Google keeps impressing us year after year with its Pixel phones. Featuring amazing camera hardware and even more amazing processing smarts (ahem, computational photography) it is no wonder that Google Pixel phones are mainstays on our guides to the best camera phones.
With phone releases now running annually almost like clockwork, we have a good idea about what we might see from Google in 2023.
Google Pixel 8 & Pixel 8 Pro
With the last round of Pixels only being unveiled in October 2022, details on next year's entries are obviously a little thin on the ground. One thing we can safely assume is it will come in at least two varieties – the Google Pixel 8 and Google Pixel 8 Pro.
Time of announcement
Based on the past release cycle, we will likely see the phones announced in October 2023. Google usually plans a special bespoke event for the announcements, rather than using one of its other calendar events, which means that the phones usually are in the stores within a couple of weeks after their reveal.
The Google Pixel 7 cost $599/£599, with the Pixel 7 Pro costing $899/£849. These prices have stayed the same for the past two generations and we really think Google has hit the sweet spot, so any price increases would not go down well, however, Google is not immune to rising inflation. Last year's phones were helped out by some preorder bonuses, with free or discounted headphones or the new Google Pixel Watch thrown in. This made it a really compelling sell, and Google might do the same this time around.
Google Pixel 8 & Pixel 8 Pro: camera features
It's likely that we will see the debut of the Google Tensor 3 chip. Each new phone is hallmarked by new improved silicon, and the Tensor 2 chip in the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro was a big step up from the original Tensor. Google's chips have always been about AI smarts, but with Qualcomm and Apple still thrashing it in the benchmarks, we hope Google can really bring the power with Tensor 3!
Google's Pixel phones first made a name for themselves with cameras and processing that blew everything else out of the water, and it has continued to produce one of the best smartphones for photography since.
The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro added a lot of new processing features including enhanced digital zoom, magic eraser, portrait blur for video, and motion photos, and improvements in accurately photographing different skin tones. We would expect this to continue, with a lot more AI processing magic from Google in its next devices.
AI photography and editing seem to have exploded this year, with a lot of the top apps offering new AI tricks. Google has always been a company very focused on artificial intelligence and deep learning, including making AI the focus of its Tensor processors, so it will be interesting to see what that headstart on AI research can bring to upend the photo and video markets.
In terms of new camera hardware, nothing has been rumored yet, but looking to other companies' phones for inspiration, we might well find a periscope zoom lens coming to the Pixel 8 Pro. This is a camera with two lenses that switch between two different optical zooms. Samsung features an optical periscope zoom in its latest Samsung phones, and even with Google's AI magic, optical zoom still is better than digital zoom. Will we see a 5x/10x optical telephoto in the Pixel 8 Pro?
Google Pixel 7a
The Google Pixel 6a was an excellent mid-range phone and is a firm favorite on our list of best budget camera phones. And with Google generally releasing an 'a' device each year, too, we would expect 2023 to be the same.
Google tends to announce its 'a' phones in the first half of the year, usually around May at Google I/O, but then takes a couple of months to hit the shelves, with the Pixel 6a released to the public in July. We don't know if this year will be the same schedule, as supply chain issues still continue to cause hiccups, but we expect Google has a good game plan to make it happen.
Looks-wise, following the trend of previous Google 'a' phones, the Pixel 7a will take a lot of inspiration from the Pixel 7. Based on leaks by Smartprix we are expecting to see the same aluminum frame as the Pixel 7, although to save costs the back might be plastic. There is a rumor that Google will use its new nano-ceramic coating that was shown off on the recently announced Pixel Tablet.
Smartprix also reports the 7a will measure up to almost the exact same size as the Pixel 6a, measuring just 0.2mm taller, 1.1mm wider, and 0.1mm thicker than last year's device, with the same screen size of 6.1 inches.
Speaking of the screen, expect an OLED panel, possibly the same one used in the 7, which might mean that Google finally enables a 90Hz refresh rate on an 'a' phone. This is always something that has been a glaring omission as it features on most similarly priced Android phones.
The 7a will almost certainly use the newer Tensor G2 found in the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. This is Google's key selling point for its phones, as it enables the majority of the cool camera, editing, AI, and voice features that are one of the main reasons for choosing a Pixel over another device.
Google Pixel 7a: cameras
On the topic of cameras, there are some rival rumors about what will be featured in the Pixel 7a, but based on the latest from 9to5Google we can pretty confidently say that it will feature the 50MP Samsung GN1 sensor that is used as the main sensor in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. This would really bring it up to date, as the sensors used in the 6a are 3 years old, and starting to show their age.
There is a second camera in the renders which is expected to be a wide-angle camera based on past precedent, which would likely be a 12MP sensor. There are some rumors that there will also be a telephoto lens on the Pixel 7a, but we would expect this to be highly unlikely at this price point, as would cannibalize sales of the Pixel 7 as the 7a would leapfrog it for a lower price.
According to Kuba Wojciechowski also that the Pixel 7a will support wireless charging, as well as reverse charging.
We would expect the cost to remain the same as last year's Pixel 6a which cost $449/£399 at launch. Although things have got more expensive with inflation over the past year, it will be important for Google to keep the cost low to ensure this is seen as a competitive budget device.
Google Pixel Fold
Google is yet to officially reveal anything about the Google Pixel Fold, or whatever it ends up being called, but a steady stream of leaks has all but confirmed we might get to see a folding device from Google in the near future.
Samsung has had amazing success with its fold phones, and Google is definitely going to want a piece of the action. Rumors point to the device being a likely competitor to the Samsung Galaxy Fold 4, with similar specs and design.
According to 91mobiles, we are expecting the Google Pixel Fold to have unfolded dimensions of 123mm x 148mm. The Samsung-made screen is set to have a reported resolution of 2208x1840 and up to 1200 nits peak brightness.
Google's Pixel phones are infamous for their amazing cameras, although this might be a break from tradition, with Google opting for smaller sensors and lenses to keep the device a manageable thickness. The camera bar on the Pixel 7 Pro is very pronounced which would affect the foldability of a folding device. Although the renders for the Fold do show a large bump.
Google also likely wants the folding screen to be the star of the show, so it would sense to let the camera hype sit this one out. Although this device is posed as a little photo editing tablet, new Google Camera or Google Photos features might be introduced.
The alleged camera setup on the Pixel Fold suggests a triple array made up of a 64MP Sony IMX787 main sensor, a 12.2MP Sony IMX386 ultra-wide, and a 10MP telephoto lens with a Samsung sensor. The selfie camera is rumored to use an 8MP Sony IMX355.
The phone is now expected to be revealed in March 2023 after some allegedly delayed teases alongside the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. There is no word on pricing, but expect it to be competitively priced to the Galaxy Fold 4. Google has been shown to be aggressive on pricing in the past with Pixels, so it might even undercut the Samsung device.
Google Pixel Tablet
Google announced its Pixel Tablet at last year's Pixel 7 launch event. The tablet had been rumored for a while, but after Google professed to be out of the tablet game only a year ago, it still came as a bit of a surprise.
Now don't expect this to be an iPad Pro rivaling tablet meant for power users. The Pixel Tablet is very much designed for home use, it actually really cleverly docks to a Google Nest-style speaker (basically a big Nest Hub), so is perfect for watching movies, video calling friends, and listening to music.
Google is renowned for its cameras, but don't expect anything special on this tablet. However, the tablet will come with Google's latest G2 Tensor processor, so you can expect it to have all the great features you would find on the latest Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.
This includes all the features found in Google Photos such as magic eraser, unblur, and motion photos, so this tablet will be good for editing your snapshots from your phone on a larger screen.
Google Nest Cameras
Google has fleshed out its Nest camera lineup quite substantially in the last year, so we are not really expecting to see any new hardware in 2023. Although, there always might be a surprise or two in store.
This year we would expect Google to focus on its software. It has been working hard on revamping the Google Home app, with a new look and layout, with quick features to check your Nest cams and other Nest devices. We would expect Google to continue this, moving any outstanding products with old Nest branding to Google the Google Home app.
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Google is also pushing hard with making its devices compatible with Matter, which is the new interface for Internet of Things (IoT) devices that will speed up networking and make it easier to connect with new devices from any manufacturer. Google has already released new WiFi routers that will act as Thread border routers, and they are slowly updating the rest of its Nest lineup, including its cameras, to work on Thread networking.
We can't wait to see what Google has in store for 2023. Stay tuned to Digital Camera World for all the latest updates!