Google's Pixel series has not seen a flagship device in India for quite a while. The Pixel 6a is the more budget offering but now we have the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro available in India. I tried the Pixel 7 for a few days, which is priced at Rs. 59,999, and this is how my experience was.
Design: The Pixel 7 follows a brushed aluminium (recycled as per the company) build with a matte finish. The phone has a familiar camera bar on the back with cut-outs for the cameras, LED flash and mic. The phone has Gorilla Glass Victus on both front and back and is IP68 water and dust-resistant.
Both the Power/lock and volume buttons are placed on the right with the power key just a little above the halfway mark, and these keys are a little stiffer to press than what we usually see on phones. On the left side, you have the SIM card slot in the lower half. The top houses a mic, while the bottom sports the USB type C port with the primary mic and one set of stereo speakers around it. The other set of stereo speakers is in the ear speaker grille along with the front-facing camera notch on the 6.3-inch display.
The phone isn’t thin and has flat sides, making it quite comfortable to carry around relatively for its size. It weighs a little under 200grams and did not feel as the most slippery big phone either and the Snow colour I tried can catch smudges though they are not as prominent compared to others.
Display: The picture photos 6.3-inch (1080x2400) OLED display that supports up to 90 Hz refresh rate display is quite vibrant and a higher quality panel than the one of the Pixel 6a. Video output for HDR is also pretty good with accurate colours. It’s bright enough and usable under direct sunlight without much hassle. You can choose from 60Hz or an auto-refresh rate that uses 90Hz refresh rate in supporting apps, which as far as I could tell most apps do by now. So, for streaming over something like Netflix or Plex, the display is up to the mark.
Camera: For your photos and videos needs, the phone has a dual camera setup on the back—50MP (f/1.85) main camera and 12MP (f.2.2) ultrawide camera—while on the front you have a 10.8MP (f.2.2) camera. The photos from the Pixel 7 are reliable and consistent most of the time. Most of the improvements I saw were in the HDR shots as well as lower shutter lag while taking night shots. If you have kids and pets around, you might want to have the top shot enabled for capturing that extra special moment that you don’t want to miss.
The phone chooses what it thinks is the best shot from within a motion picture and video, this was there on the Pixel 6a too, but it seems to be better refined now. For zooming, the device can handle shots from 2x to 3x quite well, but anything beyond that and you start to get a lot more blurry and grained shots since there’s no Telephoto lens here.
The front-facing camera does a nice job with its tone rendering for different skin tones under different light environments, which a lot of phones tend to overdo. For videos, cinematic video, with its focus can deliver decent shots even in low light but you really have to keep your phone steady while shooting. The app now shows you the video resolution in effect and also retains the zoom level when switching between video and photo.
Performance and software: The device is powered by Google’s own Tensor G2 chipset (octa-core processor and Mali G710 GPU plus Titan M2 Security chip) along with 8GB of RAM and 128GB UFS3.1 of storage (comes in 256GB, too). It runs on Android 13 OS out of the box with the October security patch. The phone does a really good job of handling day-to-day tasks without any hiccups. Apps close and resume just as you would expect without any noticeable stuttering or frames dropped. For most games, the Pixel 7 should be fine for playing, but for high-end games such as Genshin Impact, it can struggle a little to handle the game at its highest settings but should be fine at lower.
While making long video calls and charging the phone in one go, the phone can get quite a bit warm, it’s not alarmingly hot, but it’s still so much that it needs to be mentioned. Google’s Tensor G2 is not the highest-performing chipset in the smartphone industry today, but it can handle 95% of the tasks well enough, so its performance is consistent.
For the software part, there are subtle, the Pixel 7, as we know, shows Google’s own take on Android for its users. The main improvements seem to be better voice detection, including for Indian users, along with transcribing in the recorder app. Photo Unblur is a feature where you can try to sharpen or unblur an old photo even if it’s taken from a non-Pixel device, works okay, something worth trying if you have a cherished photo that may not have come a bit blurry than you might have wanted.
Now Playing, which tells you what music is playing around you, now also shows you information on your lockscreen. Material U and its icon theming is adopted by more app developers now and seems to look a little better too. The Pixel team promises 3 years of OS and 5 years of security updates for the Pixel 7, which is lower than what Samsung promises now and what Apple has been providing for a long time, but at least there are updates on the table, and the Pixel updates, though can be a little late to come depending on your region, you know you’re going get it sooner or later.
Speaking of updates, the fingerprint scanner on the Pixel 7 is quicker and more reliable than the one on the Pixel 6a, but it’s still not in the same league as the ones we have seen from Samsung and OnePlus.
Battery: With a 4,355mAh battery unit, the phone lasted almost a day more often than not. With Always-on Display enabled (which cannot be scheduled), two Email Accounts, 1.5 hours of YouTube time, video calls and network data for 2 hours or so, the phone can last about a day. What’s not so nice was how long the phone can take to charge from 1% to full, taking 1.5 hours to do that (highest charging capacity at 21watt, officially), which is what we saw on the Apple iPhone 14, too, and is just not quite a nice experience especially if you have used a smartphone with faster charging and that isn’t uncommon in the smartphone world these days.
Other features: There’s WiFi 6e support, though I couldn’t try it as I haven’t got a supporting WiFi router so far. There’s 5G support but for Indian network carriers, Google is expected to seed an update for compatibility with 5G in a month or so, but the device does support most of the bands that’s required for pan-India coverage. Otherwise, network and call quality seem top-notch on the device, taking calls on the go while having 4G hotspot enabled wasn’t an issue either. The stereo speakers are quite loud and punchy though they are not exactly the loudest on a phone today with the earspeaker grille speaker being a little more dominant than the bottom one to give a slightly imbalanced stereo output at higher volumes.
Verdict: The Pixel 7 makes a nice comeback for Google to the Indian market as far as its flagship devices go. Hopefully, the forthcoming software updates can further address (minor) heating and fingerprint scanner, too. The phone is priced considerably higher than the Pixel 6a, and it shows in its performance, fingerprint scanner as well as camera performance. If you are eyeing a Pixel device for the first time, have a budget that can stretch to around Rs. 60,000, one that doesn’t cut too many corners, the Pixel 7 is a worthy contender with its upgraded display, consistent software experience and reliable camera performance.