Google’s device line could end up having a particularly important moment in 2023. The company usually announces new Pixel products throughout the year. Google is expected to release its first foldable phone this year, however, which would directly compete with Samsung’s proven line of Galaxy Z Fold devices.
Google also introduced its own ChatGPT rival, Bard, which it opened up to the public in March. It wouldn’t be surprising to see new developments to Bard and hear about Google’s other AI ambitions during its I/O conference in May.
Both potential announcements would further signal that tech giants are thinking about what’s next for the smartphone and the apps that run on these devices in 2023. Samsung and Motorola, for example, both introduced new concept devices earlier this year with slidable and rollable screens, which could one day succeed today’s foldables. And Microsoft has its own revamped version of Bing that uses AI to provide more direct and conversational answers, giving Google stronger competition in the search arena it’s dominated for years.
Here’s a look at what we’re expecting from Google this year, based on rumors, reports and the company’s typical product launch schedule. We’ll be updating this story regularly as more leaks and reports surface.
If history repeats itself, Google will release a cheaper version of the Pixel 7 known as the Pixel 7A in the spring or summer. Google introduced the Pixel 6A at Google I/O last year before putting it on sale in July. That means we might be just weeks away from learning about the Pixel 7A, if Google does decide to announce it at its annual developer conference again this year.
We won’t know anything for certain until Google debuts the Pixel 7A, but some leaks and reports have provided clues about what it might include. Developer Kuba Wojciechowski, who claims to have found details possibly referring to the Pixel 7A in the Android codebase, suggests the Pixel 7A could have a screen with a higher 90Hz refresh rate and wireless charging.
That might not sound too exciting, but it’s notable because these two features are absent from the 6A. By bringing them to the Pixel 7A, Google would further close the gap between its premium and budget-friendly phones.
Another purported leak from Vietnamese website Zing News suggests the Pixel 7A will have a 6.1-inch screen just like the 6A and a design that resembles the Pixel 7.
If the Pixel 7A follows in the Pixel 6A’s footsteps, we can expect it to have the same Tensor G2 processor as the Pixel 7, but a camera that’s a step down.
Aside from Apple, Google is one of the only major phone-makers that hasn’t released a foldable phone or discussed plans to do so. But that could change in the near future. Reports from 9to5Google and WinFuture suggest Google’s first foldable Pixel device could arrive as soon as June.
The phone could avoid the Samsung Z Fold series’ tall, thin design in favor of a shorter, wider format with a look that’s similar to the Oppo Find N or Microsoft Surface Duo, according to reports and leaks from 9to5Google and YouTube personality Dave2D. Code in the beta for Android 13, which Wojciechowski says he discovered, also suggests the Pixel Fold would have a camera with main, ultrawide and telephoto lenses.
Google is known for undercutting rivals like Apple and Samsung on price with its regular Pixel phones. If Google does release a foldable phone, I’m hoping it takes a similar approach. Samsung currently dominates foldable phones with 62% of the market in the first half of 2022, according to Counterpoint Research, so it’ll be interesting to see if Google can give Samsung some worthwhile competition.
Sales of foldable phones are growing, but they still make up just a fraction of the broader smartphone market. Global shipments are expected to grow by 52% year-over-year in 2023, according to Counterpoint, reaching 22.7 million units. But when you consider that 304 million smartphones are estimated to have been shipped in the fourth quarter of 2022 based on Counterpoint’s findings, 22.7 million in a whole year seems like a drop in the ocean.
Pixel 8 and 8 Pro
Google typically releases new flagship Pixel phones in the fall, and we’re expecting the company to follow that same pattern in 2023. We won’t know what’s in store for Google’s Pixel 8 and 8 Pro until it announces those devices.
However, Google’s updates have been very camera-centric in recent years, with the Pixel 7 lineup gaining improved zoom and the Pixel 7 Pro receiving a new macro photography mode. With the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, which were the first Pixels to run on Google’s Tensor chips, we saw new features like Magic Eraser, Face Unblur and Real Tone. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Google push the camera even further on the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro, although we won’t know exactly what that looks like just yet. Both phones will also likely have a new Tensor processor, too.
Leaks have been scarce so far, but there have been a few reports claiming to provide details about Google’s next pair of Pixels. WinFuture reports the new phones will run on Android 14, which is expected to be the next major version of Android, and will have 12GB of RAM. Well-known gadget leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer also partnered with blogs MySmartPrice and SmartPrix to publish what are said to be renderings of the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.
Android 14 is currently available in a preview mode for developers, with the final consumer-ready version expected to arrive in the fall. Google releases new Android features and Pixel-specific features throughout the year, but its annual version upgrades usually provide sweeping platform-wide improvements.
Android 13, for example, introduced more color options for Google’s Material You interface, end-to-end encryption for RCS group chats in Messages and more privacy protections, such as the option to grant apps access to a limited selection of photos instead of your whole library.
Based on what we know about Android 14 so far, it seems like Google will continue building on these themes by making improvements related to power efficiency, privacy and accessibility. We’ll likely find out more at Google’s I/O developer conference in May.
Google is taking a fresh approach to tablets with its upcoming Pixel Tablet, which will have a speaker charging dock that turns it into a Nest Hub when docked.
The company hasn’t revealed much about its upcoming tablet, but it did provide some details during its last Pixel event in October. Other than its speaker dock, we also learned that the tablet will have a nano-ceramic coating inspired by porcelain and will run on the Tensor G2 processor found in the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro.
Google said it plans to launch the tablet in 2023, although it didn’t provide specifics. We’re expecting to learn more at Google I/O or in the fall, when the company typically holds its Pixel product launch event.
More AI in Google Search and elsewhere
Following the success of ChatGPT, generative AI has been everywhere in 2023 — and that includes in Google’s products. The company already introduced its AI-powered search chatbot Bard and announced new AI features for Gmail and Google Docs for generating drafts and rewriting emails.
But we’re expecting AI to be a dominant trend at Google I/O conference this year, especially as it seeks to keep pace with Microsoft and other rivals. Google reportedly issued a code red in December after ChatGPT debuted, according to The New York Times, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Google use its conference as an opportunity to assert its authority in AI.
AI has been a prominent theme at Google I/O before. Last year, for example, Google discussed improvements to automation, like auto translation and transcription for video, as well as updates to Search that make it better at handling questions that combine text and images. With all the attention Microsoft’s Bing has garnered thanks to its incorporation of AI, Google will likely make AI and Search a centerpiece of its I/O presentation.
Pixel Watch 2
Google hasn’t discussed plans for future Pixel Watches, nor have there been many leaks or rumors about what’s next for Google’s smartwatch. But since Google’s Pixel phones follow a yearly cadence — as do the Pixel Watch’s biggest competitors like the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch — it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Pixel Watch follow suit.
Based on Google’s current direction for the Pixel Watch, we can probably expect to see the same round design on its sequel. The latest version of Wear OS, which we’re expecting to hear more about at Google I/O, will also likely make an appearance. I’m also hoping to see longer battery life and a few extra health and fitness-tracking features, such as auto-workout detection.