Highlights

  • Tensor G2 chipset
  • 50MP triple rear camera setup
  • 5,000mAh battery

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Pixel 7 Pro Review: The new benchmark?

The Pixel 7 Pro is Google's first proper flagship phone to arrive in India after a long time. With a versatile camera setup, and a new Tensor G2 chipset. Is this the best Android phone you can get at the moment?

Key Specifications
Price : ₹84,999
Tensor G2 50MP + 12MP + 48MP

128GB storage

12GB LPDDR5 RAM 5,000mAh battery 6.7" QHD+ OLED display
Our Review
8.5 / 10
Performance7/10
Cameras8/10
Design9/10
Utility8/10
Display9/10
Audio7/10
Battery9/10
Software8/10
Pros
  • The Pixel experience is as smooth as ever
  • Natural, vivid camera look
  • Unique features you'll only find on a pixel
Cons
  • Focusing issues with the camera
  • No dual sim
  • Speakers are average at best

It’s been a few years since we’ve seen a proper Google flagship phone in India. Google ‘rebooted’ the Pixel series with the 6 and 6 Pro last year, but they didn’t reach Indian shores. But this year’s flagship, the Pixel 7 Pro, is available in India. It claims to be Google’s most ‘refined’ phone ever, with some unique features you’ll only find on a Pixel. But does it deliver on the hype?

Before I answer that question, make sure you hit that like button, and do subscribe to our channel to not miss out on any of our reviews.

Performance

One of the headline features for the Pixel 7 Pro is the new Tensor G2, Google’s 2nd-generation attempt at making their own chipset. In traditional chipset terms, it is about as powerful as a Snapdragon 888 or a Dimensity 8100, but there’s a couple reasons that comparison doesn’t really tell you the whole story.

For one, smartphone chipsets really have plateaued, which means that the Pixel 7 Pro feels just as fast to use as any other flagship in 2022, whether it be for social media apps, camera usage, or even the vast majority of popular games. Call of Duty Mobile, for example, works at the Very High graphics settings and Max frame rate, and feels very smooth to play.

Secondly, Google’s approach to chipset development is slightly different. The new Tensor chip focuses more on the machine learning side of things, which lets Google enable some very unique AI-based features that you can only find on the Pixel.

Among them is the fastest and most accurate speech-to-text you’ll find on any phone, which makes typing by just talking a breeze, and even automatically adds punctuation. There’s the magic eraser of course, which continues to be surprisingly good at removing objects from photos in a pinch. And there’s the new unblur feature, which claims to make blurry shots better., and it even works if you took a picture with a different phone. In my testing, I found this to work moderately well, although it’s not a game changer. The camera app also gets live translation, which works in the viewfinder and will be an absolute godsend while travelling.

One thing I really love is the Now Playing feature, which will automatically detect anytime a song is playing around you, and display the track and artist name on the AOD or lockscreen. You can also look at the history of this feature later, which makes it really convenient and easy to identify a song you heard playing at a store or at a party which you really liked, but didn’t know the name of.

Now, all of this processing happens on-device, so no audio is sent to Google’s servers, for the privacy conscious.

This phone also comes with 12GB LPDDR5 RAM as standard, by the way, even on the 128GB storage version, which makes multi-tasking a real breeze. Apps stay open for a long time, there’s no discernable lag even when doing 2-3 things at the same time. Speaking of 128GB storage, that’s the only option that’s been launched in India so far. I really hope that changes, and the 256GB or even 512GB versions that have been launched abroad do make it to India.

Cameras

The Pixel experience is all about the cameras. Google’s computational approach to mobile photography has given them a special place in the industry, and this year Pixel 7 Pro hopes to continue that with a versatile camera setup. You get a 50 MP wide camera, a 12 MP ultrawide camera with autofocus capabilities, and 48 MP telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom.

The 50MP main camera is the star of the show here, and rightly so. It takes some incredibly detailed shots with great dynamic range that capture the traditional Pixel look of high-contrast pleasing images.

The ultra-wide loses out on some detail, but in good lighting conditions continues to produce excellent shots with good distortion correction. The 7 Pro gets a different lens from the base 7 with a wider field of view, and the ability to autofocus which will let you take macro pictures. This mode automatically activates when you get close to an object, and although it struggled to capture focus at times, it managed to produce some great results.

Portraits are always the Pixel’s strength, and the 7 Pro is able to take excellent portrait shots that are extremely vivid, lifelike, and detailed. The portrait mode, though, reveals two issues with the camera. One is consistency - while the camera is capable of taking amazing portraits, it also sometimes really ramps up the HDR and takes very unflattering shots. The second is focus. All sensors can take a long time to hunt for focus, especially when shooting in macro mode or when using the telephoto lens. I’m hoping Google can fix this with a software update down the line.

Exclusive to the Pixel 7 Pro is the telephoto lens with 5x optical zoom, which makes the camera package a lot more versatile. This 48MP camera can capture a lot of detail in far-away objects, especially using the new Super Res Zoom mode. So, Google claims that it can crop in from the 5x sensor to get really high quality 10x zoom shots. In practice, I found that it didn’t exactly provide quality as good as an actual 10x zoom sensor, but it gets really close. In good lighting, the results can be nearly indistinguishable, which is pretty respectable. The telephoto does struggle to match the colour science of the main and ultra-wide lenses, though, coming out with a pretty different colour profile even in pictures taken in the same conditions. It also takes a long time to focus, and can mess that up sometimes, which can be slightly annoying. Google also doesn’t let you shoot portraits with the telephoto lens, which is a little bit weird, because telephoto lenses are pretty good at portraits.

Pixels have had a spotty history with shooting video, but I’m glad to report that has come to an end. I think the Pixel 7 Pro is my favourite Android video phone of 2022. The main and ultrawide sensors take absolutely gorgeous videos with amazing dynamic range and colour processing, and excellent stabilisation.

In low light situations, the video can be grainy and noisy, but with adequate lighting it makes everything look beautiful. Even the front camera shoots with brilliant dynamic range and colour profile, which makes vlogging with this quite a real possibility. All four lenses, including the front camera, can shoot at 4K 60 fps, and there are some fancy tricks up the Pixel’s sleeve here too.

There are four kinds of video stabilisation modes on the 7 Pro. The standard mode is honestly really good, and takes very stable movement on all lenses. Then there’s the locked mode, which is most useful if you want to take a still frame video using the zoom lens. Then there’s active, which is useful for tracking fast movement, and finally the Cinematic Pan, which takes really smooth, slowed down pans that are great for shooting landscapes or products!

Of course, you also get the new Cinematic mode, which can take portrait videos that look quite nice. The edge detection can mess up sometimes, but it looks about on par with competitors’ implementation of the same features.

Not all is roses with the video shooting - the ultra-wide sees a very evident loss in quality compared to the main lens, especially when shooting in challenging conditions. And, as with photo mode, it takes the Pixel a long time to switch between lenses while shooting, making videos stutter. But hey, at least it lets you switch lenses while shooting at 4K 60, so it has that over the competition.

Also Watch: Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review: All about that sound!

Design

The Pixel 7 Pro looks pretty similar to last year’s Pixel 6 Pro. The phone’s back is dominated by the Cyclops-like visor that houses the camera module. Personally I’m a big fan of the look. Last year’s glass finish looked a bit more classy, but the benefit of the new metal casing is that now the entire phone body is just one block of aluminium, and feels quite sturdy. The back is still glass, and a huge fingerprint magnet that feels quite slippery to hold, so you’ll want to put a case on this one.

Despite this phone’s pretty large size, the in-hand feel is quite amazing. It’s helped by a couple things - the gigantic visor is a pretty natural place to rest your finger, and the display has slightly curved edges which make this easy to hold for anyone who has reasonably sized hands. At 212g it’s also fairly heavy, but it doesn’t feel like it because of the great weight distribution.

The colours for the Pro in particular are quite muted this year - I am a big fan of this Obsidian shade, and there’s the all-white Snow, but the greenish hues of the Hazel shade look really classy in my opinion.

Coming to the front, the edge-to-edge display looks really nice and immersive, and along with the thin bezels makes the phone look very premium. The front display is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus, the most sturdy variant available on the market right now. On the right side you’ll find the volume buttons, although Google’s peculiar positioning which places them below the power button really challenges muscle memory, and I ended up pressing volume up instead of power a lot.

Utility

A lot of people reported that the fingerprint sensor on last year’s Pixel phones was unreliable and slow, and I’m happy to report that has been fixed on the 7 Pro. The in-display fingerprint reader is fast and accurate, although still optical and not ultrasonic, which might have been a little nicer.

Also, a new addition is face unlock, which was missing last year. It’s quick and easy to register your face, and I found the unlocking with my face to be quick and consistent in most lighting conditions, which is not an easy task.

In terms of ruggedness, the Pixel 7 Pro is IP68 rated for dust and water resistant, which is expected of a flagship at this level but is always appreciated for peace of mind.

One thing you should note is this phone only supports one physical SIM card, so dual-sim users will either have to convert one connection to an eSIM, or just keep another phone.

Also Watch: Lenovo Tab P11 Pro (2nd Gen) Review: Built for both work and play!

Display & Audio

The display on the Pixel 7 Pro is magnificent. This is a 6.7-inch QHD+ AMOLED display, with LTPO technology that enables a variable refresh rate of from 10Hz to 120Hz, so it both keeps things smooth and saves battery life. The extremely high contrast and very vivid colours make for an incredible content watching experience. Outdoor brightness is also exceptional, with a peak brightness of 1500 nits keeping things very visible even in extremely harsh sunlight.

You also get support for HDR10+, which is also enabled in all supported apps like Netflix.

The phone sports a stereo speaker setup which does get really loud, but sounds really tinny with an emphasis on the mids, and not much bass. It sounds fine for watching TV shows and movies, dialogue is very clearly audible, but action scenes and bass-heavy music are not going to sound the best.

Battery & Software

The Pixel 7 Pro packs in a 5,000mAh battery, which Google claims can last for ‘over 24 hours’, which I found to be quite true. In my review period, I often ended days with 30-40% battery life, after having got around 5-6 hours of screen time, which included lots of camera use, media playback, and navigation on Google Maps. This an easy 1.5-day battery life, which can be extended further using the Extreme Battery Saver Mode.

What is not so positive is the charging speed. The Pixel 7 Pro does support fast charging at 30W, but the charging rate is not linear, and this really affects useability. It can get up to 50% in just 30 minutes, which is pretty decent, but then takes around an hour to charge up the next 50%. Charging slows over time, so the last 10-15% in particular can take forever to finish up. While this approach is probably better for long-term battery health, it can make it very difficult to quickly top up the phone in an emergency, and it’s quite frustrating that there’s no way to turn this off - there is an adaptive charging toggle in the settings, but even toggling that doesn’t seem to help.

The software experience fares better. The Pixel 7 Pro launches with Google’s new Android 13, which is an iterative change over the new look introduced in Android 12. The design language continues to be very pleasing, and the auto themed icons and live wallpapers on top of the auto-themed Material You makes it very easy to get a smooth and aesthetically pleasing experience. Google will also update the Pixel 7 series for 3 years of OS updates and 5 years of security updates.

Verdict

Google’s Pixel phones have always offered really unique AI-based features and camera experiences that have long enamoured fans, but it’s always been with a compromise in other areas. With the Pixel 7 Pro, you do not have to compromise. At a starting price of ₹84,999, it’s also priced pretty reasonably, given that the competition is often priced much higher. The phone has a couple of issues, but Google’s 2022 flagship can go toe-to-toe with any other smartphone in the world for quality, while still delivering to Pixel fans the things that they love.

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