It was a surprise on many levels, but if I can anthropomorphize the six-month-old Google Pixel 6, I think its reaction might've been, "WTF?"
Minutes earlier in the presentation, Google touted the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro as one of its fastest-selling Pixels. People really like the Pixel. Almost in the same breath, Google introduced the $449 / £399 / AU$749 Pixel 6a.
Put another way, the Pixel 6 is a big hit. It's a good enough phone that it deserves an entry-level (read "affordable" variant") and we should all celebrate it. All of us, except Google.
To understand how hard Google shoved the Pixel 6 aside, this is how it prefaced the Pixel 7 reveal:
"For those who want the latest, greatest and fastest, we're also working on our next-generation, Pixel 7 phones."
Where have I seen this before?
Years ago I was buying a new car and was pretty much set on one model. I mean, we were ready to sign the paperwork. The salesperson seemed pleased, but then an odd look came over his face and he raised an eyebrow and in a conspiratorial tone said, "I don't want to turn your head, but..." and pointed me to a different and, yes, more expensive model. We stuck with the first one.
Google's move reminds me of that moment. It just turned the heads of every potential Pixel 6 customer toward something decidedly different and, maybe cooler.
Obviously, there's much we don't know about the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro and how they might compare to the still barely walking Pixel 6 line. But we do know these things.
The design fixes my least favorite part of the current Pixel 6, which is the ugly camera band. The new design significantly softens it, while upgrading it with a premium-looking aluminum finish. It looks like some of the awful 70s-esque color schemes are gone, too.
In that band are some clearly new and, I'm guessing, better cameras. What appears to be the zoom lens on the Pro looks like a much bigger and more powerful lens. Granted, I could be wrong about which glass will provide the Super Res Zoom upgrade, but I'm almost certain we're going higher than 7x.
Why am I sure? This is how Google explained the Pro's camera array:
"And the gorgeous Pixel 7 Pro and its triple camera system sets a completely new standard for photography, performance, and design."
All the lines on the Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro look smoother, cleaner, and more elegant. Maybe this is what the Pixel 6 should've looked like in the first place.
It's not just the Pixel 7's looks that could leave the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro in the dust. Google said the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro will be running, along with Android 13, the next generation of Google's Tensor SoC. Google said it will bring "more AI-heavy breakthroughs," across speech, photography, video, and security. It'll also probably be significantly faster on base and graphics operations.
How in the world do you buy a Google Pixel 6, 6 Pro, or even the affordable Pixel 6a, when you know that the Google Pixel 7, 7 Pro (and maybe a 7a) are literally waiting in the wings? There are just months to wait before we know everything about the Pixel 7 line, including price, camera specs, and performance. They will, with the possible exception of price, be better than the Pixel 6.
Apple would never
Did Google just shoot itself in the foot? Apple certainly never pre-announced anything like this. Sure, we all know that an iPhone 14 is coming in the fall, but everything we know about the line is based on rumors. That vacuum of concrete information keeps people buying the current iPhone 13 at least until August.
If Apple were to unveil even just a few details (including the design) of the iPhone 14 at WWDC in June, it would surely capsize all iPhone 13 sales, which is why Apple would never do that.
Maybe Google knows something I do not. Perhaps there are supply chain issues for the Pixel 6 that make it easier to turn attention to a new phone and new, more readily available parts in the fall.
That seems unlikely.
I do like what I see in the Google Pixel 7 and, unlike the Pixel 6, I think I would like one. I wonder what everyone who was considering a Google Pixel 6 is thinking right now.
- These are the current best Pixel phones
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A 35-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of PCMag.com and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.
Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, Fox News, Fox Business, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.