May 22, 2024


It's the Technology

google pixel 6a up to ear

Everything we know so far and what we want to see

google pixel 6a up to ear

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Google made the wise decision to return to its beloved Nexus roots and launch a cheaper Pixel phone back in 2019. The Pixel 3a and 3a XL boasted the same great camera performance as their more expensive siblings for a fraction of the price — they started at just $400. Since then, each Pixel A series phone has delivered a similarly impressive bang for buck, so we’re already eagerly awaiting the Pixel 7a. Let’s dive in and see what we can expect from Google’s next affordable phone.

Will there definitely be a Google Pixel 7a?

There’s no guarantee with Google (see the recent Pixelbook cancellation and the death of Stadia), but we’re pretty sure a Pixel 7a is on the way. We’ve been hearing about a phone codenamed Lynx for a while now, with plenty of speculation about what it could be. It’s looking more and more likely that this isn’t the mythical Pixel Ultra or the Pixel foldable (probably codenamed Felix). Instead, we expect this to be the mid-range Pixel 7a that will arrive sometime next year.

When Google first launched the Pixel 3a, it came alongside a larger XL model, just like every Pixel had done up to that point. However, the Pixel 4a didn’t have a bigger brother, unless you count the Pixel 4a 5G (although that had more in common with the Pixel 5). The same formula followed for the Pixel 5a — which saw a very limited release in just the US and Japan — and the Pixel 6a. We would imagine the Pixel 7a will only come in one size, too.

When will the Pixel 7a release date be?

Pixel A series release dates have been a little all over the place, so it’s hard to predict exactly when the next model will land. Chip shortages and other supply chain issues have plagued the series in recent years, but the situation will hopefully have improved by the time the 7a comes around. The Pixel 3a and 3a XL went on sale in May 2019, then the Pixel 4a and 5a came out in late August 2020 and 2021, respectively. Most recently, the Pixel 6a was released in July 2021 after being announced in May at Google I/O.

The current model: Google Pixel 6a review

This is clearly the company’s preferred launch window for A series phones. Our best guess is that Google will announce the Pixel 7a at next year’s developer conference with a release date soon afterward. Expect to get your hands on one sometime between May and August 2023.

What features and specs will the Pixel 7a have?

google pixel 6a home screen

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

We’ve only had a couple of leaks regarding the Pixel 7a so far, but they include tantalizing details about what could be the most premium A series Pixel yet.

High-end features

Google naturally has to make certain sacrifices to hit a lower price point than its flagships. This usually means cheaper materials, older camera hardware, a less impressive screen, and generally fewer bells and whistles. However, according to a leak from developer Kuba Wojciechowski, the Pixel 7a could break from tradition and include higher-end features than we’ve seen previously.

After digging into a recent Android Beta build (Android 13 QPR1 Beta 1), Wojciechowski spotted several references to the device codenamed Lynx that suggest some interesting upgrades. While every Pixel A series model up to now has shipped with a 60Hz display, there’s evidence to suggest the 7a will rock a 90Hz 1080p panel. This will likely be similar (or identical) to the one found on the standard Pixel 7. Considering the base-level iPhone 14 still sports a 60Hz screen, that would be a huge update for the budget Pixel. You could argue this is not before time since other Android phones have launched with up to 120Hz displays at lower prices for several years now. Even so, this is a step in the right direction for Google.

The Pixel 7a could break from tradition and include higher-end features than any A series Pixel that’s gone before.

The other big news from the same leak is that the Pixel 7a could include 5W wireless charging. This one’s a bit of a double-edged sword. Wireless charging on a low-to-mid-range Pixel is a neat prospect, but 5W would make this extremely slow, especially for a phone arriving in 2023. If you routinely charge overnight, this will be plenty fast enough. It won’t be super helpful if you just want to top up for a few minutes before leaving the house, though.

Upgraded camera and chipset

Wojciechowski was also able to glean from the Android Beta code that the Pixel 7a is likely to once again go with a dual rear camera setup, with Sony’s IMX787 sensor for the primary shooter and an ultrawide lens using an IMX712. The Pixel 6a used the aging IMX363 for the main camera, so we should be in for a considerable upgrade in this department. Earlier rumors suggested we might see three cameras on the back, but that now doesn’t appear to be the case. A series phones usually closely track the smaller/cheaper of the main Pixel phones each year, and since the Pixel 7 has only two rear cameras, we expect the 7a to follow suit.

That’s about it for substantiated rumors, but there are a few other educated guesses we can make. Since the Pixel 6a featured the same first-generation Google Tensor chipset as the Pixel 6, the Pixel 7a is odds on to go with the Tensor G2 that arrived with the company’s most recent flagships. We already know that those devices are snappy and responsive, so we would anticipate the same level of performance from the mid-range 7a.

Familiar design

Google Pixel 7a 5K1 scaled 1

Few high-profile smartphones come to market without first having their designs leaked, so it was no surprise to see these CAD renders of the Pixel 7a appear online. As expected, the phone looks like a Pixel 6a updated with some visual flourishes from the newer Pixel 7.

Google Pixel 7a render

The phone’s dimensions (152.4 x 72.9 x 9.0mm) are ever so slightly larger than its predecessor. It’s set to be 0.2mm taller, 1.1mm wider, and 0.1mm thicker — these differences are negligible. If you were hoping for the unlikely return of a 3.5mm headphone jack, it looks like you’re going to be disappointed.

We don’t yet know anything about materials, but we expect Google to opt for plastic instead of glass on the back once again, and we might not get the full aluminum frame that wraps around the camera bar on the more expensive Pixel 7. As with any Pixel A series phone, the bezels around the display are that little bit bigger, but it’s still an attractive handset.

To the untrained eye, the Pixel 7a might not be distinguishable from the Pixel 7, but we would hope for a nifty new colorway or two, though.

How much will the Pixel 7a cost?

Previous Pixel A series base models have retailed for between $350 and $450, and we expect the upcoming Pixel 7a to come in once again at the top end of that range. The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro didn’t see a price hike, so with any luck, the 7a will slot in at $450, just like the 6a.

It’s possible the price in other regions will change, however, with high inflation and currency fluctuations causing havoc in various parts of the world. Don’t be too surprised if Google keeps prices the same in the US but adds a little on elsewhere.

Pixel 7a: What we want to see

Wireless charging

Google Pixel 6 in Pixel Stand

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

It’s one of the key rumors about the device that we’ve heard, so we really hope it turns out to be true. The convenience of wireless charging may still be seen as a luxury, but lots of affordable handsets use the Qi standard, and wireless chargers are incredibly cheap these days. It’s about time Google upgraded this aspect of its cheaper phone, even if it ends up being a very slow 5W charging speed.

Face unlock

After initial signs pointed to the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro shipping with Face Unlock, the feature never found its way onto either device. We’re still not really sure why, but we did eventually get the biometric option on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. It may not be as secure or as useful as the full face unlock that came with the Pixel 4, but it still makes opening your phone for anything other than payments that little bit easier and faster. If Google reuses the front camera hardware from the Pixel 7 for the 7a, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to have the same face unlock feature on that phone too.

Higher refresh rate screen

Brands like Xiaomi and Realme have been shipping budget phones with up to 120Hz refresh rate screens for a few years now, so there’s no excuse when Google and Apple launch more expensive products stuck on 60Hz. For the first time on a Pixel A series device, it looks like a display with a 90Hz refresh rate is on the cards, which would at least match the Pixel 7. This will be most welcome, if it turns out to be the case, and will vastly improve the experience of scrolling through articles and app interfaces.

More exciting colors

Google Pixel 7 back on green wall

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Smartphone manufacturers have thankfully spent the last few years experimenting with all sorts of snazzy colors and finishes. Sadly, Google went with some fairly muted options for its flagship series this year, with the exception being the bright Lemongrass Pixel 7. Black and white models seem set in stone for Pixel lineups, but at least give us a couple of different colorful options. Some more variety from Google’s official cases would also be appreciated.

What do you most want to see from the Google Pixel 7a?

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