We’re waiting a bit for the Google Pixel 7a, which likely won’t appear until mid-2023 if Google’s past history with mid-range phone models is any indication. But thanks to Google’s recently released flagship phones, we have a pretty good idea of what new capabilities the Pixel 7a might have.
That’s because the big addition to the flagship Pixel lineup this year has been the new Google-designed Tensor chipset. Powering the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, the Tensor G2 introduces a suite of new machine learning-based experiences that help Google’s latest devices stand out among the best Android phones.
We can safely assume that the Tensor G2 will appear in the Pixel 7a as well. After all, the Pixel 6a released earlier this year featured the same silicone Tensor found in the Pixel 6 series. This means that many things the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro can pull off should also be available to Pixel 7a owners. – Probably at a lower cost.
While we won’t have more concrete details of the Pixel 7a until we get close to the expected release of the phone in mid-2023, we can at least highlight the features we hope the mid-range model will pick up from existing Google flagships. Here are the top Pixel 7 features that we hope to see carry over to the Pixel 7a.
The image is not blur
Like the Magic Eraser on the Pixel 6, the best addition to the Pixel 7 was Google’s Photo Unblur feature. The photo-editing tool does exactly what it says on the label – it uses computer imaging to add some focus to blurry shots. Even better, the photos don’t have to be a single shot by the Pixel 7. In our Photo Unblur tests, we grouped photos captured by a large batch of photos.
Since Magic Eraser debuted on the Pixel 6a after debuting on the Pixel 6, we’re pretty confident that the same will happen with Photo Unblur and Pixel 7a. Hopefully, Google will repeat what it did with the Pixel 6a, offering a Magic Eraser update for the new phone.
Before, Magic Eraser removed distracting passers-by and objects from photos; For the Pixel 6a version, the feature can also mute the color of distracting objects in the foreground. It would be great to see Photo Unblur get a similar makeover once the Pixel 7a is ready for prime time.
Direct My Call improvements
One of the best capabilities supported by Tensor was Direct My Call, which takes some of the trouble of dealing with automated phone menu systems when making a call. When it first appeared on the Pixel 6, the original Direct My Call cloned the options menu so you can easily see what happens when you press 1, instead of having to lock the options into memory.
The Pixel 7 works on Direct My Call to speed up the process. Now, the text menu appears almost immediately at the beginning of the call for some numbers. Google says it plans to add more business over time to Direct My Call, as it has focused on 800 popular numbers for the launch of the Pixel 7. Hopefully, this feature will cast a wider network by the time the Pixel 7a arrives.
Improved fingerprint sensor and new face unlock
One of the most disappointing features of this phone was the Pixel 6’s fingerprint sensor. Getting the sensor to recognize your finger was a potential bump or miss, and even when it’s recording, there will be noticeable delays in unlocking the Pixel. Performance has improved somewhat with the Pixel 6a and Pixel 7, although I still think the fingerprint reader can be tricky. (You have to lay your finger flat if you want the sensor to recognize you.)
So yes, I’d like to see the Pixel 7a make bigger strides toward fast fingerprint recognition. But since the Tensor G2 is apparently capable of recognizing faces — you can unlock the Pixel 7 with your face — that’s another feature I hope the Pixel 7a can adapt to.
The Tensor chip on the Pixel 7 does more than just fix blurry shots or field phone calls — it’s also responsible for some of the video improvements on Google’s latest phones. The most well-known feature is Cinematic Blur, which adds a shallow field of focus to captured video, creating an elegant background blur for your footage. Any similarities between this and the cinematic mode that Apple introduced with the iPhone 13 in 2021 are purely coincidental, we’re sure.
Although the Pixel 7a will be marketed as a mid-range phone, there’s no reason why it can’t support Cinematic Blur as easily as the Pixel 7, assuming it uses the same Tensor G2 chip. This is sure to give the 7a an edge over other phones in its price range. iPhone SE 2022 doesn’t even support night mode for low-light photos, for crying out loud – do you think it will provide a cinema mode for better videos?
Here’s a feature that has nothing to do with Tensor, but it was the MIA of every Pixel A phone Google has ever introduced. Wireless charging is one of the ways Google separates its mid-range phones from its flagship models. Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 can be charged wirelessly – Pixel 6a can’t be charged.
We believe it is time to end this discrimination. We live in a time when phone makers have stopped including chargers with their phones as a way to reduce the environmental impact of their products (not to mention save a little money on the cost of including this accessory). It should also include support for technology that makes it easier to charge your phone, which wireless charging will bring to the Pixel 7a.
We can get our wish here. One rumor points to an unreleased Pixel with specs very similar to the Pixel 7a – and it’s listed as supporting wireless charging. These rumors are a little weak to buy at the moment, but we love the idea of Google bringing new capabilities to the Pixel 7a.