Is the Pixel 7 Pro Worth $AU300 More Than the Pixel 7?

Is the Pixel 7 Pro Worth $AU300 More Than the Pixel 7?

Google has officially refreshed the Pixel line with the new Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. Both phones push the Android envelope with advances in computational photography, security enhancements, and the longest software support of any Google phone. But there are, of course, differences between the 7 and the 7 Pro. The question is, which one is worth buying?

Google Tensor G2 chip

With the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, Google introduced its Tensor chip, the first time a Pixel device shipped with a Google-made SoC. Google is continuing on that momentum with the Tensor G2 chip. This year, the chip features a next-gen on-device Tensor processing unit (TPU), which helps power machine learning throughout Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. That machine learning is up to 60% faster and 20% more efficient, according to Google.

The G2 powers quite a few new features. Google showed off its changes to voice assistance, including making emoji typing much more accurate, including no longer needing to say the emoji’s “official” name to get it right. For example, you can say “upside-down face,” and G2 should type the proper emoji. The chip also transcribes audio messages, which is helpful when you can’t listen to the message right away. Later this year, the Pixels’ Recording app will receive speaker labels, so you know who’s talking throughout the recording.

With G2, Direct My Call now lets you choose directory options before they’re spoken. That way, you don’t need to wait for a prerecorded directory to run through every option before your Pixel shows you the option to tap. With Clear Calling, it’s now easier to hear people on the other end of the call. The G2 uses machine learning to block out backgrounds noises and enhance the other person’s voice.

Pixel 7 and 7 Pro design

Google builds on the design language of the Pixel 6 with the 7 and 7 Pro. We still have a raised band on the back of the device, this time with more pronounced camera cutouts — two on the Pixel 7, and three on the 7 Pro (but more on that below). Both phones are made with aluminium, although the 7 Pro features a polished metal.

Pixel 7 sports a 6.3-inch 1080 x 2400 display at 416 ppi. It has a variable refresh rate of up to 90 Hz, and reaches a brightness of up to 1,000 nits (HDR) and 1,400 nits peak brightness. The 7 Pro has a slightly larger 6.7-inch 1440 x 3120 display at 512 ppi. It has a variable refresh rate of up to 120 Hz, and the same HDR brightness of 1,000 nits. However, it gets a bit brighter at its peak, with 1,500 nits.

Google claims both devices sport “all-day battery.” The 7 has a 4,270 mAh battery, while the 7 Pro’s is 5,000 mAh. That said, Google’s battery specs are the same for both, with “24+ hour battery life.”

Pixel 7 and 7 Pro are all about the cameras

The Pixel 7 comes with two rear cameras: one 50MP wide camera and one 12MP ultrawide. The Pixel 7 Pro comes with those same cameras (although its ultrawide camera has a slightly larger field of view), plus a 48MP telephoto camera. Both phones now have a bigger 10.8MP sensor on the front camera, which uses machine learning for face unlock.

Both phones implement “next generation” Super Res Zoom, doubling the magnification of the optical lens. This feature crops the main 50MP camera to create a 12.5 MP image at 2x “zoom.”

Of course, the big difference between these phones is the 7 Pro’s new telephoto camera, which pushes Super Res Zoom even further. The 7 Pro merges the main camera’s 2x “zoom” and the telephoto’s 5x optical zoom to create an even better end product. Even once you start a true digital zoom, the 7 Pro keeps things sharp. When you pinch to zoom into 10x, the 7 Pro uses the same process as the 2x zoom to make your “zoom” photos look great.

Google also wants your view finder to work better when zooming in far. Zoom stabilisation now keeps thing stable past 15x digital zoom, which helps frame your shots better, and 20x–30x zoom has an “ML Upscaler.” The 7 Pro’s ultrawide is also wider than 7’s, which allows you to snap Macro Focus shots up to 3 cm away.

We’ll have to see how well this all performs in real life before knowing if Google’s claims are true. But the company’s strong suit is computational photography, so they do have some laurels to rest on here.

Another impressive claim from Google is that the 7 and 7 Pro will solve your blurry photos for good. That applies to pics captured with Night Sight, as the feature is now twice as fast and automatically fuses images from both cameras to sharpen your photos. But the new phones also remove blur with machine learning with a new feature called Photo Unblur. It unblurs any photo in your Google Photos library, whether or not they were taken on the 7 or not. The future is now, people.

Google is also introducing Cinematic Blur, which gives a shallow depth of field to your videos, in addition to high-quality 10-bit HDR for the first time. Google is working with apps like Snapchat and YouTube to make sure this 10-bit media is properly displayed on your social media accounts. We also have Active Stabilisation for better video stabilisation, and speech enhancement and 4K 60 fps video on all cameras. According to Google, your videos will be high quality, smooth, and sound great.

A big accessibility feature this year is Guided Frame, which gives instructions out loud to help you move your camera to take the perfect selfie.

Google really wants you to think the Pixel is secure

The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro are the “most secure and private phones yet,” at least says Google. Part of that claim comes from the new Titan M2 security chip (no relation to Apple’s M2). This chip is now officially certified, which gives Google some backing here. Plus, you get five years of guaranteed security updates and software updates. Previous Pixels only received three years of guaranteed software updates, which is a frustrating timeline given that phones last longer and longer. Now, you know your Pixel 7 will keep getting new features from now until 2027.

Protected computing is Google’s big privacy play this year. The goal is to minimise your data footprint, de-identify data so no one knows it belongs to you, and restrict access. The allows for features like Live Translate, spam detection, and smart reply to all happen on-device. And for the first time, health and wellness data is now private on the 7 and 7 Pro. They can even track your quality of sleep by analysing coughs and snores throughout the night.

My personal favourite feature, however, is Google’s new VPN service: The 7 and 7 Pro are the first Pixel phones to come with a built-in VPN at no extra cost, which prevents third-parties from associating browsing traffic with your device or identity. I think that’s awesome, and a big step for a company like Google.

What do the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro cost?

Google priced the Pixel 7 at $AU999 and the 7 Pro at $AU1,299, which is quite competitive. By comparison, the iPhone 14 starts at $AU1,399, while the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max start at $AU1,749 and $AU1,899, respectively. If you were debating about the two platforms, Google has a solid argument here.

In my mind, the 7 is the clear winner among the company’s two new phones, as it’s almost identical to the 7 Pro. What you miss out on are the telephoto camera, better Super Res Zoom, and the larger display with a slightly better refresh rate. Everything else though is essentially the same, for $300 less. Google didn’t make too many sacrifices on its “cheaper” flagship this time around, and I bet it’s the one most Pixel fans will want to go with.

After all, that $300 savings almost affords you a new Google Pixel Watch, which starts at $549, and it more than covers a pair of the company’s new Pixel Buds Pro — no doubt something Google considered when pricing its new devices. However, if you’re serious about phone photography, that extra cost might be worth it to you for the 7 Pro’s excellent camera features.

As always, these are my views on paper. The phones aren’t out yet, so we’ll need to wait for reviewers to dig into them to see what’s what. Until then, to me, the 7 seems to be the way to go.


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