Google Pixel 7 first impressions

I’ve tested countless devices as a reviewer, but the Pixel 3 XL remains a longtime favorite of mine. It was a phone I loved, especially for its camera. Portrait mode and night vision were features I used the most on the Pixel 3 XL. But cameras and phones have come a long way in the past four years, especially when it comes to flagship phones. More importantly, the Pixel marks its return to India after a hiatus of almost four years – technically two if you count the Pixel 4A that launched in 2020. Still, the Pixel 7 marks a major return for Google-made phones in the Indian market. So does the Pixel 7 have what it takes? Well, here are my experiences so far.

Pixel 7 quick specs: 6.3″ AMOLED FHD screen with 90Hz refresh rate, Google Tensor G2 chip, 8GB RAM + 128GB storage, 50MP + 12MP ultrawide camera, 10.8MP front camera, Android 13, 4335mAh battery pack

Pixel 7 series: camera and software

With the Pixel series, Google has always focused on the software and what it can do, rather than just chasing specs. This also applies to the Pixel 7 series, where many of the camera performances are the result of the software and not just the hardware. For the Pixel 7, Google sticks with a simple 50MP + 12MP ultra-wide dual camera setup. However, many of the camera’s functions are supported by software. I haven’t had a chance to use all of these.

The two camera features that I have used extensively are the Super Res Zoom and the Photo Unblur, which is technically more of a post-photo editing feature.

A shot taken with the Pixel 7 at 2x zoom. (Image Credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

First off, my first impression of this camera is that while the Pixel is still capable of taking great photos, it will definitely be a challenge for the company to differentiate itself in the market. On some of the greens I felt the saturation was on the higher side. Although I did notice that the camera now lets you decide how warm or cool you want to tint your photos as you click on them. The camera delivers sharp, detailed images. But then this has become the default expectation and experience for most users.

I also tried the Super Res Zoom, which technically only goes up to 8x on the Pixel 7. It’s the Pixel 7 Pro that offers 30x Super Res zoom. I used this to take some pictures of two eagles sitting in the distance and the results are interesting. It’s certainly not the best zoom I’ve seen on a phone, and the software has its limitations, at least on the Pixel 7. But photos taken at 2x zoom were crisp and clear.

The 8x zoom shot on the Pixel 7. (Image source: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

While it’s disappointing that this phone doesn’t have a macro option, I zoomed in on some objects to achieve this effect. And frankly, the Pixel 7 does a very good job with these images.

But the phone feature I’ve used extensively so far is Photo Unblur. This is something you can currently only do with the Pixel 7 series. This feature allows users to sharpen all previous photos no matter what phone they were taken with. As a parent of a toddler, I find this feature very relevant. I took several blurry photos of my son and found that in most cases the Pixel 7 was able to fix them and bring his face back into focus. There were some photos where the software wasn’t able to fix the blur as much, which is okay. But for parents with young children, this will no doubt be a very useful feature.

A macro-style image that I was able to click on with the Pixel 7. (Image Credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

I also had a chance to use the Pixel 7’s night vision goggles with some photos. For example, the following image was taken in a room with no lights, the only light coming from a second room. The Pixel 7 manages to make the scene brighter, the panel is clearly visible and even my photo in the background is visible. But the truth is, night photography on mobile has become incredibly competitive. I’m not thrilled yet, but I’ve yet to fully test this as well, so I’ll reserve judgment for now.

The night vision image captured with the Pixel 7. (Image Credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

Pixel 7 series: some quick thoughts

At Rs 59,999, the Pixel 7 is priced like a premium flagship. I’ll be testing its performance more thoroughly over the coming days to see how it fares in the department. There are also many Pixel 7-exclusive software-based features that I’d like to test out, particularly the real-time recorder, automatic message transcriptions, etc. But the Pixel is always about the camera, and sure, there’s still a lot left from my end more to discover and test. So far the Pixel 7 camera is delivering on that front, but whether it will stand out from the competition remains to be tested.

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