Google found the flagship path again last year after getting sidetracked with the Pixel 5 in 2020. The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro brought back the premium build and high-end specs (obviously, the Pro more so than the vanilla), and there's no need for further disruption in 2022 - evolution will do.Pixel 7 (left) next to Pixel 7 Pro
Indeed, the Pixel 7 Pro is overall physically very similar to the previous generation. The large form factor handset with curved edges front and back is a tried and true formula across numerous brands, but the Pixel-specific camera assembly on the back - the 'visor' as some call it - makes it uniquely recognizable as the Google phone.
It's precisely the visor that is among the few new design touches this time around. Now an integral part of the aluminum midframe, the camera protrusion promises to be more durable than last year's glass-covered implementation. That is to say, less prone to breaking, but not so to scratching - the internet is filled with reports of users already having nicked the visor.
The exposed parts of the aluminum skeleton, together with the visor, are polished to a glossy finish on the Pixel 7 Pro, in a color to complement the rear panel's hue. Our review unit's colorway goes by 'Obsidian' and even if you'd be quick to default to labeling it black, it's more of a dark gray.
The other two color options go by Hazel and Snow.Pixel 7 (left) next to Pixel 7 Pro
Regardless of colorway, the Gorilla Glass Victus rear panel will inevitably get covered in fingerprints. Our Snow Pixel 7 is good at masking them, but the Obsidian 7 Pro shows them a little more prominently. The Hazel should be somewhere in between.
There's no saving the high-gloss finish on the frame and particularly the aluminum visor - you might as well just accept that your Pixel will never really be spotless and move on.
As far as the metal bits collecting smudges are concerned, Pixel 7 non-Pro owners need not worry - the satin treatment on the vanilla model's frame and visor are way less prone to fingerprint accumulation.
That said, neither model is immune to pocket lint collecting at the foot of the camera bump. A case will likely only make the grime less visible, but it will still be there.Pixel 7 (left) next to Pixel 7 Pro
Both the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro phones are dust- and water-resistant and carry an IP68 rating for submersion down to 1.5m for as much as 30 minutes. Apple is making everyone in the industry look bad, however, quoting a 6m depth for water submersion for several generations of iPhones now, while others, Pixels included, only cover the standard's minimum depth requirement.
Over on the display side, the 6.7-inch curved edge OLED display is surrounded by a minimal black border. Depending on how you look at it, the top one can be considered as thin as the side ones, while the chin is marginally thicker.
A thin slit above the display spans more than half the width of the phone - seems like overkill for an earpiece, even one that doubles as a speaker, though it's so slim you won't be seeing it too much.
The Pixel 7 Pro uses an under-display fingerprint reader of the optical type. It's positioned high enough to not require grip adjustment of any sort or make us feel like it poses a risk for dropping the phone like some of the especially low-positioned FPRs.
It's a complicated relationship we've had with this reader. Between this reviewer and the one handling the Pixel 7 non-Pro, our experiences have varied considerably. There were no missed attempts here, while there were occasions on the Pixel 7 where two consecutive missed attempts would lead to a PIN prompt, even though the allowed recognition attempts haven't been maxed out.
Regardless, we all agree that this is not the fastest reader out there. It's bordering on being slower than ideal. That could have something to do with how the unlock animations are executed; we can't be quite sure.
And to wrap up a much too long fixation on the fingerprint reader on a positive note, we'll just mention it lights up quite sparingly, so it doesn't blind you in darker environments.
We counted no less than 8 antenna bands around the perimeter of the Pixel 7 Pro, but the 4 ones that are the visor's natural extension to the sides could almost pass for deliberate design accents.
What is harder to swallow is the cutout in the frame's top, behind which the mmWave antenna would normally go. Only this here is not a mmWave capable device, and Google somehow managed to cover the cutout with a plastic cap that is in a distinctly different hue, and it's simply an eyesore - which you may or may not be able to tell from the photos. Somehow, the non-Pro makes do without it.
A mic is also to be found here, but that one is just the usual pinhole, nothing remotely bothersome.
The SIM slot is on the left side of the handset, and it would take a single nano SIM card. On the bottom is where you'll find the USB-C slot, the 'main' loudspeaker (left slit in the below image), and the primary mic (somewhere behind the other slit).
And little by little, we make it to the handset's right side, where the power button is still confusingly placed above the volume rocker as opposed to the other way around like on virtually every other phone.
The Pixel 7 Pro measures 162.9x76.6x8.9mm and weighs 212g. While the dimensions don't make it look any more compact than either the Galaxy S22 Ultra or the iPhone 14 Pro Max, the Google phone feels easily the most compact of this trio thanks to its rounded edges (compared to the blocky iPhone) and rounded corners (compared to the practically rectangular Galaxy). The weight does also give the Pixel 7 Pro an advantage, especially against the 240g iPhone.
If you're after a more pocketable high-end Pixel, the vanilla 7 is as close as you can get. It's hardly truly compact, and at 197g, it's anything but lightweight, but it does feel smaller than the Pro.Pixel 7 Pro (left) next to Pixel 7