Google Pixel 7 Professional evaluation: Viva la ({hardware}) evolution

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Google’s new Pixel 7 Professional is a part of a brand new crop of devices that profit from their boringness. The Nintendo Change OLED is boring; Microsoft’s newest Floor Go is boring; even the iPhone 14 is boring. That will come off as harsh, however all it means is that Google, like these different tech giants, eschewed fancy-but-unnecessary modifications to its {hardware} and software program and targeted on incremental enhancements that potential Pixel homeowners would admire.

That is Google’s flagship smartphone and it’s one of many few it is best to critically take into account upgrading to if you happen to just like the purest Android working system expertise. Whereas different Android telephones beat the Pixel 7 Professional in particular areas—the Asus ROG Cellphone 6 is best for gaming, the Galaxy S22 Extremely has a greater digital camera system—Google’s smartphone presents the most effective all-around experiences. Even iPhone homeowners (myself included) would come away somewhat envious, even when it doesn’t push us emigrate.

Unlocking the Google Pixel Professional 7’s options

The hardest half about reviewing the Pixel 7 Professional was the shortage of a single marquee function. There’s no “Dynamic Island” like on the iPhone 14 Professional fashions, no completely new type issue just like the upcoming Pixel pill. As an alternative, at a primary look, the smartphone appears practically equivalent to the one it’s changing. The variations between them are refined even once you take an extended look beneath the floor. 

The Pixel 7 Professional presents the identical 120Hz, 6.4-inch, 1440p display screen because the Pixel 6 Professional and instantly feels good within the hand. It’s somewhat taller than the iPhone 14 Professional Max however 40 grams lighter, which made an even bigger distinction than I anticipated. Once you’re studying an extended article or holding your telephone whereas watching a video, each gram counts. On the bottom of the Pixel 7 Professional, you’ll discover the raised digital camera “bar,” which extends from the left facet of the system all the best way throughout to the correct. 

Google absolutely embraced the digital camera “bump” with final yr’s Pixel 6 Professional, turning it into a particular function of the smartphone’s design. I nonetheless pine for the times of smartphones with cameras which might be flush to their case however, whereas I personally hope that they return within the far-off future, I do know it’s not going to occur. So, it’s good that Google turned its smartphone’s digital camera system right into a signature a part of its look. The Pixel 7 Professional has an edge-to-edge display screen, with a gap punch-shaped cutout for the front-facing digital camera. The digital camera has a barely decrease megapixel depend in comparison with final yr’s mannequin (10.8MP down from 11.1MP), however it may be used for extra than simply taking selfies. 

The Pixel 7 Professional helps facial recognition, which lets you unlock the smartphone by it and swiping up on its display screen. This labored in a short time in my testing, even when making an attempt it in areas with low gentle. Some earlier Pixel generations had this function however it’s been absent for the previous couple of years. If the thought of facial recognition makes you uneasy, the Pixel 7 Professional has an under-the-display fingerprint reader and the choice to make use of a password. All three strategies of unlocking the telephone labored effectively, so be happy to combine and match.

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Studying long-form tales on the go is simpler due to the Pixel 7 Professional’s massive, high-resolution show. Brandt Ranj / In style Science

An arms race with Apple

Final yr, Google launched the Tensor chip, a custom-designed processor developed particularly to be used in Pixel telephones. The Pixel 7 Professional options the Tensor G2, which is barely quicker on paper however highly effective and vitality environment friendly in apply. The transfer from an off-the-shelf half to a bespoke one paid off because the Pixel 7 Professional runs Android 13 flawlessly. Tapping, scrolling, pinching, zooming, switching between apps all felt remarkably easy, with not a dropped body or second-long stutter to be discovered. The telephone didn’t even run sizzling throughout a stress take a look at that concerned operating video at most brightness for a number of hours. 

Google could have been taking part in meet up with Apple, an organization that started designing the iPhone’s {custom} silicon over a decade in the past, however the effort has paid off handsomely. Pixel 6 Professional homeowners could not discover a giant year-over-year enchancment in the event that they resolve to improve. Anybody coming from a smartphone that’s two or three years outdated, nevertheless, will choose up on the distinction instantly when opening apps, taking footage, and even adjusting system settings just like the telephone’s display screen decision or wallpaper. Whereas I’ve solely had the chance to take a look at a number of Android units in my profession, that is actually the cleanest (and, sure, most iPhone-like) expertise but.

The Tensor G2’s largest on-paper enchancment in comparison with Google’s last-generation chip is a 60% improve in its machine-learning capabilities. This permits a few of the telephone’s most useful options, like parsing speech to point out you a tappable menu whereas going by a telephone tree and serving to you discover precisely which emoji to choose whereas dictating messages. These are tangible advantages—who remembers the final time a smartphone’s telephone expertise improved?

With all of this energy beneath the hood, it’s disappointing that Google has promised that the Pixel 7 line of telephones will get solely three years of software program updates and 5 years of safety updates. That’s good for an Android telephone however Apple’s newly launched iOS 16 working system runs on telephones going again to 2017. As Google unifies its {hardware} and software program ecosystems, it’s vital that they prioritize longevity.

Mighty morphin’ mega pixels

One of many largest causes to get a brand new smartphone is digital camera enhancements and the Pixel 7 Professional is not any slouch. Its three-lens rear-facing digital camera system contains a 12MP ultra-wide digital camera, 48MP telephoto digital camera, and a 50MP vast digital camera, which may all document 4K HDR (excessive dynamic vary) video at as much as 60 frames per second. The megapixel depend on the cameras hasn’t modified previously yr, however the ultrawide digital camera has a wider discipline of view and the telephoto lens has a barely narrower discipline of view. Within the Pixel’s digital camera app, you possibly can choose between 4 predetermined focal lengths: .5x, 1x, 2x, and 5x, and body your shot accordingly.

My assessments—carried out indoors and outdoor in numerous lighting situations—present that Google’s relentless funding in computational pictures continues to repay, particularly in an period when it makes its personal chips. There’s lots of fancy processing work occurring behind the scenes, so all I wanted to do to get an ideal picture was framing my shot and hitting the shutter button. A visible information exhibiting whether or not I used to be taking pictures my picture off-angle helped a bit however I principally let the smartphone do all of the work. I’d take into account the Pixel 7 Professional’s digital camera to be restrained. It brightened up low-light images with out blowing them out or muddying particulars and did an excellent job at color-balancing pictures with lots of dynamic vary. 

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Most of the time the Pixel 7 Professional’s images didn’t want enhancing, particularly if you happen to’re primarily fascinated about posting fast snapshots to Instagram. I in contrast the Pixel 7 Professional’s digital camera on to an iPhone 14 Professional Max beneath a difficult circumstance: a lit hearth pit in a darkish yard from a distance of about two ft. Each telephones had been set to their 1X digital camera settings, and the outcomes (beneath) communicate for themselves.

iPhone vs Pixel fire photo comparison
iPhone 14 Professional Max (left) vs. Pixel 7 Professional (proper) Brandt Ranj / In style Science

Smartphone pictures has gotten loads higher over the previous few years. Google is additional leveraging the Tensor G2 that can assist you rework pictures that nearly turned out accurately into usable footage by a function known as “UnBlur.” Tapping this button makes use of machine studying to digitally repair blurry images, whether or not they had been taken on the Pixel 7 Professional or not. This function was hit-and-miss in my testing however, when it really works, the before-and-after distinction could be fairly important. There are many causes for a blurry picture, from a shaky hand to an overactive topic, so it’s good to know your smartphone digital camera has your again in difficult conditions exterior of your management.

You’ll be able to see the work of the Google Pixel 7’s UnBlur function beneath; it’s not excellent, however the distinction in usability is simple. Google has traditionally improved the standard of its machine-learning pictures know-how by software program updates, so I count on UnBlur to get loads higher. This function’s most spectacular high quality to this point is the flexibility to use it to any image in your Google Images library. UnBlur might be simplest when it’s utilized to newer images (particularly these taken on a Pixel 7 sequence system), however it could possibly save older ones, too.

Google Pixel UnBlur
Authentic picture (left) vs. UnBlurred picture (proper) Brandt Ranj / In style Science

It simply retains going (and going and going) …

When you’re contemplating upgrading your smartphone due to its declining battery life, I can wholeheartedly suggest the Pixel 7 Professional. A full cost had no issues surviving a day of messaging, video watching, and social media looking. I believed I’d put the battery by a stress take a look at leaving a YouTube video taking part in repeatedly with the display screen brightness at 100%—three hours later the telephone stated it nonetheless had over someday’s value of juice left within the tank. 

All people’s workload is completely different and your mileage could range if you happen to’re recording hours of 4K video, enhancing it, and posting it on social media out of your system. In these circumstances, it’s useful to know that the Pixel 7 Professional helps 23W quick charging with a cable or on a wi-fi charger. The smartphone additionally helps reverse wi-fi charging, which implies you should use it to high up different units in a pinch.

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Consider your eyes and ears

I discussed the Pixel 7 Professional’s show specs earlier on this evaluation however it’s value noting simply how good the display screen is. Images and movies look vibrant (with out trying synthetic) and textual content appears crisp. Google lets you swap the smartphone’s show decision between 1080P and 1440P relying on whether or not you’d prefer to see extra info or need a barely bigger interface (greater icons, bigger textual content, and many others.). In both case, the display screen’s excessive refresh charge and immaculate colour replica make a giant distinction, particularly if you happen to’re viewing high-resolution content material. Even foolish issues, like the best way an app icon pops in opposition to the telephone’s background, stand out. It’s unlucky that such an ideal display screen was paired with such so-so audio system. 

When listening to audio in panorama mode, the Pixel 7 Professional will swap from mono to stereo, utilizing its backside speaker and receiver as the correct and left channel respectively. Neither one is especially good however the receiver is noticeably weaker than the telephone’s speaker. This is sensible however is unlucky given how effectively the iPhone sounds with this identical basic setup. The Pixel 7 Professional’s audio system stand out in a nasty method even when watching movies or casually listening to podcasts within the background. If you wish to critically hearken to music or watch streaming content material on the Pixel 7 Professional, it is best to instantly pair them with good wi-fi earbuds or headphones (you possibly can’t go improper with the Bose QuietComfort II Earbuds or the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones, to call only a couple choices). The Pixel 7 Professional helps Bluetooth 5.2 with SBC, AAC (LC/HE), and aptX/aptX HD codecs (for one of the best sound expertise, search for flagship gear supporting aptX HD, just like the Focal Bathys).

Google Pixel 7 Pro Sceen
The Pixel 7 Professional’s energy effectivity lets you watch lengthy movies with out experiencing battery anxiousness. Brandt Ranj / In style Science

So, who should purchase the Pixel 7 Professional?

When you’re out there for a brand new Android telephone, the Pixel 7 Professional must be on the shortlist for consideration. The general high quality of its {hardware}—particularly the Tensor G2 processor, which you received’t discover wherever else—can’t be overstated. And it’s paired with Android 13, an working system designed to run completely on Google’s {hardware}. It could not have the whiz-bang cool issue of Samsung’s foldables, or the familiarity (to many) of the iPhone, however Google has continued to show itself as a top-tier smartphone maker. The corporate’s dedication is very spectacular given how little its {hardware} has offered relative to its important competitors, although some new studies counsel that development could possibly be altering. 

The traditional knowledge when an iPhone proprietor needs to improve their system is “get the latest iPhone.” The Pixel 7 Professional makes a compelling case to turn out to be an analogous suggestion to anybody on the Android facet of the aisle, even when it’s somewhat boring. The Google Pixel 7 Professional is available in Hazel (olive inexperienced), Snow (white), and Obsidian (black), beginning at $899 for a mannequin outfitted with 128GB of storage and going as much as $1,099 for the maxed-out model with 512GB of storage. The smartphone is accessible now in all storage sizes and colours.