Normally, we'd have to wait until later in the year for a Google Pixel 7 vs. Pixel 6 comparison. But with Google providing a sneak peek at its upcoming flagship phone during Google I/O earlier this month, expect the comparison to the current Pixel devices to begin in earnest.
The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro debuted last fall, ushering in a new look as well as a new processor for Google's flagship handsets. The Tensor chipset introduced in the Pixel 6 lineup turned out to be a game-changer, thanks to a machine learning core that powers many of the unique experiences and AI-driven features that are part of the Pixel experience.
We imagine that will continue with the Pixel 7, though details are a little bit scarce at the moment. All Google has offered is a look at the upcoming phone and a promise that the Tensor chip inside will be getting an upgrade. Everything else is left to the imagination — though fortunately the rumor mill can help us fill in some of those details.
We can't say for sure how the Pixel 7 will compare to the Pixel 6 until Google provides more definitive information about the future phone. But we can report on the changes we've already seen and the new things that are being tipped for the phone in advance of its fall launch.
Google Pixel 7 vs. Pixel 6: Price and availability
When he showed off the Pixel 7 at Google I/O, Google's Rick Osterloh said to expect the phone to arrive in the fall. If Google sticks to a schedule that's anything like previous Pixel launches, that will most likely mean in October. The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro arrived October 28.
The more pertinent question for smartphone shoppers will be how much the Pixel 7 costs. More to the point, will Google repeat the very competitive pricing it offered on the $599 Pixel 6 and $899 Pixel 6 Pro? Considering that the Pixel 6 was Google's fastest selling Pixel ever, you'd think the phone maker would have plenty of incentive to keep things as they are.
Google Pixel 7 vs. Pixel 6: Design and display
Here's where we know the most about the Pixel 7, at least in regards to the backside of the phone. Google is sticking with the horizontal camera bar that stretches the Lenses across the back of the device. On the Pixel 7, it will be made of recycled aluminum, according to Google.
There's a modest change as a pair of the rear cameras appear to be attached together in a single cutout. Those are apparently the main and ultrawide angle cameras, as a different phone features a third camera separate from the other two — presumably a telephoto lens.
Google seems to be sticking with two models — a standard Pixel 7 and a Pixel 7 Pro. However, 9to5Google found code in the Android Open Source Project that points to a third Pixel 7 model with a slightly larger screen than the Pro. It's unclear if this so-called Pixel 7 Ultra is truly going to be part of the Pixel 7 lineup though. For now, we'll continue to assume that just two phones are in the works.
Google didn't reveal screen sizes for its upcoming phones, though one rumor claims the Pixel 7 is getting a 6.3-inch panel that's a little bit smaller than the 6.4-inch display on the Pixel 6. The Pixel 7 Pro is expected to have the same 6.7-inch screen as its predecessor. Presumably, Google will continue to use OLED panels as it has on past Pixels while keeping the same refresh rates as the Pixel 6 lineup — 90Hz on the standard phone and 120Hz on the Pixel 7 Pro.
Google offers different color options depending on which Pixel 6 you buy. The standard phone comes in black, white, sage and coral while the pro model adds a Sorta Sunny option to the black and white designs. Nothing's official on the Pixel 7 color front, though the model Google teased looks pretty white to us. Other rumored Pixel 7 colors include black, coral and blue. Por que no todos?
Google Pixel 7 vs. Pixel 6: Cameras
The Pixel 6 lineup saw a big change to the camera setup on Google's flagship, as the Pro model added a telephoto lens and the megapixel rating on the main shooter got a big boost to 50MP. The Pixel 7 is expected to use the same cameras as the current models, though Google has yet to confirm that.
It's no matter if nothing changes, though, as Google tends to put its biggest photographic efforts into the software that handles image processing and effects. It's why the Pixels regularly contend for the title of best camera phone.
That said, one rumor suggests the front camera on the Pixel 7 models could be due for a revamp. Specifically, Google might turn to an under-display selfie cam, similar to what Samsung introduced with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 last year. (Well, hopefully better than that.) That's just a rumor, though, so don't start counting your under-display cameras before they're unveiled.
Google Pixel 7 vs. Pixel 6: Performance
Here's something else we know for certain about the Pixel 7 — it will be powered by a new version of Google's Tensor chip. What that means in terms of a performance boost, power management gains or new AI-heavy features is anyone's guess.
Since on-board machine learning was a key reason for Google to turn to its own silicon over the Qualcomm chipsets typically found in the best Android phones, enabling new AI features figures to be a major focus of the next iteration of Tensor. That's why it's one of the biggest Pixel 7 questions we hope to get an answer to between now and the fall.
Google Pixel 7 vs. Pixel 6: Battery life and charging
If the Pixel 6a is any indication of Google's plans for the Pixel 7, don't expect a big boost in battery size. The budget phone coming out this July actually features a smaller cell than its predecessor.
For the record, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro run on respective 4,614 mAh and 5,000 mAh power packs. Neither phone set the world aflame with their performance on our battery test, in which phones surf the web continuously over cellular until they run out of power. Both Pixel 6 models finished roughly two hours behind the average smartphone in our test, so we hope that the Pixel 7 delivers some form of improvement, either with a bigger battery or improved power management (or ideally, both).
Google Pixel 7 vs. Pixel 6: Software
Here's another no-brainer: when the Pixel 7 arrives, it's going to debut with Android 13 just as the Pixel 6 debuted running Android 12. Of course, given Google's software support track record, the Pixel 6 will be upgraded to Android 13 when that software arrives later this year.
The bigger question is whether the Pixel 7 retains the Pixel 6's upgrade policy of three years of Android updates and five years of guaranteed security updates. As of the Galaxy S22 launch, Samsung offers four years of Android updates, which could pressure Google to be a little more generous with the Pixel 7.
Google Pixel 7 vs. Pixel 6: Outlook
As you can see, there's a lot we still don't know about the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, despite Google confirming the phones' existence. But we have plenty of time between now and the fall to find out more details on how the Pixel 7 will differ from the Pixel 6.