We got our first look at the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro

smartphones

(Image credit: Google)

Google has just unveiled the Google Pixel 7 early. We have an official look at the new design, with the focus on the camera lenses. The camera bar is also now aluminum, adding a sharp accent to the glass back. 

We also know — and everyone expected this — that the Pixel 7 will use the second-generation Tensor chip, further unlocking all kinds of AI and machine learning applications. Here’s hoping that it’s also on par with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, and that it sports a newer, more efficient 5G modem.

Let’s focus on the biggest thing: the camera lenses. While the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro offered a subtler, more subdued lens design, the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro put the cameras on full blast. Anyone looking at you holding up your phone will see the lenses spread across that aluminum bar.

I’m not sold on this, but I still haven’t come around on the new Pixel design. I like my Pixel 6 Pro’s hidden camera lenses, and I don’t know if I will ever like the Pixel 7’s new focus. The camera bar is still a bit awkward looking in my opinion, and the new flashy metal look does not appeal to me. I will have to get the phones in-hand before I draw final conclusions, however.

We expect the Pixel 7 to launch in October, just like the Pixel 6 did. That’s still a few months off, and we’ll have the new Pixel 6a coming out in the meantime. (Google confirmed that the new A-series Pixel will launch in late July.) 

Our original Pixel 7 rumor hub follows. Stay tuned for more updates…

Google Pixel 7 rumors

Google is apparently working on a second-generation Tensor chipset; a follow-up to the first-gen Tensor found within the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Updating the chip in the Pixel 7 is an obvious change to make from the Pixel 6, but unfortunately at the moment there’s no sign of what Google would alter, apart from the usual improvements to processing power and energy efficiency that chipsets aim for every year.

Building on that, 9to5Google has uncovered evidence that links a new second-gen Tensor chipset to two new Pixel devices, which it believes to be the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. According to the site’s source, the chipset has the model name ‘GS201’ and is linked to an unreleased Samsung modem with the model number ‘g5300b’. This new modem is in turn linked to two devices with the codenames Cheetah and Panther — which 9to5Google believes to be the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro respectively.

It’s the closest we’ve come to confirmation that work on the devices is underway, so expect details to start ramping up from here.

Another potential rumor is that Google could add an under-display selfie camera to the next-gen Pixel. That’s based on a patent filed by Google which takes the basic under-display selfie camera technology, currently found on select phones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 or the ZTE Axon 30, and improves it by using a mirror system to show either the camera or a portion of display as required.

This is only a patent, and so it could still be some years away from being ready to use, if it materializes at all. However it would make for a great centerpiece feature for a future Pixel.

A new rumor suggests that Google won’t change the Pixel 7’s cameras from those found on the Pixel 6. This sort of makes sense given the Pixel 6 changed pretty much everything from the Pixel 5, but we hope we’ll still see some updates and improvements all the same.

Google Pixel 7 design

smartphones

(Image credit: Google)

Renders for the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro from OnLeaks show two familiar phones. The design is similar to the Pixel 6, but there are some subtle differences. These include an invisible punch hole in the front, which could point to an under-display camera, and oval cutout for the main/ultrawide cameras housed within the camera bar.

When we first saw Google Pixel 7 renders have been leaked by David “xLeaks7” Kowalski, we thought they could actually be for the rumored Google Pixel 6a because the dimensions pointed to a smaller display than the current Pixel 6. However it does look like Google may indeed be shrinking the Pixel 7 down a bit, to 6.3 inches according to Ross Young, from 6.4 inches on the Pixel 6. The Pixel 7 Pro will apparently be the same size as the Pixel 6 Pro though, measuring 6.7 inches.

For colors, the base Pixel 7 has been rumored to come in black, white, coral and blue. No leaks have detailed which colors the Pixel 7 Pro will be offered in, but if these renders are anything to go by, a sky blue option would suit the Pro phone nicely.

A render for what’s supposedly a Google Pixel 7 case has shown off how the next-gen Pixel could sport a striking camera module.

smartphones

(Image credit: TechGoing)

While the camera bar introduced in the Pixel 6 seems present, there could be a pill shaped cutout for two of the three rear cameras, which alongside a normal circular camera cutout and a flash looks a little odd in a rectangular camera-module-meets-bar. We’d take this render with a good dose of skepticism, as the design doesn’t seem in keeping with Google latest hardware design language. 

Google Pixel 7: what we want to see

The lack of Pixel 7 rumors isn’t stopping us from coming up with our own wish list. If anything, we hope that Google is taking suggestions for its next phone.

A more reliable fingerprint reader

The under-display fingerprint scanner on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro is something we complained about in our reviews. This is Google’s first attempt at putting the fingerprint scanner beneath the screen, as the company previously mounted a fingerprint reader on the back of its phones. However that doesn’t excuse how unreliably the scanner works.

We’d be quite happy if Google just figured out the kinks in its current optical fingerprint reader. Equally, if it decided to borrow Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint reader system (found in the Samsung Galaxy S21), which uses soundwaves to recognize your prints and therefore is less affected by scratches on the screen, that would be a good approach, too.

Another possibility would be for Google to ditch the fingerprint scanner altogether and use facial recognition unlocking, like it did with the Google Pixel 4. However that system didn’t work great either, and would require a fair bit of work before it was as smooth and reliable as Apple’s Face ID system. It might also require Google to return to a larger top bezel to accommodate the necessary sensors. That said, we have recently heard rumors that the Pixel 6 Pro could still get face unlock, and if that happens then surely it’s a cert for at least the Pixel 7 Pro.

Better and brighter displays for all models

There are a couple of ways Google could improve the displays of the Pixel 7 series. First off: brightness. Google has fitted the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro with surprisingly dim displays, even when set at maximum brightness in direct light. Being unable to see your smartphone’s display properly is inarguably a bad thing, so if Google could crank up the brightness of the Pixel 7’s display a few hundred more nits, that would be one of the Pixel 6 series’ worst areas fixed.

The other potential area of improvement would be the specs of the standard Pixel 7 model’s screen. While the Pixel 6 Pro offers 120Hz, the standard Pixel 6 only offers 90Hz. That’s better than the 60Hz that used to be all you’d get from a smartphone, but given that phones cheaper than the Pixel 6 can offer 120Hz — look at the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G or the Redmi Note 10 Pro — we’d like to see Google do it too. Upping the Pixel 6’s FHD resolution to QHD like the Pro would also be beneficial but isn’t as big a deal.

One of our TG writers who just bought a Pixel 6 Pro also said he’d like to see Google ditch the curved display for a flat one on the Pixel 7 Pro. Google didn’t use a curved display prior to the Pixel 6 Pro, so there’s a chance this design choice will not be returning if enough Pixel 6 Pro users complain. The only issue then would be ergonomics, as curved edges help users interact with the display of the large 6.8-inch handset.

Another camera on the base Pixel 6

Google has arguably short-changed the Pixel 6 by only giving it two rear cameras. It’s the same amount that the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4 had, and also what the base iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini offer, but it’s still disappointing given some premium phones are now offering up to four cameras plus a depth sensor (such as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra).

The obvious choice for a third camera on the base Pixel 7 would be a telephoto lens, even if its magnification wouldn’t match the 4x optical zoom of the Pro model. A depth camera for more accurate portrait shots and improved AR performance, or a dedicated macro camera for super close-up shots, could also make for a good addition.

Longer battery life

This is something we’d always like to see with every new generation of a given phone series, but it’s more important for the Pixel 7 series than most.

Despite having the largest batteries ever in a Pixel phone, the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro proved to have disappointing longevity when connecting to the internet over 5G. That’s going to become an increasingly big deal as 5G networks roll out nationwide in the U.S., U.K. and beyond, unless you can rely on regular and speedy Wi-Fi connections wherever you go.

Given the capacity of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro’s’ batteries (4,614 mAh and 5,000 mAh respectively), it doesn’t seem like the batteries are too small. Instead Google probably needs to focus on using the power it has available within the cells efficiently.

Faster charging

Speedier charging is again something every phone should aim to improve on, and while Google did improve this with the Pixel 6, more work is needed to make it a proper competitor.

After years of using 18W charging, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro can charge at up to 30W wired and 23W wireless. But despite having a fairly high charging wattage, in our testing the Pixel 6 only reached 29% full after half an hour of charging on a third-party 30W charger. (The Pixel 6 doesn’t ship with one in the box). That’s not that fast, especially factoring in phones like the OnePlus 9 series which charges to almost full in half an hour. 

It’s possible that the Pixel 6 charges much faster if you use a plug from Google itself, but as it stands, this is disappointingly slow. Google could do with increasing the wattage of its charger for the Pixel 7, or perhaps using a twin-cell battery like the OnePlus 9 to allow faster filling at the same wattage.

An alert slider

For iPhone users (and to a lesser extent OnePlus owners), the alert slider is a critical feature of the phone. It is an effective way to quickly enable or disable notification sounds without needing to unlock the phone or even turn on the screen. 

We’ve never seen an alert slider on a Pixel phone before, and given it’s only really used by Apple and OnePlus phones, it seems unlikely Google’s going to change its mind. However we stand by the idea that this would make a great addition to the Pixel 7.

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