Both the Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro have some fantastic features. But Photo Unblur is at the top of the list, a new photo-editing tool that can transform blurry photos into something you''re happy to post and share.
Photo Unblur is powered by a new Tensor G2 processor inside the most recent Pixel 7 models. As such, the feature is currently a Pixel 7-exclusive, and it will remain so for the foreseeable future. At the moment, you''ll no longer find Pixel Unblur among the Pixel 7 upgrades expected to arrive.
When you select a blurry photo in Photos, the Pixel 7''s Tensor technology utilizes machine learning to take blurry photos and clean up the images, similar to how the Magic Eraser feature was introduced last year. Photo Unblur is used more often than not as a photo-editing tool, making it even easier to clean up your blurry shots.
Photo Unblur means that you''re not limited to fixing blurry photos that you shoot with the Pixel 7, so long as you''re using it on one of Google''s latest Pixels. That means that photos shot by completely different phones can be fixed.
Here''s what I received when I was given the opportunity to test the Pixel 7''s Photo Unblur feature.
Outdoor shot in shadows (iPhone 5c)
I remember this moment when my daughter was still carrying the iPhone 5c around, although her face is covered in dark shadows cast by one of the felled tree trunks at Sequoia National Park, but more to the point, she is not just distracted either because she kept moving or my hands shook.
Photo Unblur clears up her face so that her features are now perfect in focus. The advantage is that her facial features have improved, giving her an almost doll-like appearance. Here, the shadow works in my favor because it disguises the excesses of the unblur effect while significantly clearing up the area surrounding her.
Group shot, indoors (iPhone 3G)
Photo Unblur can apparently handle photos from even older phones, as this image of my daughter and two preschool pals was captured by an iPhone 3G if the metadata is to be determined. When the faces of all three girls are in focus, the girl on the left is quite blur.
Photo Unblur performs a bang-up job here, highlighting the faces of all three young ladies, especially the girl in the middle. Once again, you get some aggressive face-smoothing, especially with my daughter and her friend on the left, but that''s a good choice for a picture this clear.
Group shot, animals (iPhone 13 Pro Max)
Animals are even less cooperative if kids don''t stay in one spot when you''re trying to photograph them. That''s the problem with this photo of some Oxford Sandy and Black pigs that my friend Richard Priday took with his iPhone 13 Pro Max. Let''s see if Photo Unblur can huff and puff and blow some of the semblance out of this photo of three little pigs.
The answer is that it sort of can. There is no variation on the pig in the middle, but the one on the right gets even greater focus with the Unblur effect, particularly around the snout and the eyes. Alas, the pig on the left only gets a sharper snout, but not much else. Here''s why Photo Unblur works best when it can concentrate on a specific area rather than multiple subjects spread cross the width of the picture.
Animal shot, outdoors (iPhone 11)
In this photo from fitness author Jane McGuire, the value of applying the unblur effect in one specific area is on display. It''s a striking photo depicting a dog in a wintery field with soee stunning pink and purple clouds in the sky. However, our four-legged friend is immersed.
The improvement after we tap into Photo Unblur is subtle, but it''s there. Focus around the dog''s nose, and you see better focus not significantly better, but improved enough that the shot looks better than it did before.
Night shot, outdoors (iPhone SE)
Most of our unblurred photographs have been taken in excellent lighting conditions. Not this photo of my daughter durant an oddly lit Christmas celebration. She''s completely blurry, as the original iPhone SE camera struggled with the dark setting.
Photo Unblur is far from the best example of what it can do. My daughter''s face becomes clearly visible once the Blur effect works its magic. There''s also no over-smoothing we see in some other photos, although the way her face is a little stripped out. This is, however, a significant improvement photo, thanks to Photo Unblur.
Indoor shot, distance (iPhone 12 Pro Max)
This photo of wrestler Rey Mysterio was delivered by Henry Casey, who is a senior editor, although it''s likely not as sharp as it could be. Perhaps that''s why Photo Unblur had a very minimal impact on the shot.
Oh, there''s some improvement Myserio''s t-shirt is now more legible. For the most part, the Pixel 7''''s feature has focused on clearing up one area of the photo, and it isn''t necessarily the area you want to focus on.
Indoor shot, low-lighting (Galaxy S22 Ultra)
Malcolm McMillan, a staff writer, performed under similar circumstances as the Rey Mysterio shot indoors and shot at a distance (though that''s rarely an issue for the Galaxy S22 Ultra). However, the lightning is far more unforgiving.
Photo Unblur improves the shot quite a bit, but you''ll have to zoom in to see the effect. After using the Unblur effect, the guitarist''s face becomes a lot more visible in the dim lighting; the lead singer to the left is basically untouched.
Action shot, indoors (Pixel 4a)
I don''t think I have to explain what''s wrong with the original photo of senior editor Marshall Honoroff demonstrating his taekwondo technique. Marshall''s just a blur of movement. Perhaps, the Photo Unblur tool can clarify that quite a bit, especially considering that this photo was captured by one of Google''s own devices, a Pixel 4a.
In one of the most horrifying moments of our Photo Unblur testing, it did not matter. Marshall remains as bloated as before, especially his face and arms out of focus. I wish Photo Unblur would at least clean up the area around his face, but the only thing that appears sharper is the logo on his shirt.
Photo Unblur testing: Outlook
When testing the Photo Unblur feature on the Pixel 7, I noticed a few flaws, implying that these were the most popular features of the Tensor technology. This is why mobile cameras have improved so much in recent years, but with older devices, there''s a lot more to be done, so you''ll notice Photo Unblur''s impact more.
We obtained our best results with people when they''re facing the camera. We tested a number of photos not included in this article, which showed side views of faces, but that is particularly true for any animals photographed when the majority of the face is facing the camera, so the better job Photo Unblur does of cleaning things up.
Photo Unblur''s effectiveness isn''t seen in light, although some of the best improvements were made in low-light scenes. Lighting can also help reduce the over-smoothing of faces that appears to be a side effect.
I''ve learned that Photo Unblur isn''t a silver bullet for all blurry shots. Some photos are beyond saving. However, the feature is powerful enough, and it''s quite simple to use Photo Unblur to improve older shots. Even after this testing, Photo Unblur remains my favorite Pixel 7 feature.