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Google Pixel 7 review: cracking camera at a good price | Google

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Google appears to have triumphed again. The new Pixel 7 offers the same the top-flight software, camera and smart AI systems that have made its phones winners, but at a knockdown price that significantly undercuts rivals.

Costing £599 ($899/A$1,299) it sits in between the top £849 Pixel 7 Pro and the budget £399 Pixel 6a, competing very favourably on price and specs with rivals from Samsung, Apple and others that are typically in the £700-800 range.

The new phone looks like a smaller, simplified version of the Pixel 7 Pro. It has a flat, 6.3in OLED screen that’s bright and good looking. The screen is pretty good. It has a 90Hz refresh rate to keep things flowing smoothly. But it doesn’t reach the heady peak of 120Hz or dynamically adjust to save battery as is common on Android rivals.

The Pixel 7 next to the Pixel 7 Pro lying flat on a table.
The Pixel 7 (left) is smaller and easier to hold than the Pixel 7 Pro (right). Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Pixel 7 is shorter, narrower and lighter than its larger sibling and last year’s Pixel 6, which is a good thing. It makes the Pixel 7 a good balance between screen size and device size, similar to Apple’s iPhone 14.

The back of the phone has Google’s camera bar design, which blends into the brushed aluminium sides. It looks and feels more premium than last year’s model.

Inside, the Pixel 7 has the same Google Tensor G2 chip as its larger sibling and performs similarly, with particularly rapid AI systems such as text to speech.

Battery life is similar to Google’s other phones lasting about 35 hours between charges with the screen actively used for five hours. That’s good enough for a day of heavy use but behind the competition, some of which last almost two days.

The USB-C port in the bottom of the Pixel 7.
The Pixel 7 takes about 113 minutes to fully charge, hitting 50% in 35 minutes using a 30W USB-C power adaptor (not included), which is not overly quick compared with rivals. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Specifications

  • Screen: 6.3in 90Hz FHD+ OLED (416ppi)

  • Processor: Google Tensor G2

  • RAM: 8GB

  • Storage: 128 or 256GB

  • Operating system: Android 13

  • Camera: 50MP + 12MP ultrawide, 10.8MP selfie

  • Connectivity: 5G, eSIM, wifi 6E, UWB, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2 and GNSS

  • Water resistance: IP68 (1.5m for 30 minutes)

  • Dimensions: 155.6 x 73.2 x 8.7mm

  • Weight: 197g

Sustainability

Google does not provide an expected lifespan for the battery but it should last in excess of 500 full charge cycles with at least 80% of its original capacity. The phone is repairable by Google and third-party shops with genuine replacement parts available direct from iFixit. Out-of-warranty screen repairs by Google will cost similar to its predecessor at about £140 and battery replacements about £100.

The Pixel 7 is made with 100% recycled aluminium, accounting for about 19% of the phone by weight. The company publishes environmental impact reports for some of its products. Google will recycle old devices free of charge.

Android 13

The Pixel 7 flat on a table showing the camera and fingerprint scanner are active.
New for this year is camera-based face recognition and a faster in-screen fingerprint sensor for unlocking the phone. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Pixel 7 runs the same version of Android 13 as the Pixel 7 Pro and Google’s other smartphones, with a few exclusive features including the ability to unblur faces and objects using AI in the Google Photos app.

Google will provide at least five years of software and security updates including at least three major Android versions. Samsung supports many of its phones for five years, while Fairphone is aiming for six years and Apple supports its iPhone for up to seven years.

Camera

The view of a garden through the Google Camera app on a Pixel 7.
The Google Camera app has several useful tools for framing your photos, including an automatic level indicator and object-tracking auto-focus. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Pixel 7 has two cameras on the back, including a 50-megapixel main and 12MP ultrawide, lacking the 5x telephoto of the Pixel 7 Pro.

The 12MP ultrawide camera produces good images with very little distortion, even around the edges. But its 0.7x magnification isn’t quite as wide as the 0.5x of the 7 Pro or rivals, so you won’t be able to fit quite as much in. It also lacks the ability to work as a macro camera as on the 7 Pro, which is no big loss.

The main 50MP camera is the same as the 7 Pro and is simply brilliant, capturing a tremendous amount of detail across a broad range of lighting conditions, producing images at 12.5MP. It can also “zoom” to 2x optical magnification, which works surprisingly well matching what you’d typically get from a 2x optical zoom on rivals. Digital zoom takes over from there with reasonable results at 4x but soft on detail afterwards.

Google’s low-light night sight mode is faster and better than ever, creating great-looking and generally crisp images in near darkness. With the phone on a tripod or propped up you can even take stunning photos of the stars with a special extended shot.

The selfie camera shoots excellent 10MP images in a variety of lighting conditions.Video capture has been improved all round at up to 4K at 60 frames a second in HDR, catching up to rivals.

Overall the Pixel 7 has a really excellent camera for the money, only really missing an extended zoom.

Price

The Google Pixel 7 costs from £599 ($599/A$999) with 128GB of storage.

For comparison, the Pixel 7 Pro costs £849, the Pixel 6a costs £399, the Samsung Galaxy S22 costs £769 and the iPhone 14 costs £849.

Verdict

The Pixel 7 is a cracking top-end Android phone at a great price.

It offers most of what makes the Pixel 7 Pro one of the best smartphones of the year, with a few corners cut to be under £600 at a time when technology is getting more expensive, not less.

You get a good-looking, well-performing device with plenty of smart features and good software with at least five years of support. You’ll struggle to find as good a camera for the price. The 6.3in screen is a good size, if not the most advanced, and the battery life is solid if a bit short of the best.

With rivals costing north of £750, the Pixel 7’s biggest problem is that Google’s other more affordable phone, the Pixel 6a, offers 70% of the performance of the new phone for about £400.

Pros: great camera, good screen, good performance, solid battery, face and fingerprint unlock, Android 13 with five years of security updates, thoroughly undercuts competition on price.

Cons: limited zoom, face unlock option not as secure as some rivals, battery life short of best-in-class, fairly slow charging, no big leap in performance.

The back of the Pixel 7 showing its aluminium camera bar.
The camera bar on the Pixel 7 is brushed aluminium and stands out from an average smartphone. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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Singapore pulls plug on COVID tracking program • The Register

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Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Thursday that it was finally pulling the plug on its COVID tracking program.

On February 13, the city-state’s TraceTogether (TT) program, which uses the Bluetooth radios in mobile phones to track movements, and its business check-in system SafeEntry (SE) will come to a halt.

According to the ministry’s announcement, the government had already begun stepping down TT and SE, and would no longer require infected persons to submit TraceTogether data.

“SE data is no longer being collected, and MOH has deleted all identifiable TT and SE data from its servers and databases,” said the department.

The exception is data that was controversially used off-label in a murder investigation.

The systems will remain intact – as well as registration details including name, business registration, and mobile phone number – in case there is a need for reactivation. One example given is if a more dangerous COVID-19 variant were to spread. Apps will also remain available.

The ministry told members of the public, who haven’t been required to have them since last year, that they may “uninstall their TT App, and enterprises may do the same for the SE (Business) App.”

Furthermore, those with a physical TT token, which came in handy for the non-tech savvy as a device that exchanges anonymized identifiers, were asked to return the dongle for recycling.

Singapore began developing the open source TraceTogether at the onset of the pandemic in 2020. The app constantly sought out other Bluetooth-enabled devices that ran the app and logged when they were in close proximity. The country required users to register and inform authorities if they contracted COVID-19 and used the app to draw up lists of contacts who were then isolated.

Other countries, including Australia, based their apps on the technology. While many nations seemed to flop at COVID tracking, Singapore fared somewhat better, even with similar technology. That success has been attributed to a culture willing to comply, combined with a government that modified behavior through other strict rules to keep the virus from spreading.

One example of the additional measures was tracking devices issued to travelers during a required one-week isolation after arriving.

In April, TT and SE became largely superfluous as their use was no longer mandatory except for select events. The efficacy of such systems relied on mass compliance so if some people weren’t using them, they were less effective anyway.

However, job postings for positions related to the program near that time sparked speculation that the system would remain in some form in the island nation, unlike in most other countries. Singapore’s Government Technology Agency (GovTech) told The Register in late March 2022 the job listings were merely for replacing existing employees.

Australia quit its app in August after it was deemed a massive failure. Japan followed in September, and China discontinued use of its tracking app in December. ®

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Irish biotech Ovagen raises €1.1m for germ-free egg production

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Based in Co Mayo, Ovagen now plans to add 65 jobs over the next five years and hopes to see its revenue reach €42m by the end of 2027.

Irish biotech start-up Ovagen has raised €1.1m in an oversubscribed funding round led by the Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN) for its germ-free egg production business.

Ovagen, based in Ballina, Co Mayo, is a biotech company that has developed a process of producing germ-free chicken eggs intended for use in the pharmaceutical industry for products such as vaccines.

According to Ovagen, up to 20pc – or one in five – egg-based vaccine batches are destroyed because of contamination.

Overall, more than 1bn eggs are used every year as ‘bio reactors’ to develop vaccines. Viruses are injected into the eggs to propagate the virus, which vaccine manufacturers can then use to develop vaccines for diseases including the flu, yellow fever, mumps and measles.

Dr Catherine Caulfield, CEO and co-founder of Ovagen, said that current vaccines are developed using specific pathogen free eggs, which are free of many bacteria and viruses, but they are not germ-free and a significant portion become contaminated.

“Our funders have been instrumental in supporting us on our long journey to make a concept a reality,” she said.

“At critical stages in our development, our angel investors have not only provided us with their financial backing, but they have also introduced us to other potential investors, as well as their highly influential industry contacts.”

Ovagen now aims to go to market with the “world’s first germ-free egg” in what is potentially a multimillion euro industry.

“The global potential of the company’s technology is vast and that is why this is the second time HBAN syndicates have backed Ovagen,” said Declan MacFadden, an HBAN spokesperson.

“Ovagen is now in prime position to launch its product and we are excited to see the impact that this ground-breaking development has in a highly lucrative global market.”

Following the latest investment, in which the Western Development Commission and an existing shareholder also participated, the company expects to add 65 jobs (it currently has 12 staff) over the next five years, with revenues reaching €42m by the end of 2027.

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Republicans grill ex-Twitter executives over handling of Hunter Biden story | House of Representatives

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US lawmakers held a combative hearing on Wednesday with former senior staffers at Twitter over the social media platform’s handling of reporting on Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

The proceedings set the stage for the agenda of a newly Republican-controlled House, underscoring its intention to hone in on longstanding and unsubstantiated allegations that big tech platforms have an anti-conservative bias.

The House oversight committee called for questioning recently departed Twitter employees including Vijaya Gadde, the social network’s former chief legal officer, former deputy general counsel James Baker, former head of safety and integrity Yoel Roth and former safety leader Anika Collier Navaroli.

The hearing centered on a question that has long dogged Republicans – why Twitter decided to temporarily restrict the sharing of a story about Hunter Biden in the New York Post, released in October 2020, the month before the US presidential election. But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle used the opportunity to interrogate moderation practices at Twitter and other tech firms.

“The government doesn’t have any role in suppressing speech,” said Republican committee chairman James Comer, hammering the former employees for censoring the Post story.

people sit at table in congressional chamber
James Baker, former deputy general counsel at Twitter; Vijaya Gadde; former chief legal officer at Twitter; Yoel Roth, former global head of trust and safety; and the former employee Anika Collier Navaroli attend the hearing. Photograph: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

In that report, the Post said it received a copy of a laptop hard drive from Donald Trump’s then-personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, that Hunter Biden had dropped off 18 months earlier at a Delaware computer repair shop and never retrieved. Twitter initially blocked people from sharing links to the article for several days, citing concerns over misinformation and spreading a report containing potentially hacked materials.

In opening statements on Wednesday, the former Twitter staffers described the process by which the story was blocked. While the company explicitly allowed “reporting on a hack, or sharing press coverage of hacking”, it blocked stories that shared “personal and private information – like email addresses and phone numbers” – which the Post story appeared to include. The platform amended these rules following the Biden controversy, and the then CEO, Jack Dorsey, later called the company’s communications about the Post article “not great”.

Roth, the former head of safety and integrity, said on Wednesday that Twitter acknowledged that censoring the story was a mistake.

“Defending free expression and maintaining the health of the platform required difficult judgment calls,” he said. “There is no easy way to run a global communications platform that satisfies business and revenue goals, individual customer expectations, local laws and cultural norms and get it right every time.”

men in congressional chamber
Yoel Roth prepares to testify. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Elon Musk, who purchased the company last year, has since shared a series of internal records, known as the Twitter Files, showing how the company initially stopped the story being shared, citing concerns from the Biden campaign, among other factors.

Republican theories that Democrats are colluding with big tech to suppress conservative speech have become a hot button issue in Washington, with congress members using various tech hearings to grill executives. But experts say claims of anti-conservative bias have been disproven by independent researchers.

“What we’ve seen time and again is that companies are de-platforming people who are spreading racism and conspiracy theories in violation of the company’s rule,” said Jessica J González, co-chief executive officer of the civil rights group Free Press.

“The fact that those people are disproportionately Republicans has nothing to do with it,” she added. “This is about right or wrong, not left or right.”

Musk’s decision to release information about the laptop story comes after he allowed the return of high-profile figures banned for spreading misinformation and engaging in hate speech, including the former president. The executive has shared and engaged with conspiracy theories on his personal account.

Republican lawmakers seem to have found an ally in Musk, and repeatedly praised him during Wednesday’s proceedings. The rightwing congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene used her time on the floor to personally attack the former Twitter employees and complain about her own account, which was suspended for violating the platform’s policies on coronavirus misinformation.

“I’m so glad you’ve lost your jobs,” she said. “I am so glad Elon Musk bought Twitter.”

man in front of image of new york post with headline 'biden secret emails'
The oversight committee chairman, James Comer, a Republican, makes opening remarks. Photograph: Jemal Countess/UPI/Rex/Shutterstock

But Democrats on Wednesday used their time in the House to explore how the Trump administration engaged with Twitter, revealing that the former president himself tried to interfere with content decisions.

In response to questioning from the new representative Maxwell Frost of Florida, the former Twitter content moderation executive Navaroli confirmed that in 2019 Trump tried to have an insulting tweet from internet personality Chrissy Teigen removed from the platform. In the tweet, which was read for the record, Teigen referred to Trump as a “pussy ass bitch”. Twitter denied the White House’s request, and it remains online today.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez further sought to disprove bias against conservative speech on Twitter when she asked about an instance in 2019, when a tweet from Trump including hate speech was kept online despite violating platform policies.

The former president told Democratic congresswomen to “go back” to their countries, a clear violation of Twitter’s policies regarding abuse against immigrants, but was not penalized, Navaroli confirmed, and the rules were changed.

“So Twitter changed their own policy after Trump violated it to accommodate his tweets?” Ocasio-Cortez said. “So much for bias against the rightwing on Twitter.”

The White House has sought to discredit the Republican investigation into Hunter Biden, calling them “divorced-from-reality political stunts”. Nonetheless, Republicans now hold subpoena power in the House, giving them the authority to compel testimony and conduct an aggressive investigation.

In opening statements at Wednesday’s hearing, Democratic representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland expressed frustration that the first tech-focused panel of the session is focused on the Hunter Biden story, which he called a “faux scandal”. He said private companies under the first amendment are free to decide what is allowed on their platforms.

“Silly does not even begin to capture this obsession,” he said of the laptop story. “What’s more, Twitter’s editorial decision has been analyzed and debated ad nauseam. Some people think it was the right decision. Some people think it was the wrong decision. But the key point here is that it was Twitter’s decision.”

The Associated Press contributed reporting



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