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Google Pixel 7: early rumors and what we want to see

The Google Pixel 6 Pro (in black) and Google Pixel 6 (in coral) laid next to each other on wooden decking
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We've likely got a year before the Google Pixel 7 appears, but our interest in Google's 2022 flagship has already been piqued.

With the Google Pixel 6 and Google Pixel 6 Pro proving to be the company's best phones yet by some margin, we're keen to see how Google could build on its new Tensor chipset and improved camera systems. Equally, we'd be keen to know what Google intends to do about the Pixel 6 series' weaknesses, such as poor battery life or limited specs on the basic model.

There aren't many rumors to go off of right now, since the Pixel 6 release happened so recently. But we know exactly what we'd want to see on the Pixel 7. 

Read on for the Google Pixel 7 rumors as they currently stand, and a breakdown of everything we'd like to see Google do for its next flagship phone. And if you're interested in other future Google devices, you should also check out our Google in 2022 article for a spot of crystal-ball gazing.

Google Pixel 7 expected release date and price

Google's phone release schedule has proven fairly reliable over the past few years. Therefore without any more specific rumors to go off of, we'd bet on Google unveiling the Pixel 7 in October 2022.

As for cost, we really hope Google keeps the pricing low like it has for the Pixel 6 series. With the Pixel 6 at $699/£599 and the Pixel 6 Pro at $899/£849, these two phones undercut their flagship rivals by hundreds of dollars or pounds. Google will tempt a lot of users away from other Android brands if it can offer the next generation of Pixels at a similar level.

Google Pixel 6 fingerprint sensor

(Image credit: Future)

Google Pixel 7 rumors

You'd think it was too soon to start hearing things about next year's Pixel, but the rumor mill is already in motion. There's only a couple of details to take a look at right now, but it still counts, right?

First off, one you may have already expected. Google is apparently working on a second-generation Tensor chipset; a follow-up to the first-gen Tensor found within the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Updating the chip in the Pixel 7 is an obvious change to make from the Pixel 6, but unfortunately at the moment there's no sign of what Google would alter, apart from the usual improvements to processing power and energy efficiency that chipsets aim for every year.

The other potential rumor is that Google could add an under-display selfie camera to the next-gen Pixel. That's based on a patent filed by Google which takes the basic under-display selfie camera technology, currently found on select phones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 or the ZTE Axon 30, and improves it by using a mirror system to show either the camera or a portion of display as required. This is only a patent, and so it could still be some years away from being ready to use, if it materializes at all. However it would make for a great centerpiece feature for a future Pixel.

pixel 6 pro back to camera leaning against books

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Google Pixel 7: what we want to see

The lack of Pixel 7 rumors isn't stopping us from coming up with our own wish list. If anything, we hope that Google is taking suggestions for its next phone.

A more reliable fingerprint reader

The under-display fingerprint scanner on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro is something we complained about in our reviews. This is Google's first attempt at putting the fingerprint scanner beneath the screen, as the company previously mounted a fingerprint reader on the back of its phones. However that doesn't excuse how unreliably the scanner works.

We'd be quite happy if Google just figured out the kinks in its current optical fingerprint reader. Equally, if it decided to borrow Qualcomm's ultrasonic fingerprint reader system (found in the Samsung Galaxy S21), which uses soundwaves to recognize your prints and therefore is less affected by scratches on the screen, that would be a good approach, too.

Another possibility would be for Google to ditch the fingerprint scanner altogether and use facial recognition unlocking, like it did with the Google Pixel 4. However that system didn't work great either, and would require a fair bit of work before it was as smooth and reliable as Apple's Face ID system. It might also require Google to return to a larger top bezel to accommodate the necessary sensors.

Better and brighter displays for all models

There are a couple of ways Google could improve the displays of the Pixel 7 series. First off: brightness. Google has fitted the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro with surprisingly dim displays, even when set at maximum brightness in direct light. Being unable to see your smartphone's display properly is inarguably a bad thing, so if Google could crank up the brightness of the Pixel 7's display a few hundred more nits, that would be one of the Pixel 6 series' worst areas fixed.

The other potential area of improvement would be the specs of the standard Pixel 7 model's screen. While the Pixel 6 Pro offers 120Hz, the standard Pixel 6 only offers 90Hz. That's better than the 60Hz that used to be all you'd get from a smartphone, but given that phones cheaper than the Pixel 6 can offer 120Hz — look at the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G or the Redmi Note 10 Pro — we'd like to see Google do it too. Upping the Pixel 6's FHD resolution to QHD like the Pro would also be beneficial but isn't as big a deal.

One of our TG writers who just bought a Pixel 6 Pro also said he'd like to see Google ditch the curved display for a flat one on the Pixel 7 Pro. Google didn't use a curved display prior to the Pixel 6 Pro, so there's a chance this design choice will not be returning if enough Pixel 6 Pro users complain. The only issue then would be ergonomics, as curved edges help users interact with the display of the large 6.8-inch handset.

Another camera on the base Pixel 6

Google has arguably short-changed the Pixel 6 by only giving it two rear cameras. It's the same amount that the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4 had, and also what the base iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini offer, but it's still disappointing given some premium phones are now offering up to four cameras plus a depth sensor (such as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra).

The obvious choice for a third camera on the base Pixel 7 would be a telephoto lens, even if its magnification wouldn't match the 4x optical zoom of the Pro model. A depth camera for more accurate portrait shots and improved AR performance, or a dedicated macro camera for super close-up shots, could also make for a good addition.

Longer battery life

This is something we'd always like to see with every new generation of a given phone series, but it's more important for the Pixel 7 series than most.

Despite having the largest batteries ever in a Pixel phone, the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro proved to have disappointing longevity when connecting to the internet over 5G. That's going to become an increasingly big deal as 5G networks roll out nationwide in the U.S., U.K. and beyond, unless you can rely on regular and speedy Wi-Fi connections wherever you go.

Given the capacity of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro's' batteries (4,614 mAh and 5,000 mAh respectively), it doesn't seem like the batteries are too small. Instead Google probably needs to focus on using the power it has available within the cells efficiently.

Faster charging

Speedier charging is again something every phone should aim to improve on, and while Google did improve this with the Pixel 6, more work is needed to make it a proper competitor.

After years of using 18W charging, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro can charge at up to 30W wired and 23W wireless. But despite having a fairly high charging wattage, in our testing the Pixel 6 only reached 29% full after half an hour of charging on a third-party 30W charger. (The Pixel 6 doesn't ship with one in the box). That's not that fast, especially factoring in phones like the OnePlus 9 series which charges to almost full in half an hour. 

It's possible that the Pixel 6 charges much faster if you use a plug from Google itself, but as it stands, this is disappointingly slow. Google could do with increasing the wattage of its charger for the Pixel 7, or perhaps using a twin-cell battery like the OnePlus 9 to allow faster filling at the same wattage.

An alert slider

For iPhone users (and to a lesser extent OnePlus owners), the alert slider is a critical feature of the phone. It is an effective way to quickly enable or disable notification sounds without needing to unlock the phone or even turn on the screen. 

We've never seen an alert slider on a Pixel phone before, and given it's only really used by Apple and OnePlus phones, it seems unlikely Google's going to change its mind. However we stand by the idea that this would make a great addition to the Pixel 7.

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio and whatever else people need advice on. He's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.