Did you know that Google – the company that owns Android – has been MIA in the premium smartphone space in India for the last four years? In fact, while the brand has sporadically launched its watered-down Pixel A range of phones in India, the company had seemingly all but given up on the premium segment since it unveiled the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL (review) back in 2018. Unsurprisingly, the smartphone landscape has changed dramatically since then – specifically, we’ve witnessed more and more vendors step up and stake their claim in the flagship space, with brands like Xiaomi, OnePlus and even Realme launching high-end Androids at competitive prices. That’s not all as veteran smartphone makers like Samsung have upped the ante too and today, the company’s Galaxy S range offers a no-compromise flagship experience to the end user.
Understandably, Google has its task cut out and the company’s Pixel 7 Pro will have to bring its A-game in a bid to fend off the competition. And, having spent some time with the phone, I have a good understanding of where the device stacks amidst the competition. Read on, to find out.
The Pixel 7 Pro brings subtle refinements to its predecessor’s design and in doing so, puts forth a good-looking, weatherproof chassis that screams “the new Google phone”. In fact, from a distance, the device comes across as a super-sized Pixel 6a (review) and the handset features a familiar, protruding visor towards the back which, by the way, is the home to the smartphone’s triple camera arrangement too. That said, unlike the 6a, the Pixel 7 Pro’s visor has been constructed out of aluminium, which adds a good heft to the unit. What’s more, unlike a conventional camera module, the 7 Pro’s visor runs throughout the width of the phone too. Understandably, you might not fancy a big metal strip disrupting the phone’s otherwise immaculate design. On the upside, the visor ensures that the 7 Pro doesn’t wobble when kept on a flat surface, which is great.
I should add that Google’s latest have done away with their predecessor’s dual-tone finish too. To that note, the Pixel 7 range feature contrasting frames that make the phone’s colour pop that much more. My review unit, for instance, features a golden-ish tinge on the frame, as well as on the camera visor. The colour looks striking and the finish brings about the necessary pizazz when paired with the device’s subtler pastel green-grey shade. That’s not all, as the smartphone is IP68 rated as well. So, if you were looking to get a phone to withstand Delhi’s torrential downpour, the Pixel 7 Pro will not disappoint you.
On the bright side, the handset comes with a speedy in-display fingerprint sensor that should get you into your home screen in the blink of an eye. Now, fret not – I did test the sensor thoroughly and it did not unlock the phone with unregistered fingerprints. What’s more, the device’s facial recognition software is extremely quick to authenticate the user too, which is great. Lastly, you should know that the phone ships with a stereo speaker setup that gets amply loud for watching movies on the fly. The device doesn’t ship with a charger, however, you will get a fairly lengthy Type-C cable, along with a Type-A to Type-C adapter in the box.
The Pixel 7 Pro ships with a stunning display that will do justice to your favourite TV shows and movies. Spec-wise, the handset comes with a 6.7-inch, OLED panel that packs in a QHD+ (1,440 x 3,120 pixels) resolution. What’s more, the display is backed by LTPO tech and correspondingly, the screen can smartly variate the refresh rate between 10Hz and 120Hz as well. The screen curves gently into the unit’s frame too, thereby ensuring your fingers glide off the edges when you’re using gesture-based navigation on the phone. The icing on the cake is that the device comes layered with Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus on the back and the front. Consequently, the display should keep scuffs and scratches at bay.
As for the picture quality, the display offers punchy, vivid colours that make watching movies or videos on the phone an absolute treat. Further, the device’s OLED tech reciprocates deep, dark blacks and the panel offers stellar viewing angles too. In fact, I didn’t notice any major off-axis discolouration when viewing the Pixel 7 Pro’s screen at an angle.
The screen can get extremely bright at 1,500 nits as well and the handset can relay both, HD as well as HDR media from OTT services like Netflix. All said and done, the Pixel 7 Pro offers a remarkable display that is right up there with the best Android phones in the market.
Performance, Software and Battery life
At the heart of the Pixel 7 Pro is Google’s latest Tensor G2 processor. The newer SoC brings a handful of improvements, albeit draws quite a few parallels to the Tensor chipset powering the Pixel 6 range too. To wit, both SoCs employ two Cortex X1 cores, albeit the ones on the Pixel 7 Pro range have been clocked a tad higher at 2.85GHz. Further, while the OG Tensor chip employed a Cortex A76 cluster, the Tensor G2 chip replaces it with two Cortex A78 cores. Consequently, in theory, the Tensor G2 should offer slightly better multi-threaded performance. Lastly, much like last year’s SoC, the Tensor G2 also utilises a quad-core Cortex A55 cluster, which operates as the chipset’s little or efficiency cores.
It goes without saying that the Tensor G2 cannot hold a candle to Qualcomm’s 8+ Gen 1 SoC, which is spearheaded by a superior Cortex X2 core. And, the proof is in the pudding too. Take GeekBench, for instance wherein, the Pixel 7 Pro overturned 1,029 and 2,942 points in the single-core and multi-core test runs. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1-powered Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 (review), on the other hand, yielded 1,245 and 3,597 points respectively. Turn the page over to Apple’s latest and greatest and the gap gets seemingly bigger, with the A16 Bionic chipset securing 1,879 and 5,412 points respectively. Clearly, Google’s Tensor G2 chipset isn’t as powerful as some other high-end processors powering the competition.
Be that as it may, I didn’t run into any major performance hassles whilst using the phone as my daily driver – apps opened swiftly, animations were rendered smoothly and the smartphone felt rapid, for the most part. What’s more, I could play most demanding games at the best graphics and FPS presets too. In fact, you can play Call of Duty Mobile on the phone at Very High graphics and Max FPS or, choose to run the title at the lowest graphics preset to leverage 90FPS gameplay as well. Apex Legends Mobile, on the other hand, can also run at ExtremeHD graphics and Ultra FPS presets and my gameplay experience was as good on the Pixel 7 Pro, as it was on say, the Galaxy S22 Ultra (review) or the OnePlus 10T (review).
If anything, I noticed that the device would heat up quite a bit. While that didn’t limit the phone’s performance, the 7 Pro’s frame can get uncomfortably warm to the touch, especially when you’re gaming for extended periods or charging the phone. Thankfully, the handset doesn’t thermal throttle and the device overturned 70 percent stability in 3D Mark’s extreme stress test. Granted, the unit’s best loop score – which calculates the peak performance (FPS output) during the test run – paled in comparison to that of the iPhone 14 Pro Max (1,827 vs 3,372 points). Regardless, the Pixel 7 Pro makes for a reliable daily driver and the smartphone’s performance will only disappoint spec-heads / hardcore gamers.
Software-wise, the Google Pixel 7 Pro runs Android 13 out of the box. The interface is as stock as it gets and correspondingly, is void of any bloatware too. At the same time, the device misses out on some added niceties, including support for third-party icon packs and lock screen customisation, to name a few. That said, the smartphone does come with a built-in screen recorder along with a souped-up voice recorder that can transcribe your voice memos/interviews with the press of a button. The interface is also scheduled to get a baked-in VPN down the line, which is great. Further, the device’s ‘photo unblur’ feature is a godsend for folks with shaky hands. The feature can be accessed by opening a blurry photo in the Google Photos app. From there, users can tap the edit button and select the ‘unblur photo’ option from the prompt that follows. Once done, the Pixel 7 Pro will, by means of some software wizardry, bring back the subject in focus.
The Google Pixel 7 Pro ships with a 5,000mAh battery which, with the display set to FHD+ resolution, should see you through the end of a long workday. That said, with the panel locked at QHD+ resolution, you’ll find yourself looking for a wall charger by the evening. Much to my dismay, the smartphone only offers 23W wired and wireless charging speed and as such, takes a little over two hours to refuel completely. That’s quite disappointing, given how smartphones from Motorola, OnePlus or Xiaomi’s stables can replenish their batteries in a matter of minutes.
Google’s Pixel devices are revered as the best camera phones and the company’s latest is no exception. Spec-wise, the Pixel 7 Pro comes with a 50MP main sensor which works alongside a 12MP ultrawide shooter and a 48MP telephoto lens. For selfies, the device gets a 10.8MP shooter up front.
Coming to the meat of the matter, the Pixel 7 Pro clicks stunning images across a variety of scenarios and focal lengths. The handset’s main camera captures a ton of information and even offers better sensor details and corner sharpness compared to the Galaxy S22 Ultra. While all that’s good and dandy, the Pixel 7 Pro is the only phone that can click equally detailed telephoto images as the Galaxy S22 Ultra as well. Now, do note that Samsung’s offering edges out in front for images snapped beyond 10x zoom. But, the Pixel 7 Pro overturns an equally appealing output at a 2x, 3x, 5x as well as at 10x zoom levels. But, you don’t just have to take my word for it – here is an example which substantiates my claim.
Here, at a closer crop, you’ll notice that the AC unit, as well as the transmission tower towards the back of the frame appear identical when snapped through both the phone’s cameras. The colours are a tad different and Samsung’s image has spruced up the greens in the photo. But, other than that, the images are neck and neck.
And, fret not – the Pixel 7 Pro clicks equally gorgeous photos as the iPhone 14 Pro Max too. If anything, Pixel’s snaps sway in the favour of warmer tones, whereas iPhone 14 Pro Max’s photos exhibit a cooler tone. What’s more, the Pixel 7 Pro tends to underexpose the images, thereby portraying a gloomier scene. Understandably, you’ll notice that the iPhone 14 Pro Max clicks more colour-accurate images. I am working on a detailed camera comparison between the Pixel 7 Pro, the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the Galaxy S22 Ultra, so stay tuned. But, for now, here is a 2x snap from the iPhone 14 Pro max and the Pixel 7 Pro. Interestingly, both devices take a crop of the main sensor to output photos at 2x zoom levels. Now, as you can probably tell, the red colour of the petal appears – for the lack of a better word – muted in Pixel 7 Pro’s snap. However, both the photos are at a level pegging in terms of details and overall sharpness.
The same goes for the images snapped from the main sensor in the slider attached above as well. Here, the Pixel 7 Pro’s output is fairly indistinguishable from the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s snap. In fact, barring the reddish texture of the dirt near the pavement in the Pixel 7 Pro’s photo, it’s hard to tell one snap, from the other.
All said and done, the Pixel 7 Pro can click terrific images with its main sensor. The photos offer ample details, and superb dynamic range and rest assured, you’ll seldom have to capture a scene again and again. In a similar fashion, the handset’s telephoto capabilities are among the best in the biz. While the phone isn’t as adept as the S22 Ultra – notably beyond 10x – the device can yield a gorgeous photo with excellent sharpness at 3x, 5x or even 10x zoom. The ultrawide snapper, on the other hand, could do with some tweaks. I say this, as the ultrawide images offer sub-par corner sharpness and the snaps even exhibit chromatic aberration. As for selfies, the smartphone can click good-looking snaps that don’t muck up a user’s skin tone. At the same time, the photos don’t exhibit any skin smoothening either, which is great. I was equally impressed with the phone’s lowlight photography chops and with the nightscape utility enabled, the device can squeeze out a ton of information from a dimly lit scene.
The Google Pixel 7 Pro starts at Rs 84,999 in India and for the price, the handset is irrefutably expensive. And, while the smartphone does come across as a sound deal, there is more than meets the eye with Google’s latest flagship. For one, I can’t get behind the phone’s ‘fast-charging’ speeds – 23W is simply inexcusable at this price point. And, while the device is rapid and could keep up with my day-to-day, the phone heats up quite a bit too. Lest I forget, the handset isn’t the fastest phone in the segment either and you’ll get more bang for your buck by opting for a Dimensity 9000 or Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1-backed device.
Be that as it may, the Pixel 7 Pro is a looker and the device will attract eyeballs left, right and centre. It also helps that the phone comes layered with Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus and is IP68-rated as well. The smartphone’s screen is a treat to look at too and the unit’s triple camera setup will not leave you wanting for more either. The icing on the cake is that the phone will get five years of security updates too.
All said and done, the Pixel 7 Pro is not a run-of-the-mill Android flagship and instead of banking on its specs, the handset hopes to deliver an unmatched end-user experience. And, while there is plenty of room for improvement, there’s no denying that the Pixel 7 Pro is a dependable flagship that gets most right.
Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5
- Stylish design
- Stunning display
- Great cameras
- Slow wired and wireless charging speeds
- Average performer
- Gets quite warm when gaming