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We got our hands on Google's new phone to see if it's worth your cash. Here's our verdict.
Google hardware and software are united in a fantastically well-designed package. The Google Tensor G2 chip drives efficiency and intelligent AI that helps with everything from everyday tasks to image processing and battery-life. The Google Pixel 7 is very good value, undercutting most phones than can compete with it on price and offering one of the best camera set-ups out there. The only small drawbacks are the lack of an optical zoom camera, the 90Hz refresh rate and the fact it isn't the fastest to charge up. Overall, we recommend this phone without hesitation. It's also wonderfully accessible and easy to use.
Google unveiled the new Pixel 7 recently and it's got people talking. It treads the line between value and quality more effectively than some big-name competitors and we were excited to get our hands on it for testing. In this review we'll explain what we found during testing and our final conclusions.
First, it's worth noting that the new Google Pixel 7 represents not just a step forward for Google's smartphone technology, but also the real start for its hardware ecosystem. The phone was unveiled alongside the Pixel 7 Pro, the Pixel tablet and the long-awaited Pixel Watch. It's not a shock that Google is following other brands down this avenue, but the fact the company can unite its hardware and software on a deeper level than some competitors makes the range an interesting proposition.
Read on for our complete review, or use the links below to zone in on particular aspects of the phone's performance.
There's an awful lot to like about the Google Pixel 7. During our time testing the phone we've found very few drawbacks, though fans of fast charging and zoom photography may want to look elsewhere.
Overall, thanks to the stand-out camera and slick user experience, it's one of the best value smartphones out there right now.
The Google Pixel 7 is Google's newest smartphone. It combines Google software and Google hardware, all gelled together by Google's own Android operating system. Because Google made all three of those elements, they bond together more smoothly than some competing phones.
For example, competing Samsung devices, though impressive, have to lay their own software and operating system skin over Google's Android OS. As a result, Google essentially acts as the middle-man for many other handsets, where here, Google's own tech all fits together seamlessly and it feels as if the middle-man has been cut out. We're left with a brilliantly smooth user experience.
The standard Pixel 7 starts at £599 and offers great value at that price point relative to the competition. That's for the version with 128GB of storage, there's also a 256GB edition for £699.
Comparably, Apple's iPhone 14 starts at £849 for the 128GB version and it's £959 for the 256GB version. However Apple offer more storage options, with a 512GB option also available for £1,179.
If you want to go a little more up-market, of course there's the Google Pixel 7 Pro. That starts at £849 for the 128GB version and offers an even better camera and a larger display.
The real stand-out 'feature' of the Pixel 7 is the way its new Google Tensor G2 processor powers sophisticated Google AI – and everything that that AI can deliver. This process results in some really smart features like Clear Call, which eliminates background noise on phone calls and Live Translate, which is immensely impressive. Simply point your phone camera at some text in another language and Google AI takes over, translating it in front of your eyes into the language you've chosen.
More generally though, the improved processor further beefs up Google's hardware offering. Now, your camera has even more AI back-up, you can play demanding games without a hitch and performance remains silky smooth. Sure, it's not a gaming phone and they're still just about the best in their niche, but this can deliver most high-end mobile games without a hitch.
The general software experience is improved too. For example, Google's voice assistant is more accurate and responsive, dealing with different accents and volumes. Navigation is speedy and smooth and fingerprint recognition is sped up too. Every aspect of the UI is well designed and it's easy to use apps, save and move files, capture content and more. Overall it's a great package that's led by this software experience and just seems to understand users.
One way in which that understanding and care for users is shown is the oft-offered demo videos. Hop into a new Google app, or a new area of the phone and you'll more than likely be offered a demo video. For those in the know they're easy to turn down, but they also help to explain slightly confusing navigational elements, or similar, that many other manufacturers presume every user knows. It's a nice touch.
Bloatware is skipped too and generally it just feels like Google has considered what users actually want from this phone. There's attention to detail in spades. It's accessible and easy to use too, with functions to help those who are hard of hearing, or even blind.
On top of that Google promises three years of OS updates, which offers a level of peace of mind. It's a good thing too, as the Pixel 6 was known to carry one or two bugs, so there's plenty of chance for any on the Pixel 7 to be ironed out. However, the offering is slightly behind Samsung which now offers four years of updates with new devices.
The display is one of the few slight drawbacks of the Google Pixel 7 and honestly, it's still good. It's a blip though, at least on paper – that 90Hz refresh rate leaves it lagging behind the 120Hz refresh rate displays of the competition. Many cheaper competitors even offer this feature. This means scrolling isn't quite as smooth as those competitors and gamers may prefer a higher refresh rate screen, but for general everyday use you're unlikely to find this a major drawback.
Otherwise the display is good. It's a 6.3-inch AMOLED panel offering HDR10+ resolution and it's protected by Gorilla Glass Victus. Brightness has been improved on both the 7 and 7 Pro. Overall, to look at it's not the very best display out there, but it's solid.
Battery isn't the Pixel 7's strongest suit but again, it's not a bad performance. It carries a 4355mAh battery and supports 30W wired fast-charging or 20W wireless fast charging. However, there's no fast charger in the box, just USB-C to USB-C cable and an adaptor for one end, USB-C to USB-A.
During testing we found that the Google Pixel 7's battery actually lasted pretty well. Just as with other aspects of the phone, power efficiency has seen a boost thanks to the efficiency of the new Tensor G2 processor. The phone comfortably lasts a day and a half before needing to recharge, lighter users can see it manage two.
The Google Tensor G2 chip has levelled up Google's already-impressive camera offering. Now, night-shooting is stunning and image processing better than ever. After taking a shot, the phone will pause for a moment as the image processing works its magic and the results are hugely impressive. Yes, many phones deliver the same thing – a pause and then a processed image – but Google's market-leading AI means that the image processing is absolutely elite.
It becomes easy and pain-free to snap away and trust the processor to give you the very best image possible. Honestly, the Pixel 7 is one of the best, most easy-to-use aim and shoot phone cameras on the market today.
The ultrawide camera isn't the phones strongest offering but photos still look good and it's very simple to use.
Another camera feature Google is keen to shout about is Real Tone photography. This uses AI to accurately reproduce a wider array of natural skin colours than other cameras can manage. We've seen a wide variety of examples of this tech, pitched against competition from Apple and elsewhere, that demonstrate its efficacy.
Also, there's a fantastic 'unblur' feature which makes it easy to sharpen up blurry photos. The phone can also stitch together images taken with the main and ultrawide lenses to further sharpen rear-camera shooting. These features and more make the Google Pixel 7's camera one of the most remarkable out there — especially at this price.
Video shooting was a slight drawback of the Pixel 6 range but it's been improved massively on the Pixel 7, with sharper detail, better colour and an impressive auto-focus feature.
Notably though, the phone does lack a zoom camera. However we found that it could still harness its AI and capture reasonably good detail at 5x -8x distances using digital zoom. If you're desperate for zoom photography you'll need to upgrade to the Pro, which packs much of the same base tech as the standard Pixel 7 but adds a 5x zoom camera and some other snazzy features.
The Google Pixel 7's look is a little divisive. Personally, we really liked it. It looks and feels premium and it doesn't feel over-sized, or too weighty. However, that camera module on the back always sparked comments during our tests and not all of them were positive. Basically, it still makes the phone look kind of like Robocop until you put the case on – and that does seem to put some would-be users off slightly.
If you like the look and feel of the phone as we did, then the rest of the design notes are fairly straightforward. It's available in lime green, white, or black. Or, as Google is calling those shades, 'lemongrass', 'snow' and 'obsidian'.
The Pro model is available in 'hazel', 'snow' and 'obsidian'. Hazel is a sort of greeny-grey shade with gold coloured trim around the metallic edges and on the camera bump.
The Google Pixel 7 is a phone that's easy to recommend. It undercuts other phones with the same level of performance and offers an amazing range of features driven by Google's increasingly intelligent AI.
The camera is simple to use, the processor is powerful and the user experience is silky smooth. It's also a phone that's easy to recommend for people who aren't the techiest, or who aren't used to smartphones, thanks to its range of intuitive controls, demos and accessibility features.
How is Google charging less money for more phone performance? Essentially software is picking up some of the heavy lifting that's done by expensive hardware on other handsets. The result is a brilliantly well-rounded device that offers both value and performance.
The Pixel 7 is now available at a wide range of UK retailers following its full release. Check out the links below for the latest pricing and availability.
It's also worth considering the Pro model, if you've got the budget. It offers a larger display, a little more power and a few extra features.