Smartphone: This is how Google's Pixel series fares in everyday life

With its Pixel smartphone series, Google has set standards for Android smartphones in recent years.

Smartphone: This is how Google's Pixel series fares in everyday life

With its Pixel smartphone series, Google has set standards for Android smartphones in recent years. The medium-priced devices convinced with their camera and their optimization for the in-house operating system, before the first headphones were added with the Pixel Buds. In the meantime, Google has expanded its series to include AI processors in its smartphones, released an updated version of the headphones and launched its first own smartwatch. This is how the Pixel 7 devices, the Pixel Buds Pro and the Pixel Watch do in everyday life.

Google already received a lot of praise for the previous series, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, especially thanks to its Tensor chip, the first processor designed by Google. Its AI capability enables "speech to text" functions locally instead of being dependent on a cloud and takes image editing options to a new level. In the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, Google follows up with the Tensor G2. The result is two smartphones that have good arguments on their side in terms of value for money and can easily compete with the more expensive flagships of the competition.

For many users, the smaller Pixel 7 variant is likely to be the more interesting device due to its price and its external design. The fact that the standard version is technically weaker on the chest is hardly noticeable in everyday use. On the other hand, the fact that the characteristic, horizontal camera bar on the Pixel 7 Pro scratches more quickly due to its high-gloss finish and that its rounded display leads to unwanted inputs if handled incorrectly does. You get used to the latter after a while, especially if you have previously used devices with rounded displays. But the 6.7-inch display will always remain a challenge, especially for people with smaller hands. The 6.3-inch Pixel 7, which is even slightly smaller than the standard version of the Pixel 6, feels better in your hand.

If that doesn't bother you, the Pixel 7 Pro has an excellent 120 Hertz OLED display, whose QHD resolution also displays the most demanding videos and games as soft as butter and is convincing even in strong sunlight. The Pixel 7, on the other hand, has to be content with Full HD and a refresh rate of 90 Hertz. In practice, however, this is just as unproblematic as the difference between 12 and 8 GB of RAM. The difference in battery performance is much more noticeable, as the capacity of the Pixel 7 battery is around 650 mAh less than that of the Pixel 7 Pro (4,926 mAh). Users can usually get through the day with both devices without any problems. Google promises a runtime of up to 72 hours in ultra energy-saving mode, but the functionality is then limited.

There is also a difference between the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro behind the camera bar, which should not be of equal importance to all users. Both devices are equipped with the same 50-megapixel wide-angle cameras and 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle cameras. But: The Pixel 7 Pro adds a 48-megapixel telephoto camera with a five-fold optical zoom. The front camera has 10.8 megapixels in both variants and can record videos in 4K. Overall, Google has made a noticeable step forward in video quality, but it can't quite keep up with the latest iPhones in this discipline.

Completely different from the photos. Thanks to Google's photo algorithm and the power of the Tensor G2 chip, the Pixel 7 devices do not have to hide from any other smartphone on the market in terms of photo quality. This is particularly noticeable with the improved night shot mode, which captures the desired shot much faster than the Pixel 6 devices. To what extent the 250 euro surcharge for the Pixel 7 Pro (from 899 euros) compared to the Pixel 7 (from 649 euros) is really worthwhile for the respective variants with 128 GB of internal memory, consumers ultimately have to decide for themselves.

Google is also offering an updated version of their Pixel headphones under the Pixel umbrella. The Pixel Buds Pro are available for 219 euros and are therefore roughly on par with Apple's Airpods, which are considered the gold standard. At 6.2 grams per earbud, they are relatively heavy compared to other Bluetooth buds, but thanks to their shape they fit comfortably into the earcup in the test.

Thanks to the touch surface, the headphones can be controlled intuitively and easily, but people who wear glasses and people with longer hair have to be careful not to press them accidentally. Apart from that, the battery performance is particularly impressive: With activated ANC (Active Noice Cancelling), the Pro-Buds deliver almost seven hours of sound, with the battery built into the case adding another 20 hours of capacity.

Both the smartphones and the headphone case are charged via USB-C or induction. Thanks to the "Battery Share" function of the Pixel smartphones (the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro also support the function), the Buds housing can be charged wirelessly directly on the smartphone. The fact that Google almost completely dispenses with Pixel-exclusive features in the Buds deserves additional praise and makes it clear where the company wants to go with the devices: the new high-end standard for Android devices.

The same applies to the Pixel Watch, Google's first standalone smartwatch. It scores with a simple design, which is characterized by a crown that is elementary for the control and is optically enormously changeable thanks to interchangeable bracelets and the most diverse representations of the dial (watch faces). The integration of the Fitbit and the associated fitness and health tracking apps has been successful, but is currently slimmer than on full Fitbit devices. For example, a sensor for measuring blood oxygen is built into the watch, but has not yet been used. An update should be expected here, but Google has not yet announced when it will be.

If you treat yourself to the LTE version (429 euros, standard version from 379 euros), you can load an e-SIM into the watch and stream YouTube music or Spotify from your watch while jogging, for example. Alternatively, you can also copy music files directly to the 32 gigabytes of integrated memory, which is generous for a smartwatch. There is also an NFC chip on board that enables contactless payment.

Thanks to two gigabytes of RAM and two processors, the watch, which is based on the current Wear OS 3.5 operating system, is almost always on the go - and extremely practical in combination with the smartphone. The camera app on the watch can be used to control the cell phone camera or the smart home devices with the "Google Home" integration. In view of all this functionality, the Pixel Watch has to make compromises when it comes to battery performance. This is charged via an included induction bowl and has a capacity of 294 mAh and should last for 24 hours. In practice, however, this value is rarely reached, especially when GPS is used.

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