GOOGLE PIXEL 7 PRO
A smartphone for photographers that undercuts and out-performs its rivals
The Google Pixel 7 Pro is the very best camera phone out now at its price. Why? Because for £849 / $899, Google loads the phone up with a mighty camera mix, complete with a powerful periscope zoom and an autofocusing ultra-wide, not to mention the same 50MP main camera you get on the Pixel 7. Google’s photography software is also incredibly clever, both in the camera app and when you come to edit your photos, and video shot with this phone looks stupendous, too.
Of course, there’s more to a smartphone than just its camera, and the Pixel 7 Pro also needs to be a well-built, good-looking phone with a great screen and long-lasting battery. After all, it has to compete with the likes of the iPhone 14, Honor Magic 4 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S22, which all cost around the same.
The 7 Pro also has competition from its predecessor, the Pixel 6
Pro, which is a very similar phone in many respects: it has the same main camera, and similar power, design and battery life; and the 6 Pro’s price has dropped since the 7 Pro launched.
But with an updated periscope camera, an ultra-wide camera with autofocus and macro capture, as well as Google’s latest camera software, is the 7 Pro the obvious choice for Android users who want the best camera phone under £1,000 / $1,000?
Design and screen
We tested the Pixel 7 Pro in its greygreen Hazel finish and, in a two-week period, we were asked about it three times by strangers whose eye it caught. It’s a large, elegant phone with a curved front and back that taper into
the polished metal frame, and the overall effect is striking.
Side by side with the Pixel 6 Pro, the 7 Pro sports similar dimensions and weighs nearly the same – it’s just 2g heavier at 212g. It also has the same 6.7-inch screen size, and the visor-style camera bump is back, too, looking more elegant on the Pro than on the smaller Pixel 7.
The Pixel 7 Pro’s front and back are curved Gorilla Glass Victus, and the frame is aluminium. You can pick it up in three colours: Hazel, Obsidian (a glossy black) and Snow (off-white). Like the Pixel 6 series, the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro sport glossy backs, and the lighter colours – hazel and snow – do a great job of repelling fingerprints.
There’s nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to the 7 Pro’s buttons and ports: there’s a USB-C port at the base alongside a loudspeaker, the SIM tray sits on the left side, while all the buttons are on the right. Everything is within easy reach, and buttons give a satisfying click-feedback.
There’s no headphone jack, and unlike many phones available now, the Pixel 7 doesn’t ship with a case in the box, or a power brick, though you do get a USB-C cable with it, as well as a USB-C to USB-A adapter.
At 6.7 inches, the Pixel 7 Pro’s screen is large – similar in size to those of the Oppo Find X5 Pro and OnePlus 10 Pro. It’s also sharp, with a resolution of 1440 x 3120, giving it a pixel density of 512 pixels per inch.
The phone also sports LTPO AMOLED tech, which looks punchy and deep on first impression, as well as a 120Hz display for super-smooth scrolling. With a maximum brightness of 1500 nits in high-brightness mode, outdoor viewing shouldn’t be an issue, and HDR10+ credentials mean that content can be enjoyed in all its widetonal-range glory.
Unlike a lot of phones out now, the Pixel doesn’t ship with a pre-fitted screen protector, so there’s a good chance that this is something you’ll want to consider. On the other hand, one good thing Google does across all its recent launches is offer IP68 water resistance, so it’s hardier than some of the competition.
The Pixel 6 Pro had a great camera mix that was let down by a lack of autofocus on its ultra-wide snapper, so it couldn’t grab super-close-up photos. Its zoom reach was also less
“THE PIXEL 7 PRO IS AN ELEGANT PHONE WITH A CURVED FRONT AND BACK THAT TAPERS INTO THE FRAME”
mighty than some alternatives.
Google has addressed both issues on the Pixel 7 Pro.
At the far left of the camera strip around the back of the Pro is a 50MP 1/1.31 sensor, featuring 1.2-micron pixels, omnidirectional phasedetection autofocus, laser autofocus and OIS. With a 26mm wide angle and matched with Google’s smart camera software, the main camera is identical to those of the Pixel 6, 6 Pro and 7.
The 48MP telephoto camera is back from the 6 Pro, only this time it features a 120mm focal length, which means you can get an optical five times zoom equivalent. Loaded up with OIS, PDAF, and an f/3.5 aperture, we were interested to see how this camera performed, especially as it has an ever so slightly smaller sensor compared to the 6 Pro – 1/2.55 inches versus 1/2.5 inches.
As for the ultra-wide camera, it’s the same sensor as found in the
Pixel 7, but with added autofocus for macro capture. That means its 12MP resolution is matched with a 114-degree field of view and f/2.2 lens. Finally, the selfie camera has a 10.8MP resolution and a wide 21mm lens, so you should be able to get plenty in the frame.
The Pixel 7 Pro’s shooting modes are also worth talking about, with a new cinematic video mode introduced to bring the line up to speed with the iPhone 14 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S22. This blurs out the background in footage, as portrait mode does for stills.
Google has held off on including manual capture on the phone again, though you do get sliders to dial back exposure and adjust white balance, so can take back some control even in auto mode. You can also capture raw photos, which is handy, though these are 12MP – none of the detail-packed 48MP images we were getting from the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max.
The big improvements this year when it comes to hardware are the Pixel 7
Pro’s ultra-wide and telephoto cameras, and that’s where you’ll see the most gains when it comes to day-to-day picture-taking.
Just like the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, the 7 Pro’s primary camera is a great performer in most lighting conditions. It’s able to capture detailed shots that look natural while still being boosted. Shadow detail is brought to life more so than traditional photographers might like, but most will love what Google does with boosting shadows while still creating a dynamic-looking photo with healthy contrast.
The backlit image of the stained glass (previous page) would be difficult for any camera to capture.
The Pixel 7 Pro chooses to retain ample detail in the stonework while still holding onto the drama of the stained glass. It pulls through more stone detail than the iPhone 14 Pro does, making for a less dramatic shot, but one that retains maximum image information.
Google’s advanced processing doesn’t just focus on resolving shadow detail in backlit environments. When capturing a dimly lit subject across zoom ranges, the phone still unlocks plenty of detail in dark spots.
As show on the following page, the ultra-wide and telephoto camera both retain ample shadow detail on the ceiling of Norwich Cathedral, illuminating features that might otherwise go unnoticed.
The Pixel 7 Pro isn’t just a great shout for dramatic environments; it’s a strong camera phone for notoriously challenging subjects like pets. Moreover, between the relatively shallow depth of field achieved with close-up shots and the phone’s ability to make fur look textured while prioritising focus on faces, the Pixel is a great animal camera, even if it doesn’t quite get the super-smart Sony A7R V Animal AF that Sony recently announced.
The Pixel 7 Pro’s low-light performance is impressive, too, with automatic long exposure firing up when the lights drop. This adds computational photography to the mix like only Google can, and the Pixel 7 series also brings back astrophotography. That means that if you point the phone up at the sky and keep it stationary, it can take a photo for around four minutes, pulling stars and even galaxies into view.
Also impressive, the Pixel 7 Pro captures close-up objects both using the ultra-wide camera for macro shots, and the primary camera – whose nearest focus distance is around 10cm – roughly half that of the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
The phone’s video quality is as standout as its photo quality for the price, with steady footage captured both close up and at distance, using the ultra-wide or periscope camera. Low-light footage isn’t the best, but results are still very competitive.
We also enjoyed the ultra-wide selfie camera, which operates at two focal lengths: a cropped wide angle and an uncropped ultra-wide. This helped us easily get groups of friends in the frame, and the results look compelling for a front camera.
Our main issue with the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro has been raw capture. Raw photos aren’t full 50MP resolution, and the quality doesn’t stack up brilliantly
when set against raw photos from the iPhone 14 Pro.
The Pixel 7 Pro’s 5000mAh battery easily lasted a full day for us after the first 48 hours. While we had a lot of inconsistency with the Pixel 7, which was terrible in the battery department at first, but then balanced out, the Pixel 7 Pro’s battery is better.
The phone supports fast charging at 30W, which powers it up to 50% in 30 minutes, as well as wireless and reverse wireless charging – however, it won’t power up the Pixel Watch.
Google’s latest flagship is powered by a Tensor G2 chipset, the brand’s second generation of proprietary silicon. Day-to-day tasks are handled well, though we did notice that 5G dropped out a couple of times (this was fixed by turning mobile data on and off). And despite not being the
mightiest gaming phone around, it should be able to handle most titles.
On the plus side, running the latest version of Android – Android 13, and with five years of security updates promised – the Pixel 7 Pro should go the distance in terms of longevity.
You can pick the phone up with either 128GB, 256GB or 512GB storage, and all three versions feature 12GB RAM, so multi-tasking performance should be on-point.