Google Pixel 7 Palms-On: New Look and Digital camera, Identical $599 Value


Google’s Pixel 7, which was unveiled Thursday, is the corporate’s subsequent main telephone designed to compete with Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy lineup. The Pixel 7 options Google’s new Tensor G2 processor, a digicam with improved zoom, face unlock and a barely up to date design — for a similar $599 (£599, AU$999) value as final yr’s Pixel 6.

The Pixel 7 launches on Oct. 13, with preorders out there now.   

The Pixel 7 and seven Professional signify Google’s newest effort to ascertain a foothold within the world smartphone market, which Samsung and Apple largely dominate. The Pixel 7 is a modest improve, not like final yr’s Pixel 6, which was the primary telephone to function Google’s self-made Tensor processor and a revamped design. 

The Pixel 7’s debut follows the September launch of Apple’s iPhone 14, which just like the Pixel 7 solely options minor enhancements over its predecessor. 

Google’s newest flagship telephones at the moment are out there to preorder. Pixel 7 begins at $599 and will likely be launched on Oct. 13. Rise up to $750 off with trade-in and $200 in Google Retailer credit score.

Learn our Pixel 7 first take.

Google Pixel 7’s new digicam 

Google Pixel 7 in white on a wooden backdrop

Google’s Pixel 7 has a brand new digicam bar.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

The Pixel 7’s digicam might look just like the Pixel 6’s on paper, however there are some behind-the-scenes adjustments that Google stated ought to make a distinction. That is very true relating to zoom high quality. 

When zooming at 2x, the Pixel 7’s 50-megapixel major sensor crops into 12.5 megapixels within the center, which Google stated ought to present a pointy picture that is just like the standard of a 2x optical lens. The Pixel 7 also can zoom as much as 8x digitally, barely extra magnification than with the Pixel 6’s 7x zoom. I took just a few zoomed-on images at 2x in Google’s demo room they usually appeared to look crisp, but it surely’s nearly not possible to inform for certain on a show that small. 

Nevertheless, solely the Pixel 7 Professional has a 48-megapixel telephoto lens that may zoom as much as 5x optically and 30x digitally. The Pixel 7 Professional can be getting a brand new macro images mode that won’t be current on the common Pixel 7.

Evening Sight can be stated to work sooner on each telephones, which ought to make it simpler to seize images in dim environments with out blur from shaky arms. Google additionally stated its up to date Actual Tone, the digicam function designed to seize extra correct pores and skin tones, to additional cut back noise and enhance photographs taken in low gentle.

Google’s new Pixel telephones can even have a brand new digicam mode geared toward serving to those that are blind or low imaginative and prescient take selfies extra simply. The function, known as Guided Body, audibly tells the consumer easy methods to place the telephone as a way to body a selfie appropriately. Google stated this function will likely be out there for all telephones with Tensor. 

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Photo Unblur, meanwhile, can sharpen old photos to make them look more in-focus, building on the Face Unblur feature that Google introduced last year. It’s a new tool that you’ll be able to access from the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro’s edit menu, and it’s exclusive to Google’s new phones because it relies on the company’s new Tensor G2 processor.

The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro are getting some video improvements too, such as Cinematic Blur, which is essentially Portrait Mode for videos. It’s a lot like Apple’s Cinematic Mode, which it introduced last year on the iPhone 13

These upgrades seem to be refinements of features that Google has already introduced rather than wholly new features, except for Cinematic Mode, Photo Unblur and Guided Frame. But taken together, they should make Google’s already impressive camera stand out even further. 

Google Pixel 7: Face unlock, screen size, design and other details

Google's Pixel 7 being shown from the front on a wooden backdrop.

Google’s Pixel 7 has a 6.3-inch screen.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

In terms of size, the Pixel 7’s 6.3-inch screen makes it slightly smaller than the 6.4-inch Pixel 6 but larger than the 6.1-inch Pixel 6A. I’ve only spent a few minutes using the Pixel 7, but it seems pretty easy to operate with one hand so far. Not much else has changed here; the Pixel 7’s screen has the same 2,400×1,080-pixel resolution as the Pixel 6’s, but with slightly more pixels per inch (416 versus 411 ppi) given its smaller size. Like its predecessor, the OLED display can also boost up to 90Hz for smoother scrolling.

But there is another significant difference on the front of the Pixel 7. The selfie camera, which has had a resolution upgrade up to 10.8 megapixels compared to the Pixel 6’s 8 megapixels, now supports face unlock. Google cautions, however, that face unlock is less secure than the Pixel’s under-screen fingerprint sensor or a PIN. As such, it’s positioning face unlock as a more convenient way to unlock your phone rather than an authentication method for payments and other sensitive tasks.

The back of the phone has had a refresh as well. While the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro generally maintain the same design language as their older siblings, each has a new metal camera bar that’s more pronounced than those found across the Pixel 6 lineup. The Pixel 7 will be available in black, white and a soft yellow, which Google calls obsidian, snow and lemongrass. 

The snow Pixel 7 has a silver metallic, matte camera bar and matching edges that pair nicely with its glossy white exterior. The camera bar’s new look also makes it pop more and draws more attention to the camera lenses. On the Pixel 6, the lenses seem to blend into the camera bar itself. 

Google's Pixel 7 (next) left to the Pixel 6 (right) on a wooden background

Google’s Pixel 7 (left) next to the Pixel 6.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Both phones support 5G, but access to superfast (yet spatially limited) millimeter-wave 5G connectivity varies depending on the carrier. Unlocked, AT&T and Verizon versions will support millimeter-wave 5G, while only the Pixel 7 Pro will support it on T-Mobile’s network. Google said both Pixel phones should last for more than 24 hours on a single charge and up to 72 hours with Extreme Battery Saver mode turned on. Both phones also support wireless charging and can replenish up to 50% of their batteries in 30 minutes with Google’s 30-watt charger, which is sold separately.

Google is promising five years of security upgrades and three years of general Android OS upgrades for the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, just like the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. Samsung, on the other hand, supports four years of Android OS upgrades for its latest Galaxy phones.  

Google also discussed some of the new features it will bring to Pixel phones later this year. It will offer VPN service from its Google One service to the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro free of charge. Audio messages will also soon show transcripts, so that you don’t have to listen to messages out loud. 

The Voice Recorder app is also getting an update that will add speaker labels to make it easier to distinguish between speakers in a conversation. And Direct My Call, which transcribes automated phone menus, will show the menu in text form right away so that you don’t have to wait for the operator to verbally speak all of the options. That feature will be available at launch.

Google Pixel 7 early thoughts

Google Pixel 7

Google’s Pixel 7 shows that it still hopes to compete for market share with Apple and Samsung.

Google/Screenshot by Katie Collins/CNET

The Pixel 7 is a minor upgrade over last year’s Pixel 6, but it underscores Google’s approach to smartphones. It’s another sign that Google hopes to compete against Apple and Samsung by undercutting their prices, launching exclusive software features and focusing on camera quality. 

The fact that Google has managed to keep the Pixel 7’s price in the US the same is also significant. While Apple didn’t technically raise the iPhone 14’s price compared to the iPhone 13, it no longer offers a cheaper “Mini” version of the iPhone 14 as it had done the past two years. That means the barrier to entry for Apple’s newest iPhones is slightly higher than it was the past two years. 

We’ll know more once we’ve had the chance to test the Pixel 7 and see how much of an upgrade it truly is over the Pixel 6.

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