New hardware device offerings include a budget Pixel 7a smartphone, a foldable Pixel smartphone, as well as a Pixel tablet
Alphabet’s Google division did not forget hardware enthusiasts during its annual developer conference (Google I/O) on Wednesday.
Despite Google announcing a slew of AI-related software and search engine updates and changes, the tech giant also made a notable expansion to its mobile device portfolio.
This included a budget-focused Android smartphone, the Pixel 7a, at a time when many contend with a cost of living crisis – but also announced were its foldable smartphone, and a Pixel tablet to boot.
Pixel 7a smartphone
Google had launched its premium (but still much cheaper than the Apple iPhone) Pixel 7 smartphone range in October last year.
But now the tech giant has expanded this product range with the launch of its Pixel 7a – a device that seems to deliver the promised “advanced hardware and software capabilities at an accessible price.”
Indeed, it seems that Google has certainly thrown a lot of high components into the budget smartphone. It features a 6.1in OLED screen with a fast 90Hz refresh rate for smoother scrolling.
It comes with face and fingerprint unlock, wireless charging, and 24-hour battery life (4385mAh).
Under the bonnet, the Pixel 7a boasts the same Tensor G2 chip found in the more expensive flagship phone, the Pixel 7, as well as 128GB storage (no microSD slot) and 8GB of RAM.
It runs Android 13 OS, and comes with upgraded dual-camera system with a 72 percent larger sensor for new long-exposure modes and faster low-light photography. It boasts a 64MP wide, 13MP ultra-wide, and 13MP selfie camera.
Starting price is £449 in the UK or $449 in the US, and comes with four colours namely Charcoal, Snow, Sea, and Coral.
Google’s Pixel Tablet
The second noteworthy hardware device was the Pixel tablet, that was made available for pre-launch on Wednesday.
It will actually ship on 20 June.
The Pixel Tablet boasts a 10.95-inch 2560×1600 LCD screen with 500 nits of typical brightness, coupled with “anti-smudge coating”, and support for USI 2.0 styluses.
Under the hood it is powered by Google’s Tensor G2 chipset, and features the Titan M2 security co-processor. There is also 8GB of RAM, along with 128 or 256GB of storage.
The tablet features a pair of seemingly identical 8 MP fixed focus cameras, one on the front, one on the back. There’s a fingerprint sensor embedded in the power button, and a “27-watt-hour” battery which should last for “up to 12 hours of video streaming”.
It runs Android 13 and boasts four speakers as well as three microphones.
The Pixel Tablet is priced at £599 in the UK and $499 in the US (why such a big price difference for UK users?), and will be available in Porcelain, Hazel, and Rose.
The final addition to the Pixel portfolio was the Pixel Fold – the arrival of which presents an challenger to Samsung Galaxy Z Fold.
The Pixel Fold boasts a 7.6in (2208 x 1840) 120Hz OLED screen on the inside that opens like a book for a tablet-like experience.
When closed, it works like a conventional phone, with a 5.8in display on the outside and a fingerprint scanner in the power button.
Under the hood it features a Tensor G2 chip, 12GB of RAM, up to 512GB of storage and 120Hz refresh rates on both screens. There is support for wireless charging and IPX8 water resistance.
It utilises a hinge (the screen has a crease) that can hold the screen at various angles for different viewing modes. It has a triple camera system on the back including a 5x optical zoom for the first time on a folding phone.
The Pixel Fold will cost an eye watering £1,749 and upwards in the UK ($1,799 in the US). It will ship in June.
Bit of everything
Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at Uswitch.com noted that Google had showed the world a little bit everything – bleeding-edge foldable tech, a great value mid-tier addition to its smartphone line-up, and a new entry into the tablet market.
“Despite the impressive engineering behind Google Pixel Fold, the jury is still out whether foldables represent the future of smartphones, or if they will remain a niche – and very highly-priced – product for a limited number of customers,” said Doku. “For context, there were approximately 13m foldable phones shipped in 2022, however that’s barely 1 percent of global smartphone sales.”
“As one of the few major players yet to take the plunge into the foldable market, it will be interesting to see if the £1,749 Google Pixel Fold can significantly shift the dial, or whether that responsibility will rest with the mythical iPhone Flip,” said Doku.
“To Google’s credit, in addition to an expensive foldable they are also delivering great value with their latest, mid-tier iteration of the Pixel smartphone,” Doku added. “At £449, the Pixel 7a follows on from the very competitively priced Pixel 6a and delivers several of the impressive features associated with the more expensive flagships.”
“Given the major price hikes facing mobile customers, it’ll be no surprise if the likes of the Pixel 7a and Apple’s iPhone SE range are particularly popular options this year,” he added. “Impressively, the Pixel 7a boasts the same G2 Tensor chip as the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, and delivers outstanding photo performance synonymous with the Pixel range. Pixel users also benefit from an optimised Android experience and seamless access to a wide-range of AI-powered Google services.”
“There will be a middle-ground in terms of price later in the year, although Google fans will probably have to wait until October to get their hands on the flagship Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro,” Doku said.
“With Google’s Android operating system powering almost three quarters (72 percent) of smartphones around the world, Google’s tech might be impacting your smartphone without you even realising,” said Doku. “The good news is that the latest version of Google’s OS, Android 14, will launch later in the year and promises to deliver improved personalisation, privacy and security.”