Google appears to have triumphed again. The new Pixel 7 offers the same the top-flight software, camera and smart AI systems that have made its phones winners, but at a knockdown price that significantly undercuts rivals.
Costing £599 ($599/A$999) it sits in between the top £849 Pixel 7 Pro and the budget £399 Pixel 6a, competing very favourably on price and specs with rivals from Samsung, Apple and others that are typically in the £700-800 range.
The new phone looks like a smaller, simplified version of the Pixel 7 Pro. It has a flat, 6.3in OLED screen that’s bright and good looking. The screen is pretty good. It has a 90Hz refresh rate to keep things flowing smoothly. But it doesn’t reach the heady peak of 120Hz or dynamically adjust to save battery as is common on Android rivals.
The Pixel 7 is shorter, narrower and lighter than its larger sibling and last year’s Pixel 6, which is a good thing. It makes the Pixel 7 a good balance between screen size and device size, similar to Apple’s iPhone 14.
The back of the phone has Google’s camera bar design, which blends into the brushed aluminium sides. It looks and feels more premium than last year’s model.
Inside, the Pixel 7 has the same Google Tensor G2 chip as its larger sibling and performs similarly, with particularly rapid AI systems such as text to speech.
Battery life is similar to Google’s other phones lasting about 35 hours between charges with the screen actively used for five hours. That’s good enough for a day of heavy use but behind the competition, some of which last almost two days.
Screen: 6.3in 90Hz FHD+ OLED (416ppi)
Processor: Google Tensor G2
Storage: 128 or 256GB
Operating system: Android 13
Camera: 50MP + 12MP ultrawide, 10.8MP selfie
Connectivity: 5G, eSIM, wifi 6E, UWB, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2 and GNSS
Water resistance: IP68 (1.5m for 30 minutes)
Dimensions: 155.6 x 73.2 x 8.7mm
Google does not provide an expected lifespan for the battery but it should last in excess of 500 full charge cycles with at least 80% of its original capacity. The phone is repairable by Google and third-party shops with genuine replacement parts available direct from iFixit. Out-of-warranty screen repairs by Google will cost similar to its predecessor at about £140 and battery replacements about £100.
The Pixel 7 is made with 100% recycled aluminium, accounting for about 19% of the phone by weight. The company publishes environmental impact reports for some of its products. Google will recycle old devices free of charge.
The Pixel 7 runs the same version of Android 13 as the Pixel 7 Pro and Google’s other smartphones, with a few exclusive features including the ability to unblur faces and objects using AI in the Google Photos app.
Google will provide at least five years of software and security updates including at least three major Android versions. Samsung supports many of its phones for five years, while Fairphone is aiming for six years and Apple supports its iPhone for up to seven years.
The Pixel 7 has two cameras on the back, including a 50-megapixel main and 12MP ultrawide, lacking the 5x telephoto of the Pixel 7 Pro.
The 12MP ultrawide camera produces good images with very little distortion, even around the edges. But its 0.7x magnification isn’t quite as wide as the 0.5x of the 7 Pro or rivals, so you won’t be able to fit quite as much in. It also lacks the ability to work as a macro camera as on the 7 Pro, which is no big loss.
The main 50MP camera is the same as the 7 Pro and is simply brilliant, capturing a tremendous amount of detail across a broad range of lighting conditions, producing images at 12.5MP. It can also “zoom” to 2x optical magnification, which works surprisingly well matching what you’d typically get from a 2x optical zoom on rivals. Digital zoom takes over from there with reasonable results at 4x but soft on detail afterwards.
Google’s low-light night sight mode is faster and better than ever, creating great-looking and generally crisp images in near darkness. With the phone on a tripod or propped up you can even take stunning photos of the stars with a special extended shot.
The selfie camera shoots excellent 10MP images in a variety of lighting conditions.Video capture has been improved all round at up to 4K at 60 frames a second in HDR, catching up to rivals.
Overall the Pixel 7 has a really excellent camera for the money, only really missing an extended zoom.
The Pixel 7 is a cracking top-end Android phone at a great price.
It offers most of what makes the Pixel 7 Pro one of the best smartphones of the year, with a few corners cut to be under £600 at a time when technology is getting more expensive, not less.
You get a good-looking, well-performing device with plenty of smart features and good software with at least five years of support. You’ll struggle to find as good a camera for the price. The 6.3in screen is a good size, if not the most advanced, and the battery life is solid if a bit short of the best.
With rivals costing north of £750, the Pixel 7’s biggest problem is that Google’s other more affordable phone, the Pixel 6a, offers 70% of the performance of the new phone for about £400.
Pros: great camera, good screen, good performance, solid battery, face and fingerprint unlock, Android 13 with five years of security updates, thoroughly undercuts competition on price.
Cons: limited zoom, face unlock option not as secure as some rivals, battery life short of best-in-class, fairly slow charging, no big leap in performance.
• This article was amended on 1 November 2022. As was made clear elsewhere in the article, the Pixel 7 retails at $599/A$999, not at $899/A$1,299 as one reference said in an earlier version.