Google Pixel 7 Pro Review: You’ll Need a Screen Protector


A Pixel 7 Pro propped up against LEGO

As always, the Pixel 7 Pro is amazing. But durability is a big question this time around.

My relationship with the Pixel series of phones can best be described as love/hate. I adore the Pixel-exclusive features. And the Pixel 7 Pro is once again among the best smartphone cameras you can buy. But I always find a near “deal breaker.” This time it’s the easy-to-scratch screen.

The Pixel 7 Pro launched in late 2022, and I’ve been using one since early October. Last year, I reviewed the Pixel 6 Pro and gave high marks, even if it had a few “minor issues.” But shortly after the review, the Pixel 6 line started exhibiting problem after problem that didn’t show up in the review period. This time around, I decided to wait to publish just to see if history would repeat itself. I’m glad I did. The software is (mostly) solid, but the hardware? Not so much.

Design and Usability: Slight Updates, Good and Bad

A Pixel 7 Pro on a bench
  • Display: 6.7-inch QHD+ OLED, LTPO
  • Display Brightness: 1500 nits (peak), 10000 nits (HDR)
  • Maximum Refresh Rate: up to 120Hz
  • Weight: 7.5 ounces
  • Build: Gorilla Glass Victus (front and back), aluminum frame
  • IPX Rating: IP68
  • SIM Card: Nano-SIM and eSIM
  • Headphone Jack: No

Google really changed up the design with the Pixel 6 series. The “camera visor” is easily the standout feature of that redesign, which gave Pixel it’s first truly “signature look.” It’s the sort of thing that looks odd at first, but then you grow used to it and even learn to like it. The Pixel 7 series retains the overall look, including the camera visor, but makes refinements.

Instead of a “black bar” that inspired the “visor” nickname, Google switched to an aluminum affair with cutouts for the camera. It now reaches all the way to the edges to give it a nearly seamless look. Beyond that change, though, you have to play “spot the difference” to find any changes from the Pixel 6 Pro. Like many smartphones released in 2022, this is an iterative update. But those little changes add up to make a big difference—some for worse.

Take the camera bar, for instance. Now that it’s a sharp-edge aluminum affair, the entire look is improved overall but it comes with a few downsides. The edges seem to trap dust and grime more easily now. And worse yet, they scratch and chip. You’ll quickly go from a pristine phone to one that looks marred.

You could consider the change an improvement, though. The Pixel 6 series went with a glass camera bar that shattered easily for some. Knicks and dings are better than shattered glass. And if that were the end of it, I’d consider it an improvement. But turn over the phone, and you’ll find another problem—the display.

The back of a Pixel 7 Pro showing a triple camera array

The Pixel 7 Pro display is refreshingly good out of the box. Colors are vibrant without looking unrealistic (hello, Samsung), and it’s mostly bright enough to use outdoors. The 10-120hz refresh rate isn’t something you’ll notice in practice, but that upper range makes for smooth animations and video. It’s still, unfortunately, a curved display, and I wish companies would stop with that trend, but it’s gentler this time around, which is an improvement. If that were the end of the story, I’d praise the display and mark it as a reason to buy the phone.

But notice I said, “out of the box.” As a rule, I don’t put my review units in cases or slap screen protectors on them. If it comes with a screen protector, I take it off. Last time around, I complained that the Pixel 6 Pro screamed for a case just because of how dang slippery the thing is. I’m happy to say the Pixel 7 Pro is an improvement—I’ve never once dropped it—but sad to say, that doesn’t matter. The screen scratches really easily.

A deeply scratched phone display
This scratch is so deep you can get a fingernail in it

Again, I’ve never dropped the phone, but somehow my Pixel 7 Pro review unit’s display is covered in scratches. And we’re not talking small “barely there” scratches. These are deep grooves that you can get your fingernail in. I don’t keep anything else in the pocket I tend to store my phone in, and the same goes for the cup holder I stash it in while in my car. But it looks like it got in a fight with a barrel of sharpened keys and lost.

I thought it might just be me, but I’ve found other threads complaining about the same problems, and in the JerryRigEverything durability test, Zack noticed his razor blade seemed to scratch the screen and the back glass, an unusual result. I’m glad that Google made changes to the Pixel 7 Pro that makes it less slippery than its predecessor. But in just a few months, it’s already looking wartorn. I can only imagine what it will look like in two years.

Photo Quality: Consistently Spectacular

A closeup of a Pixel 7 Camera array showing all sorts of knicks and dents
That camera bar is super easy to nick and dent
  • Main Camera: 50MP f/1.9
  • Ultra-Wide Camera: 12MP f/2.2
  • Telephoto Camera: 48MP f/3.5
  • Selfie Camera: 10.8MP f/2.2
  • Laser Autofocus
  • Video Settings: Maximum 4K 60FPS, 10-bit HDR

Do you want a smartphone that consistently gives you the best images without any effort? Buy a Pixel. Yes, the iPhone takes pretty good photos. And Samsung is no slouch, either. But somehow, the Pixel series seems to trump them consistently. That’s not to say the iPhone or Galaxy series has never taken a better photo. But over the long haul, the Pixel will give you the best photos. Even blind tests taken by thousands favor Pixel phones over the competition.

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A zoomed in shot of the Golden Gate Bridge
A wide angle shot of the Golden Gate bridge

The Golden Gate bridge scene from afar

A man near the Golden Gate bridge

A man in front of the Golden Gate Bridge

A closeup of a middle-aged man

A series of Galaxy Watches on a wall

A street in San Fransisco

A San Francisco trolly

A church in San Fransisco

A LEGO statue of liberty

A dog and a cat on a couch

The same Mastodon skeleton scene from further away

A replica Mastodon skeleton

A green Android head

A desert scene in the distance

Fluffy cloud seen from below

A tiny replica of Thor's Hammer

A boat with the word "Botel" on top

The side of a church in Amsterdam

A church in Amsterdam
An Amsterdam Skyline
A cargo bike

And that continues to be the case with the Pixel 7 Pro. Time after time, I’ve been happy with the photos I’ve taken unless I gave my phone a true challenging shot no phone could handle. If I don’t have time to get out my DSLR, I reach for my Pixel 7 Pro every time. And as a reviewer, I have lots of phones that I could choose. But I know I’ll get the best photo out of the 7 Pro.

Google added a few new tricks that one could argue were borrowed from Apple. The 50 megapixel main camera now sports a “2x zoom” in the camera software. That’s not a true optical zoom, but a perfect 12 megapixel cutout of the center of the 50 megapixel image. Apple pioneered this, and on the Pixel it works really well. Likewise, the UltraWide camera now doubles as a Macro camera, another trick first found on iPhones. You could get into arguments about which companies steal from which (all of them), but the results here are very good and that’s all that really matters.

The one catch to all this camera praise is that unless you really need telephoto shots, you can easily get photos just as good from the Pixel 7. And that’s a bit of math we’ll talk more about later.

Performance: Good But Could Be Better

A scratch in the corner of a display
This corner scratch is pretty bad too
  • Chipset: Tensor G2
  • Storage: 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB
  • Memory: 12GB
  • Operating System: Android 13

The Pixel 7 Pro continues Google’s path of using its own chips, much like Apple, and thus sports the second-generation Tensor G2. For once we get an updated name that makes sense! Google claims the chip is 20% more powerful and energy efficient than last year’s model, and to be honest I really can’t tell. It’s fine. I seldom complain for speed, and when I do that’s usually down to other factors like network speed or app issues.

But battery life and heat continue to be a bit of a letdown. I took my Pixel 7 Pro to CES and used it as a camera shooter, and it didn’t last the day throughout the trip. I relied on a backup battery to get me through to the late conferences or plugging in mid-day. Worse yet, all the work made my Pixel 7 Pro get really hot, to the point it was uncomfortable at times.

In more regular use, my Pixel 7 Pro does usually make it to the end of the day, but only just. If you’re a light smartphone user who relies on Wi-Fi, it’ll do the trick. I am happy to say I noticed better network connection compared to the Pixel 6 Pro.

Software and AI: Pure Android, and a Few “Exclusive” Features

A Pixel 7 Pro in front of some LEGO

One of the main reasons to buy a Pixel is the promise of pure unadulterated Android. It’s the phone directly from Google after all. And that’s what you get, as usual, with the Pixel 7 Pro. Android 13 hit the Pixel 6 series before the Pixel 7 Pro release, of course, and at this point it’s rolling out to other phones too.

But Google has occasionally held a few “exclusive” features to the Pixel lines that other Android phones, even those with stock Android, don’t get. The Pixel line has the best Spam prevention available to any phone, for instance. Most of the other features revolve around the camera. Magic Eraser premiered on the Pixel 6 series, for instance. And, of course, now there’s Unblur, and we shouldn’t forget Nightsight (though you can find similar functionality on many flagship phones now).

The Pixel 7 Pro expands Direct My Call beyond what the Pixel 6 managed, which was already pretty nice. With the Pixel 6, when you inevitably called some customer service line, the phone would transcribe the menus and give you easy to hit numbers to get through the myriad of options to get to some humans. But it didn’t happen until the service spoke those options. Now, through what I can only surmise is witchcraft, or perhaps just technology, the Pixel 7 Pro can present you with the options to push even before they’re spoken aloud. It’ll show “1 for bank hours, 2 to report a card lost or stolen,” and so on. It’s pretty nice.

But now Magic Eraser is available to other Android phones through Google One. It’s unclear if Google will bring other “Pixel exclusive” features to the subscription service as well. If Google were to add Call Screening as a Google One feature, that’d be a big nail in the coffin my reasons to keep a Pixel as my daily driver.

Conclusion: Still a Great Flagship, Still an Awkward Price

The back of a Pixel 7 Pro

Last year, I stated that the Pixel 6 Pro is a great flagship phone at an awkward price. Sure, it cost a whole lot less than other similar flagships, but for even less, you could get the nearly as good Pixel 6. The difference in features between the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro just couldn’t justify the $300 price difference.

Well it’s funny how history has a tendency to repeat itself, especially with smartphones. Because that’s exactly the same case here. The Pixel 7 Pro is great, minus the easy-to-scratch screen. Get a case and a screen protector, and you’re golden. If you asked me to pick between the iPhone 14 Pro Max, the Galaxy S23 Ultra, and the Pixel 7 Pro, I’d tell you that the 7 Pro is the best bang for your buck among those phones.

But then I’d probably tell you to buy the Pixel 7 instead if your concern is bang for your buck. At just $600 you get nearly all the best features of the Pro and you save a huge chunk of change along the way. I just don’t see the difference in the two phones as being worth $300.

If you want an Android phone, you should seriously consider the Pixel 7. It should be the top of the list for your consideration. The Pixel 7 Pro is hands down one of the best phones you can buy. But so is the Pixel 7, and it costs less. Unless you have to have the best of the best, get the Pixel 7. And if you need all the widgets, get the Pro. Just make sure to order it with a case and screen protector.

The Best Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro Cases


Official Pixel 7 Case

Keep It Official

Official Pixel 7 Case


Official Pixel 7 Pro Case

Official Case

Official Pixel 7 Pro Case


Spigen Pixel 7 Liquid Air Case

Solid Protection

Spigen Pixel 7 Liquid Air Case


Spigen Pixel 7 Pro Liquid Air Case

Rock Solid Protection

Spigen Pixel 7 Pro Liquid Air Case


Temdan Pixel 7 Clear Case

Clear Case

Temdan Pixel 7 Clear Case


Temdan Pixel 7 Pro Clear Case

Crystal Clear Case

Temdan Pixel 7 Pro Clear Case


Spigen Pixel 7 Slim Armor Wallet Case

Wallet Case

Spigen Pixel 7 Slim Armor Wallet Case


Spigen Pixel 7 Pro Slim Armor Wallet Case

Slim Wallet Case

Spigen Pixel 7 Pro Slim Armor Wallet Case


ZHIWIYU Pixel 7 Clear Case

Stand Ttall

ZHIWIYU Pixel 7 Clear Case


ZHIWIYU Pixel 7 Pro Clear Case

Standing Tall

ZHIWIYU Pixel 7 Pro Clear Case



  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana


Starting At $865

Here’s What We Like

  • Great camera systems
  • Wonderful exclusive features (for now)
  • Cheaper than most flagships

And What We Don’t

  • The Pixel 7 is a better price
  • Super easy to nick, scratch, and dent

Original Article