It took Google 5 years! Pixel 7 is the easiest to recommend Android flagship phone right now!
This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
It’s purely subjective, but I believe many would agree the 2017 Pixel 2 was when Google’s software, hardware (save for the display on the Pixel 2 XL) and camera game… peaked.
If you look back at the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, you can see the exact moment when Google discovered its identity as a phone-maker. Of course, the phones were technically made by HTC and LG, but regardless, it’s when it became evident that Google was firmly on the side of distinct designs, super-smart software and stellar camera performance, backed up by class-leading computational photography. That’s a phone philosophy unique to Google.
With all due respect to whoever designed them, the Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 4 and 4XL sort of resembled prototype phones from the front, while the Pixel 5 was when Google decided to sell a mid-range device priced as a flagship. A very good phone, but not a flagship. And expensive.
It wasn’t until the Pixel 6 series when we saw a glimpse of Google’s bold (old) attitude and return to elegant designs! Two years into Google’s shift towards tasteful choices, we got the Pixel 7, and it just so happens that this very phone might be that phone, again.
It took Google five long years, but, at the start of 2023, Pixel 7 is the best Android phone for most people; outshines Pixel 7 Pro
Pixel 7 is now what Pixel 2 was in 2017!
As mentioned, Google spent a few years making some questionable choices but eventually (almost) redeemed itself with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro…
Unfortunately, although my Sorta Sunny Pixel 6 Pro might be the best looking phone I’ve ever held in hand, together with its smaller and less expensive partner in crime, the Pixel 6, Google’s 2021 flagships made for two of the most problematic phones of 2021-2022! I won’t repeat the countless stories I’ve written about the Pixel 6’s bugs, but it was an unreliable phone - even nearly a year into its existence.
Apart from the numerous bugs, the vanilla Pixel 6 (I’ll focus on this one) lacked in areas such as power and efficiency - logically thanks to Google’s brand new Tensor chip that felt more like a mid-range performer when compared to the likes of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and A15 Bionic.
But the Pixel 7 doesn’t simply come with an improved Tensor G2 processor, which is more efficient than the original Tensor (although still well behind the competition) - the Pixel 7 also irons out pretty much all major issues that made the Pixel 6 super hard to recommend, and even goes beyond that…
- Despite having a smaller battery than the Pixel 6, the new Pixel 7 manages to last about as long on a single charge, which is a testament to Google’s work on optimization - still, far more is required to reach those Apple and Qualcomm efficiency levels (Google, please!)
- Except for a bizarre Wi-Fi issue where my Pixel 7 Pro would drop connection for no apparent reason (I hope that’s not a widespread issue), Google’s vanilla flagship for 2022 is a reliable phone that I can easily recommend to friends and family - something I couldn’t say about the Pixel 6 (to this day, I regret getting my cousin to pre-order a Pixel 6; the phone works perfectly fine today)
- Despite having only a slightly smaller display on paper compared to the Pixel 6 (6.3 vs 6.4-inches), the Pixel 7 feels like a far more compact phone; that’s because it cuts down on the incredibly thick bezels the Pixel 6 had; as a result the Pixel 7 is, narrower, shorter, slimmer and 10g lighter than the Pixel 6, which makes a greater difference than you might think - especially when you attempt to use the two phones with one hand
Pixel 7 offers the best overall value compared to other phones priced similarly; Galaxy S22 comes close after price reductions
Pixel 7 is what the Pixel 6 probably should've been.
Of course in order to tell you the Pixel 7 is “the best Android phone for most”, I’d have to put things in context by comparing it to other phones competing for that title. Since that’s not quite a “versus” story, I’ll try to make it this quick and neat…
- Samsung’s Galaxy S22 is arguably a better phone than the Pixel 7 but it doesn’t come without some drawbacks such as slightly worse battery life, a noticeably smaller display (if you care) and OneUI 5, which is by far Samsung’s best software ever but still far less “clean” compared to Google’s Android; perhaps more importantly, the Galaxy S22 is still more expensive than the Pixel 7, while its “one year of extra software upgrades” wildcard advantage doesn’t apply here, thanks to the fact that it’s older than the Pixel 7, having launched with Android 12 (versus Android 13 on the Pixel)
- Another potential competitor of the Pixel 7 that’s available for most people to buy would be the OnePlus 10T; although it has a faster processor and blazing fast charging (a full charge takes about 20 minutes versus 140 minutes on the Pixel), the 10T falls behind in some key areas like camera quality and software support, with both falling short compared to the Pixel 7; of course, the OnePlus 10T is a noticeably larger phone than the Pixel 7, making it more difficult to recommend to the masses
- Another, far less obvious, alternative to the Pixel 7 is the Nothing Phone 1, which comes with a flashier design (quite literally), a longer-lasting battery and (act surprised!) faster charging than the Pixel 7; the Nothing Phone 1 is also about $100 cheaper than the Pixel, which might be why it cuts corners in pivotal areas such as performance (it comes with a mid-range chip) and camera (performance is less reliable than on the Pixel)
- Another, very new, Pixel 7 alternative that comes to mind is the Xiaomi 13 - this one is yet to launch globally, but even when it does, it certainly won’t be sold in the North America, which automatically disqualifies it from competing with Google in the US; otherwise, that’s an excellent entry from Xiaomi, which could potentially give Pixel 7 a run for its money in Europe, for example (if priced accordingly!)
- Last but not least - the obvious one; Pixel 7 Pro has a noticeably better display, louder speakers and greater zoom quality (beyond 5x magnification) when compared to the vanilla Pixel 7 but it’s up to you to decide if that’s worth the extra $300 and more importantly, the hassle of carrying a heavier and far larger phone that’s nearly impossible to use with one hand (especially when in a case); as a Pixel 7 Pro user, my answer is… no - it’s not an upgrade 95% of the people need
Pixel 7 is the easiest to recommend Android phone right now, but Galaxy S23 and Pixel 7a might change that very soon
Google's biggest competitor might be... Google.
Frankly, I don’t tend to put out many “appreciation posts” on the website (not that I make it a point not to do so) but this time, I simply had to give Google the flowers it deserves for making a balanced Android flagship phone, and more importantly, pricing it very adequately!
That’s a rare occurrence - you don’t see Apple and Samsung show such generosity, but Google can afford it and it’s not afraid to quite literally be losing money from selling phones to get users hooked to its smart software services! Smart.
For example, the iPhone 14 would receive two years of extra software support compared to the Pixel 7, and unlike Google’s phone, my iPhone 13 mini has never dropped Wi-Fi connection. That being said, of course, I only recommend iPhones to people who want them! If you aren’t tied up to iOS through your Mac, iPad, or AirPods… don’t mind me!
The other two, larger elephants in this story, are called “Galaxy S23” and “Pixel 7a”...
As you might know, Samsung’s 2023 flagship phone is about a month away from becoming official, promising to bring far greater power than the Pixel 7, a more versatile camera system, and one of the best displays of the year! All of that might be worth the extra $200 Samsung is expected to ask for the S23!
But the real “problem” for Google is called… Pixel 7a! We already saw the phone through a leaked Facebook video, and this one promises to… basically be a Pixel 7 but sell for just about $450, which could potentially make Google’s vanilla flagship redundant. Go figure what Google’s sales team has in mind!
The asterisk here is that we have no idea when the Pixel 7a is supposed to launch, so if you need a new phone and like what you see, the Pixel 7 is up for grabs right now! Google’s phones also go on sale all the time and sell at absolutely incredible prices on places like eBay, so… what are you waiting for?
No, seriously! What stops you from picking up a Pixel 7? Let me know down below!