In their relatively short time as flagship phones, Google's Pixels have made a mark with their superior cameras and computational photography. But Google has stuck to a single rear lens, choosing instead to rely on AI and computer learning to handle features such as zooming and background blurs.
That could very well be changing.
For the Pixel 4, Google may be looking to bolster the hardware side of things by adding multiple lenses to the back of its flagship device.
That's one of the big takeaways from new renders produced by prolific phone leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer, also known as OnLeaks. Website Pricebaba has posted OnLeaks' latest effort, which feature renders reportedly of the Pixel 4 Google plans to release this fall.
We've seen renders of the Pixel 4 before, but those were speculative fan art for the phone. This effort from OnLeaks is apparently based on early prototyping schematics. While that means a lot could change between now and when the Pixel 4 arrives, it also suggests these renders reflect Google's intent for this fall's smartphone release.
And that intent apparently includes multiple cameras. The OnLeaks renders feature a square camera module sticking out of the back of the phone. It's not dissimilar to the rumored module for the iPhone 11 that's causing so much agita among iPhone fans.
Because that module is too big to house just one lens, that's going to lead to speculation that Google plans to feature multiple cameras on the Pixel 4. In the Pricebaba report, OnLeaks says that the new phone will feature at least two lenses and possibly a third.
But the change in strategy makes sense in light of the recent release of the Pixel 3a. That phone also features a single rear camera while relying on the same AI-powered features as the Pixel 3. But at $399, the Pixel 3a costs hundreds of dollars less than Google's flagship phone. Adding additional lenses to the back of the Pixel 4 could be one way that Google differentiates its pricier Pixels from the 3a and 3a XL models.
The back of OnLeaks' Pixel 4 render contains other clues about possibilities for Google's upcoming phone. There's no fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone, another departure from previous Pixel models. That could mean an in-display sensor for the next Pixel, similar to what you'll find on rival Android devices like the OnePlus 7 and Galaxy S10.
The front of the Pixel 4 in the OnLeaks render features an earpiece in the top center, which could mean the return of the notch Google introduced with the Pixel 3 XL last year. The renders also show speaker grills on either side of the USB-C port.
There haven't been many solid rumors about the Pixel 4 to date, though that figures to change now that the Pixel 3a has arrived and we're getting closer to the flagship Pixel's traditional fall release. Google's upcoming phone is all but certain to run on a Snapdragon 855 processor and feature the forthcoming Android Q update to the Android operating system.
Check out our Pixel 4 rumor hub page for all of the latest info on the alleged specs, release date and design of Google's next phones.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.