Google announced a set of new products led by the Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 7, along with the company’s first smartwatch and a return to tablets.
Leading the way are the two smartphones establishing Google’s flagship models for 2022, both of which largely stick to the design from the Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 6. These Android phones also maintain their focus on photography, along with newer features aimed at privacy. The Pixel Watch is Google’s first real attempt at a smartwatch running its own Wear OS, and comes with its own set of features. Lastly, we also got a glimpse of a new Pixel tablet set to come out in 2023, bringing Google back into the tablet fold.
Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 7
The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro phones appear to be the same size, though a closer look does show slight differences. Each phone is a bit slimmer and a hair thinner, though it’s more noticeable with the Pixel 7. One of the reasons why is because it has a 6.3-inch AMOLED (2400 x 1080), 0.1-inches smaller than its predecessor. It also keeps the 90Hz screen refresh rate. The Pixel 7 Pro is only millimetres smaller, sporting the same 6.7-inch AMOLED (3120 x 1440) with variable 10-120Hz refresh rate. Both phones have 25% higher peak brightness, and what the company claims is an improved fingerprint sensor.
Another way to unlock the phone will be Face Unlock, made possible by a new front camera. Powering everything is Google’s own Tensor G2 processor, which does a lot of the heavy lifting for the unique features available with both devices. The Pixel 7 Pro comes with either 128GB or 256GB of storage and 12GB of RAM. Meanwhile, the Pixel 7 is the same, save for it maxing out at 8GB of RAM. Gorilla Glass Victus is on both sides, plus the IP68 rating for water resistance.
The new Tensor G2 chip enables more Google Assistant features, too. It will recommend specific responses when messaging, transcribe voice notes, and more. Key features like Call Screen and Hold for Me stick around. Direct My Call is interesting in that it will visualize the numbered options you have when calling a business.
Protected Computing is a nod to security, with Google aiming to keep your data away from its own servers. There’s more to it than that, including a built-in VPN (Virtual Private Network) to help anonymize your presence online. It’s coming first to the Pixel 7 phones later this year, and then other select Pixel devices via update thereafter.
Many of the basics around the respective cameras are back from the previous models. The rear 50-megapixel main wide camera returns. It will continue using pixel binning to shoot at 12.5-megapixels, with improved low-light shooting. Night Sight doubles in speed to quicken things up when taking photos at night.
The 12-megapixel ultra-wide and 48-megapixel telephoto are supposed to be upgraded. The newer telephoto lens will only come with the Pixel 7 Pro, and it extends optical zoom from 4x to 5x, compared to the Pixel 6 Pro. That enables hybrid zoom shots that can go up to 30x with Super Res Zoom, though Google will also use its own computation software to do more. One example is both the main and telephoto lenses capturing images and merging them together for increased sharpness and detail up to 10x zoom.
One of the cooler features is Guided Frame, which uses the front camera and Google’s AI to help the blind and visually-impaired better frame and capture selfies. Macro Focus allows the Pixel 7 Pro to get as close as three centimetres from a subject. Cinematic Blur is very much along the lines of Apple’s Cinematic Mode to give clips some of that Hollywood bokeh effect.
A new feature called Photo Unblur will debut with these two phones, and you will find it in Google Photos. As the name implies, it will take blurry photos and use AI to bring them into focus. Like Magic Eraser, that amazing feature that now works with multiple phones, you can apply the effect to any photos, not just those you’ve taken with either of these two phones.
The Pixel Watch was hardly a secret, but now that it’s out, it brings Google into the smartwatch arena. There is only one size (41mm) and four different colour variants, with a rounded and minimalist design. It runs on Samsung’s Exynos 9110 processor, with another Cortex chip helping out to enable some of those Google features you come to expect from a Pixel phone.
It will come in both LTE and Bluetooth/Wi-Fi versions, and with 32GB of onboard storage, there is plenty of room for apps and music to use independent of a paired phone. It’s not clear how long the battery will actually last based on Google’s claim of 24 hours per charge.
As for sensors, there is an ECG (electrocardiogram), heart rate monitor and SpO2 for blood oxygen. Notably missing is a skin temperature sensor, like that seen in the Fitbit Sense 2, Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Apple Watch Series 8. There is Fall Detection and the LTE version offers direct Emergency SOS without a phone.
The real test will be how well Wear OS 3.5 runs on the Pixel Watch. Google promises cool integrations via Google Assistant, and fitness features will defer to Fitbit. Hence, the Pixel Watch comes with a free six-month subscription to Fitbit Premium.
It will be easy to swap out the straps for other ones, so expect to see different colours and materials. The mechanism to change them is easier because the straps twist out rather than lock in using pins.
Google’s own tablet won’t be coming until sometime in 2023, but that didn’t stop the company from talking about it. All we know right now is that the body will be made from 100% recycled aluminum and inspired by a porcelain-style coating. The Tensor G2 chip will power it, and the whole device will pair with a magnetic speaker dock that turns the whole thing into a smart display. It revealed few details beyond that, so we’ll have to wait and see what comes out of it.
You can pre-order the Pixel 7 Pro in obsidian black, or the Pixel 7 in obsidian, lemongrass or snow. Pre-orders are also open for the Pixel Watch. If you’re looking for more, check out all the latest from Google, including the current lineup.