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Google Pixel 7: Everything we know and what we want to see (Updated: June 27)
Update: June 27, 2022 (02:56 AM ET): We’ve added information gathered from Pixel 7 and 7 Pro prototypes that some people managed to get their hands on. We’ve also added some leaked display details for both models. Continue reading for all the latest on Google’s upcoming phones.
Original article: March 18, 2022 (3:36 AM ET): It’s hard not to argue that the Google Pixel 6 series were the most exciting Pixels in years. Between the use of the semi-custom Tensor processor, new main camera sensors, and impressive specs, these flagships have a lot going for them.
Google has already shown off its next generation of Pixels though, and we’ve even seen multiple leaks in recent months. Here’s everything we know about the Pixel 7 series.
Google Pixel 7: Name and release date
Google previously called the larger device an XL model, such as the Pixel 4 XL and Pixel 3 XL. But at Google I/O 2022, the company confirmed that it’ll call the new phones the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.
Google also announced that the Pixel 7 series will launch in the fall. It has traditionally chosen September or October to launch its flagship phones, dating all the way back to the original models in 2016. So it seems all but guaranteed that we’d see the Pixel 7 series in September or October.
Pixel 7 series renders leaked very early compared to the Pixel 6 series (February versus May) though. That probably doesn’t mean anything, but it could theoretically be indicative of an earlier launch timeline. If we were to place our bets, we’d say that September/October is still the launch window.
Google introduced a brand-new design language with the Pixel 6 series, offering a camera “visor” of sorts that runs horizontally across the back of the phones. It’s really unlike anything else in the industry today, giving the company’s devices a distinctive look for better or worse.
It looks like this design language will be carried forward to the Pixel 7 series. Google gave us an early look at the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro during the I/O 2022 press conference.
We still see that familiar rear camera visor here (albeit made out of aluminum), along with a dual rear setup for the standard phone and a triple rear camera combo for the Pro model. So if you were hoping for a vanilla Pixel 7 with a triple-camera setup, you may be disappointed.
The images Google shared also broadly line up with renders leaked earlier this year. You can see those renders below.
Pixel 7 renders
Pixel 7 Pro renders
As you can see, there isn’t much of a difference between the apparent Pixel 7 series renders above and the Pixel 6 duo. But prominent display industry analyst and insider Ross Young recently claimed that while the Pixel 7 Pro won’t see any screen size changes, the standard model will go from 6.4 inches to a slightly smaller 6.3 inches.
For what it’s worth, the devices are said to measure in at 155.6 x 73.1 x 8.7mm for the Pixel 7 (making it slightly shorter and a little wider than the Pixel 6) and 163 x 76.6 x 8.7mm for the Pixel 7 Pro.
Pixel 7 prototype
On May 30, some real-life images of the Pixel 7 appeared on an eBay listing. They have since been removed, but the device shown included all the hallmarks of a Google prototype, including the logo insignia. You can see those photos below. Later, a Reddit user also claimed they purchased a Pixel 7 Pro prototype off Facebook Marketplace. However, Google reportedly wiped the device remotely once it realized the phone was out there.
Specs and features
Google hasn’t revealed much about the Pixel 7 line’s specs. However, the company confirmed it will be powered by a next-generation Tensor processor and ship with Android 13.
Rumors indicate the display on the Pixel 7 series will be largely unchanged. Spotted by 9to5Google, Google has released some new specs that seem to indicate the Pixel 7 series will feature the same basic display tech as the Pixel 6 series. This means that the vanilla Pixel 7 will have up to a 90Hz refresh rate, while the Pro model will get a 120Hz refresh rate.
It also looks like both models will use the same Samsung display panels as their predecessors. While the 7 Pro could be identical in size compared to its predecessor, the Pixel 7’s display may be slightly smaller, coming in at 1mm narrower and 2mm shorter than the baseline 6.
9to5Google also previously reported that the phones will be equipped with what could be a second-generation Tensor processor (code-named GS201). The chipset is also said to arrive with an unreleased Samsung Exynos 5300 modem. Moreover, the aforementioned Pixel 7 Pro prototype’s bootloader screen noted a few interesting details, such as the “Cheetah” codename, 12GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, what seems like the Exynos 5300 modem (based on the baseband version number), and the Cloudripper name which is tipped to be the new Tensor SoC.
So what would the second-generation Tensor SoC look like? We’re not sure at this point, but the original Tensor shipped with an octa-core CPU (two Cortex-X1, two Cortex-A76, four Cortex-A55), a Mali-G78 MP20 GPU, and Tensor machine learning silicon. If Google is aiming for a similar approach in 2022, then we’re likely looking at an Armv9 CPU setup (Cortex-X2, Cortex-A710, Cortex-A510), a Mali-G710 GPU, and improved Tensor AI hardware.
However, one of the logs from the bricked Pixel 7 Pro prototype suggests that the chipset maintains a 2+2+4 CPU layout, consisting of two high-powered cores, two medium cores, and four lightweight cores. the logs reportedly suggest that Google is sticking with the Cortex-A55 core as its lightweight core. Chipmakers can’t mix and match Armv8 CPU cores (such as the Cortex-A55) with the latest Armv9 cores. So this means Google is likely sticking with older CPU cores like the Cortex-A78 and Cortex-X1 if it is indeed using the Cortex-A55. Sticking with older CPU cores means that the new Tensor chipset could lag behind current flagship SoCs on paper.
There’s also been speculation that Google could adopt an AMD GPU. After all, the Google Tensor SoC is essentially a semi-custom version of Samsung’s Exynos silicon, and the latest Exynos chipset comes with AMD graphics. This is only speculation though, and we’re not sure whether the AMD/Samsung deal applies to semi-custom chips for the likes of Google.
The Pixel 7 series could be powered by a second-generation Tensor chipset, but we wouldn't be surprised if it's more of the same elsewhere.
In terms of the camera experience, the images show a dual rear camera system for the Pixel 7 and a triple rear camera setup for the Pro model. It thus seems likely that Google will maintain a main/ultrawide setup for the standard phone and a main/ultrawide/periscope system for the Pro device.
There’s no word on battery size for the Pixel 7 series, but the 2021 flagships both gave us some large batteries. We’re guessing that the standard Pixel 7 could see a slight capacity decrease if it is indeed slightly smaller than the Pixel 6. We also previously discovered that the Pixel 6 phones offered much slower charging than implied, so we hope the new phones address this.
Google promoted machine learning in a big way with the Pixel 6 series, offering features like speedy offline voice dictation, Magic Eraser functionality, and face unblurring for photos. It seems like a safe bet that the company will expand on-device machine learning smarts with the Pixel 7 series, likely targeting natural language processing and camera features once again.
Pixel 7 series: Price and availability
Google delivered a fantastic surprise when it announced pricing for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. The Pro model came in at $899, which was a competitive price compared to Samsung and Apple’s Ultra and Pro phones respectively. However, it was the Pixel 6 that stole the limelight due to its $599 price tag. This price undercut devices like the iPhone 13, Galaxy S20 FE, Galaxy S21 FE, and the OnePlus 9.
More Pixel coverage: The best Pixel 6 cases you can get
We’re expecting Google to stick with this pricing strategy for the Pixel 7 series, especially after it translated into high initial demand for the phones and record sales. Actual availability could be a tricky question though, as Google initially struggled to fulfill orders due to this high demand.
We’re also not sure about launch markets, although the Pixel 6 series might give us a good idea once again. The 2021 phones were initially available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, the UK, and the US. But the devices were launched in Italy, Singapore, and Spain in early 2022. We aren’t holding our breath for a huge expansion here.
The Pixel 7 will come in Obsidian, Snow, and Lemongrass colorways, while the Pixel 7 Pro will launch in Obsidian, Snow, and Hazel colors.
What we want to see from the Pixel 7 series
Keep the price
Probably our top wish for the Pixel 7 series is that Google keeps the pricing it used for the Pixel 6 series. The vanilla Pixel 6 started at a very alluring $600, besting the Galaxy S21 FE by $100, and you still got a lot of phone for the price. The Pixel 6 Pro started at $900, which would actually be a good deal if the Pixel 6 didn’t exist.
Our verdict: Google Pixel 6 review — Worth every penny
So we’d like to see Google offer the same pricing for the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro respectively, as there’s no doubt that the company found a sweet spot (particularly for the vanilla model). Even the Pixel 7 Pro wouldn’t be a bad deal at $900.
Bring more Pro-exclusive features
The Pixel 6 Pro was a good deal on its own at $900, it must be said. But the Pixel 6 definitely made it look bad at $600. This wasn’t helped by the Pro model offering only a few extra features over the standard variant.
We got a 120Hz QHD+ screen versus 90Hz FHD+, the addition of a periscope camera, and a slightly bigger battery. These were all great to have, but does that equate to $300 worth of extra features? We didn’t think so in our reviews.
Google could up the ante even more here on the Pixel 7 Pro, offering faster wired and wireless charging speeds, more base storage, and/or an improved ultrawide camera. It could also theoretically cut the price of the Pixel 7 Pro a little bit if things stayed the same.
Speed up the charging times
We discovered late last year that the Pixel 6 series charged much slower than Google actually stated. Google claimed that the phones topped up at 30W in its review guide, but our testing led to the company admitting that the phones topped out at 21W and 23W.
Still, the phones charged incredibly slowly even compared to Samsung’s 25W charging solution. We therefore want to see Google speed up charging times, be it by staying at a high wattage for longer or by supporting a much higher wattage. Because two-hour charging times are ridiculous in 2022.
Stop with the buggy software
Google’s Pixels have a pretty shady reputation for bugs, and the Pixel 6 series is no exception. Some of the complaints we’ve seen in recent months include Wi-Fi being broken, drastically reduced signal strength, and the device making calls out of nowhere. Those are some major issues.
More Pixel coverage: Google actually tried with the Pixel 6 series and it’s working
Needless to say, Google needs to pull its socks up for the Pixel 7 series in this regard. Whether it improves matters by devoting more resources to software releases or hiring more testers, it needs to take concrete steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
Google isn’t the only company to struggle with software polish, as OnePlus has also struggled in recent years. But you don’t really expect many major bugs from the Android platform-holder in the first place.
Match Samsung for update pledges
Staying with software, another thing we’d like to see from the Pixel 7 series is an update commitment that matches Samsung. The Korean manufacturer recently announced that its recent high-end phones would be getting four years of OS updates and five years of security patches.
More reading: Google just surrendered its update authority to Samsung
Google currently matches Samsung in terms of security updates, but it only tops out at three years for OS updates. This needs to change in 2022 as the search giant is indeed the Android platform-holder and should be the one setting an example for OEMs.
Fix the fingerprint scanner
The Pixel 6 series also marked the first time that Google used an in-display fingerprint sensor on its phones, after years of using a rear fingerprint scanner. Unfortunately, the in-display scanner turned out to be one of the biggest annoyances.
We thought the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro’s in-display fingerprint sensors were too slow and unreliable for our liking. Google went so far as to initially claim that the scanners were slower due to “enhanced” security algorithms, subsequently issuing an update to speed things up.
Faster, more reliable biometrics should therefore be a priority for the Pixel 7 series in 2022. There are several options on the table in theory, such as an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner or introducing more software optimizations. Either way, Google should consider all the options.
Beef up the camera experience
Google’s flagships have long been renowned for great image quality, and the Pixel 6 series marks the first time in years that Google offered a new main camera sensor. The company even brought a versatile triple rear camera system to one of its phones for the first time.
However, it must be said that both phones still offer lackluster ultrawide rear cameras. More specifically, these shooters lack autofocus, meaning there’s no macro mode here. This is disappointing when phones from OnePlus, Vivo, and Apple offer this option today.
We also wouldn’t mind seeing a telephoto camera come to the vanilla Pixel 7 as a third rear camera and a 10X zoom lens coming to the Pixel 7 Pro as a fourth rear shooter. But the leaked renders suggest that it’ll likely be business as usual here.