Face Unlock is a feature available on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, but unlike Face ID on recent iPhones, Face Unlock is not as secure a locking method. It does use multiple images of your face from different angles to create a more sophisticated lock than a simple 2D image, but without an additional sensor such as Face ID's infra-red dot projection, it's easier to fool with a photo, or the face of a similar-looking person.
As a result, Face Unlock on Pixels is purely a time-saving unlock method, and cannot be used to open locked apps or verify payments you make on your phone. Google itself recommends using it only in tandem with the Pixel 7's under-display fingerprint sensor, which we imagine will be the advice given to Pixel 7a users too if this rumor's accurate.
The Pixel 7a is rumored to use other features from the Pixel 7 series beyond Face Unlock. As well as a strong family resemblance in the design, we could see the 7a use Google's Tensor G2 chipset, a 90Hz display refresh rate and 8GB of RAM just like the standard Pixel 7.
However, in return for these upgrades, the Pixel 7a could possibly be more expensive than the current Pixel 6a at $499 (up from $449). It's not all bad news though, since the same rumors say that the 6a will remain on sale for users in search of the cheapest-possible Pixel experience.
Going by previous Pixel a-series launches, we should see the Pixel 7a debut at this year's Google I/O 2023, during the opening presentation slated for May 10. We are likely to hear about lots of other Google products during this keynote too, including what's new for Android 14, and perhaps some details on the long-rumored Pixel Fold foldable phone.