We’re late into 2022, which means almost all Android OEMs have released their latest hardware — including Google. If you’re a Pixel enthusiast looking and sizing up the latest lineup, you’re probably wondering, “Which 2022 Pixel is the right device for me?”

The lineup is fairly simple this year. There’s the affordable Pixel 6a, which has one foot in the previous generation. The entry-level flagship Pixel 7 and top-of-the-line Pixel 7 Pro. There’s a little more nuance to it than just that, but the crux of the lineup is cheap, standard, and flagship. Unlike a regular buyer’s guide with pure specs and stats, we want to answer your queries in a simplified manner. Here’s everything you need to know about the 2022 Pixel cohort.

Video — Late-2022 Pixel buyers guide

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What size smartphone do you prefer?

Aside from some internal hardware changes, there are noticeable size differences between the Pixel 6a, Pixel 7, and Pixel 7 Pro. The Pixel 6a is the smallest and lightest of the bunch at 6.1 inches and 178g. This might be important to you, as pocketable phones are in short supply.

Google Pixel 6a Google Pixel 7 Google Pixel 7 Pro
Size 6.1 inches 6.3 inches 6.7 inches
Dimensions 152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9 mm (5.99 x 2.83 x 0.35 in) 155.6 x 73.2 x 8.7 mm (6.13 x 2.88 x 0.34 in) 162.9 x 76.6 x 8.9 mm (6.41 x 3.02 x 0.35 in)
Weight 178g 197g 212g

However, the regular Pixel 7 chassis dimensions and screen size are very close. Only comparing this side by side will you notice the difference. From afar they are so similar. Smaller bezels help the Pixel 7 almost encroach upon the 6a. It is substantially heavier at 197g thanks to the usage of more “premium” materials and a metal camera bar. The Pixel 7 Pro is the biggest and heaviest Google smartphone of 2022 coming in at 6.7 inches and weighing in at 212g.

What’s evident when we look at the dimensions is that there really isn’t a “small” Pixel phone in the traditional sense. If you hate 6+ inch screens, then you might want to look to something smaller like the ASUS Zenfone 9 – which is 5.9 inches and comes with out-and-out flagship specifications.

What about the display refresh rate?

2022 pixel

There have been a lot of complaints about the Pixel 6a considering that this is a 2022 smartphone shipping with a 60Hz screen. When compared directly to other sub-$500 smartphones, it’s a bit disappointing. When compared directly to the other late-2022 Pixel releases, the picture is clearer.

The Pixel 6a has a 60Hz 1080p AMOLED panel, the Pixel 7 has a 90Hz 1080p AMOLED panel, and the Pixel 7 Pro ships with a 120Hz 1440p AMOLED panel. You can see the obvious step up in quality. All three screens are excellent at their respective price points. What’s interesting is that this year you can actually drop the Pixel 7 Pro’s display to 1080p if you want. That is a function that isn’t present on any other Pixel smartphone released to date.

Google Pixel 6a Google Pixel 7 Google Pixel 7 Pro
Resolution 1080 x 2400 pixels 1080 x 2400 pixels 1440 x 3120 pixels
Refresh rate 60Hz 90Hz 120Hz

One important thing to note is the type of screens used across all three 2022 Pixel devices. Two of these models come with flat screens. Only the Pixel 7 Pro includes a curved screen. This could be a huge turn-off or a big reason to pick the Pro over the 6a and 7. Many people prefer flat screens and that is catered for with the two non-Pro devices.

Do you need the latest and greatest processor?

2022 pixel

Over the past few years, it’s probably fair to say that Google has become less concerned with raw specifications than most other Android OEMs. This trio of 2022 Pixel devices is separated by Google’s internally developed processor.

Google Pixel 6a Google Pixel 7 Google Pixel 7 Pro
Processor Tensor Tensor G2 Tensor G2
Memory 6GB 8GB 12GB
Storage 128GB 128/256GB 128/256/512GB

The Pixel 6a comes with last year’s Tensor chip. This is a powerful processor for a mid-range phone to sport, which means that when compared directly to the competition, the Pixel 6a is an enticing option. Given that the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro are currently the latest and greatest Google phones, they ship with the second-generation Tensor G2. The on-paper performance gains are said to be up to 20%.

In daily usage, you won’t notice much of a difference between any of the 2022 Pixel models. The Tensor and Tensor G2 allow for on-device machine learning tasks like Magic Eraser or faster image processing. Gaming is an area in which both chips are capable but behind the best Qualcomm SoCs.

However, the inclusion of higher RAM configurations might prove useful if you’re a “power” user. The 6a has 6GB, the Pixel 7 has 8GB, and the Pixel 7 Pro has 12GB of RAM. This is another way the specifications help create a clear and concise upgrade path. Picking a device with lots of RAM should also help increase longevity.

Is Face Unlock important to you?

2022 sees the return of Face Unlock to the Pixel series. Sadly, this is limited to the newest models and is offered alongside an in-display fingerprint scanner. Unlike on Pixel 4, this is entirely software-based but requires the new Tensor G2 processor to function. Maybe it’ll get backported, but the improved selfie camera helps make this possible.

Google Pixel 6a Google Pixel 7 Google Pixel 7 Pro
In-display fingerprint scanner Yes Yes Yes
Face Unlock No Yes Yes

On Pixel 6a you don’t have access to the Face Unlock function. The in-display fingerprint scanner is vastly improved over the inconsistent Pixel 6 series reader. All three phones unlock slowly compared to some of the competition, but the reliability has taken a step up compared to the first-gen scanner.

Do you need a telephoto lens?

2022 pixel

When we compare the camera systems of the 2022 models, the Pixel 6a’s usage of a practically ancient IMX363 main sensor for the rear camera setup puts it far behind the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. Even so, the older setup still just about hangs in there despite the fact that the 50-megapixel sensor offers a substantial leap in the quality of all types of photos.

What’s interesting is that the Pixel 6a has the same ultra-wide-angle lens used on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. That’s one area where the systems converge and you won’t notice too many differences when taking landscape photos.

Google Pixel 6a Google Pixel 7 Google Pixel 7 Pro
Main sensor Sony IMX363
12.2MP
f1.7 aperture
Samsung GN1
50MP
f1.9 aperture
Samsung GN1
50MP
f1.9 aperture
Secondary sensor Sony IMX 386
12MP ultra-wide-angle
f2.2 aperture
126° FOV
Sony IMX 386
12MP ultra-wide-angle
f2.2 aperture
126° FOV
Sony IMX 386
12MP ultra-wide-angle
f2.2 aperture
126° FOV
Tertiary sensor Samsung GM5
48MP telephoto
f3.5
Front-facing sensor Sony IMX 355
8MP
f2.0 aperture
Sony IMX 663
11.1MP
f/2.2
Sony IMX 663
11.1MP
f/2.2
Camera software features Night Sight Portrait
Portrait Light
Live HDR+ video
4K UHD 60fps
Real Tone
Face Unblur
Cinematic Pan
Locked Focus
Active mode
8x zoom
Guided Frame
4K UHD 60fps (all lenses)
10-bit HDR10 Video
Real Tone 2.0
Guided Frame
Cinematic Blur
30x zoom
Macro Mode
Guided Frame
4K UHD 60fps (all lenses)
10-bit HDR10 Video
Real Tone 2.0
Guided Frame
Cinematic Blur

The only change in the 2022 flagship Pixel duo is the inclusion of a 5x telephoto zoom lens on the Pro model specifically. It offers 30x hybrid digital zoom with excellent tack-sharp images even as far as 20x zoom. If you value mobile photography, the Pixel 7 Pro is the biggest and best out of the trio.

There are a few extra features that are made possible by the newer Tensor G2 processor with improved video recording modes, which include 4K UHD 60fps on all lenses, plus 10-bit HDR video. All of the 6a modes make the jump to the 2022 Pixel models as you’d expect.

TL;DR — Which 2022 Pixel device should I pick?

2022 pixel

In our opinion, the Pixel 7 is the best-value device in the 2022 Made by Google lineup. The Pixel 6a is a great entry-level smartphone, but when the Pixel 7 starts at $599, the extra $149 garners enough upgrades to be considered worth it. If you want the biggest and one of the outright best Android smartphones available today then the Pixel 7 Pro is a phone you should definitely consider.

There’s also the upcoming Pixel 7a that’ll enter the mix at some point in 2023. That might confuse matters further. For now, of this trio, the Pixel 7 is the best value package and is enough of an upgrade over the 6a to be our pick for most people.

It’s worthwhile checking a number of the following retailers to determine the best price on each of late 2022 Pixel devices, as deals and offers are constantly changing:

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About the Author

Damien Wilde

Damien is a UK-based video producer for 9to5Google. Find him on Twitter: @iamdamienwilde. Email: damien@9to5mac.com