If from last year Pixel 6 was a leap, Google’s new smartphones Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are a small leap. 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 of authenticating your identity and a Cinematic Blur feature that Adds a portrait look to video footage.
The pixel pair isn’t the only hardware release at the event. Google also offered more details on the Pixel Watch, the company’s first-ever smartwatch, which you can read more about here.
The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro retail at $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.
Two Ps in one pod
Both of the new Pixels retain the same overall look that Google debuted with the Pixel 6 last year, except instead of an all-glass rear camera bar, it’s now mostly aluminum. (Great news considering my Pixel 6’s camera bar is currently cracked.) The Pixel 7 comes in Obsidian, Snow, and Lemongrass colors, and the Pixel 7 Pro comes in Obsidian, Snow, and Hazel. The colors and finish are a little more muted than last year’s devices, which is a little disappointing, but they certainly look more luxurious. The Pro model uses 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 (vs. 6.4 inches). The Pixel 7 Pro stays at the same 6.7-inch screen size, but the display glass has less curvature around the edges, which Brian Rakowski, Google’s vice president of product management, said was a change made in response to customer feedback . However, the screen is still not quite flat like the Pixel 7. Speaking of screens, the only big change from last year is screen brightness. According to Google, these screens get up to 25 percent brighter outdoors (1,400 nits peak brightness).
There are no major changes to Google’s battery life claims for these phones. The Pixel 7 has a smaller 4,355mAh cell, which is lagging given its smaller size, and the Pixel 7 Pro has a 5,000mAh battery – both said to last “more than 24 hours”, just like the Pixel 6 series In In my testing, last year’s devices comfortably lasted just over a full day of heavy use, so expect the same here. These phones will charge up to 50 percent after 30 minutes of charging, which is slow compared to their competitors, but the new Pixels can also continue to charge wirelessly.
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 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 since Google doesn’t use a suite of 3D sensors like Apple uses for Face ID, Google’s solution doesn’t how secure. So while Face Unlock gives you a quicker way to your home screen, you can’t use the feature to authenticate payments or log into banking apps — you’ll need to use your fingerprint for that. It’s feeling a little half-baked, especially since the Pixel 4’s Face Unlock was safer. “We’re not trying to claim it’s the safest thing ever,” says Rakovsky.
Pixel phones are known for their high-quality cameras, but it’s difficult to say exactly how much better the Pixel 7 series cameras are over their predecessors without trying them out.