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Google Pixel 7 Pro review: Taking the iPhone 14 Pro head-on

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
849
inc VAT

With flashier features than the regular Pixel 7, should you pay extra and go Pro?

Pros 
Cameras excel yet again
Cheaper than other 2022 flagships (and no inflationary price bump)
Beautiful 120Hz display
Cons 
Some relatively minor upgrades
No microSD or dual SIM
Overall design still needs some work
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Given that the Pixel 7 Pro has greedily snaffled all the major upgrades, it’s no surprise that it’s the phone Google wants you to buy in 2022. Like a regular Pixel 7 but better in a number of ways, the Pro model is almost everything you’d expect from a flagship Pixel – and unlike other smartphones this year, there’s no increase in price, either.

However, with an already saturated market stuffed with high-end handsets, not least Apple’s brand spanking new iPhone 14 (£849), has Google changed things up enough for the Pixel 7 Pro to stand apart from the crowd?

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Google Pixel 7 Pro review: What you need to know

Announced alongside the Pixel Watch (£339) during Google’s annual unveiling event, the Pixel 7 Pro contains a number of exclusive features, including a larger (6.7in) screen with a higher resolution (QHD+), an extra rear camera (48MP telephoto) and a bigger (5,000mAh) battery.

The headline addition this year is the introduction of Google’s second-generation Tensor G2 chipset, the successor to the first Google-made CPU found inside last year’s Pixel 6 Pro (£627). It promises a handful of performance and efficiency improvements, thanks to a boosted maximum clock speed, and if it builds on the success of last year’s version the G2 should compete with very best in the business.

READ NEXT: Our full roundup of the best smartphones on the market

The Pixel 7 Pro and its smaller sibling are the first smartphones to launch with Android 13 pre-installed, with Google promising five years’ worth of security updates. It has an IP68 waterproof rating, too, and is protected by layers of Gorilla Glass Victus on both the front and back.

Google Pixel 7 Pro review: Price and competition

These extra features and upgrades will cost you, however, with the Pixel 7 Pro costing £150 more than the regular model. That’s £849 for those keeping count, but Google has to be commended for sticking to the same price as 2021’s Pixel 6 Pro (now £627). With manufacturing costs and RRPs spiralling out of control at the moment, this is a welcome change of pace – and a huge sigh of relief for diminishing wallets.

How does this price stack up against the competition? Quite favourably, as it turns out: the iPhone 14 Pro is the closest fit, and it starts at £1,099 – £250 more than the Pixel. The regular iPhone 14 is the same price at £849, but that handset is an entirely different kettle of fish with a smaller 60Hz screen, smaller battery, only two cameras and the same chipset as last year’s iPhone 13.

What about Samsung, then? The Galaxy S22 Plus is still kicking about after launching at the beginning of the year, and this can now be picked up for around £800 or so.

Google Pixel 7 Pro review: Design and key features

Google has tweaked the overall design of the Pixel 7 Pro, although the controversial chunky horizontal camera bar on the rear has returned for a second year. The pill-shaped camera enclosure is subtly different, and the 100% recycled “zirconia-blasted aluminium finish” is new for 2022, but it doesn’t look or feel markedly different to previous models.

There are a selection of new colours to choose from as well, including “Obsidian” and “Snow”, with the gold-tinted “Hazel” model being exclusive to the Pro version – I was sent the Snow model for testing, which you can see in the images throughout this review.

Size-wise, the Pixel 7 Pro is a bit of a brick, especially compared to the regular Pixel 7. With a larger screen and bigger battery, it’s quite a bit heavier at 212g and much more of a handful. As such, one-handed operation is a bit clunky, so I would recommend a case if you’re planning on doing a lot of walking and texting.

If you do drop it, the Pixel 7 Pro has a degree of impact protection thanks to layers of Gorilla Glass Victus sandwiching the front and rear. It’s also IP68 rated, which means it can survive a dunk in water to a depth of 1.5m for up to 30 minutes.

One big new addition is that you can finally unlock the phone using facial biometrics; a feature that was notably absent from previous Pixel phones. However, you still get the under-screen fingerprint sensor to fall back on if ambient lighting conditions aren’t great.

I’m not hugely keen about the continued lack of a microSD slot or the lack of space for a second nanoSIM, but Google pulled these features last year, so their absence comes as little surprise.

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Google Pixel 7 Pro review: Display

Predictably, the Pixel 7 Pro has the bigger screen of the two, with a 6.7in OLED display. The panel also has a higher resolution than the normal Pixel 7 – QHD+ (3,120 x 1,440) compared to FHD+ – and has a smoother refresh rate at 120Hz. One thing to note is that the resolution can be altered in the phone’s settings menu. It’s switched to FHD+ by default, which is presumably a battery-saving measure.

What’s even more predictable is that yet again this is an outstanding screen in terms of colour performance. When tested against the sRGB colour space in the phone’s Natural display profile, the Pixel 7 Pro recorded an average Delta E of 0.89, with an sRGB gamut coverage of 93% and a total volume of 93.2%. That’s an exemplary result.

The default Adaptive display mode dials overall colour saturation up a notch, but even with this setting engaged, things look pretty darn good.

Brightness is massively improved over last year’s model, too, with a recorded peak luminance of 903cd/m² in auto brightness mode, and a huge 1,023cd/m² when displaying HDR content – that’s a 35% increase.

READ NEXT: Our pick of the best Android smartphones available

Google Pixel 7 Pro review: Performance and battery life

As I mentioned above, Google’s second-gen Tensor chipset, the G2, makes its first appearance inside the Pixel 7 Pro. An octa-core CPU, Google has boosted the clock speed to 2.85GHz (compared to last year’s 2.8GHz) and the on-chip AI and machine learning algorithms are said to be much faster, too.

The phone is available with either 128GB or 256GB of internal storage and you’ll get 12GB of RAM no matter which model you choose – the regular Pixel 7 only gets 8GB.

The Titan M2 security chip also makes a return and Google is also throwing in free VPN access via Google One (after launch), as well as promising at least five years’ worth of monthly security updates.

How about performance, then? Well, there’s a lot to like here, but the generational improvements aren’t quite as impressive as I might have hoped. In the Geekbench 5 single-core processing test, the Pixel 7 Pro scored the same as the Pixel 6 Pro did last year, while the multicore score was around 10% higher.

These scores put the Pixel 7 Pro roughly in line with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus, but it’s the iPhone 14 Pro’s A16 Bionic that reigns supreme.

The generational differences in terms of gaming are much wider, however. Where the Pixel 6 Pro recorded an average onscreen frame rate of 83fps in the GFXBench Manhattan 3 test at native (QHD+) resolution, the Pixel 7 Pro hit 96fps. Dip the resolution down to FHD+ and gaming performance improves even further, with an average of 119fps.

Battery life is an area that needed improvement last year, and the good news is that the Pixel 7 Pro has delivered on this front. A runtime of 18hrs 33mins in our video rundown test at native resolution is at least an hour longer than the previous generation, and dropping down to FHD+ resolution extended it further to 23hrs 11mins – beating the iPhone 14 Pro by two-and-a-half hours. I’d recommend dropping the resolution down if you know you’re going to be a while between charges.

Charging is performed via the single USB-C charging port at the bottom of the phone, which supports power delivery up to 30W. This went from zero to 50% in roughly 35 minutes in my tests – you can also wirelessly charge up to 23W, but this is slightly slower.

Google Pixel 7 Pro review: Cameras

The Pixel 7 Pro’s camera setup is a bit different this year. The 50MP main and 12MP ultrawide are the same as those found on the regular Pixel 7, but the Pro model has an additional 48MP 5x telephoto sensor. The biggest zoom on a Pixel yet, the 7 Pro is capable of hybrid zooming all the way up to 30x, with some rather interesting camera trickery filling in the gaps.

Anything captured between 1x and 5x zoom uses combined images taken on both the main and telephoto lens. Pictures taken above 10x use the same technique while also cropping into the centre of the optical zoom camera. Thanks to new upscaling algorithms powered by the Tensor G2, Google claims that the results rival the quality of a dedicated 10x optical zoom lens – and my testing bears this out.

In fact, practically every image captured on the Pixel 7 Pro looks as good as you could hope for. Images are filled with detail, even at higher zoom ranges, and there’s a lot to like when it comes to colour capture and the use of HDR as well. This is the sort of phone that makes capturing pictures seem completely effortless, with the reassurance of frankly stunning results every time you press the shutter.

Google’s video stabilisation tech is now also employed for photos, providing superior subject tracking at increased zoom levels. Where the Galaxy S22 Plus struggles in this regard, the Pixel 7 Pro’s zoomed tracking makes things remarkably easy, and as you can see in the image below, the calibre of zoomed images it produces is nothing short of breathtaking.

The Pixel 7 Pro’s low-light shooting has also seen a major improvement, with reduced visual noise and motion blur courtesy of twice as fast image capture via Night Sight. This makes a massive difference, allowing you to capture an extremely dark night-time picture in the blink of an eye, as opposed to previously having to hold the phone still for a few seconds in order to get a decent image.

The Pixel’s Photo Unblur feature has been expanded, too, allowing you to de-smudge faces in images you’ve taken on previous phones in the Google Photos app. Like last year, this works rather well in a pinch, although if lighting conditions are a bit on the dark side, it can struggle a bit. Google also says that the phone’s Real Tone facial filters are more accurate, too.

Video-wise, all cameras (including the selfie) can record at up to 4K resolution at 60fps, and you can now record footage on both the front and rear cameras simultaneously. Recording via the rear camera now gives you the option to apply a shallow depth of field courtesy of a new Cinematic Blur feature, which also records at a movie-like frame rate of 24fps. 10-bit HDR is also available, with image stability improvements – video was rock-steady in my tests – and the new enhanced speech pickup prioritises subject audio over background noise.

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Google Pixel 7 Pro review: Verdict

The Pixel 7 Pro is yet another flagship stunner from Google. Its photographic talents alone are a good reason to upgrade, but when you factor in the improved performance, refined design and frankly exceptional display, the Pixel 7 Pro is practically faultless.

What’s more, Google’s decision not to hike the price for 2022 means that it’s one of the cheapest flagships on the market. The result is an overall package that puts all other smartphone makers to shame, with the Pixel 7 Pro delivering all the high-end features and quality of design you could hope for with none of the trade-offs you might expect.

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