I returned the Pixel 7, some thoughts why

Crispy

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This isn't a 'P7 is bad' thread, more like 'old Pixels are still great and P7 still has some issues'

I recently tried out the Pixel 7 as an upgrade from my 2XL. You can find some other threads I made on this here. I saw the great trade in offer, and bought a used Pixel 5 off ebay and then the 7 from Google.

As a result I had 3 generations of Pixel phones to evaluate. I'll share my thoughts on a few things -

performance: for someone who doesn't game or run intensive video editing apps etc, its hard to tell the difference. This applies to both the SoC and the memory. e.g. opening apps, and how many apps reload. The P7 felt faster but not in a 'night and day' way. The most obvious difference is places where the on chip Tensor is used for things like faster night sight etc.

phone hardware: the 2XL and 5 are both 6" screens but the 5 is smaller and thinner. But when viewing full screen content you actually see more on the old 2XL which was quite surprising and something no one mentions. The 7 is a great feeling and looking phone, no complaints. I will say that the 60 vs 90Hz seems quite overblown, I would never be able to tell unless I was looking for it. It has the best sound by far too.

FP sensor: the first big letdown. Unlike most online reports I've read, I didn't really have much issue with the in display sensor, I'd say it worked about 80-90% of the time. I also enabled Face Unlock which was great except of course at night/low light. The real problem is that Android forces you to enter the pattern almost half the time without the option to use FP, with the message 'for added security'. This never really happened on the 2XL/5 rear sensor.

overheating: sadly I did notice this, with phone getting warmer in some cases. I don't think it matters for my use case but there are plenty of reports on this as well as the phone shutting down in hot countries. Does not bode well for travel.

AI Assistant features: 2nd biggest reason to get a Pixel. I have to confess I was a bit uninformed and thought 'Hold for me' and 'direct my call' were limited to P7 as I only saw 'call screen' on my 2XL but I later found out that these along with enhanced voice typing were ported back to 4 onwards.

Camera: The 7 was faster in things like NightSight, but curiously not in HDR processing compared to the 5. Maybe not so surprising since it has the same sensor used for 5 generations, the 2XL still takes great photos but lacks wide lens. I will say that all Pixels are great shooters and most of the magic is in the software and on server side

Battery life: this was the main factor. I expected a newer phone with 2nd gen custom SoC to be better. I had 2 weeks to let the phone settle in, so I don't believe thats the reason. I saw consistent high idle drain. My old 2XL is still holding up decently, the the refurb 5 was a clear battery champ.

software: 2XL is still on Android 11. I must say 12/13 don't have much thats new on first glance. The much hyped Material You is just wallpaper themed color + rounded corners and icons? And why is there so much wasted space? One nice feature was the 'active apps' list. There are I'm sure many other new things I'm just pointing out the most visible.

I was very much looking forward to the latest and greatest as well updates for next few years. At the end of the day it was all very much 'that's it ?!' which I think just shows that a) phones peaked a while ago and b) older Pixels were ahead of their time. If you see online forums, the 2XL is hailed as the phone that ushered in the smartphone camera, and both it and 5 are praised a lot.

thanks to anyone who read all of this :)

I may keep using the 2XL and maybe try a custom rom, but I think I might get the 5A. Its now cheap as a refurb, and its basically the 5 minus Qi, with a larger screen and the best battery life.
 

Morty2264

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I can definitely understand and respect what you are saying, having used the Pixel 2, Pixel 5 and now the Pixel 7.

- Night Sight on the Pixel 7 is definitely faster than the 5
- Tensor still has a ways to go in terms of efficiency, stable updates, and processing power
- my in-display fingerprint sensor works great most of the time, but I *have* noticed that the "for added security" PIN crops up often and it bothers me a little!

Thank you for your review of all three models! I too agree that the Google Pixel 2 XL was the leading champ in smartphone photography in particular and in smartphone performance in general.
 

bembol

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At the end of the day you have to go with a phone you like, and can afford. That's all that matters.
Exactly, if you're happy with your current phone, there's really no reason to upgrade.

My family basically gets all my old phones. My brother is still using my iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S10+, my Mother has my Huawei P30 Pro and my sisters has the iPhone 11.

This is why I pay for the upgrades. It's a very expensive addiction.

First time in a long time I skipped on the latest Apple and Samsung.
 

Morty2264

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Exactly, if you're happy with your current phone, there's really no reason to upgrade.

My family basically gets all my old phones. My brother is still using my iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S10+, my Mother has my Huawei P30 Pro and my sisters has the iPhone 11.

This is why I pay for the upgrades. It's a very expensive addiction.

First time in a long time I skipped on the latest Apple and Samsung.
And it's great that your family benefits from your upgrades!
 

Crispy

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Exactly, if you're happy with your current phone, there's really no reason to upgrade.

My family basically gets all my old phones. My brother is still using my iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S10+, my Mother has my Huawei P30 Pro and my sisters has the iPhone 11.

This is why I pay for the upgrades. It's a very expensive addiction.

First time in a long time I skipped on the latest Apple and Samsung.
This is the way

I switched all my friends/family from using new phones with the big carriers to 2-3yr old refurb phones + prepaid plans. Its better and its cheaper.
 

Joshua Luther1

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This is the way

I switched all my friends/family from using new phones with the big carriers to 2-3yr old refurb phones + prepaid plans. Its better and its cheaper.
I'm considering moving away from flagship phones as well. The mid range phones are getting to the point where they are good enough for the majority of people. I feel like they over hype and under deliver on the performance of flagships. I'm looking at paying off my 7 Pro and then selling it to buy a 7a. I do want a phone with 256gb so mid range phones are hard to find that with.
 
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THEPRFCT10

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Thanks. Since I'm considering the 5a, how do you feel it compares to the 7 (apart from fp/battery) ?
The fingerprint sensor and battery were the biggest advantages in my opinion and I can't honestly tell you that the seven is any faster than my 5A although it is nice to enjoy the higher refresh rate other than that the 5A was in my opinion a wonderful device and like I said I do miss it a bit.
 

Crispy

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I'm considering moving away from flagship phones as well. The mid range phones are getting to the point where they are good enough for the majority of people. I feel like they over hype and under deliver on the performance of flagships. I'm looking at paying off my 7 Pro and then selling it to buy a 7a. I do want a phone with 256gb so mid range phones are hard to find that with.
there are still phones sold with an sd card slot. you can put a 1TB sd card and it costs less than the inflated prices for extra memory.

I think that no one will be able to tell the difference between a mid range vs flagship vs flagship from 2/3 years ago, if you hid the branding etc. and didn't use games/benchmarks.

The only real selling point of new phones now is more years of updates which as we all know is artificial. If some hobbyists in their free time can make a custom rom run on 10yr old phones, the big companies most certainly can.

If you could buy any iPhone/Samsung/Pixel today, and they all had similar update cycles, I can guarantee you many would choose the older ones.
 
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Joshua Luther1

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I think the biggest sacrifice of an older phone is the outdated camera and battery performance. For me, having the latest in those two is important to me. I was just looking at the specs of a Note 20 Ultra. It's the only thing I'd consider buying as it was the top of the line Samsung 3 years ago. It had bad battery life with it being a 4500 mah battery, the 120hz didn't have variable refresh, to my knowledge. If I were to consider an older phone, it wouldn't have to be one where I could easily have the battery replaced and run a custom ROM on it. Even then, the camera results wouldn't likely be as good on a custom ROM. Then you have the likelihood of banking and apps that require a high level of security not working.

I don't think I'd go any older than a 2 year old phone.
 
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Morty2264

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I'm considering moving away from flagship phones as well. The mid range phones are getting to the point where they are good enough for the majority of people. I feel like they over hype and under deliver on the performance of flagships. I'm looking at paying off my 7 Pro and then selling it to buy a 7a. I do want a phone with 256gb so mid range phones are hard to find that with.
I totally agree with you. Mid-range phones can do what flagships do at a fraction of the price. My Honor 8 taught me that a few years ago -- and it's still one of the best phones I've ever had.
 
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Crispy

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I think the biggest sacrifice of an older phone is the outdated camera and battery performance. For me, having the latest in those two is important to me. I was just looking at the specs of a Note 20 Ultra. It's the only thing I'd consider buying as it was the top of the line Samsung 3 years ago. It had bad battery life with it being a 4500 mah battery, the 120hz didn't have variable refresh, to my knowledge. If I were to consider an older phone, it wouldn't have to be one where I could easily have the battery replaced and run a custom ROM on it. Even then, the camera results wouldn't likely be as good on a custom ROM. Then you have the likelihood of banking and apps that require a high level of security not working.

I don't think I'd go any older than a 2 year old phone.
But this isn't really true for a lot of phones and esp Pixels.

Starting with the Pixel its been the same sensor used all the way till the 7, with minor differences like an ultrawide or telephoto sensor.

Samsung has the same thing.

Even when the camera sensor is upgraded say from 12->50Mp, that doesn't mean its 4x or even 1.5x better. Mkbhd did a blind camera comparison and guess what phone won -


spoiler - it was the Pixel 6a, which has the exact same sensor as the 2XL

this is probably the most statistically accurate and informed comparisons. And it just goes to show that camera performance peaked a long time ago, almost everything now is software, and this isn't just Google, it applies to all others.

battery life - the only reason its an issue is thanks to Apple, phones don't come with replaceable batteries. Even so, an old phone is not necessarily worse. Also once your phone is out of warranty there are a number of places that will put in a new battery - this is how a phone becomes 'renewed', and you can get it done yourself.

I know this is a Google forum but for this reason older iPhones make a lot of sense - they get updates for 6 years, and performance doesn't really degrade.

For Pixels, the 5a will get updated next year (Android 15) and has the best battery life of any Pixel.

For non Pixel Android, consider something like the S21FE, or one of the A series.

If camera is a big deal, I'd honestly limit myself to a Pixel, they are easily the best in class, even the older ones.
 

Joshua Luther1

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But this isn't really true for a lot of phones and esp Pixels.

Starting with the Pixel its been the same sensor used all the way till the 7, with minor differences like an ultrawide or telephoto sensor.

Samsung has the same thing.

Even when the camera sensor is upgraded say from 12->50Mp, that doesn't mean its 4x or even 1.5x better. Mkbhd did a blind camera comparison and guess what phone won -


spoiler - it was the Pixel 6a, which has the exact same sensor as the 2XL

this is probably the most statistically accurate and informed comparisons. And it just goes to show that camera performance peaked a long time ago, almost everything now is software, and this isn't just Google, it applies to all others.

battery life - the only reason its an issue is thanks to Apple, phones don't come with replaceable batteries. Even so, an old phone is not necessarily worse. Also once your phone is out of warranty there are a number of places that will put in a new battery - this is how a phone becomes 'renewed', and you can get it done yourself.

I know this is a Google forum but for this reason older iPhones make a lot of sense - they get updates for 6 years, and performance doesn't really degrade.

For Pixels, the 5a will get updated next year (Android 15) and has the best battery life of any Pixel.

For non Pixel Android, consider something like the S21FE, or one of the A series.

If camera is a big deal, I'd honestly limit myself to a Pixel, they are easily the best in class, even the older ones.
Thanks for sharing this.
 

Jx J

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I've just returned my Pixel because the fingerprint sensor only worked about 50% of the time (I counted over ~200 tests). Google deserve a few returns with that kind of performance.

So I'm back to my LG G7, whilst considering what to do next.
The G7 fingerprint sensor works almost all of the time, which is a pleasant change. However, it's laggy now, so another phone will have to be purchased soon.

I think I'm either going to have to wait for a good deal on the Samsung S23 or try another Pixel, as some people reported better fingerprint sensor performance after changing their phone. If the fingerprint sensor is unreliable on the next Pixel, nothing stops me rejecting it within the first 30 days.

I'm slightly wary of buying lower performance devices. In the past, I've bought some budget Samsung tablets and after a couple of years, these were unbelievably slow. Whereas, when I bought a higher spec tablet, it was still acceptable after 6 years.
 

bembol

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I totally agree with you. Mid-range phones can do what flagships do at a fraction of the price. My Honor 8 taught me that a few years ago -- and it's still one of the best phones I've ever had.
Buying my Xiaomi 12t in Manila made me realized I don't need to spend twice as much on Apple & Samsung. This is why I skipped on both 14 & 23.

My Pixel 7/P was just carrier deals that was too good to pass up.

Even last year's Samsung A53 was great. Nothing wrong with the A54 especially if I'm in a tight budget.
 
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Danny0311

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I'm not trying to hijack this thread, but nobody mentioned the Moto g power 5G (2023). If you're looking for mid-range with 256gb + ex sd up to 1tb, this could be a better deal. Motorola does make quality phones. I still have my Nexus 6, which was made by Moto.
 
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Crispy

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I'm not trying to hijack this thread, but nobody mentioned the Moto g power 5G (2023). If you're looking for mid-range with 256gb + ex sd up to 1tb, this could be a better deal. Motorola does make quality phones. I still have my Nexus 6, which was made by Moto.
I have my Nexus 6 too !! But its dead, it died suddenly in the middle of a trip years ago. At the time it was considered a phablet, now its just a regular phone.

I agree, Motorola makes great phones.
 
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