The Pixel 6 Pro brought the major camera upgrades, the 7 Pro builds on them. For starters, the main camera is unchanged from last year's model. The ultrawide may or may not have a new sensor, but it certainly has autofocus this time around - a most welcome development you don't get on the non-Pro. At the opposite end of the zoom range, the telephoto now reaches 5x optical zoom (up from 4x) albeit at the expense of using a smaller sensor.
The primary camera's sensor is most likely the Samsung GN1 and it has a 1/1.31" optical format and uses 4-to-1 to get from its nominal 50MP resolution to 12.5MP resulting images. Google specifies an 82-degree field of view for the lens, which more or less corresponds to a 25mm equivalent focal length, though the EXIF data reports 24mm and that's what the sensor's crop factor points to as well. The lens is stabilized.
The ultrawide camera maintains the sensor numbers of its predecessor - 12MP, 1.25µm pixel pitch (so 1/2.9" optical format), and it still produces 12.5MP images because numbers don't matter anymore. The lens has a wider field of view this time (125.8° vs 114° on the Pixel 6 Pro), though you won't be getting all of it once the distortion correction has its way. The most important development here is the introduction of autofocus, which not only enables the new macro mode, but also just plain lets you capture a wider variety of shots.
The telephoto is all new. It uses a 48MP 1/2.55" sensor with 0.7µm pixels and this one is fairly certainly the Samsung GM5, replacing the 1/2" imager of last year's model. Again, the final photos are 12.5MP despite what arithmetic will have you believe. The lens here will get you 5x zoom to an EXIF-reported equivalent focal length of 117mm (Google says 20.6 degrees of field of view which should be 119mm). This lens is stabilized too, and has an f/3.5 aperture.
The selfie camera is now specified at 10.8MP with a 92.8° field of view, which sounds an awful lot like the old 11.1MP 94° field of view unit cropped in slightly. But since we've already established that numbers are all made up, you'd be getting 10MP selfies. The f/2.2 aperture lens lacks autofocus and we'd say that's inexcusable anymore.
Completely overhauled for the previous generation, the camera app is now more or less the same as last year. In the main viewfinder, you'll see a Settings cog in the upper left corner while the the location option that lets you decide whether to save photos or videos to the Photo Gallery or the Locked Folder has been assigned to a long press on the gallery shortcut next to the shutter release.
The camera app will always default to the 'Camera' photo mode. From left to right, the shooting modes are: Night Sight, Motion, Portrait, Camera, Video, and Modes which lets you access the Panorama, Photo Sphere, and Google Lens modes. Lens has modes for Translate, Text, Search, Homework, Shopping, Places, and Dining.
Tapping somewhere in the viewfinder will make a bunch of sliders show up - for white balance, shadow, and light. You can disable the lot of them, if you prefer. An option to shoot RAW images is provided, but you need to specifically enable this one in settings first. Similarly to last year, there's no setting or mode to make the Pixel 7 Pro shoot at the sensor's native 50MP resolution.
The Motion camera mode introduced on the last generation is here as well, with the same shooting options, still in Beta. Action Pan is used for capturing a fast-moving subject by following its path with the phone and blurring the background in the process. Long exposure is the opposite: you press the shutter button to capture something like a train, car trail lights, or something that's moving quickly, and the background stays clear.
Daylight photos out of the Pixel 7 Pro's main camera are predictably great. Much has been said about that 'Pixel look' and we're getting that on the 7 Pro as well. We're talking about that gritty detail and extra clarity in textures and a tone curve that may leave shots looking a touch darker in the shadows than rival renditions. It's a 'look' and it's a look you may not like subjectively, but we're mostly fans.
The fall we have here does bring out the best of the Pixel's color science and we're getting rich hues that aren't oversaturated yet look more vivid than even a Galaxy can muster. Dynamic range is excellent on the Pixel too, with that caveat we mentioned before - it just likes its lower midtones deeper and more intense, if that makes sense.
Comparing against a Galaxy S22 Ultra, the images aren't all that different in their overall impact, though the Galaxy does brighten its shadows more and can have its own take on skies and greenery. A Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, on the other hand, can almost look washed out next to these other two - it's just not quite as expressive.
At the 2x zoom level, the Pixel 7 Pro's main camera leverages the camera shake you inevitably introduce when handholding the phone or creates its own controlled shake using the OIS mechanism if you're on a tripod, in order to gather more detail and come up with an image that's better than a simple crop and upscale.
Indeed, the results are solid and if you're worried that the gap between the main camera's field of view and the 5x telephoto is too wide, fret not - Super Res has you covered.
Now, that's not to say that others don't do an equally good job of that. In fact, the iPhone 14 Pro (Max) is sharper and more detailed at 2x than pretty much anything, Pixel included, and even the Mi 11 Ultra has the edge against the Google phone. The Galaxy S22 Ultra does an okay job too, but it wouldn't be our first pick.
The Galaxy doesn't depend on that 2x zoom level quite as heavily, since it has a dedicated 3x camera. The Pixel can do 3x too even though it doesn't have a shortcut to that magnification in the viewfinder (it does have a 2x). The way the Pixel achieves intermediate zoom levels between 2x and 5 is by stitching up composites where the center part of the image is sourced from the telephoto, while the periphery comes from the main camera.
It's not a new concept and can work miracles depending on subject matter, though if you're shooting something that has comparable level of detail across the frame, you'll see the difference between the areas sourced from the different cameras.
At 5x zoom, you're at the native magnification of the Pixel's telephoto. It's not quite as sharp as some 5x alternatives, and it's not processed quite in the same Pixel way so that texture and grittiness isn't there. It's still nicely detailed, it just doesn't have any particular bite. It also has a different color rendition compared to the main camera - a more greenish tint that's oddly not visible in the composites above.
The Mi 11 Ultra is more or less our benchmark for telephoto performance and it has an edge over the Pixel 7 Pro when it comes to sharpness and fine detail, as well as microcontrast. It is noisier, however.
At 10x zoom, the Pixel 7 Pro takes on the Galaxy's second telephoto and the past experience has proven that the Mi 11 Ultra is also competent at this level. Google's efforts produce respectable results, and we'd certainly be okay with the Pixel's 10x photos, though ultimately we'd say that the other two deliver an extra level of sharpness.
Things get more interesting at 30x. Here, the Galaxy has the lead, but the Pixel is roughly on par with the Xiaomi - albeit behind the Samsung.
From long tele to ultrawide, the Pixel 7 Pro's new-ish module performs to a high standard. It's a perfect match for the main camera's output in terms of color and detail rendition (in a way that the tele isn't).
Curiously, if you're viewing the Pixel's images on a PC, the thumbnails you'd be seeing would give you a wider field of view with a ton of distortion, while the actual images will have the distortion correction applied and denying you some of the coverage - apparently, the embedded thumbnails are generated before the final processing. Our thumbnails here are obtained from the final image, so they're not representative of that 'issue'.
In any case, the Pixel 7 Pro's ultrawide captures sharper images than what should be a better-specced unit on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, and does so with practically no noise or purple fringing - both readily observable on the Samsung. The Xiaomi's ultrawide is an entirely different beast with a much larger sensor but that's not giving it any meaningful advantage in bright daylight (though it does have a more natural rendition of fine detail than the other two).
With the ultrawide camera's new-found autofocusing capability, the PIxel 7 Pro can be used to capture closeups. It's one of those implementations where an auto 'macro' mode kicks in, if you're shooting on the main camera and get really close to a subject, at which point the phone will switch to a zoomed in view from the ultrawide. If you want to stay in this mode, you can tap on the padlock icon to 'lock' yourself into macro mode - otherwise, the phone will switch back to the main camera. You can also disable the auto macro behavior if you don't want the phone to be changing cameras without your explicit consent.
You can't get into this macro mode from the ultrawide, you need to be on the main camera for the phone to trigger the mode.
Anyway, the closeup photos are good. You can make out the pocket lint accumulated around the Pixel 7's visor (it's the same on the 7 Pro, but the 7 doesn't have the macro capability to capture it), and the a certain Danish toy company's logo is also easily readable. Naturally, per-pixel detail isn't strictly matching the 12.5MP resolution, but a decent performance overall.
Mind you, as a lot of imaging processes on the Pixel, the macro shots take a few extra moments to reach their final form - don't be alarmed if the image in the viewfinder or in even in the gallery immediately post-shot looks kinda soft, it will get better.
With the advancement of the Night mode and the ever growing popularity of its auto application in the default photo mode, we're somewhat at odds how to proceed with our low-light testing methodology. On the Pixel 7 Pro, we observed that the Auto Night Sight produced largely identical results to those obtained in the dedicated Night Sight mode. As a rule of thumb those are better results than what the Camera mode can deliver in all but the best lit of scenes in which Auto Night Sight doesn't kick in (explicitly - we can never be too sure what's going on). Consequently, we'll be treating the Night Sight photos as the 'default', though we will provide samples with it turned off.
With that lengthy preamble out of the way, let's just say that the Pixel 7 Pro takes some great-looking low-light shots, though it can't quite claim the 'best' title. It retains the intense colors we saw in daylight and also isn't too keen to boost the shadows - not during the day, and not after dark either. Dynamic range is very good, but again, not the widest - you'll see below that highlights can be contained a notch better. Detail is about on par with competing 12-ish MP efforts and noise is competently removed.
You'll see in this improvised comparison that both the Galaxy S22 Ultra and the Xiaomi 11 Ultra capture generally brighter images and lift the shadows more than what the Pixel 7 Pro does. Perhaps it can be argued that the Pixel approach is more true to life, but we tend to prefer our night-time images brighter. Both the Galaxy and the Mi (especially the Mi) are also more aggressive with their highlight preservation.
With Auto Night Sight turned off, the Pixel 7 Pro's main camera still does very well in all but the darkest scenes which can end up noticeably softer and underexposed (3rd row, second sample).
At the 2x setting, the Pixel maintains a very respectable level of performance - similar, but not quite up to the iPhone 14 Pro (Max)'s standard at the same magnification. We also got unusually noisy results in some scenes on the Pixel.
Just as was the case at 1x, the 2x shots aren't dramatically different without Night Sight.
The 5x telephoto on the Pixel 7 Pro does admirably in the dark. In fact, the darker it is, the better the Pixel's shots look in comparison to competitors at the same zoom level, though conversely, in more abundant lighting it can be slightly softer than that Mi 11 Ultra (compare further down below). The Pixel has great color preservation and wide dynamic range, so it's hard to find grounds for complaint.
The Galaxy doesn't look too good at 5x in the day, so we figured we won't torture it in the dark and kept it at its native 3x for this intermediate zoom comparison. We think that's fair - even though it makes for an essentially different shot, it's the shot that you'd be able to capture with it in that situation.
As we mentioned, the Pixel can be sharper than the Xiaomi in darker scenes, but more importantly it's got more faithful color rendition - the Mi tends to bleach warmer lights. The Galaxy does very well with color, and is also excellently sharp - more so than the other two, although there's a bit of that apples vs. oranges caveat (the 3x vs. 5x thing).
With Night Sight off on the Pixel's tele, dark scenes can get problematic - the second and fifth sample here are way underexposed and soft.
At the 10x zoom level, the Xiaomi falls behind the other two in terms of sharpness, and it's mostly a toss up between the Pixel and the Galaxy.
The Pixel 7 Pro's ultrawide is best described as 'good enough'. It captures decent detail in the dark, while maintaining color fidelity and solid dynamic range.
The Galaxy does manage an extra level of sharpness over the Pixel, but its yellowish take on warm floodlights is a bit off. Somewhat disappointingly, the Mi 11 Ultra's large-sensor UW doesn't seem to be doing a better job.
You'll probably not want to turn off Night Sight on the Pixel 7 Pro's ultrawide. Darker scenes can end up nearly pitch black, but even better lit ones will look underexposed.
Once you're done with the real world samples, head over to our Photo compare tool to see how the Google Pixel 7 Pro stacks up against the competition.