Hot take: Google Pixel 7, 7 Pro lack in innovation, Pixel Watch has big shoes to fill

In typical Google fashion, leaks of Google’s next-generation hardware were aplenty, only this time Google didn’t wait to reveal its fall lineup – instead teasing early renders during Google I/O in May. The Pixel event wrapped Thursday morning, but there were no surprises left to announce if you were following leaks in past few weeks.

We have a new Google Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro, PixelWatch, and we got a glimpse of Google’s upcoming Pixel Tablet. The launch event took place live and in-person with some pre-recorded segments. While it was nice to see a live event, I feel like a pre-recorded event would have been shorter and to the point.

Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro are incremental upgrades

There were some improvements to the Pixel 7 duo. A new Tensor G2 chipset boosts the performance and AI processing for photography with an improved GPU outputting photography tasks at faster rates, a new modem, and the Tensor core. These changes are welcome improvements to the Pixel 6’s first-generation Tensor.

Pixel 7 and 7 Pro unveiled with Tensor G2 and camera improvements

But all things considered, the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro don’t deviate much from the Pixel 6 series in either hardware or features. The 7 Pro’s ultrawide camera is new and has autofocus for macro photography, and Google’s Super Res Zoom has improved. Other new features like Photo Unblur and a cinematic recording mode don’t really excite the average smartphone user.

Pixel 7 and 7 Pro unveiled with Tensor G2 and camera improvements

The new phones represent a refinement of the Pixel 6 and they feel more like refreshed versions of their predecessors than true successors. On the upside Google keeps pricing the same as last year’s Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, which is really appreciated.

Pixel 7 and 7 Pro pre-orders begin, Pixel Watch also available

The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro are important for the expansion of the markets that Google services. This year, the Pixel flagships are arriving to a few more countries, but still trails far behind other premium smartphone makers in market availability.

Pixel Watch is cute, but it has a lot to refine

Tea PixelWatch feels a couple of years late. Sure, Google (and many other tech companies) experienced severe supply chain constraints in 2020, and so the Pixel Watch is a first-generation product that has a lot to prove. For Google’s Wear OS and for Google’s little Pixel ecosystem it has going on.

Google Pixel Watch announced

The Pixel Watch’s design and style are sleek and fashion-forward. Paired with Wear OS, the vibe emitting from the Pixel Watch is bubbly and helpful.

Fitbit integration with Wear OS shows the first major benefit of the Fitbit acquisition. While the Pixel Watch is the first Wear OS device with integration of the platform, Google currently sells a Fitbit model that’s cheaper than the Pixel Watch’s $349 price point with more comprehensive fitness tracking features.

Different styles of bands available for the Pixel Watch
Different styles of bands available for the Pixel Watch

Software features announced were not anything new. Google gave plenty of examples of things you can do with the Pixel Watch that were already possible on older Wear OS watches. Of course, the face lift it got is welcome but long overdue.

The Pixel Watch has big shoes to fill as the poster child of Wear OS. The company promises 24 hours of battery life, which sounds like charging will be a daily affair. Still, it is too early to make a judgment on endurance.

The Google Pixel Watch
The Google Pixel Watch
The Google Pixel Watch
The Google Pixel Watch

The Google Pixel Watch

The Price of the Pixel Watch seems high. Even when positioned next to Fossil’s lineup of designer Wear OS watches, the Pixel Watch should be able to keep up with looks. Even without seeing the smartwatch, a $299 price point would seem more appropriate, but still on the pricey side.

The Pixel Watch is expected to be like an Apple Watch equivalent for Android phones, so expectations are very high.

Pixel Tablet teases a versatile smart home display

Google did reveal some new angles of the Pixel Tablet, but it was more of an extended teaser since the new Pixel Tablet won’t arrive until next year. Google’s efforts to improve the Android for the tablet form factor have been apparent since its introduction of Android 12L.

Hot take: Google Pixel 7, 7 Pro are solid but lack innovation;  Pixel Watch has big shoes to fill

The Pixel Tablet takes an approach that blurs the line between a portable large-screened device and one of Google’s Home Hub smart displays. The charging speaker dock makes the Tablet double as a smart display that shows relevant information when docked. It will listen for and respond to Google Assistant commands.

The Pixel Tablet with wireless charging speaker combo make it an ideal device for casually sharing with other family members in the house. We hope Google has plans to show the Pixel Tablet with a productivity-focused accessory like a kind of magnetic folio keyboard.

This year’s event slightly progressed the Pixel brand further

With no major changes to the Pixel lineup and a seemingly underwhelming Pixel Watch, this year’s Made by Google event showcased incremental updates to the Google Pixel and an overdue entry to Google’s Wear OS first-party release.

Compared to Apple and Samsung, Google is still far behind in sales volumes, but it is aiming to ship more Pixels next year, and even more the year after that. The Google Pixel Watch is expected to be the Apple Watch equivalent of Android phones and based on what Google’s announced on Thursday, it has a lot of work to do to get there.

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