Product Reviews

Google Refines the Pixel 7 With Small but Welcome Changes – News Opener

If last year’s Pixel 6 was a leap, Google’s new Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro smartphones are a small hop. At its Made by Google event in New York City today, the company unboxed its two new flagship phones, both of which feature small but welcome improvements—like Face Unlock as a secondary way to authenticate your identity, and a Cinematic Blur feature that adds a portrait-like look to video footage.

The pair of Pixels aren’t the only hardware releases at the event. Google also offered up more details about the Pixel Watch, the company’s first-ever smartwatch, which you can read more about here.

The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro cost $599 and $899, respectively, effectively staying the same price as last year’s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro while still undercutting much of the competition. Here’s everything that’s new. 

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Two P’s in a Pod

Pixel 7 comes in Obsidian, Snow, and Lemongrass.

Photograph: Google

Both new Pixels keep the same overall look Google debuted last year with the Pixel 6, except instead of an all-glass camera bar on the rear, it’s now mostly aluminum. (Great news, considering my Pixel 6’s camera bar is currently cracked.) The Pixel 7 comes in colors named Obsidian, Snow, and Lemongrass, and the Pixel 7 Pro comes in Obsidian, Snow, and Hazel. The colors and finish are a bit more muted than last year’s devices, which is a little disappointing, but they certainly look more luxe. The Pro model employs polished aluminum, and the standard Pixel has a matte finish.

Two changes I like? The Pixel 7 is a tiny bit smaller and lighter than the Pixel 6, with a 6.3-inch screen (versus 6.4 inches). The Pixel 7 Pro sticks with the same 6.7-inch screen size, but the display glass has less of a curve along the edges, which Brian Rakowski, vice president of product management at Google, says was a change made in response to customer feedback. The screen is still not completely flat like on the Pixel 7, though. Speaking of screens, the only major change over last year is screen brightness. Google says these screens get up to 25 percent brighter when outdoors (1,400 nits peak brightness). 

There are no substantial changes to Google’s battery life claims for these phones. The Pixel 7 has a smaller 4,355-mAh cell, which tracks considering its smaller size, and the Pixel 7 Pro has a 5,000-mAh battery—both of which are expected to last “beyond 24 hours” just like the Pixel 6 series. In my testing, last year’s devices comfortably lasted a little more than a full day with heavy use, so you can expect the same here. These phones will charge up to 50 percent after 30 minutes of charging, which is slow compared to their peers. You can still recharge the new Pixels wirelessly too.

There’s still an in-display fingerprint sensor, but it’s not the only way to unlock the phone. Say hello to Face Unlock! You might remember that Google tried out this feature on the Pixel 4, but this new version is … worse. Yes, it can unlock your phone and can’t be spoofed by your own photo, but because Google isn’t using an array of 3D sensors like Apple uses for Face ID, Google’s solution is not as secure. So while Face Unlock gives you a quicker path to your home screen, you can’t use the feature to authenticate payments or to sign into banking apps—you’ll have to use your fingerprint for those. It feels a little half-baked, especially since the Pixel 4’s Face Unlock was more secure. “We’re not trying to claim it’s the most secure thing ever,” Rakowski says.

Say Cheese

The Pixel 7 Pro comes in Obsidian, Snow, and Hazel.

Photograph: Google

Pixel phones are known for their high-quality cameras, but it’s difficult to say exactly how much better the cameras are on the Pixel 7 series over their predecessors without trying them out. 

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