Google has a big fall event in the works for next week, and it’s expected to be bigger than usual. Not only will we see the next-generation Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, but it looks like Google is finally ready to enter the wearable arena with its first smartwatch.
The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro aren’t much of a surprise; Google teased those at its annual I/O event earlier this year, and even had it not done so, new flagship Pixel phones have become staples at Google’s fall events.
However, Google will surely have more to show us next week, and the company has already tipped its hand by teasing the Pixel Watch in the video it released to announce the October 6 event.
Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro
As exciting as the Pixel Watch sounds, there’s little doubt that the headliners of next week’s event will be the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.
We’ve known these latest Pixel phones were coming ever since Google provided a teaser in May showing a familiar but refined design. Google didn’t have much to say about the specs at the time, but did promise a classier polished look with a 100% recycled aluminum finish across the entire rear casing,
However, as usual, we’ve heard much more as we ot closer to Google’s launch event. While it’s still mainly confined to rumors and speculation, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Google’s latest flagship devices.
There’s every indication that Google has hit its stride over the last couple of years, so expect the Pixel 7 to be an evolutionary design that builds on the strengths of the Pixel 6. If the reports are accurate, Google will be reducing the size of the Pixel 7 display, mainly in the vertical direction — the Pixel 7 has been observed to be shorter than its predecessor.
On the other hand, it appears the Pixel 7 Pro will go in the other direction, moving up to a 6.8-inch display. The good news is that this doesn’t mean it’s getting noticeably bigger; instead, the vertical bezel will shrink to make room for the larger screen.
With Google now fabricating its own chips, the Pixel 7 lineup is expected to get Google’s second-generation Tensor 2. Reports are mixed on exactly how much more powerful it will be than the original Tensor found in the Pixel 6. However, sources generally agree that Google still has a ways to go before it catches up with Apple and Qualcomm in terms of raw performance.
Still, we don’t hear folks complaining about sluggish performance on the Pixel 6, so there’s little reason to see this as a problem. We’ve reached the point where the extra headroom offered by leading-edge mobile chips is more about powering computational photography and machine learning features than user-facing performance gains.
Don’t expect any significant camera upgrades in the Pixel 7 lineup. The Pixel 7 Pro is expected to feature the same rear camera system as the Pixel 6 Pro. However, some front-facing camera improvements from the 6 Pro model, such as 4K video recording and an 11-megapixel (MP) selfie camera, could find their way into the smaller Pixel 7 this year.
The especially welcome news for anybody else who may be looking at Google’s first-party Android handsets is that the company is expected to continue aggressively pricing the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. Both are expected to come in at the same starting prices of $600 and $900, respectively, as last year’s models.
While the Pixel 7 phones are expected to take center stage, the most interesting announcement will be the Pixel Watch.
This is a product that’s been years in the making, and it represents Google’s first foray into smartwatches. It’s a seemingly ironic twist, considering that Google has been developing Wear OS for the past eight years, but it’s also typical of how Google rolls.
The company dallied in Google-branded Android phones with its Nexus lineup, but these were all built by other hardware makers, such as HTC, LG, and Samsung. It wasn’t until 2016 — eight years after Android 1.0 debuted — that Google released its own Pixel smartphone. Coincidentally or not, it appears that the Pixel Watch has been on the same schedule.
From everything we’ve seen, Google plans to break some new ground with the Pixel Watch. The teaser images and leaked photos that we’ve seen suggest that the wearable will go in its own design direction rather than trying to mimic other popular products like the Apple Watch or Samsung’s Galaxy Watch.
However, there are only so many ways you can design a watch, and Google has decided to stick with a circular design that echoes that of other popular Wear OS watches. Expect a minimalist rounded design that falls more on the side of traditional than technical. Narrow bezels that disappear into the edges of the casing will also help to deliver a classier look.
From what Google shared at May’s I/O conference, the wearable will run the latest version of Wear OS with support for a wide range of Google apps and services and a new user interface to match. This includes the new Google Wallet for contactless payments and other cards, Google Maps, Google Assistant, and Google Home.
The Pixel Watch is also expected to have a wide range of health and fitness features powered by Fitbit, which it acquired in 2019. It’s unclear whether we’ll see any new or unique health sensors, but all the typical activity, sleep, and heart rate tracking features should be there.
During its May I/O conference, Google also announced that it was getting serious about tablets again, teasing its first Pixel Tablet. However, while we may hear more about this next week, it’s unlikely that Google is ready to do much more than talk about it.
The Pixel Tablet appears to be a play to build a broader Pixel device ecosystem to catch up with what Apple and Samsung have already been doing for years. Expected to be powered by Google’s Tensor chip, the company says the Pixel Tablet is intended to be a perfect companion to a Pixel phone and round out Google’s products into “a true Pixel family of devices.”
We’ll probably see another teaser for the Pixel Tablet next week, and perhaps Google will be willing to share some additional specs. However, everything we’ve heard thus far suggests it will be an entry-level tablet that will be positioned against Apple’s 10.2-inch iPad and Samsung’s basic Galaxy Tab 8.
Will we see a Pixel 7 Ultra?
Over the past few months, rumors have made the rounds that Google could also be planning to surprise us by introducing a third tier of Pixel in the form of a larger or more powerful “Pixel 7 Ultra.”
This would presumably be designed to compete with Samsung’s premium Galaxy S22 Ultra, offering some camera and performance improvements. However, the evidence that Google is even working on such a device is scant, and numerous sources indicate only two Pixel phones are coming next week. If a Pixel Ultra is in the works, it’s likely still in the preliminary development stage.
What about the Pixel Fold?
There’s also the possibility that sources may be confusing the so-called Pixel Ultra with Google’s ongoing efforts to release its first foldable Pixel.
This is something else that Google has reportedly been working on for some time, but we’ve recently begun hearing reports that it could be just around the corner — if you consider that “corner” to be about 4 to 6 months away.
So, there’s no reason to believe we’ll see a foldable Pixel released at next week’s event. However, if Google is as close to releasing it as industry sources say, it might be ready to offer us at least a glimpse into what we can expect from the mythic Pixel Notepad.