Google Pixel 7a preview: specs, price and release date rumours
Wireless charging and 90Hz? Everything you actually need to know
As far as affordable Android phones go, you’ve got to come up with something special to dethrone Google’s Pixel a-series. The Pixel 6a takes incredible photos, has ample performance and won’t leave a huge dent your wallet. So understandably there’s plenty of excitement brewing over its successor, the Google Pixel 7a, and the rumour mill has started to churn and whisper of what to expect.
But how much of it should you believe? Is there still time for Google to throw a curve ball, or will it be a by-the-numbers update? Here’s everything we know so far about the Pixel 7a, along with the features we’re keeping our fingers crossed Google will add between now and launch day.
Pixel 7a release date and price rumours
Don’t expect to hear an official release date for the Google Pixel 7a until at least a few weeks before Google actually takes the covers off – but that doesn’t mean we’re hunting around in the dark for a possible day for the diary. It will almost certainly be revealed in Summer 2023, going by Google’s past history with A-series phone launches.
- Pixel 6a release date: 21 July 2022
- Pixel 5a release date: 26 August 2021
- Pixel 4a release date: 20 August 2020
- Pixel 3a release date: 7 May 2019
As you can see, Google tends to favour August, but has flirted with May and July as well. That means a July-August timeframe looks most likely. It also fits in with the mainline Pixel series: both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 landing in October, so it stands to reason the Pixel 7a will arrive in the same month as its predecessor did a year before.
Pricing is more of an unknown right now. The Pixel 6a cost £399 at launch, a £50 increase over the Pixel 4a (the Pixel 5a never made it to the UK officially) – but still £100 cheaper than the Pixel 4a with 5G, which was something of an oddity in the line-up. Seeing how Google managed to keep the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro at the same price as the outgoing Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, we’d like to think it’ll try to do the same for the A-series variant. But exchange rates being what they are, and the general cost of living, means nothing can be taken for granted.
One of the biggest leaks to date came in December, when an ‘anonymous but trustworthy source’ gifted the publication Android Authority with a roadmap for Pixel phones from 2023-2025.
In the leak, the source claimed that two Pixel phones — codenamed ‘lynx’ and ‘felix’ — will launch around Google I/O in April or May. Lynx refers to the Pixel 7a, and felix the Pixel Fold. The source told Android Authority that for the Pixel 7a, Google would match the US retail price of the Pixel 6a of $449.
Latest Pixel 7a rumours and details
Until fairly recently, all the Pixel 7a info doing the rounds came from a handful of references to a device codenamed Lynx buried in the source code for upcoming versions of Android. Originally thought to be a premium handset that would sit above the Pixel 7 Pro, or possibly the rumoured Pixel Fold foldable phone, it’s now understood to refer to the 7a.
In November, developer-turned-leaker Kuba Wojciechowski confirmed Lynx’s camera drivers are labelled “Pixel 22 mid-range” internally, with two Sony sensors on board: an IMX787 for the main cam, and an IMX712 ultra-wide as backup. The former has 64MP, which would be a step up from the Pixel 7 in terms of pixel count, while the latter has yet to be officially announced by its maker.
On the display front, Wojciechowski says Google has gone for a Samsung-supplied OLED with 1080p resolution and 90Hz refresh rate. That would be a welcome step up from the Pixel 6a’s 60Hz screen, and putting it closer to the pricier Pixel 7’s feature list.
A prototype handset leak seemingly backed this up, along with news that the 7a would ship with 8GB of RAM – a healthy step up over the 6a. That phone also had 128GB of on-board storage, which is fairly standard for mid-tier smartphones, although we’re expecting a larger capacity option too.
You can almost certainly expect a Google Tensor G2 CPU to be running the show: the Pixel 6a used a first-gen Tensor, just like the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, which has now been superseded by the G2 silicon found in the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. In another set of leaks, says Smartprix, the Pixel 7a will supposedly get Bluetooth LE support.
Finally, wireless charging might also be on the cards. According to Wojciechowski, the Pixel 7a will manage 5W top-ups without needing to reach for a cable. Hardly rapid, but still a welcome improvement from the Pixel 6a, which has to rely entirely on USB-C for refuelling. However, the source who leaked the Pixel information to Android Authority did not confirm wireless charging or a 90Hz refresh rate.
Pixel 7a: design
In November, we got a more detailed look at the Pixel 7a thanks to trusted leakers Smartprix and OnLeaks. According to Smartprix and OnLeaks, the Pixel 7a doesn’t stray too far from the design of the Pixel 6a. A rectangular strip camera at the upper side of the back panel is there on the Pixel 7a, where there are two cameras nestled in an oval island, as well as a flash.
Its dimensions are 152.4 x 72.9 x 9mm, compared to 152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9mm for the Pixel 6a. On initial impressions, the Pixel 7a will come in two colours – White and Dark Grey – the power and volume buttons are located on the right spine of the phone, with a Google logo in the rear middle.
Photos of a leaked prototype handset in the wild seemingly backed this up, with very similar styling compared to the Pixel 6a.
Pixel 7a features: what we’d like to see
A new CPU is a given. A streamlined design is highly likely. But what about all the other features that would cement the Google Pixel 7a as a must-buy phone? Here’s what we think Google needs to add to make that happen.
Higher refresh rate
While Google sees screen refresh rate as a way of differentiating the A-series Pixel from its bigger brothers, we wish it wouldn’t. 120Hz is quickly becoming the norm across the smartphone spectrum, not just at the top-end, with plenty of rivals bringing smooth scrolling to more affordable price points. Google should absolutely follow suit.
If the early rumours are to be believed, this one might actually make the cut. Fingers crossed, eh?
Google doesn’t seem too keen to keep pace with the Chinese competition when it comes to charging speeds. While OnePlus, Xiaomi and Motorola’s affordable phones have breached 50W (with some even knocking on the door of 125W) the Pixel 6a sticks at a pedestrian 18W. We’d love to see the Pixel 7a pick up the pace.
That doesn’t mean Google needs to stick a charger in the box, but we reckon anyone with a beefier power brick deserves to be able to make full use of it. With rumours suggesting wireless charging will be limited to 5W, though, we’re not too confident of a major speed boost over USB-C cable.
Don’t up the price
With the cost of living becoming increasingly painful on the wallet, Google would do well to ensure its most ‘affordable’ Pixel phone remains exactly that. Actually lowering the price compared to last year might be too much of a stretch, but seeing how the firm managed to launch the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro for the same price as their forebears, we’d hope it can at least do the same for the 7a.