Test: Google is back on the market with a fantastic phone

Google is back on the mobile scene with a bang: Say hello to the delicious and cunning Pixel 7 Pro.

Google would rather sell ads to and show search results.

But when it comes to hardware, the company has not always shown itself to be particularly interested in the European market.

It turned into a few years as a mobile manufacturer in the 2010s with what was then called the Nexus series, which, if nothing else, enjoyed some popularity among Android enthusiasts.

But when in 2016 the tech giant really jumped out as a mobile manufacturer with its Pixel series (instead of simply allying itself with established brands such as Samsung, LG, HTC and Huawei), the European mobile buyers were thus overlooked.

And it was quite a shame because finally, the Android camp could offer a phone where both software and hardware were put together under the same roof.

After six years of development, the time is finally ripe for a European launch, Google believes. And the company enters the European market with a banger with a phone: Pixel 7 Pro.

It’s very own size

Mobile phones tend to look alike. As with flat-screen televisions, there is now a limit to how much you can design around the large black surface that a screen is.

However, Google succeeds admirably in giving the Pixel 7 Pro its own flair. Today’s test item in the grey-green ‘Hazel’ colour is proof of this, where glass surfaces and sides in high-gloss metal give a quite exclusive impression.

The whole thing is finally marked by a distinctive metal band at the back, where the three cameras are housed.

This is a ‘Pro’ model, which seems to be the tech industry’s way of indicating that nothing has been spared.

You also get a 6.7-inch razor-sharp OLED screen for the money and everything that is expected in a top phone in 2022: waterproof and dustproof construction, a large battery, wireless charging, stereo speakers and an always-on display.

What you don’t get is a charger.

Here you have to go out and find one of your old USB-C chargers. Your laptop charger could also work here, but here the Pixel 7 Pro supports a maximum of 23 watts.

Live screen and sound

The screen is one of the highlights of the Pixel 7 Pro. It’s big, colourful and completely frictionless thanks to its 120 Hz technology.

Here is an ‘Always on technology similar to many other phones, although it is not as colourful and nice to look at as with Samsung and Apple.

Under the screen is the obligatory fingerprint reader, but facial recognition is now the one I’ve used the most as it shines faster.

It’s all accompanied by excellent speakers, which match the fine output that the class leader, Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro Max, can muster.

Google powers

Inside the mobile, there is machinery that is signed by Google itself: a so-called Tensor G2 processor. However, Samsung should have had a hand in the development and manufacturing of that chipset.

The performance from here is therefore in line with the leading that you can find in Android land. You don’t lack the power either in games, when using apps or in everyday life in general.

What the Tensor processor offers beyond the usual is a dedicated neural network processor intended for AI-based tasks such as speech recognition and transcription.

The latter should even come in the long run – but is not ready yet.

There is also a built-in Titan M2 chip, which should offer security technology that the company uses in its server rooms. However, it is difficult to assess what advantages it gives in practice as an ordinary tech editor.

What is primarily noticeable about this processor is how it seems to handle power management.

Google itself promises up to three days of operation, which is actually not unattainable if you otherwise switch off functions such as the always-on screen and otherwise let Android 13 optimize the operating time.

It also helps here that the battery is large with its 5,000 mAh, and you can forgive that the lightning charging does not take place as quickly as with some of the competitors.

Best looking Android ever

One of the primary advantages of having a phone signed by Google itself is that the software and hardware are forged by the same hand. And therefore should play optimally.

It also means that a phone like a Pixel 7 Pro is first with the latest Android version, now version 13.0. Google also goes out and guarantees three years of updates, which is on par with Samsung, but not quite on par with Apple.

Novel. The phone here is born with Android 13, which is the first version of the operating system that features Google’s new design language dubbed ‘Material U’.

After a few weeks of the company with the system, I have become a fan.

Google seems to have prioritized the common thread and cohesion – an approach that is a bit of a shortage in the Android ecosystem.

But here it all plays together, icons, colours and transitions are colour-matched, so that all navigation seems complete, competent and smooth. A pleasure.

Extremely cunning camera trio

While several Android manufacturers go megapixel crazy with their phones, the mantra at Google is to work smarter with the data coming from the camera modules.

… And also to equip the Pixel 7 Pro mobile phone with an impressive telephoto module.

If you look at the primary camera, you will only get images of 12 megapixels, despite the fact that the sensor is actually equipped with 50 of them.

However, the images that you get are the result of a keen round of data processing and artificial intelligence, where a stream of photos taken in rapid succession is intelligently combined to produce good, sharp images. And it works brilliantly.

Regardless of whether it’s dark or light, you can count on lively and lifelike results here.

Google’s ability to process image data becomes particularly evident when the tele-module is used. Here, a special periscope lens has been used to deliver a whopping five times optical zoom.

When that photo data is pieced together, it results in compelling telephoto capabilities that raise the bar for what can be expected in a smartphone.

Google’s photo-technical abilities are also noticeable in the ultra-wide-angle camera, which is also among the best that can be found in both Android and iPhone land.

The same conclusion can be drawn about the selfie camera, which delivers 10 good megapixel self-portraits.

The same good beats can also be traced in video recordings, where it is a bit more limited how much the clever algorithms can boost the quality.

The stabilization, colours and contrast are now excellent, but sharper 4K videos have been seen out there.

Google is back

Google has been missed but has almost been forgotten as a mobile manufacturer here at home.

That turns out to be a terrible shame because the Pixel 7 Pro proves that Google is fully capable of delivering a flagship phone worthy of the company.

Software and hardware finally meet in a neat unit, which can land in the hands of the EU audience.

At the same time, Google must be praised for its focus on what really counts in a top mobile: user interface, performance, operating time and photo quality.

When the price at the same time stays at a reasonable USD 899 for the glory, there is nothing else to say but welcome back Google.

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