Pixel 7 — 5 things Google needs to get right to beat Galaxy S22

an image of the Google Pixel 7
(Image credit: Google)

The Pixel 7 launches tomorrow (October 6( at the Made by Google event. This is where we’ll find out everything we need to know about the latest Pixel phones, not to mention the Pixel Watch. From the phones' new Tensor chip to camera upgrades and an updated design, we expect to see a lot this year.

But the Pixel line is not an Android juggernaut like the Samsung Galaxy S devices, which dominate the best Android phones rankings. Samsung owns the Android market for the most part and is the only competitor to Apple in the U.S. The Galaxy S22 in particular is a great phone in many respects. It’s so good, in fact, that we’d argue that Google has a massive hill to climb if it wants to best the latest Samsung flagship.

So even though the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are finalized, what does Google need to get right to beat the Galaxy S22? Here are five things I think the newest Pixel needs to do.

Great battery life

The Google Pixel 6 Pro (in black) and Google Pixel 6 (in coral) laid next to each other on wooden decking

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro had disappointing battery life, to say the least. I blamed the first-generation Tensor chipset, combined with an older 5G modem, for the battery issues. Samsung hasn’t been all that good in recent years, either, though the Galaxy S22 did last longer — 7 hours and 52 minutes — in our custom battery life test.

Simply put, the Pixel 7 needs to have better battery life if it wants to compete with the Galaxy S22. If Google keeps with the same battery sizes as last year, the Pixel 7 and Galaxy S22 will be similar enough in size such that their battery capacities should also be similar. That means I can safely hope the Pixel 7 can match the Galaxy S22 for longevity.

The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro battery life did not improve much over time with updates, despite respectable capacities. I hope Google nailed down the issue this year. If Tensor was the culprit, I hope the second-generation chip addresses those problems.

Brighter display

Samsung Galaxy S22 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro displays were adequate in most circumstances. Outdoors could prove difficult, however, and I often wished for something brighter. Samsung delivered on that front with the Galaxy S22, with the phone’s display providing an eye-searing 1,152 nits in HDR during our testing. The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro gave us 843 and 842 nits respectively.

I won’t complain about the Pixel 6 display brightness, but I’d like to see the Pixel 7 reach 1,000 nits to compete with the Galaxy S22 (and iPhone 14). 

Telephoto camera

galaxy s22 in bora purple

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Galaxy S22 features a 3x optical zoom telephoto camera, as does the Galaxy S22 Plus. I do not think that the Pixel 7 will have a telephoto lens, as I believe Google will go the Apple route and provide a main and ultrawide setup on its base model phone. However, I still think it should happen if Google wants to take on Samsung. 

The Pixel 6 Pro had a 4x optical zoom, meaning it could zoom in further than the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S22. The Pixel 6 had a dual camera setup. Considering that the Galaxy S22 offers a 3x telephoto lens for $799, I’d hope that the Pixel 7 gets at least 2x — assuming Google doesn’t raise the price from last year’s $599.

Improved Night Sight and Super Res Zoom

Google’s Night Sight is quite something, but Samsung is quickly catching up with its own night mode for low-light photography. So this year, I want to see Google improve Night Sight to maintain its lead over Samsung (and give Apple a run for its money for the top spot). Already, Night Sight does a great job capturing details and color with sharper focus than Samsung, but the latter has the advantage in brightness.

Another area where I want to see the Pixel 7 improve is Super Res Zoom. This is Google’s software solution to digital zoom noise and blur. It takes a zoomed image and cleans it up. It’s rather impressive, and is certainly better than Samsung’s option. Like Night Sight, I’d like to see Google further its lead.

Better performance

The Google 6 Pro (left, in black) and Google Pixel 6 (right, in coral), leaning together against a tree on wooden decking

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Let’s be honest for a second. The first-generation Tensor chip was not a performance beast, and perhaps it wasn’t meant to be. Google wanted to focus on AI and machine learning with the custom TPU. The chipset itself was mediocre in terms of performance, so I want to see the second-generation Tensor close the gap with Qualcomm.

The Galaxy S22 uses the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, which was the top chip at the time of that phone’s release. (It has been superseded by the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 on the way.) Suffice it to say, the Galaxy S22 crushed the Pixel 6 in performance benchmarks. 

While I think Google’s original mission will remain the priority with Tensor this year, I’d like to see the Pixel 7 perform better outside of AI/ML tasks. 

Pixel 7 outlook

Once the Pixel 7 arrives, we’ll learn everything we want to know. Google is sure to talk up any camera improvements, Tensor, and more. This list here is a wishlist of what I hope the Pixel 7 brings to the table. 

If the Pixel 7 is just a rehashed Pixel 6 at the same $599 price, I’d argue it’d still be a great Galaxy S22 competitor. I don’t think Google will rest on its laurels, however. Instead, I think the Pixel 7 is going to have some tricks up its sleeve to wow us and to make the Galaxy S22 less enticing.

Keep it locked here for all of the latest Pixel 7 news and coverage. And if you want to tune into the event, we've got you covered on how to watch the Made by Google livestream.

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.