From budget phones like the Pixel 6a all the way to flagships including the iPhone 14 Pro, Galaxy S22 Ultra, and OnePlus 10 Pro, we saw a lot of great phones this past year. But only one device truly won my heart in 2022 — and it’s not any of the above handsets.
Instead, it was Google’s Pixel 7 Pro that turned a page starting with the Pixel 6 Pro last year to truly take its place among the best phones overall.
The Pixel 7 Pro is my phone of the year because it refined everything I loved about its predecessor, made the photography experience even better, and introduced more features that no other smartphone can do yet. Google’s phone is a beautiful device that gets so much right, despite its flaws.
Yes, even with subpar battery life and performance that still lags behind the latest iPhones and Android phones, the Pixel 7 Pro tops all other phones that came out this year, at least for me. While there are better handsets in terms of power or value, the Pixel 7 Pro ticks most of the boxes I’m looking for in a smartphone.
Pixel 7 Pro: Cameras
Without a doubt, the Pixel 7 Pro has the best cameras on an Android phone. The Galaxy S22 Ultra is the next closest competitor, but even it falls short in most circumstances. Google has done something truly amazing here.
The primary 50MP sensor on the Pixel 7 Pro does a great job in almost all scenarios. Outdoors, it reliably compensates its exposure for sunlight. If you’re photographing something inside, the Pixel 7 Pro adapts to the scene, even when the lights dim. And at night, the phone’s Night Sight mode produces a great low-light image more often than not.
The 48MP telephoto shooter comes with 5x optical zoom, which makes the Pixel 7 Pro a lot more competitive than the iPhone 14 Pro for zoom tests. If you want to go beyond 5x, Google’s Super Res Zoom performs exceptionally well with cleaning up the noise and blurriness.
Speaking of blurry pictures, Google introduced Photo Unblur, a Pixel 7 exclusive feature. The name is self-explanatory — the Pixel 7 Pro will do its best to unblur your photos, including ones taken on other phones. Like Magic Eraser before it, Photo Unblur relies on the AI power of Tensor to perform the magic. And it’s truly something else.
When comparing the best camera phones, I enjoy seeing how easily the Pixel 7 Pro beats the iPhone 14 Pro in some scenes, like nighttime and zoom. The phones trade blows in more standard scenarios, but I love how Google and Apple duke it out for the photography crown.
Pixel 7 Pro: Design
Is the Pixel 7 Pro the prettiest phone out there? That depends on your own taste, but it’s certainly one of the most unique. The camera bar, which spans the width of the handset, certainly draws the eye and identifies the newest Pixel immediately.
I chose the Pixel 7 Pro’s Hazel colorway, as it’s the most striking of the three options. My Pixel 7 Pro has a sage hue with soft gold accents, including the camera bar. It’s a stunning look, one that hasn’t bored me yet after a few months of use.
Unlike the Pixel 6 Pro, where the camera lenses melded into the bar, the Pixel 7 Pro shows its own off prominently. It makes a statement, telling you that those cameras mean business. They make this phone more distinctive than its predecessor.
Thanks to the phone’s the curved edges, I don’t mind the Pixel 7 Pro’s large size. I still prefer smaller phones, but Google made a phone that’s a lot more comfortable than the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Even the blocky Galaxy S22 Ultra feels less ergonomic.
Pixel 7 Pro: Software
Google originally launched its own phones to show other manufacturers what Android was capable of — and how to handle Android updates. Nowadays, most smartphone makers are better about updates than back in the Nexus days, but the Pixel line is meant to display a lot more than what “stock” Android is.
Much like what Apple does with its newest iPhones and iOS, the Pixel 7 Pro exemplifies what Google believes Android should look like. From the Material You theming engine, which adapts itself to your wallpaper colors, to the photography prowess, Android on a Pixel is as close to what you get with iOS on an iPhone. It’s where the hardware and software mesh together.
Launching with Android 13, the Pixel 7 Pro is the best way to experience the OS. While I like Samsung’s One UI, Google’s vision is more intuitive to me. (Contrast this with OnePlus’ OxygenOS, which has become an unsightly, clunky mess.) And that makes sense — Google is a software company first and foremost.
And since Google controls the hardware and software, the Pixel 7 Pro gets first access to each new Android update and security patch.
Pixel 7 Pro: Display
Although it’s far from the best out there, the Pixel 7 Pro’s display is still more than good enough. Measuring 6.7 inches with a QHD+ resolution, the latest Pixel’s screen is the best one Google has ever used. It was just shy of 1,000 nits of brightness in our testing and it comes with an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate.
Yes, the Galaxy S22 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro have better panels with punchier colors and much higher brightness ranges, but the Pixel 7 Pro’s display gets enough things right for me. I can see the screen outside while photographing, it dims enough for nighttime use, and the dynamic 120Hz refresh rate makes for a smooth scrolling experience. I have no complaints.
Pixel 7 Pro: Bottom line
Of course, I do not look at the Pixel 7 Pro with rose-tinted glasses. It’s far from perfect, and yet I find myself picking it up every morning alongside my iPhone 14 Pro. Sure, Google’s device doesn’t have good battery life, or the fastest performance in demanding tasks like gaming, but the Pixel 7 Pro does what I want it to do and does it well.
There is no better photography experience on Android right now, and you can make the argument that even the iPhone 14 Pro falls behind the Pixel in several areas. Google’s design language also stands out in a sea of same-y devices.
If you’re looking for a flagship experience and want more features than the Pixel 7 has, then the $899 Pixel 7 Pro is my recommendation as the phone to get.