and other recent Android smartphones could both zoom that far, so that last figure alone isn't very groundbreaking. When you zoom in very closely on a topic, computational improvements take place in the background that yield significantly sharper images than the Galaxy Fold 4 was able to.
I went for a stroll in Domino Park in Brooklyn, which is on the East River waterfront and boasts a stunning perspective of the Manhattan skyline, to put this to the test. One World Trade Center may be seen off in the distance from the pier. Google Maps estimates the distance as being roughly six miles via road. On the Pixel 7 Pro, 30x telephoto zoom allows you to see the summit of the 1WTC crystal clear from a completely different landmass. It's incredible.
The island that this building is on is not where I was standing. Wild.
Let's attempt another illustration. If you press your eyes against the screen, it's practically impossible to read the writing at the very top of the tall skyscraper in the center of the image on the left. And by the way, don't do it.
However, if we use the telephoto lens on the Pixel 7 Pro to zoom in, we can read the writing—which is regrettably just the building's address—as clearly as if we were standing right next to it. Simply said, this is among the most impressive things I have recently observed in a smartphone camera system. The Pixel 7 Pro allows you to snap incredibly quality images from great distances.
Close up, please.
Another unique function available just on the Pixel 7 Pro is dubbed "Macro Focus." This is not really novel for smartphones because even entry-level models like the Moto G Stylus 5G from a year ago have macro lenses. The goal is to physically position the phone close to a small subject, like a growing flower, to achieve a sharp, focused photo. The Pixel 7 Pro is far more classy about macro photography than other phones, like the Moto phone, which restricted it to a separate setting in the camera app. Macro focus will begin to automatically when you put the phone close to your subject and use the default camera view at 1x zoom.
This is how I captured the image of the berries on a plant close to my house. It certainly seems fantastic.
Clear as can be at a distance of millimeters.
The camera on the Pixel 7 is also good.
If you have the extra money, the Pixel 7 Pro's camera array is one of the greatest I've ever seen in a smartphone and is worth the US$300 price increase. Thankfully, the ordinary Pixel 7 isn't some subpar camera in and of itself. The less expensive Pixel can compete favorably with other top-notch smartphone cameras.
Of course, portrait mode is still fantastic and back. Both Pixel 7 smartphones have rapid portrait shot capabilities and editing menu sliders that enable you change the depth of field effects. I never felt the urge to do that, though. The pictures I took looked great right away.
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