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Google’s Pixel 7a will force Apple to make a great iPhone SE 4

Published Mar 19th, 2023 6:15PM EDT
Google Pixel 6a display.
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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We’ve been learning Pixel secrets well ahead of Google’s press events for years, and the Pixel 7a is no different. The upcoming mid-range handset appeared in interesting leaks, including hands-on experiences with the unreleased device. The most recent leak confirmed the design and some of the Pixel 7a specs. The Pixel 7a will be a nightmare for Android vendors this year. That’s not because a Google phone with almost flagship-grade specs and build quality and a sub-$500 price tag is hard to pass up in this economy. The Pixel 7a forces Apple to make a great iPhone SE 4, and that’s part of the nightmare for Android users.

The Pixel 7a design and specs

To quickly recap, the Pixel 7a will feel like a flagship handset, thanks to the glass sandwich design: a metal frame sits between the front and back glass panels. The camera bar on the back is also made of metal, like the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro.

The specs are also impressive for a mid-range device. We’re reportedly looking at a 90Hz 6.1-inch OLED display, Google’s Tensor G2 chip, 8GB of LPDDR5 RAM, 128GB of storage, 5W wireless charging, and dual 12-megapixel cameras on the back that benefit from Google’s amazing photo algorithms.

The Pixel 7a will be a big upgrade over the 6a, featuring a better design, a higher refresh rate screen, and wireless charging for the first time. A starting price of $449 to $499 would make the handset a tough contender, as it could be a better choice than many 2023 flagships, especially if you don’t hurry to buy it when Google unveils it. The price can drop significantly in the months that follow.

Pixel 7a prototype from Vietnam: Rear design and camera module.
Pixel 7a prototype from Vietnam: Rear design and camera module. Image source: Zing News

Now, the $429 iPhone SE 3 will still crush the Pixel 7a in performance tests. The handset rocks the same chip as the iPhone 13 series. And that’s a System-on-Chip (SoC) that’s superior to Google’s Tensor. That’s why current iPhone SE 3 models can easily last a few more years and keep up with iOS novelties.

Normally, I’d tell you that any iPhone SE is a better choice than the latest Pixel A-series. But the Pixel 6a changed things. And the Pixel 7a will be even more impressive. The iPhone SE 3’s chip advantage pales compared to what the Pixel 7a will have to offer.

How the iPhone SE 4 can beat the Pixel 7a

The Google handset purported 90Hz OLED screen is much better than the iPhone’s dated LCD screen. The Pixel 7a will also support wireless charging and feature a dual-lens camera on the back powered by Google’s algorithms. Add a larger battery, and the Pixel 7a is a winner in a battle against the iPhone SE 3.

The first iPhone SE model sold amazingly compared to its Android rivals. But sales started to drop by the time the iPhone SE 3 arrived. That’s what might have prompted Apple to temporarily cancel the iPhone SE 4. Temporarily, because recent reports say Apple is making one.

Rumors claimed that Apple would use the iPhone 11 design for the iPhone SE 4, and I have already explained why that’s an amazing idea. You already have a well-known iPhone design, as the iPhone 11 was Apple’s best-sold model of that generation. Add modern components, like the A16 Bionic that powers the iPhone 14 models and new cameras, and you get an amazing mid-range handset.

iPhone SE 4 render
Render showing purported iPhone SE 4 design. Image source: Jon Prosser and Ian Zelbo

Apple, of course, doesn’t have to respond to the Pixel 7a. It won’t make an iPhone SE 4 because of Google’s impressive Pixel 7a. Not directly, at least.

The iPhone SE 4 has been in development for years. But the $449 Pixel 7a might steal some buyers from reasonably priced iPhones. Not the diehard Apple fans who don’t mind the more expensive models. But the platform-agnostic smartphone buyer who would buy an iPhone SE 3 or $599 iPhone 12 right now. That’s why Apple will need and benefit from a redesigned iPhone SE 4 selling for under $500.

Remember, Apple doesn’t only care about selling the most expensive iPhones. Every new iPhone buyer is also a potential customer of Apple’s many services. A potential buyer of Apple accessories, MacBooks, and iPads. And a customer who might stick with iPhone once the cheap iPhone SE 4 model they got instead of a Pixel 7a no longer works.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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