There's no beating about the bush: The Pixel 7 Pro’s camera is the actual, legitimate, no-holds-barred real deal. I’ve never had more pleasure capturing images on a smartphone.
Whether your subject is so far away that it’s practically on a different landmass or so close that you can taste it, Google's Pixel 7 Pro can capture it flawlessly and with zero effort owing to its unique telephoto lens and macro focus capability. The new Tensor G2 technology powering both the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro smartly leverages software to perform things that the tiny optics in smartphones ordinarily cannot.
Both phones launch on Oct. 13, with the Pixel 7 starting at US$599 and the Pixel 7 Pro starting at US$899.
These Android phones are more than just mobile cameras, though, and that’s probably where the two Pixel 7s could be considered as mild disappointments. Aside from tweaks to the exterior color schemes and a new texture for the camera bar, the Pixel 7 line is a lot like the Pixel 6 line on the outside.
That holds true on the inside, too. The Tensor G2 chip enables a few helpful new AI capabilities relating to calls and voice messaging, but the everyday usability of these new Google flagships hasn’t altered much. And, unfortunately, the standard Pixel 7 doesn’t have the greatest of the new camera features.
It doesn't pack the same camera punch as the 7 Pro, but it sure is gorgeous.
That incrementalist approach isn’t the worst thing in the world because the Pixel 6s were wonderful phones. If you bought in last year (or early this year with the Pixel 6a), the Pixel 7 series is perhaps a touch too minor an update to justify an upgrade. But if you’ve been holding onto an older Pixel (or even want to go from iPhone to Android, as much as your blue-bubble-having friends would detest it), now might be the time to make the jump, preferably to the Pixel 7 Pro.
Your Instagram feed will look far more fresh, at the very least.
So long, two-tone color scheme
Welcome to the age of metallic camera bars.
Ever seen a Pixel 6? Then you’ve basically seen a Pixel 7, although the older model was a little bit more fun.
There's no Dynamic Island-like innovation on display here — Google basically stuck with what worked on the Pixels 6 previous time around. It retains the characteristic horizontal camera bar (which has acquired a newer, more metallic texture) that rests towards the top of the phone’s backside. The two Pixel 7 phones are likewise practically identical in size to their Pixel 6 predecessors. The Pixel 7 comes in at 6.3-inches (a tenth of an inch smaller than the Pixel 6) and the Pixel 7 Pro at 6.7-inches. Refresh rates are also constant, with the Pixel 7 sporting a silky 90Hz and the Pixel 7 Pro rocking an even smoother 120Hz.
That said, after extensively using both phones for a few days, I can’t say I really noticed the refresh rate difference and I have quite discerning eyes for that type of stuff. Don’t make that component of the 7 Pro a selling point, if you can help it.
Each phone's body is coated front to back in glass and I would strongly advocate easing that with a case. I’ve had both Pixel 7s slip and slide on softer surfaces, which isn’t fun.
There's a slick, crystalline sensation to every component of the Pixel 7 series.
Really, the only major cosmetic change Google made this year is the removal of the two-tone color scheme that made the Pixel 6 line so immediately identifiable in public. Last year, each Pixel 6 featured slightly different colors above and below the camera bar, which not only looked unique but naturally drove the eyes to the lens array itself. This time around, the colors are uniform over the entire phone.
The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are both available in obsidian and snow hues, while the Pixel 7 receives an exclusive lemongrass choice and the Pixel 7 Pro similarly gets a hazel coloring.
I enjoy the slick metal texture of the camera bar on this year’s phones, but I super don’t dig the removal of the two-tone hues. Last year’s Pixels were fun and quirky whereas this year’s phones just kinda look like...phones.
Thankfully, what the Pixel phones can do is far more significant than what they look like.
Professional zoom \s30x zoom is just a button push away.
By far the biggest hardware difference between the two new Pixel 7 phones lies in the rear camera array. Both phones feature the same 10.8MP selfie cam to go along with a 50MP wide cam and a 12MP ultra-wide lens on the back. However, as last year, the Pixel 7 Pro sports a 48MP telephoto lens on the rear. Unlike last year's Pixel 6 Pro, though, zooming way in on faraway subjects has never looked this fantastic.
Google has deployed Tensor magic this time around to raise the Pixel 7 Pro’s maximum zoom length to a stunning 30x. For reference, the iPhone 14 only goes up to 5x, while the iPhone 14 Pro hits 30x. That latter statistic alone isn’t groundbreaking, as other recent Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold 4 may also zoom that far. The real magic here is the processing enhancements that happen in the background when you zoom way in on things, which yield significantly sharper photographs than anything the Galaxy Fold 4 was capable of doing.
To test this, I took a sojourn into Brooklyn’s Domino Park on the East River shoreline, which boasts a wonderful perspective of the Manhattan city skyline. From the pier, you can see One World Trade Center far, far in the distance. It's around six kilometers by road, according to Google Maps. Using 30x telephoto zoom on the Pixel 7 Pro, you can see the summit of 1WTC clear as day from a totally different landmass. It’s unbelievable.
I was standing on a different island from the one this building is on. Wild.
Let’s attempt a another example. The tall skyscraper in the center of the photo on the left has something inscribed at the very top, which is practically impossible to make out unless you strain your eyes against the screen. Don’t do that, by the way.
But if we zoom in with the Pixel 7 Pro’s telephoto lens, we can make out the writing (which is regrettably just the building’s address) as if we were right next to it. This is simply one of the more astounding things I’ve seen in a smartphone camera system in a long time. You can snap crystal clear images from far away using the Pixel 7 Pro.
Close up. \sClose up.
The Pixel 7 Pro also has one other distinctive function dubbed “Macro Focus.” This isn’t especially new to smartphones, as even inexpensive handsets like last year’s Moto G Stylus 5G have macro lenses. The concept is that you can physically place the phone extremely close (like, centimeters away) to a small subject like a growing flower and get a clean, focused photo. While other phones like the Moto smartphone consigned macro photos to their own option in the camera app, Pixel 7 Pro is far more graceful about it. Simply utilize the default camera view at 1x zoom, bring the phone close to your subject, and macro focus will instantly start up.
That’s how I obtained this image of these berries on a plant near my home. Looks wonderful, doesn’t it?
Clear as can possible be from millimeters away.
The Pixel 7’s camera is good, too
The Pixel 7 Pro’s camera array is really one of the greatest I’ve ever seen in a smartphone and is worth the US$300 price rise if you can afford that. Fortunately, it’s not like the ordinary Pixel 7 is some poor camera in its own right. The cheaper Pixel can nonetheless hold its own against other superb smartphone cameras.
Portrait mode is certainly back and still amazing. Both Pixel 7 phones can swiftly capture great-looking portrait photographs while allowing you alter the depth of field effects with few simple sliders in the editing menu. However, I never really felt the urge to do that. The images I took looked amazing straight from the outset.