I received my Google Pixel 7 in early October with plans to use it for at least two weeks before I write a review of it but it was not to be until now. Even now, this will feel more like a rant than an actual review. TBH, I almost want to give up talking about this device but then I think I should before sending it for warranty claim. Yup. I have come to that.
I have been going back and forth with Google support, first through chat and then follow-ups via emails. The follow-up is mainly to update the support staff in charge of my case regarding the phone’s conditions after the troubleshooting process he walked me through and after the software update. Spoiler alert. It is still NOT great. If anything, it is worsening.
Never have to call support for anything so early into the use of a device. Not with the many iPhones I had owned, certainly not with Samsung Galaxy S20, S21 (disclaimer: my S21 had screen issues more than a year on), Huawei Mate and P series, or my latest daily driver, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4.
If I have bought a device from a small company with little to no experience in making phones, then I can understand. But a device from a multi-billion company with a wealth of experience in both software and hardware designs? Almost unforgivable. Scratch that. It should be unforgivable.
The issues with the device are so prevalent that I have fear of using the device. I never know when an app will crash, when it will restart randomly, or when it will freeze up – which, by the way, happens all too often. It must have happened at least 10-15 times over the last month. Or it could be more. I have lost count. The random freezing is giving me PTSD when using the device.
Like any gadget enthusiast, I searched the Internet for answers. Nothing much to go with, really. None of them resolves the issues which seem to be unique to my Pixel 7. I thought it was a Pixel Launcher issue. So I use a tried-and-tested third-party launcher (Niagara Pro). It kind of worked for a couple of days before, you know, here we go again.
Freezing up has become the second nature of this device. Google’s native app, YouTube often hangs with audio still going. I thought it was a network issue. So I used another device for the same video simultaneously and it plays normally. Huh. I am dumbfounded.
You may ask, is the phone really that bad? Of course not. Sure, the device feels awesome to use when it does not freeze up. Pixel 7’s strengths are clear as day which are marred only by the issues that I am experiencing with my unit. Apparently, not everyone has the same unpleasant experience as me. I guess I am just unlucky.
I have had a few Google devices before. I had the Google Nexus One by HTC (beautiful device, btw), Samsung Galaxy Nexus, LG Nexus 4, and the original Pixel phone, and if my memory serves me, none of them have had any major issues like this device is giving me. In fact, I don’t recall having any issues ever.
As far as the new Pixel 7 goes, I shall not narrate in length its strength. We all know its strengths. It is good on imaging (good is an understatement, really). It is free of bloatware, and it offers the purest Android experience one can find.
Design-wise. It is not for everyone. Personally, I love the design but it will need a little getting used to. If you are coming from other devices other than the Pixel 6, you may want to know that the device is leaning towards top-heavy due to the visor-style camera module.
I have the habit of holding the phone near the bottom. And in my first few uses, the device almost topples over due to the CG. No biggy, just an observation.
Otherwise, the design is good and has a premium finish. Definitely worth the dole if not the awful issues. So far I have no heat issues when using the device. I play only one game but for the 30 minutes that I was on Tail Gunner Charlie (lovely game, btw), it does not even feel warm.
And then there’s the under-display fingerprint sensor. It is not great. I have been spoiled by Samsung’s ultrasonic fingerprint sensor which is fast and is mostly reliable. This optic-based sensor that is on the Pixel 7, however, is mostly hit-and-miss. I noticed that it does not work well in extreme darkness. Tell me I am the only one that is having issues when unlocking in extreme darkness.
Contrary to other reviews, I find the battery life pretty good. Perhaps I am not a power user? I don’t know. It lasts me through the day with usages including emails, shopping, TikTok, and YouTube. But really battery is the least of my concerns. I’d imagine that it is the perfect phone if weren’t for the issues have to put up with. The user experience could have been 9.5 out of 10 but right now, I have to give it 2.5 out of 10.
Oh, there is also a long-standing issue and that is the freezing of the device when unplugged from the charger or pick it up off the wireless charging pad. This only happens when you have the Always On display turned on. If you turn that off, you are good. It turns out this problem existed since Pixel 6 or maybe even earlier. It is a small thing that shows Google’s hardware division’s culture. Why hasn’t this been resolved is beyond me.
I observe another quirk. When I stow back the drop-down menu, the screen will sometime dim itself and I have to touch it again to get it back to the brightness it was at.
So should I buy this phone? Sure, if it isn’t going to be your main daily driver. Or, if you are willing to put yourself at the mercy of lady luck. To be honest, as much as I would like to, I can’t recommend this device. Sorry, Google. I have been a fan of your hardware since 2010 but this time around I can’t find any real reason to be a fan.
P.S. I will still be using it but it will never be my primary device.
All images by Mike for Mikeshouts.com.