I get to use a lot of phones, and 2022 has been a particularly busy year. Over a hundred phones have crossed my desk this year, and there have been several standouts: the Find X5 Pro, Galaxy S22 Ultra, Xiaomi 12 Pro, Xiaomi 12S Ultra, OnePlus 10 Pro, ASUS Zenfone 9, Galaxy Z Fold 4, and the iPhone 14 Pro.
The Pixel 7 Pro doesn't win outright in many areas. It doesn't have the best design (that goes to the S22 Ultra), the best screen (again, S22 Ultra), and it won't get the most software updates (yep, S22 Ultra again). You don't get the best camera hardware either (that honor goes to the Xiaomi 12S Ultra) or the best charging tech (Realme GT Neo 3).
But where the Pixel 7 Pro absolutely wins is the cameras and the software. Google made several tweaks to its tuning algorithms this year, and the result is that the Pixel 7 Pro takes phenomenal photos in any situation.
Now, the S22 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro also take photos that are outstanding, but with the Pixel 7 Pro, you will get an incredible shot on the first try, and that is the case every single time. It doesn't matter if the subject is moving or the lighting too low, or even if you move the camera when taking the photo — the Pixel 7 Pro delivers on the first try unerringly.
This consistency is what edges out the Pixel 7 Pro in favor of other flagships. The Galaxy S22 Ultra is a very close second — particularly for under $900 — but I prefer the Pixel 7 Pro for the in-hand feel and the cleaner software, and given that it is now selling for $749, it is a better value.
With the likes of the Pixel 6a delivering standout photos for just $299, flagships have to prove to justify their existence. The Pixel 7 Pro does a good job in doing just that; the cameras are versatile, the design is in line with a phone that launched for $899, and you get a sublime 120Hz AMOLED screen.
I would have liked faster charging and more platform updates — Samsung will roll out four OS updates to the Galaxy S22 series, while Google only guarantees three — but on balance, the Pixel 7 Pro is the better choice than any other phone I used this year.
A lot of the credit goes to the software; Google did a magnificent job bringing exclusive features to the Pixel 7 Pro, with utilities like Photo Unblur, Recorder, calling and camera-focused tweaks making the phone a delight to use. The interface itself is clean and devoid of any bloatware — unlike the S22 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro — and Android 13 is refreshing to use. Software is a bigger differentiator these days, and Google nailed the brief with the Pixel 7 Pro.
If you're on the hunt for a new flagship, just get the Pixel 7 Pro for $749. You won't find a phone that delivers as good a camera or as many useful software features.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.