Google Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro hands-on: Are all the chips finally falling into place?

Google has launched the Pixel 7 in India at a price of Rs 59,999 (8GB/128GB). Pixel 7 Pro will set you back by Rs 84,999 (12GB/128GB).

Google Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro hands-on: Are all the chips finally falling into place?
Pixel 7 Pro on the left, Pixel 7 on the right (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Google has launched the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro in India. To many, that would be music to the ears and understandably so. The Pixel, over the years, has chalked up the status of being this mythical gadget that Indians could only imagine from afar, but couldn’t touch and buy (unless you chose to import it or something). There have been on and off attempts like the Pixel 6a, sure, but do you even remember the last time that Google launched a high-end Pixel in India? It was back in 2018.

There could be “n” number of reasons why it took Google 4 years to launch a high-end Pixel in India, and we’re not going to get into that conversation here at least, but it seems, all the chips have –finally— fallen into place. Likewise, there could be many reasons why Google decided to end the dry spell and launch Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro in India, and even before you ask, let us tell you that it has priced the two phones well here, rather, quite aggressively at that considering everything that’s inside (and out). Here, too, it could be about the chip falling into place.

Google launched its own chip— Tensor— last year with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. It said, at that time, that Tensor was four years in the making which means, work on it started soon after the launch of the first Pixel in 2016. The reason it chose to make its own chip was because –apparently— no third-party chip was powerful enough to help it fully pursue its mission of making artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) core to the Pixel experience due to computing limitations. Since this was the first time that it was dipping its toes into something like this, you could say, launching the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro in markets like India could have been a risk. Instead, Google launched the relatively more mass-market Pixel 6a in the country, possibly to gauge interest.

Google Pixel 7 Pro, Pixel 7 hands-on
Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 7 have a glass back and metal frame. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Tensor, as we found out in our review of the Pixel 6a, had a few limitations. By choosing to go with two Cortex-X1 cores, Google was making it abundantly clear that it was prioritising machine learning tasks over raw power. This was also emphasised by the use of the older Cortex-A76 middle cores. The advantages of such an approach are not always quantifiable, though, at least for many average buyers. To them, what would strike out more is that the Pixel 6a— with Tensor— throttles when pushed and gets warm at the slightest of workloads. It was a chip geared for fast and secure data crunching rather than topping benchmarks or playing graphically demanding games.

Enter Tensor G2

Tensor G2 inside the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, in comparison, seems better equipped to handle Google’s massive data crunching ambitions and, also, ensure average buyers— in India— are happy should they invest in either of these phones (which by the way will have a lot of competition). At least that is what the general impression is, looking at the core specs.

The 8-core Tensor G2 — which is based on a 4nm manufacturing process (versus 5nm in the original Tensor— has two high-performance Cortex-X1 cores (clocked higher @2.85GHz), two Cortex A78 mid cores (@2.35GHz), and four high-efficiency Cortex A55 cores (@1.80GHz). Its 10-core Mali-G710 GPU is being billed to be 35 percent faster at ML tasks (in addition to bringing graphics and efficiency improvements) over the G78 inside the first Tensor.

There’s more. The Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) inside the G2 is claimed to be up to 60 percent faster and 20 percent more efficient than the outgoing chip. You get a new Tensor core and modem upgrade, too.

Google Pixel 7 Pro, Pixel 7 hands-on
Pixel 7 Pro has a 6.7-inch 1440p LTPO display. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Now, it’s too early to talk about how the Tensor G2 will perform in the real world but solely on paper, it seems like a nice upgrade over the first Tensor. Plus, all this time –and experience— should have given Google enough legroom to make its core apps work even better with the hardware.

As is usually the case with every new Pixel, Google is introducing a bunch of new camera-centric features (enabled by Tensor G2) that are exclusive to the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. You get a Cinematic Blur video mode for seemingly more professional-looking bokeh effect in videos and Photo Unblur which, as the name suggests and as per Google’s on-screen demo, can unblur scenes and objects in photos. This works in Google Photos which is to say you can use the feature to unblur stuff in existing photos, too. Google says Night Sight, which is its version of night mode, will be twice as fast in the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. So, that’s also something to look forward to.

As for the camera hardware itself, most of it is being carried forward from last year. The Pixel 7 Pro comes with three cameras on the back which is a combination of a 50MP main sensor (Samsung GN1) behind an f/1.85 aperture lens, a 12MP sensor behind an f/2.2 aperture ultra-wide-angle lens (with a wider field of view at 125-degrees versus 114-degrees in the 6 Pro and autofocus which brings dedicated macro capabilities, too), and another 48MP sensor sitting behind an f/3.5 aperture telephoto lens for up to 5x optical zoom (up from 4x in 6 Pro). The Pixel 7 has dual rear cameras with the same 50MP and 12MP setup as the Pixel 7 Pro. There is no dedicated telephoto in the Pixel 7. Both phones come with a 10.8MP selfie shooter with a fixed focus lens.   

The rest of the hardware and styling, too, is largely same as last year with a few differences here and there.

(Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)
Google is introducing a bunch of new camera-centric features.

The Pixel 7 is a bit smaller at 6.3-inch (versus the 6.4-inch Pixel 6) and Google says it has smaller bezels. The resolution (1080p) and refresh rate (90Hz) are being carried over from the last gen. The Pixel 7 Pro has the same 6.7-inch 1440p LTPO display with a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz. Google claims both displays can get up to 25 percent brighter than before. HDR playback is supported. You also get face unlock, in this generation, in addition to an in-screen fingerprint reader.

The Pixel 7 Pro comes with 12GB of RAM by default, while Pixel 7 comes with 8GB of RAM. Pixel 7 Pro comes in three storage configurations— 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. Pixel 7 comes in 128GB and 256GB options. There is no expandable storage. In India, Google is launching the Pixel 7 Pro with 12GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Pixel 7 will be sold in India in 8GB/128GB configuration.

Both phones run Android 13 and are guaranteed to get up to 5 years of security and 3 major OS updates.

Pixel 7 Pro has a 5,000mAh battery while Pixel 7 has a 4,355mAh battery. Both phones support 30W fast wired and wireless charging.

Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, both, come with a glass back. This is Corning Gorilla Glass Victus. Pixel 7 has a matte aluminium frame while Pixel 7 Pro uses a polished aluminium frame— Google says this is made of 100 percent recycled content. Pixel 7 Pro colour options include Snow, Obsidian, and Hazel. Pixel 7 comes in Snow, Obsidian, and Lemongrass. They are both IP68 rated.

Google has launched the Pixel 7 in India at a price of Rs 59,999 (8GB/128GB). Pixel 7 Pro will set you back by Rs 84,999 (12GB/128GB). Watch this space for our full reviews of the Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro coming soon.

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