While the Pixel 7 Pro offers minor refinements over the Pixel 6 Pro, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 are even further separated with important changes that make for a more enticing product.

Google hasn’t attempted to reinvent the wheel this year. Instead, the company is building upon the solid foundations laid when the Pixel 6 series launched in late 2021. If you do not like your Pixel 6, then you might not like the Pixel 7. If you feel that some lingering issues mean you are thinking of switching, here’s everything you need to know.

Video — Google Pixel 6 vs. Pixel 7: Smaller size, better Pixel

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Hardware

The chassis changes on paper seem relatively minor. It’s only when you get both devices in your hands and when directly side-by-side, that you can spot that the Pixel 7 offers some important refinements over the Pixel 6. It’s not clear why Google has shaved the dimensions of the Pixel 7, but it pushes it closer to the Pixel 6a in terms of pocketability and helps create more separation between the Pro model for 2022/2023.

A 6.3-inch display is standard on the Pixel 7, while last year’s Pixel 6 packs a 6.4-inch panel. These are very similar in terms of fidelity, but because the Pixel 7 is marginally smaller, it has a higher 416ppi versus the 411ppi on the Pixel 6. Maximum brightness levels are substantially upgraded with peak brightness now at 1,400 nits on the 2022 flagship compared to the Pixel 6’s 800-nit peak brightness level.

Both displays are capped at 1080p and run at a maximum 90Hz refresh rate. However, because of the matte black side rails the Pixel 6 appears to have larger bezels. The truth is that the bezels are not drastically different on the duo. At the bottom, the chin is the same size on both models with a smaller forehead offering an explanation to the 0.1-inch display decrease on the Pixel 7.

It’s not just the screen – to accommodate the size changes a number of other areas are tweaked and tuned. You’ll notice that the camera bar alignment is better with the Pixel 7 Pro. This camera section is now made from aluminum rather than glass and fuses into the midframe for a more cohesive look and feel. The camera section should be less prone to smudges and smears as only the dual lens setup is exposed now too.

Google has also moved down the right-sided volume and power buttons. This makes the only hardware inputs easier to reach without shifting your grip and is likely owed to the camera bar downward shift. You might care about the weight changes, as the Pixel 7 is 10g (6.95 oz) lighter at 197 versus the 207g (7.30 oz) Pixel 6.

Google Pixel 6 Google Pixel 7
Size 6.4-inches 6.3 inches
Dimensions 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9 mm (6.24 x 2.94 x 0.35 in) 155.6 x 73.2 x 8.7 mm (6.13 x 2.88 x 0.34 in)
Weight 207g (7.30 oz) 197g (6.95 oz)
Display 90Hz / AMOLED / FHD+ / Gorilla Glass Victus / 2,400 x 1,080 pixels / 411ppi 90Hz / AMOLED / FHD+ / Gorilla Glass Victus / 2,400 x 1,080 pixels / 416ppi
Chipset Google Tensor Google Tensor G2
RAM 8GB DDR5 8GB DDR5
Storage 128 / 256GB UFS 3.1 128 / 256GB UFS 3.1
Battery 4,614mAh 4,355mAh
Rear camera 50MP wide / 12MP ultra-wide 50MP wide / 12MP ultra-wide
Front-facing camera 8MP 11.1MP
Biometrics In-display fingerprint scanner In-display fingerprint scanner
Colors Sorta Seafoam / Kinda Coral / Stormy Black Obsidian / Snow / Lemongrass

As we note, in terms of specifications, you’d be hard-pressed to spot any major changes. The new Tensor G2 processor is not a massive leap in power, but there are some supposed efficiency gains and better ML processing times. Both phones are still effortlessly smooth when running the latest version of Android.

RAM and storage configurations remain identical, but disappointingly there is still no 512GB storage tier available for storing lots of on-device photos, video, music, and other files. This might be a problem as Google does not offer support for internal storage expansion with micro SD card. You may need to invest in the Google One storage plan to ensure your content is safely backed up.

One of the biggest changes from the Pixel 6 to the Pixel 7 is in the color selection available. Google has dropped the bright and playful colors with the newer series. Instead, it’s muted but somewhat refined tones that fit better with the Pixel 7 Pro. Out go the Kinda Coral and Sorta Seafoam, and we get a Lemongrass yellow/gold option in return. Snow and Obsidian match are offered in basic white/silver and black/pewter respectively.

Software

pixel 7 pixel 6

Despite the newer-generation Tensor processor, the daily performance is very close on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7. Of course, you will notice that the G2 chip offers some added functionality such as the ability to utilize Face Unlock, plus a few extra new features.

Although a year old, the Pixel 6 now runs better than it did at launch thanks to the numerous bug fixes and tuning found in Android 13. For all intents and purposes, Android 13 at its core is identical on this duo. Material You and Dynamic Color are major components, with little tweaks helping to aid your daily usage.

Of the changes made to the new model, Face Unlock functionality is arguably the biggest difference. Performance gains with Tensor G2 also seem to be minimal, with slick performance assured once again. One thing to note is just how much better the Pixel 7 seems to run when compared to the buggy rollout and release of Android 12 — which shipped with the Pixel 6 series.

Just like on the Pro models, gaming remains one of the weaker areas of the Tensor and Tensor G2 processors. Excess heat and frame drops are more prominent on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7, but you will still be able to play the biggest and best games at respectable fidelity levels. That said, the experience is certainly a few steps behind devices with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and 8+ Gen 1.

Face Unlock on Pixel 7 is also available alongside an improved in-display fingerprint scanner. Separately the changes are important, together they make for a vastly improved unlocking experience. The hands-free biometric unlock method is possible thanks to the use of a higher-resolution 11-megapixel selfie camera on the Pixel 7 — more on that later. This means that if Google does ever backport the function, it is unlikely to come to the 2021 device due to the lower-resolution 8-megapixel selfie camera being used.

Google Pixel 6 Google Pixel 7
Software Shipped with Android 12 Shipped with Android 13
Support window October 2026 October 2027
Features In-display fingerprint scanner
Magic Eraser
Face Unblur
Motion modes
On-device Live translation
In-display fingerprint scanner
Face Unlock
Photo Unblur
Cinematic Blur
Google One VPN
Cough and snore detection

Other new features that Pixel 7 owners gain access to include Face Unblur. This is like a machine-learning filter that improves the overall quality of images taken with your camera or even your Google Photos library. In December, you’ll also get access to the Google One VPN for added network security. A final feature missing on the Pixel 6 but found on the Pixel 7 is the new cough and snore detection found in Digital Wellbeing settings.

Google is offering fairly decent support windows for the Pixel series, but because the Pixel 6 launched with Android 12 and has been updated to Android 13, it’ll get two further major OS builds up to and including Android 15. The Pixel 7 has launched with Android 13 so is eligible for Android 16 at some point down the line.

The full support window for the Pixel 6 and 7 series remains at five years but with security patches in the final years. Support will cease for the Pixel 6 in October 2026, while the Pixel 7 will be supported up to October 2027.

Another notable not directly tied to the software is the usage of a newer Exynos 5300 modem in the Pixel 7. Where the Pixel 6 can sometimes struggle with connectivity and networking, the Pixel 7 has far steadier connections in all kinds of places.

Battery

One of the few downgrades to the Pixel 7 over the Pixel 6 is in the total battery capacity. The internal cell is almost 10% smaller this year. Tensor G2 is supposed to offer 20% efficiency gains, which is often hard to accurately determine. In our experience, the battery life on the Pixel 6 was better at launch but only marginally so.

The Pixel 7 is an all-day phone that can withstand moderate to high usage without becoming problematic. As the Pixel 6 is aging, it might not offer the same longevity. Unfortunately, lifespan is a subjective metric and hard to judge for everyone at the same time.

Google Pixel 6 Google Pixel 7
Battery size 4,614mAh 4,355mAh
Charging speed 30W wired (21W peak)
21W Qi wireless w/ Pixel Stand 2
5W reverse wireless
30W wired (21W peak)
21W Qi wireless w/ Pixel Stand 2
5W reverse wireless

Google opted to keep charging speeds the same this year too. The Pixel 7 series is, therefore, still rated at 30W but with caps on both devices at 21W. Because the Pixel 6 has a larger battery, it takes longer to charge from 0-100%, but neither phone offers particularly fast top-up speeds.

Cameras

pixel 7 pixel 6

The rear camera system has not changed on the Pixel 7, but there are some changes that you’ll want to be aware of. Google stuck with the 50-megapixel Samsung GN1 main sensor, which is paired with a 12-megapixel Sony IMX 386 ultra-wide-angle.

At the front, to accommodate Face Unlock the selfie sensor is now rated at 11 megapixels on the Pixel 7 versus the 8-megapixel sensor used on the Pixel 6. It offers a greater FOV and the quality increase is not massive but a definite bump up. As noted above, this allows for Face Unlock in conjunction with some processing improvements added with Tensor G2. It also means superior front-facing images with improved processing.

Google Pixel 6 Google Pixel 7
Main sensor Samsung GN1
50MP
f1.9 aperture
Samsung GN1
50MP
f1.9 aperture
Secondary sensor Sony IMX 386
12MP ultra-wide-angle
f2.2 aperture
114˚ FOV
Sony IMX 386
12MP ultra-wide-angle
f2.2 aperture
114˚ FOV
Front-facing sensor Sony IMX 355
8MP
f2.0
Sony IMX 663
11.1MP
f2.2
Camera hardware features OIS
EIS
PDAF
OIS
EIS
PDAF
Camera software features 7x zoom
Night Sight Portrait
Portrait Light
4K UHD 60fps
Live HDR+ Video
Cinematic Pan
Locked Focus
Active mode
8x zoom
4K UHD 60fps (all lenses)
10-bit HDR10 Video
Real Tone 2.0
Guided Frame
Cinematic Blur

This is the only major hardware difference between the two camera systems. However, Google has made some changes to the software processing capabilities of the Pixel 7 camera system. Enhanced Super Res Zoom means that while there is no dedicated telephoto zoom lens, machine-learning-backed digital crops allow for almost lossless 2x digital cropping. 8x digital zoom is now possible, which is a jump up from the 7x found on Pixel 6.

Other notable functionality only available on the Pixel 7 includes the new Cinematic Blur, 4K UHD 60fps recording on all lenses, 10-bit HDR10 video recording, Real Tone 2.0, plus the accessibility-focused Guided Frame. All of the Pixel 6 camera functionality is also baked into the Google Camera app on the Pixel 7 series too. Camera processing times also appear to be improved thanks to Tensor G2.

Pixel 6 vs. Pixel 7: Is the newer model a big enough upgrade?

About upgrading: 9to5Google often gives specific product recommendations. Sometimes, we may suggest not upgrading, due to various reasons including, but not limited to: increased device cost, negligible performance gains, or environmental impact. Whether to upgrade is always your call, but our aim is to help you make as informed a decision as possible.

Rather than a jump or leap, the Pixel 6 to the Pixel 7 is more of a hop. That said, there are some important changes that make what we considered one of the best sub-$600 smartphone last year an even better buy this time around.

Listening to feedback and working on the problem areas means that the late-2022 Pixel cohort makes good on previous promises of true flagship-level experiences in all areas. Like the Pixel 6, the Pixel 7 is not the outright best smartphone you can buy, but within its price bracket, there are not many smartphones providing this level of polish.

Thanks to a high volume of bug fixes, updates, and the full Android 13 OTA, the Pixel 6 is now better than it was at launch. If you have encountered problems with the fingerprint scanner and connectivity specifically, the Pixel 7 could be a solid upgrade but not an essential one despite being a better handset.

Where can I get the best deal on the Pixel 7?

Are you insistent on getting the Pixel 7? The Pixel 7 retails for $599 in the US and can be purchased directly from GoogleAmazonBest BuyVerizonTargetAT&T, plus many more.

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About the Author

Damien Wilde

Damien is a UK-based video producer for 9to5Google. Find him on Twitter: @iamdamienwilde. Email: damien@9to5mac.com