Google’s Pixel family of smartphones has made a notable impact on the Android smartphone world, but not in the way we saw coming a few years back. Flagship Pixel smartphones are great, but where the Pixel really shines is in the budget space. In 2023, the next phase of the affordable Pixel will take the shape of the Google Pixel 7a.
The Pixel 7a will have pretty big shoes to fill, as 2022’s Pixel 6a remains one of the best smartphone deals, delivering an excellent camera and software experience at a killer price. The Pixel 5a before it was also a highlight, especially when it came to battery life. Where will Google go next for the Pixel 7a? Here’s a roundup of all the latest rumors and news you need to know.
Google Pixel 7a: design
Pixel A-series phones often take design inspiration from the flagship Pixel that came out before them, and it looks like that won’t be any different for the Pixel 7a. OnLeaks collaborated with SmartPrix to share Pixel 7a renders on November 29, and, assuming the renders are accurate, the Pixel 7a will look a lot like the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro that came before it.
This looks to be the case, as corroborated by leaked images of a testing unit for the Pixel 7a that were shared on Twitter on January 3.
Some high-resolution images of the Pixel 7a have also been shared by PhoneCompares and Zing News that show the budget smartphone in much crisper detail. As seen in the previous hands-on images and renders, the phone looks remarkably like the base Pixel 7 model with one key difference: the bezel surrounding the smartphone’s display appears to be much thicker than the one found on the Pixel 7. The bezel seems to be much thicker in the hands-on photos than in the leaked renders, so it’s unclear which will be featured in the final design.
One leaker on Twitter who posted more hands-on photos of the 7a. says that while the screen is glass, the back of the phone is made of plastic. Although that’s disappointing for fans of metal and glass smartphones, it’s not entirely surprising since Pixel A models tend to be made from cheaper materials in order to be sold at reduced prices. The Pixel 6a, for example, also had a plastic back, so it’s something to be expected.
The Pixel 7a sports a display with a centered hole-punch cutout for the selfie camera. Around the back is Google’s iconic camera bar, distinctively splitting up the rear design into two portions. The renders show the Pixel 7a in a white color, and the hands-on images show a traditional black color. We suspect Google will also throw in a third “fun” color, though we don’t know what color that could be.
As for other design elements, the Google Pixel 7a has a USB-C charging port and a fingerprint sensor embedded underneath the display. There was initially some talk of the 3.5mm headphone jack returning, but according to these renders, it’s still MIA from the Pixel 7a.
Google Pixel 7a: specs
Just as important as the design are the specs. So, what are we expecting on that front? The biggest takeaway is that the Pixel 7a will almost certainly feature the Google Tensor G2 chipset as corroborated by multiple leaks. The Pixel 6a had the Tensor G1 chip used in the Pixel 6/6 Pro, so it only makes sense for Google to bring the G2 chip from the 7/7 Pro to the 7a.
Tensor G2 isn’t a massive upgrade over G1, but it does bring speed and efficiency improvements that should be very welcome in daily use — especially considering how toasty the Pixel 6a can get. The Tensor G2 should also lend itself to additional AI features, such as Clear Calling and speaker labels in the Recorder app.
There’s also been talk of the Pixel 7a finally getting a 90Hz refresh rate for the display. Every Pixel A-series phone so far has used a standard 60Hz screen. 60Hz is fine, but animations and scrolling are noticeably choppier compared to phones with 90Hz and 120Hz panels. A refresh rate of 90Hz on the Google Pixel 7a — combined with the extra horsepower of Tensor G2 — would give the phone a really impressive speed boost that should feel noticeable in daily use.
Another rumored spec upgrade for the Pixel 7a is wireless charging support, which has also been consistently absent from previous Pixel A models. Wireless charging is an expected convenience on every flagship smartphone these days, and if Google can finally bring it to the cheap Pixel, it’ll be a huge thing to check off from our Google Pixel 7a wish list.
Google Pixel 7a: camera
While the Pixel 6a was a significant upgrade in terms of design and processor, it used the same 12MP rear camera Google’s relied on since the Pixel 3. The Pixel 7a could change that — and in a big way.
Multiple rumors suggest that the Google Pixel 7a will replace that aging 12MP main camera with the 64MP Sony IMX787 sensor. That should result in sharper photos, better colors, improved night performance — you name it. It will boast all of the usual Pixel camera features, such as Magic Eraser. With the 64MP camera serving as the main lens, the 12MP lens is rumored to be acting as the secondary, ultrawide rear shooter.
In terms of selfie cameras, rumor has it that the Pixel 7a will be fitted with an 8MP lens, the same one found in the Pixel 6a. While that’s obviously not an upgrade, the 6a’s front-facing camera took solid pictures, so it’s safe to expect the 7a to do the same.
Google Pixel 7a: release date
Google’s announcement/release date pattern for Pixel A smartphones has been … unpredictable, to say the least.
In 2019, Google announced the Pixel 3a during its I/O conference in May and made preorders available that very same day. Google didn’t announce the Pixel 4a until early August 2020, while the Pixel 5a’s announcement was pushed until August 26, 2021. The Pixel 6a got things back to normal with a May 2022 announcement.
What does all of that mean for the Pixel 7a? Considering the Pixel 4a and 5a’s release timing was likely affected by COVID and chipset restrictions, it’s safe to assume we’ll get a Pixel 7a announcement during Google I/O 2023, which is confirmed to be taking place on May 10. This is also where the Google Pixel Fold and Google Pixel Tablet are rumored to debut, meaning this year’s I/O could be a hotspot for Pixel hardware announcements.
Google Pixel 7a: price
And, last but not least, the price. Pricing for Pixel A phones has remained fairly consistent over the years: the Pixel 3a started at $399, the Pixel 4a retailed for $349, the Pixel 5a cost $449, and the Pixel 6a goes for the same $449.
We’re safely past the days of $399 and $349 Pixel smartphones. It’s likely Google will keep the Pixel 7a at $449 for another year. Making it any more expensive risks stepping on the toes of the $599 Pixel 7, and going cheaper doesn’t seem likely given the rumored feature upgrades.