Google Pixel 7 vs Pixel 6: wait for the next one or get the current one?


Intro

Google’s Pixel 7 may be a few months from release right now, but Google was kind enough to show us a Pixel 7 sneak peak of it at this year’s I/O convention. Sooo… worth the wait?
The Google Pixel 6 is, by all accounts, a pretty good phone for the $600 it asks of you. It has the same main camera as the Pro and excellent computational photography, thanks to the Tensor chip inside.
Question is, will the Google Pixel 7 bring enough upgrades to make it worth waiting a few months, instead of buying a Pixel 6 right now? Or will it be good enough to warrant a yearly upgrade from devout fans? I’d say the answer is “no” to both questions — grab a Pixel 6 now and live your life on your terms, no need to wait and wait. But, if your mobile contract is expiring somewhere within the next 2-6 months, then it may be worth to jump straight on the Pixel 7. It depends.
On what? Well, on how much of an improvement the next Tensor (Tensor 2?) will be and how well Google will patch up those bugs that have been terrorizing Pixel fans since the release of the 6.
Pixel 7 vs Pixel 6 in a nutshell:

  • Same design language, slightly different accents
  • Supposedly the same camera setup on both
  • Old gen Tensor vs Next gen Tensor
  • Same screen size, possibly same 90 Hz refresh rate
  • Google should bring the same Android to both

Table of Contents:

Design and Display Quality

Hoping for improvements

We don’t have a whole lot of information on the Pixel 7 right now, but it goes without saying that it will probably have an AMOLED panel, same as the Pixel 6. And, its refresh rate will be at least 90 Hz, however, seeing as even midrange phones nowadays get 120 Hz, Google might upgrade to that. Yes, the non-Pro pixels cost $600, but there are plenty of phones in that range right now that offer 120 Hz.

Personal opinion here — I absolutely don’t mind 90 Hz, if it improves battery life. Though, the Pixel 6 wasn’t phenomenal in that area, so the point is moot.

The Pixel 7 is expected to be similarly-sized to its predecessor, meaning we will probably see something to the tune of a 6.4-inch screen on the front with a fairly thin bezel around it. In fact, from what little Google showed us of the next gen Pixel, it seems that its overall design won’t be changed much at all, meaning the same rounded corners and edges — a nice ergonomic feel all around.

As for screen quality — we can’t say we were super-impressed with the Pixel 6. It was slightly murky, not very vibrant, and its auto brightness didn’t do it any favors. We do hope the Pixel 7 comes with a slightly improved panel, at least, to battle other budget-friendly OLED phones that do a slightly better job here.

Water- and dust-resistance in modern smartphones is basically a standard. The Pixel 6 has an IP 68 rating and we expect the Pixel 7 to have the same.

When it comes to biometrics, we expect the same optical fingerprint scanner under the display. The one on the Pixel 6 was slightly slow and inaccurate, so there’s some room for improvement by the Pixel 7 there.

Naturally, don’t expect a headphone jack on either of these phones.

What’s in the box: Pixel 7 vs Pixel 6

As minimalistic as it gets — a phone and a cable, plus some booklets that nobody ever reads.

Performance and Software

Can the Tensor improve?

Google’s Pixel 6 line had the very first chips designed by Google — the Tensor. Not much of a performer, but raw performance was never the point. The Tensor SoC is built with cores enhancing the AI and photo processing of the phone, powering the two core features that Pixel phones are known for — excellent computational photography and enhanced Google Assistant capabilities.

A 2022 Pixel will definitely have a new Tensor chip inside — could be called the Tensor 2, we don’t know — and it will most probably have a slight performance upgrade over the old one. Such are the laws of the smartphone jungle.

We certainly don’t expect the Tensor 2 in the Pixel 7 to be racing to be faster than a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, fbut it will probably still fit in that “pretty good” category that the Tensor gen 1 was comfortably occupying. Best case, it will probably match the non-Plus Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in other 2022 flagships.

For software, both of these phones will run pretty much identical versions of Android. Google makes the Pixel, Google makes Android — it stands to reason that Pixels get timely updates to the latest builds with all features that Google intended for them to have.

That said, we wouldn’t rule out the possibility that there will be some new shiny extras thrown in exclusively for the Pixel 7 line. Apple does this with iPhones, Google might do it with its own devices as well. What’s left for us is to… wait and see.

Camera

Awesome on both sides

Last year, Google made a significant upgrade to its main cameras, giving the Pixel 6 phones 50 MP sensors. We absolutely believe Google will stick to that spec, as it makes little sense to upgrade it yet again. As we all know, the Pixel magic all happens after the photo snap, when the image signal processor and the post-processing algorithms take the wheel.

The Pixel 7 may improve that 12 MP ultra-wide camera or the 8 MP selfie camera by a bit. As it stands, that selfie camera is lagging a bit behind the competition, and we know Google can fit a better one in there — the Pixel 6 Pro had one.

Or, Google may upgrade the optics to get a slightly wider aperture than that F1.9 — it’s pretty good, but again, some competitors go as wide as F1.6, which makes a huge difference for low-light scenarios or shots that demand a creamy bokeh.

Plus, one feature that the Pixel like is lacking, and other Androids have, is 8K video recording. We don’t insist we see that feature — there are hardly any consumer devices out there in homes that can flawlessly play or edit 8K footage — but Google might choose to include it just for the sake of staying in the specs race.

Audio Quality and Haptics

The Pixel 6 has OK speakers that didn’t wow us in any way. They are a bit middy, a bit tinny, and not something you will listen music through. Loud and clear enough for talking head videos, though.

It would be nice to see the Pixel 7 improve here a bit. Again, this is not a priority — we’d rather see Google stick to the $600 price tag instead of improving secondary features.

As for headphone jacks — none of these phones have them. Did we need to call it?

Google’s haptic motors have been very much on point for the past few years. And Google knows it, as it always loads up a ton of little haptic vibrations and effects to give you feedback as you navigate through Android. They are satisfying, cool, and accurate. We expect nothing less of the Pixel 7.

Battery Life and Charging

We expect similar results

Last year’s Google Pixel 6 had a 4,614 mAh battery which, with the help of the Tensor chip’s efficiency, allowed the Pixel 6 to keep its screen on for quite a while — 14 hours on our browsing test.

Whatever changes Google introduces this year with the Pixel 7, they will probably even out to produce more or less the same result. A slightly more powerful processor with a few mAh on top of the battery, or a more energy-efficient Tensor with a slightly smaller battery. We’ll see. What we do know is that consumers hate it when they need to adapt to a shorter battery life and Google will probably want to avoid ruffling any feathers.

As for charging, the Pixel line has gone up to 30 W last year. It’s a fairly good spec for phone chargers and we don’t insist that Google tries to improve upon it. Yes, there are phones out there with 80 W and even 120 W wallbricks, but jury is still out on how their batteries handle the speedy top-ups over a period of time. So, let’s just stick to 30 W, it’s fast enough.

Of course, both phones support wireless charging, as it’s the industry norm nowadays.

Specs Comparison

The expected specs of the Pixel 7 vs the Pixel 6:

Obviously, this early in the game, most of the Pixel 7 specs are subject to speculation or educated guessing. We do think that Google might push the screen up to 120 Hz, but we wouldn’t mind if it sticks to 90 Hz.

The current specs sheet is pretty bare, as info about the Pixel 7 line is still scarce. But, for what we have, it seems it won’t be a huge departure from the Pixel 6.

Summary and Final Verdict

So, should you wait for the Pixel 7 or just go out and buy a Pixel 6 right now? If you are in need of a smartphone right here, right now, I’d say just go out and get the Pixel 6. Especially if it comes with a price reduction. The Pixel 6 is a lot of phone for the $600, though, many users are reporting various bugs in its software since release. Some are fixed, the others — Google is still working on.

But, if we put that aside, and if we assume the Pixel 7 has a flawless launch — it has the potential of being (among) the best value phone in 2022. So, if you are in no hurry, you may want to keep an ear to the ground, see what extra leaks come through in the following months.





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