Or maybe even Achilles heels, plural
The Google Pixel 7 and Google Pixel 7 Pro might be the newest flagships on the block, but the rumor cycle waits for no one. Just a month after the company’s latest smartphones hit store shelves, we’re already starting to look forward to what’s next. After learning some of the earliest details about the Pixel 8, we’re making another return to the Pixel 7a rumor mill. And with this latest report, it’s starting to sound like Google might be fixing all of our complaints about its mid-range phone from earlier this year.
Let’s recap what we know so far because, for a device unlikely to launch before next summer, we’ve already learned quite a bit. Google is developing a phone with the codename Lynx, a device originally thought to be some sort of Pixel Ultra. As with any phone that term gets attached to, it eventually became obvious that Lynx wasn’t what we thought. Despite some intriguing elements — a triple-lens camera array and a ceramic body among them — it seems more likely than ever that this device is actually the in-development Pixel 7a.
To that end, developer (and recent extraordinary leaker) Kuba Wojciechowski took to Twitter with another thread on Lynx, having dug deeper into the phone over the last several weeks. He’s learned quite a bit about the phone, including some facts that negate some of his earlier reporting. There’s also more evidence confirming that Lynx and the Pixel 7a are one and the same, as its camera array drivers are labeled “Pixel 22 mid-range.”
In fact, let’s dive deep into that camera lineup. That triple-lens system didn’t make much sense for a mid-range device, and now we know why. According to Wojciechowski, Google has removed the GN1 lens from the lineup, leaving just two dedicated lenses on the back: the primary IMX787 sensor and an ultra-wide IMX712. The IMX787 is a stand-in for the IMX363 last seen on this year’s Pixel 6a, and while we walked away from that phone impressed with its photo capabilities, it’s all too clear that aging hardware is keeping the A-series behind.
We’ve previously seen the IMX787 show up on phones like the Nubia Z40 Pro and ZTE Axon 40 Ultra. It’s also appeared in some recent Pixel Fold leaks, providing more evidence that Google is using it on upcoming devices.
They aren’t the only details Wojciechowski found, though. In what could cement the Pixel 7a as an early contender for the best cheap smartphone of 2023, it looks as though Google is sourcing a 90Hz 1080p OLED panel from Samsung for use in the next A-series device. That would provide a massive, much-needed upgrade over the Pixel 6a, and — barring some discounts — might make the Pixel 7 a tougher sell next summer.
Wojciechowski also re-confirmed his earlier reporting regarding the use of Qualcomm chips for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth — a first for a Tensor-powered phone — as well as wireless charging support. Before you get too excited about these enhancements, keep in mind that it might be limited to 5W speeds. That’s awfully slow, even for wireless charging, though it’s better than missing out on the feature altogether.
Assuming all of this is true, there’s one major shadow hanging over the Pixel 7a: its price. These are some big upgrades, but considering inflation and the lack of a price hike in the Pixel 6a this past summer, we could be due for some higher prices. It’s hard not to imagine this upgraded equipment selling for $499, though with the Pixel 7 set at just $599, there’s at least a cap in place to keep the A-series from getting too out of control.
Still, all of this is pretty exciting stuff. For a phone unlikely to launch any time in the next six months, we sure have learned a lot about it. At this rate, stay tuned for leaked renders any day now — Google seems intent on speedrunning the rumor cycle.