Google’s Pixel plans leak — and the phones you know could be changing

Pixel 7 Pro hands-on
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

2022 has been an exciting year for smartphones. With every company making huge strides in trying to keep up with Apple, we saw a year of feature-rich phones and big hardware improvements to some of the best Android phones. This was also a year that was marred by shipment problems that affected the delivery timelines of many smartphones. This, along with consumers holding onto their devices for longer, made it a rocky environment for manufacturers. 

Still, we saw some of the best innovations from the likes of Apple with Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max to the stunning camera capabilities made possible by excellent software and hardware on Google’s Pixel 7 Pro. But what could we expect to see next? How will phone companies wow us with their line-ups? That is the big question we wish we could answer by gazing into a crystal ball and asking about the future of smartphones.

Fortunately, we may have possible gotten an idea regarding Google’s future hardware. One leak, reported on by Android Authority (opens in new tab), has spilled the beans on what could potentially be the roadmap for Google’s Pixel line-up for the next few years. 

Google has typically followed a trajectory of two flagship models, one ‘Pro’ with a larger battery, an additional camera and a big screen and a standard model that sports the same chip and features, just with two cameras on the back and a smaller display size. These Pixels are usually launched by the company in October. Following this, the company launches a budget model like the Pixel 5a or the Pixel 6a around 7 to 9 months after its flagship launch. 

According to the leak though, Google could shake-up its Pixel line-up quite a bit, moving closer to Apple’s strategy by making smaller sized phones. Apple increased the gap between its more premium phones and standard models by reserving most of the big ticket features for the Pro models. This may not have been good news for consumers but other companies like Google are now possibly trying to find ways to beat Apple at its own game. 

The leak also mentions foldable phones in Google’s portfolio right down to 2025. Here is a complete list of the phones that we could see from Google in the next few years. Do note that this leaked roadmap should be taken with a generous pinch of salt as we have no official information about whether or not the tech giant is planning a huge overhaul like this leaker suggests.

 Pixel 7a

The Pixel 7a is the next budget phone that we should see in Google’s line-up in 2023. This leak mentions that the price of the Pixel 7a could be the same as the Pixel 6a which launched at $449. There’s not much else known about the Pixel 7a. Other leaks mention that the Pixel 7a could be the first Pixel to support wireless charging and that the phone could get a trio of cameras including a telephoto lens. This leak does not corroborate that information though.  

Pixel Fold

An render of the Google Pixel Fold, based on currently known rumors

(Image credit: OnLeaks/Howtoisolve)

The leaker mentions that the Pixel 7a will be joined with the launch of Google’s first foldable phone ever — the Pixel Fold. This is something we have heard before and multiple rumors and leaks seem to suggest that we could in fact see the foldable in 2023. 

The launch could take place in April or May around Google I/O according to the leak and it also corroborates a top rumor that mentions the phone could be priced at $1,799 — taking on Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 that also comes in at the same price.

Pixel 8 series 

Pixel 8 is also expected to launch in 2023. And this is where Google could start making some significant changes to its Pixel line-up according to the leaked plans. The Pixel 8 model could apparently be even smaller in size, following in Apple’s footsteps of creating a differentiation between its standard models and Pro models. This doesn’t mention if there will be a huge feature difference though, but that strategy isn't great news for consumers. 

The Pixel 8 Pro will probably be the same size as the Pixel 7 Pro that stands tall with a 6.7-inch display. There’s not much else mentioned for the Pixel 8, except that both devices could sport the Tensor 3 chip. 

Pixel 8a 

If Google follows its trajectory of launching its ‘a’ series of phones months after the flagship line-up, we could see the Pixel 8a in 2024. The leak says this phone is code named “Akita” and based on the Pixel 7a’s sales, the company could move to a bi-annual launch with the ‘a’ series. This means, like Apple does with iPhone SE, we could see an ‘a’ series phone once every two years or so. This again, does not bode well for consumers who have been avid users of the cheaper Pixel series that brings some of the best features for a lower price.

Further, the leak also hints at a price hike with the Pixel 8a to $499. This seems far fetched at this point and we will have to see how the Pixel 7a plays out first.

Pixel 9 series 

This series, that we'll likely see in 2024, could have three models, according to the leaker. First, a standard Pixel 9, which like the Pixel 8 will be smaller in size. Then there will apparently be two variants of the Pixel 9 Pro, one with the large 6.7-inch screen and one smaller Pro with a 6.3-inch screen that retains all the Pro-level features. All three of these Pixels will get the Tensor G4 chip. This again follows in Apple’s lead of a successful sizing strategy. 

The leak also mentions that we could see a successor to the Pixel Fold in 2024, but does not give any other details.

Pixel in 2025 

Looking further into the future of Google’s Pixel line-up, the leaker mentions that Google could introduce a clamshell folding phone in 2025. Like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, the design could be similar although this would depend on the success of the previous iterations of the Pixel Fold. 

galaxy z flip 4 sitting on a table

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In addition, we could see another three models of the Pixel 10. In case the clamshell Pixel gets scrapped, then we apparently could see a larger standard Pixel 10 device, like the iPhone 14 Plus. Separately, there could also be a Pixel Fold successor in 2025.

Three years away, this scenario is again slightly far-fetched and anything could happen between now and then, depending on Google’s next few launches and the economy that could head towards recession next year, according to analysts. 

Google seems to have big plans for the future of its Pixel devices. Going by this leaked plan, it could follow Apple’s strategy closely and introduce more devices into the market. We wonder if it will be a successful move as Google might be slightly late to the party. Plus, introducing more devices to the market has often led to confusion for consumers and in an unstable economy, we will have to see if Google has enough takers. 

Currently Google ranks third after Apple and Samsung and faces tough competition from these companies. It has managed to hold its own though, with some of the best phone hardware and Tensor magic, introducing top AI features like Magic Eraser and Photo Unblur that achieved impressive feats on smartphones. The future of Tensor seems bright and we can’t wait to see what Google will bring to its phones next year.

Sanjana Prakash
News Editor

Sanjana loves all things tech. From the latest phones, to quirky gadgets and the best deals, she's in sync with it all. Based in Atlanta, she is the news editor at Tom's Guide. Previously, she produced India's top technology show for NDTV and has been a tech news reporter on TV. Outside work, you can find her on a tennis court or sipping her favorite latte in instagrammable coffee shops in the city. Her work has appeared on NDTV Gadgets 360 and CNBC.