Google Pixel 7 review: cracking camera at a good price

Smaller Android phone offers great software, smart AI and performance for much less than rivals

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 next to the Pixel 7 Pro lying flat on a table.
The Pixel 7 (left) is smaller and easier to hold than the Pixel 7 Pro (right). Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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.

The USB-C port in the bottom of the Pixel 7.
The Pixel 7 takes about 113 minutes to fully charge, hitting 50% in 35 minutes using a 30W USB-C power adaptor (not included), which is not overly quick compared with rivals. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Specifications

  • Screen: 6.3in 90Hz FHD+ OLED (416ppi)

  • Processor: Google Tensor G2

  • RAM: 8GB

  • 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

  • Weight: 197g

Sustainability

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.

Android 13

The Pixel 7 flat on a table showing the camera and fingerprint scanner are active.
New for this year is camera-based face recognition and a faster in-screen fingerprint sensor for unlocking the phone. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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.

Camera

The view of a garden through the Google Camera app on a Pixel 7.
The Google Camera app has several useful tools for framing your photos, including an automatic level indicator and object-tracking auto-focus. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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.

Price

The Google Pixel 7 costs from £599 ($599/A$999) with 128GB of storage.

For comparison, the Pixel 7 Pro costs £849, the Pixel 6a costs £399, the Samsung Galaxy S22 costs £769 and the iPhone 14 costs £849.

Verdict

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.

The back of the Pixel 7 showing its aluminium camera bar.
The camera bar on the Pixel 7 is brushed aluminium and stands out from an average smartphone. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

• 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.


Contributor

Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Google Pixel 7 Pro review: new camera champ undercuts competition
Top-class camera and zoom, good performance and smart AI tricks costing significantly less than rivals

Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor

13, Oct, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
Pixel 6 review: the cut-price Google flagship phone
Top camera, Android 12 and Tensor chip but competitive pricing makes for a bargain

Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor

02, Nov, 2021 @7:00 AM

Article image
Google Pixel 4 review: a good phone ruined by poor battery life
Brilliant camera, slick features and small size mean nothing when the phone won’t even last a day

Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor

31, Oct, 2019 @7:00 AM

Article image
Google launches Pixel 3 smartphones and Pixel Slate tablet
Android-maker bets on dual-camera selfies and AI features such as Super Res Zoom and Top Shot to battle Samsung and Apple

Samuel Gibbs

09, Oct, 2018 @4:00 PM

Article image
Google Pixel Watch review: a good first attempt
Small smartwatch gets much right but comes up short versus cheaper rivals and cannot be repaired

Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor

20, Oct, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
Google launches cheaper Pixel 4 to undercut Apple's iPhone
Smartphone comes with radar tech and is joined by revamped Nest Mini, Pixelbook Go and other devices

Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor

15, Oct, 2019 @3:36 PM

Article image
Google Pixel phone leaked before unveiling
Google’s own-brand phone revealed in promotional images by Carphone Warehouse before official unveiling on Tuesday

Samuel Gibbs

03, Oct, 2016 @10:13 AM

Article image
Google Pixel 6a review: this mid-range master is a true bargain
Top chip, brilliant camera, great software and solid battery life in a smaller body with a cheaper price

Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor

22, Jul, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
Google set to release new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones, insiders say
Sources speaking exclusively to the Guardian reveal details of new phones and a smaller Google Home Mini smart speaker ahead of October launch

Samuel Gibbs

22, Sep, 2017 @8:30 AM

Article image
Google Pixel 2 XL review: the best big-screened Android experience yet
The fastest and smoothest Google Android device has a cracking camera, squeezable sides, great battery life and baked-in AI

Samuel Gibbs

17, Oct, 2017 @1:00 PM