The Pixel 7 could be Google’s first flagship smartphone sequel.
This might seem like an odd thing to say about the “version 7” of a smartphone, but so far, every major Pixel has switched manufacturers or used a new design from year to year. This strategy is the exact opposite of the one used by the bigger, more serious hardware companies like Apple or Samsung, from which you can expect iterative and stable smartphone designs, with major overhauls coming every few years. When you’re struggling to build a smartphone from scratch every year, it’s hard to do much in the way of bug fixing, improving, or adjusting to customer feedback.
The Pixel 6 Pro was already the best Android phone you could buy, so Google didn’t have to do much to deliver a good smartphone this year. All the important details of the Pixel 6 are here, like the class-leading price, great camera, and fast, clean software. But even with that solid foundation, Google has done a good job of fixing some of our minor complaints about the Pixel 6. There’s no reason to upgrade if you have a Pixel 6, but a real “version 2” of Google’s flagship smartphone might attract more people to try the brand.
Refining an already great design
|SPECIFICATIONS IN SUMMARY|
|pixel 7||Pixel 7 Pro|
|SCREEN||6.3 inches, 90 Hz, 2400×1080 OLED||6.7 inches, 120Hz3120×1440 LTPO OLED|
|CPU||Google’s G2 Tensor
Two 2.85GHz Cortex-X1 cores
|GPU||ARM Mali G710 MC10|
|HIT||8 GB||12 GB|
|STORE||128GB/256GB UFS 3.1||128GB/256GB/512 GB
|NETWORK||Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, GPS, NFC, 5G mmWave (optional) and Sub-6 GHz||Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, GPS, NFC, 5G mmWave and Sub-6 GHz, UWB|
|PORTS||USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 1 with 30W USB-PD 3.0 charging|
|BACK CAMERA||50 MP main
12 MP wide angle
|50 MP main
12 MP wide angle
48 MP 4x Telephoto
|FRONTAL CAMERA||10.8 MP||10.8 MP|
|SIZE||155.6 x 73.2 x 8.7 millimeters||162.9 x 76.6 x 8.9 mm|
|OTHER ADVANTAGES||IP68 dust and water resistance, eSIM, wireless charging, in-screen fingerprint reader|
The best part of the Pixel 6’s design, the camera bar, returns in the Pixel 7. Google’s camera bar remains the best rear camera design in the industry as it fulfills the goal of freeing up space for the camera lens and, at the same time be functional. The bar is a raised horizontal strip on the back of the phone, allowing the device to sit on a table without rocking back and forth (an unfortunate side effect of bumps from the corner-mounted camera). It’s a big improvement over the usual unstable smartphone. The camera bar also helps with grip if you place an index finger under the ridge it makes on the back of a phone. It’s difficult to support a device via a camera bump in the corner, but the large tactile bump provides one more point of contact.
The Pixel 6’s camera bar was a mess of parts, though. The top and bottom edges were aluminum and a single strip of glass covered all the lenses. Google couldn’t bend the glass on the left and right sides, so the glass stopped abruptly and awkwardly switched to black plastic. The large sheet of glass was also a magnet for glare in some lighting conditions. Light can enter the glass strip from various angles and bounce off to wash your photos.
The Pixel 7’s camera bar makes things simple. A single piece of aluminum now makes up the phone’s frame, sides, and the outside of the camera bar, with just one or two glass cutouts for the camera lens. Brightness issues are reduced. The camera hasn’t changed much, but a 5x telephoto lens (and 30x software zoom) has been added.
Google made all the wrong choices when it comes to differentiating the design of the Pixel 7 Pro and its little brother the Pixel 7, resulting in the cheapest phone with a better overall design. The Pixel 7 Pro uses a mirror finish on the aluminum sides and camera bar. The finish picks up fingerprints and highlights scratches, and the camera bar on my week-old review unit is already scratched. The base model Pixel 7 has a matte brushed aluminum finish, which better hides scratches. Brushed aluminum looks better as it doesn’t get covered in fingerprints and feels better, with the matte aluminum sides providing a little more grip than the Pro’s smooth finish.
The base model Pixel 7 also has a completely flat screen, while the Pixel 7 Pro has a curved screen. Curved screens distort content at the edges of the screen, capture glare and make accidental touches easier. They are a marketing-driven anti-feature that manufacturers must eliminate. The Pixel 7 Pro’s screen is noticeably less curved than the Pixel 6 Pro’s, but why not just completely relieve the user of that nasty design?
With a better aluminum finish and a flat screen, the $600 Pixel 7 feels like a big upgrade from the $900 Pixel 7 Pro, and it’s what I would choose if I could get the base model with a 120″ screen. latest generation Hz. Google must throw out the 7 Pro design and make two versions of the Pixel 7 because none of the “premium” design changes it makes are worth it. Every day I pick up the Pixel 7 and am tempted to switch from the Pro because the external design is so much better.
Speaking of bad trends, let’s talk about mmWave. The worst part of the Pixel 6 Pro’s design was a giant plastic mmWave window on the top edge of the phone. In my white version, it’s a huge white stripe across the top of the phone and doesn’t match the cream back or silver aluminum strap. The Pixel 7 Pro looks much better, reducing the clipping to a rounded, color-matched window that only takes up about 40% of the length of the top. It’s a big improvement.