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Google Pixel 7 Pro revisited: The good and bad six months later
When the Pixel 7 Pro launched in October of 2022, it seemed like Google had pulled a magic trick and finally got things right with a phone. Great features and a realistic price were topped by rave Pixel 7 Pro reviews, so much so that it won both our Editor’s Choice and Reader’s Choice awards for smartphone of the year.
But have things changed six months later? Does the Pixel 7 Pro still hold a spot as one of the best Android phones you can buy in 2023? I’ve been using the Pixel 7 Pro as my main phone since its release and I’m ready to dig in and share its best and least impressive aspects after all this time.
The best Pixel in every possible way
In 2021, the Pixel 6 Pro rang the start of a new era within Google’s smartphone business with a focus on an in-house processor, a unique new design, a refined Android experience with Material You, and a burgeoning ecosystem of accessories. But the Pixel 6 Pro was riddled with issues and all eyes were on its successor. Would the Pixel 7 Pro fix these problems or would it perpetuate them?
It took seven generations for Google to fully nail its Pixel series, but it finally did.
In short, the Pixel 7 Pro refined everything we saw with the 6 Pro. The display’s curves are less drastic and easier to use when swiping from the edge, the metallic frame continues into the camera bump for a more elegant look, and the phone feels more balanced in the hand. After holding and using the 7 Pro for several months, going back to the 6 Pro feels like a proper downgrade.
The Pixel 7 Pro also got a faster Tensor G2 processor, a brighter display, a non-problematic in-display fingerprint scanner that continues to be reliable, a better zoom lens, and — as far as we can tell — none of the Pixel 6 Pro’s connectivity issues. It’s everything the Pixel 6 Pro aimed to be, but better.
All these improvements have been met with better quality control overall too. Six months later, it’s clear that the Pixel line-up’s infamous defects, failures, and bugs haven’t hit the Pixel 7 series as much as its predecessors, so much so that we’ve forgotten that these were a thing with previous models. We still report an issue with the phone here or there on Android Authority, but no more than other flagships and definitely not as much as we did for the Pixel 6 and others before it.
An excellent camera
Google’s photography expertise is why the latest Pixels are considered some of the best camera phones and why they’re always included in every comparison test we do. It’s also why the Pixel 7 Pro is part of the conversation even when we’re doing a camera shootout of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, a phone that is significantly more expensive and that packs astronomically better camera hardware on paper.
No matter the subject or the lighting situation, odds are I’ll get a great snap from the Pixel 7 Pro. 3000+ photos later, it’s safe to say that I really appreciate that reliability. Landscapes or city scenes, food or nature, night or day, static or moving objects, photo or video; I am confident that my phone will handle it all. I’ve sung the praises of Pixels’ photography for years now, and I think it shines the most with the subjects we photograph the most — people and pets.
The Pixel 7 Pro takes that to new levels with its zoom performance which remains serviceable up to 20x, neat macro mode, and great night performance. It has also become my ultimate concert camera for both stills and videos, using that zoom to get to the crux of the action even when I’m seated far away and have a blocked view.
Though they may not deliver the absolute best shot in every setting, the Pixel 7 Pro's sensors still punch above their weight in most situations.
Below are some samples I’ve snapped with the Pixel 7 Pro’s different cameras, at different zoom levels. If you want to see more, check these 200 photos taken with the Pixel 7 Pro camera.
Despite rising smartphone prices across the board, Google kept the Pixel 7 series’ price in line with its predecessor. This was laudable at the end of 2022, but it’s even more impressive now in 2023. At $899, Google’s flagship is $100 cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus and the Apple iPhone 14 Pro, yet it’s often compared against the much more expensive Galaxy S23 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro Max. Not just by us, but by every tech publication out there.
It's an excellent smartphone at a palatable price and, in that regard, it exists in a league of its own.
We could spend hours nitpicking every hardware element and explaining how it’s a step behind this phone or that phone, but the Pixel 7 Pro is largely better than the sum of its parts in daily use. It’s an excellent smartphone at a palatable price and, in that regard, it exists in a league of its own.
Quarterly feature drops also keep the experience fresh, even if I’ll be honest and say the last few drops haven’t brought anything ground-breaking. And the list of Pixel-exclusive features gets longer every year, granting better value to the phone. We will, however, dock a point for Google’s four-year update commitment. It should at least match Samsung’s five.
On paper, the Pixel 7 Pro has nearly the same dimensions and weight as the Pixel 6 Pro, but it feels different in the hand as I mentioned earlier. It’s easier to grip, has a more balanced weight distribution, and is more pleasant to use. It’s also more palm friendly than most of the other big flagships on the market, like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro Max. Still, I can’t help but feel like I’m happy with a minor improvement in ergonomics when it’s clear that the main design isn’t ideal.
This is a very subjective problem for sure, but I have two issues with the phone. For one, I find the glass back too slippery. There’s no way I would ever carry it or even place it on a smooth surface without a case on; that’s just calling for disaster. And two, the Pixel 7 Pro also remains too big to hold and use comfortably with one hand, especially if you have average-sized hands as I do. I’d love it if Google copied Apple’s strategy here and released a smaller Pro Pixel soon; the earliest rumors suggest we might get that in 2024 with the Pixel 8.
Slow “fast” charging
Recent Pixels’ battery life isn’t breaking any records. They’re often serviceable for a day of mid to heavy use, but can’t outlast other phones with seven, eight, or even nine hours of screen-on-time. What makes this problematic is the slow, so very slow 21-23W trickle charging on the Pixel 7 series.
A slow charging speed is unforgivable these days. Google should at least offer the option to charge faster when you're in a rush.
It takes nearly two hours to fully charge a depleted Pixel 7 Pro. If your phone is low on juice and you’re about to head out for a few hours, you can’t plug it in 10 minutes before leaving and think that will be anywhere near enough to get you out of trouble. This isn’t much of an issue if you always have a wall charger nearby or carry a portable power bank everywhere you go, but if you have a few hectic days with more limited access to power, you will definitely notice this.
A slow charging speed is almost unforgivable these days when other Android phones are offering at least 45W or 65W of power. We don’t think Google should reach extreme numbers like 240W, but offering 25W as a base charging speed with a toggle to enable 45-65W on-demand charging would be ideal. That way we could stick to the battery-friendly power most of the time, but pump it up when we’re in a rush.
The Pixel series was never built around raw performance. Instead, Google’s approach has always been software-centric, eschewing peak CPU and GPU speeds for better image processing, toughened security, and more on-device machine learning (ML) skills. This is clear as day when you look at Tensor G2’s benchmark results and how outclassed it is compared to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.
Imagine what Google could do with a faster and more energy-efficient chipset.
But that’s the rub. Google is able to pull off on-device live translations, excellent photo post-processing, and a bunch of other ML-powered Pixel-only features with a hampered chipset. Imagine what it could do with a more modern processor architecture and more power. So even if we don’t necessarily notice any hiccups in day-to-day use on the Pixel 7 Pro, we still think a better chip would let it do more things faster, have better energy efficiency and thus longer battery life, and keep it cool instead of heating up at every sign of effort.
Google Pixel 7 Pro revisited: Is it still worth it?
Google hit its stride with the Pixel 7 series in 2022. For the first time in years, it feels like the original vision behind this line-up is taking proper shape. The Pixel 7 Pro offers a cohesive software-hardware design, a clear service-centric and AI/ML-powered experience, a fantastic photography performance, and all of that with fewer of the issues of the Pixels of yore.
It’s also cementing its central place in Google’s hardware ecosystem strategy. Pair it with Pixel Buds Pro, the Pixel Watch, and the upcoming Pixel Tablet, and you’ll have a coherent setup that’s brushing up to Samsung’s and Apple’s excellent ecosystems.
Is the Google Pixel 7 Pro still worth buying, six months later?
Six months later, the phone’s $899 price is still justifiable compared to the value it brings, but even more so when it’s discounted to $799 or less as it is frequently. Those who like Google’s approach to software, services, and photography, but don’t need the zoom lens will find the smaller Pixel 7 ($545 at Amazon) a better buy, though, while anyone looking for more raw power and a more varied software suite should look at the Samsung Galaxy S23 ($799 at Amazon), Galaxy S23 Plus ($999.99 at Samsung), or the OnePlus 11 ($1296 at Amazon).
The biggest question mark, though, is whether you should wait for the Google Pixel 8 Pro or get the Pixel 7 Pro now. There’s no obvious answer to that; it all depends on your circumstances. On one hand, if you need a phone soon, can find a discounted 7 Pro, and value a solid experience, then by all means, go for it. But if you’re not in any rush and would like to see what the successor will really bring, then six months isn’t that long of a wait. Just keep in mind that we don’t know how much it’ll cost or what the pre-order bonuses will be (if any).