Google had its yearly I/O event on Wednesday, where the company showed off a bunch of new hardware products and software features. Perhaps the most exciting reveals were the Google Pixel 6a and Pixel 7 series, which are coming later this year.
The Pixel A-series is Google’s lineup of budget smartphones, with similar cameras and software as the regular Pixel models paired with a cheaper System-on-a-Chip (SoC) and a lower price. This year, Google is shaking up the formula: the Pixel 6a is much closer to the top-of-the-line Pixel.
The Pixel 6a looks nearly identical to the Pixel 6 series, with the same visor-like camera module stretching across the back and a two-tone color design. The phone also has an under-screen fingerprint sensor, which is a first for Pixel A phones. However, the Pixel 6 has a 6.4-inch screen, while the Pixel 6a has a slightly-smaller 6.1-inch display. Google didn’t mention if the 6a will have the same camera setup as the base Pixel 6 (just that it has a main and ultra-wide lens), but it will at least have many of the same software features.
For the first time ever, the Pixel A-series will use the same chipset as the company’s flagship phones. The Pixel 6a is using the custom Tensor chipset found in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, so performance should be snappy. Google didn’t provide exact comparisons for speed during its I/O event, but the company did say it’s 5x faster at machine learning tasks than the Pixel 5a.
The Pixel 6a will be available for pre-order starting July 21, and the full release date is July 28. You can sign up for availability updates on the Google Store. The Pixel 6a will likely be sold through other stores and carriers, but we don’t have any information about that yet. Pricing starts at $449, the same cost as last year’s Pixel 5a, and it will ship with Android 13.
Assuming the Pixel 6a can avoid the never-ending stream of annoying software bugs that the Pixel 6 has suffered from, it looks like an incredible budget Android phone. The main competition at this price point is the Galaxy A53, which has problems with slower performance and likely worse cameras than what Google will offer. The Pixel 6a is also only $20 away from the 2022 iPhone SE, which is an excellent phone if you’re willing to accept iOS and the older design.
Google also briefly showed off the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, which won’t arrive until sometime this fall. The phones look similar to the existing Pixel 6 series and Pixel 6a, but the visor camera bar is now mostly covered with the same aluminum as the frame of the phone, instead of black glass.
Unsurprisingly, Google says the Pixel 7 will have a next-generation Tensor chip, but we don’t have any details yet on what will be improved. Minor camera improvements (at the very least) are likely, and the phones will ship with Android 13 out of the box. Last year’s Pixel 6 was a significant overhaul for the product lineup, and was mostly successful, so Google doesn’t need to re-invent the wheel this time around.
Pricing for the Pixel 7 is unknown for now. The entry-level Pixel 6 costs $599, and the 6 Pro is $899, so the new phones will probably be somewhere around there.