Low frills, high (camera) thrills

The concept of ‘vanilla’ phones is rather difficult to execute as the balancing act has to be done absolutely right. Brands can cut features but still have to offer enough value to enter the consideration set of buyers. Google is back in India with premium phones – Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro – after a gap of three years. Pixel 3 and Pixel 3XL were the last premium flagship smartphones launched by Google in India. With this new launch Google is all set to give tough competition to Samsung, OnePlus and other premium Android smartphone makers present in the Indian smartphone market. Both the new Pixel smartphones are powered by Google’s customized Tensor G2 chipset and they run Android 13 operating system. As the name suggests the Pixel 7 Pro is the expensive model and Pixel 7 is the more affordable option. Does Google manage to do the balancing act well in all aspects? Or is the Pixel 7 just a sharp shooter? We used the Google Pixel 7 for a while and here’s what we think of it:

Design

Google Pixel 7 is undoubtedly one of the most stylish and pretty-looking flagship smartphones available in the market. The smartphone sports a slightly similar and slightly distinct design when compared to its predecessor Pixel 6. The smartphone comes in some solid color options — Obsidian, Lemongrass and Snow. We got the Lemongrass variant and we are totally digging the colour. The rear panel is made of glass coated with Gorilla Glass Victus. The rear also houses a rectangular metal ribbon which consists of the rear camera setup. The company has slightly changed the position of the camera bump leaving some more space at the top. This shiny camera strip on the back is the key design differentiator. However, it does make the smartphone wobbly when kept on a flat surface but despite that, we really liked the design of the Pixel 7. The rear panel does attract fingerprints but the clever color variants make the smudges hard to see. Despite the big display, the Pixel 7 looks and feels compact. The matte finish ribbon surrounding the smartphone offers a firm grip to the user. The front houses a 6.3-inch display with a cutout selfie camera placed in the centre. The power button and volume rockers are placed on the right, whereas the SIM card tray sits on the left. The USB Type C port is located at the bottom along with the speaker grill. The smartphone also comes with an IP68 rating which makes the smartphone dust and water-resistant. Google has managed to impress us with the minimalistic design of the Pixel 7.

display
Google Pixel 7 sports a bright and beautiful display. The flagship Pixel smartphone houses a 6.32-inch FHD+ AMOLED display with 1080×2400 pixel resolution. The display offers 90Hz refresh rate and up to 1400 nits of brightness. The flat display of the smartphone is protected with a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass Victus on top. The display is one of the highlights of the Pixel 7. The bright and crisp display offers accurate color reproduction and the HDR10+ support enhances your binge-watching and gaming experience. The flagship smartphone offers two types of color profiles — Natural and Adaptive. You can select the color profile as per your need. The display offers an adaptive refresh rate of up to 90Hz. The Google Pixel 7 rivals available in the market offer up to 120Hz refresh rate but the 90Hz adaptive refresh rate offer a smooth scrolling experience. The high brightness levels also offer great visibility even under direct sunlight. The big screen on the smartphone is surrounded by slightly thick bezels which may not be liked by many but the display performance and crispness surpass this flaw. The Pixel 7 excels its predecessor in terms of display performance.

performance
Same as its predecessor, the Google Pixel 7 is also powered by the company’s own customized Tensor chipset. Google Pixel 7 is powered by a second-generation Tensor G2 chipset with a Titan M2 security chip. The smartphone packs 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. The Google Pixel 7 comes only in one storage variant in India which may not be liked by some as its rival offers multiple storage options. The dual SIM smartphone comes equipped with stereo speakers and a USB Type C audio port. The company claims that the Tensor G2 is custom-built for Pixel with Google’s advanced machine learning and speech recognition. Google also adds that the new chipset makes the Pixel 7 more efficient, secure and helpful and we also agree with this. The new and improved chipset does offer flawless and lag-free performance. The smartphone very well handled all the tasks be it multi-tasking, editing, binge-watching, video recording or more. The smartphone is also ideal for gamers and you can easily enjoy some heavy-duty games on the smartphone without worrying about frame rate drops or heating issues. From the security point of view, the Pixel 7 packs Google’s Titan M2 chipset. The chipset makes sure that all your password and data stay secure.

As mentioned above the smartphone features stereo speakers which promise really well. You can hear the music and the vocals loud and clear without any distortion. In all, we can easily say that the Google Pixel 7 is a powerhouse in terms of performance.

Coming to the software, the Google Pixel 7 offers the best Android experience. The smartphone runs Android 13 operating system with a clean user interface. If you are an Android lover and want to experience the best of the operating system, then Google Pixel 7 can be your pick. The company has promised that the smartphone will receive three years of Android software updates and five years of security updates. As a stock Android lover, we loved the neat and clean user interface and the absence of bloatware feels like a breath of fresh air. You will now notice pill-shaped quick toggles placed in the notification shade. One thing which we really liked with Android 13 is the support for theming. You can now change the appearance of Music players and some other apps. There’s also an app drawer where you can store all your downloaded apps and prevent the home screen from getting cluttered. With Android 13 users also get support for Spatial Audio but you need to have headphones that support the tech.

Along with all this, the new version of the operating system also offers some interesting and useful features which will be loved by many. We really liked the Call Screening functionality which enables Google Assistant to take an incoming call for you and also lets you know what the call was about. Another useful feature is call captions. Using the feature you can answer a call during a meeting without actually talking. The AI ​​support will transcribe what the person on the other end is saying and you can simply type your reply. The voice assistant will then read your reply to the caller. With Android 13 the AI ​​can also extract text and images. The software also enables you to fix the blurry photos present in the phone’s gallery. All-in-all Google Pixel 7 is the best Android experience you can get.

Camera
Google Pixel 7 sports a dual rear camera which comprises a 50MP main sensor with f/1.85 aperture and a 12MP ultra-wide angle lens with f/2.2 aperture. You can also record 4K videos at 60fps using the rear camera. There’s also a 10.8MP front camera with f/2.2 aperture and the front camera can also record 4K videos. There is no difference in the camera setup of Pixel 7 and Pixel 6, but the company has made some changes in the software making the Pixel 7 camera setup more powerful. The company has not made any major changes to the camera app and it appears the same as last year. As soon as you open the app you will see the shutter button placed in the center. Below the shutter button are all the different shooting modes. The top left corner has the setting button and the option to go to the gallery is placed next to the shutter.

You can also access the sliders for white balance, shadow and light by tapping anywhere on the viewfinder. The camera also allows you to capture photos in RAW format but you will have to enable the option first. The camera on the Pixel 7 allows you to capture fast-moving subjects with the help of the Action Pan feature. You can also capture the moving train and light trails with the Long Exposure feature.

Like all the previous generation Pixel smartphones, the Pixel 7 also delivers a terrific camera performance. The images captured using the main camera turned out very well. The camera managed to capture the tiniest of details. Along with the right amount of detailing the images also offered accurate color reproduction. You can easily capture some Instagram-worthy images with Pixel 7 without using any filters. The on-point dynamic range and the right amount of sharpness and contrast make the whole scene look lively and natural. There was no over saturation and nothing appeared unreal or artificial. The smartphone does not come with a telephoto camera but the 2x zoom capability makes up for it. The zoom shots turned out pretty solid and the quality of the photos was also good.

On the other hand, the ultra-wide camera also generated pretty good images. You will not notice any noise and the color reproduction was also correct. Along with this, the images taken with the ultra-wide lens also offered the right amount of detail. The ultra-wide camera lacks auto-focus functionality and there is also no macro camera mode on the smartphone. However, with some practice, you can capture some really good and detailed macro shots. Along with superb daylight images, the Google Pixel 7 also delivers a great performance during the night. The images captured during low light and in complete darkness turned out very well. The color appeared just right and there was an accurate amount of lighting which kept the essence of the night without making it too bright. The photos were also clear and detailing was also in place. Both the main camera and the ultra-wide camera delivered a great performance during night shots.
The selfie camera was also good and you can easily capture some clear and vibrant portrait selfies. The camera on the Pixel 7 will give tough competition to the other flagship smartphones available in the market.

Battery
Google is working really hard to improve the hardware of its devices. However, it appears that the company still has a long way to go because battery life remains a cause of concern on the Google Pixel 7. The smartphone houses a 4,355 mAh battery which is smaller than the last year’s launched Pixel 6 and all the other rival flagship smartphones available in the market. The company claims that Pixel 7 can last up to 24 hours on a single charge of normal usage. However, during our testing, the smartphone gave up before 24 hours of moderate usage which included some content watching, little bit of gaming, internet surfing and calling. However, you can use the Extreme Battery Saver Mode to churn out some extra juice if you’re outside and do not have a power bank. You can also make the Pixel 7 intelligently switch to the Battery Saver mode if the smartphone thinks that you cannot make it through your regular routine. The smartphone supports 30W wired fast charging which definitely works in its favour. The company is not shipping the charger in the box so you will have to purchase one separately to fast charge your device. Luckily we had a 30W charger which managed to charge the Pixel 7 up to 50% in 30 minutes. In all, battery life is not the selling point of Google Pixel 7 as its rival smartphones from Samsung and OnePlus offer much better performance in this segment.

Verdict

Google Pixel 7 comes with a price tag of Rs 59,999. The smartphone will first impress you with its look and then with its performance. It has everything that you would want from a flagship smartphone. The Tensor chipset delivers a smooth performance and the camera on the Pixel 7 does a wonderful job. We just had a little bit issue with the battery but other than that the Pixel 7 is one of the best Android phones you can get.

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