The new series of Pixel phones from Google features Google hardware and Google software – the modern smartphone, as Google intended it to be.
The Pixel 7 has a nice heft to it – it’s comfortable in the hand, not too heavy, but weighty enough that the device doesn’t feel low end. The case for the Pixel 7 (which isn’t included) is quite slick, I did worry initially about it sliding right out of my hand it was so smooth.
As with most devices these days, setup was straightforward – a cable to cable connection between the new phone and the old for data transfer, then all the app downloads, then it’s all done bar logging into your 40 or so apps you can’t remember the passwords to.
The Pixel 7 devices are the first in the Pixel series of phones to feature face unlock, which you can configure during the setup process. It requires multiple face angles to set up, and the actual unlock process seems to require your face to have a slight movement to be successful. All pointing towards some pretty serious commitment to making sure the process is secure.
The screen is amazing, it’s an AMOLED 90Hz, with a 1080 x 2400 pixel display, and it is so crisp and clean.
The camera takes full advantage of the screen – photos taken with the main 50MP camera look incredible when viewed on the device. There is a little post processing happening to the pictures, but it’s subtle, the colours have an extra vibrancy, and the pictures themselves seem crisper somehow.
I was impressed by the camera’s capabilities on first pass – the photos below were taken in a car going 80kph and there’s not even a hint of blurriness.
The camera has quite an array of new features to explore:
- ‘night sight’ – allows you to do a spot of astrophotography
- ‘top shot’ – every time a pic is taken the phone takes an extra few shots so you can get the best picture possible.
- ‘portrait light’ – allows you to add lighting effects to photos taken with the portrait setting
- ‘magic eraser’ – so you can remove strangers and unwanted objects from your pictures
- ‘motion mode’ has two options – ‘action pan’, which focuses on moving subjects and adds a blur to the background and ‘long exposure’, which adds a blur to moving objects.
- 10-bit HDR video – allows you to record with a wider range of colours, brightness and contrast
- cinematic effect – adds a background blur to your videos
- cinematic pan
- slow motion and time-lapse video
I genuinely can’t wait to do a deeper dive into all these settings – watch this space!
One thing I wasn’t expecting was for the microphone and onboard speaker to be so good – the recorded sound had a clarity similar to something recorded by a proper plug-in microphone. The speaker volume range is pretty good – I found it uncomfortable to listen to music at full volume and when I turned it down there’s more than just – LOUD, Medium, kinda quiet, mute – there’s a range of quiet volumes!
There are a few things to get used to if you’ve not used Android 13 before – nothing major – a slightly different top pull down menu, the app tray is a little different – little things which give me a “oh yeah, that’s changed” moment when I use it.
The battery easily lasts a day, and even when it was registering only 36% left, the battery information on the phone said that it had 10 hours of battery life left.
The only issue of note I’ve run across so far is that when the phone is doing anything processor intensive, it gets pretty hot. Things like using the camera for a solid block of time or performing Bluetooth or wireless intensive activities like streaming music or using the GPS. It’s not a ‘Call Mythbusters and see if we can fry an egg on this thing’ hot, but you could probably use it to soothe a sore muscle or two.
A deeper dive into this device is coming soon!
Google has not requested the return of the device following review