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Pixel 9 leak teases a big upgrade for Google’s smaller phone, and it’s not the iPhone design

Published Jan 25th, 2024 6:50AM EST
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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If you’ve seen any Galaxy S24 hands-on previews, you’ve noticed that some people liken the design of the non-Ultra models to the current iPhones. Flat sides, flat screen, and rounded corners. Even the Galaxy S24 Ultra comes with a flat screen, dropping the arguably only design element that made Galaxy S phones stand out, the curved edges. 

Then came the Pixel 9 Pro design leaks that showed Google restyling its unique design element, the horizontal camera protrusion on the back. But otherwise, the Pixel 9 Pro also looks like an iPhone from afar.

With that in mind, it’s unsurprising to see the Pixel 9 renders leak, complete with the same camera bar as the 9 Pro and iPhone-like design. But the leak teases a big upgrade coming to Google’s smaller phone. The Pixel 9 might feature the same camera module as the Pro, complete with a periscope camera. 

Do you know who else is getting a periscope camera for the first time in its history this year? Yeah, the iPhone 16 Pro.

I said recently that we’ve reached a point in smartphone design where we can’t expect miracles. Phones have large displays on the front, with a hole piercing through them for the selfie camera. They have big camera bumps on the back, albeit with different designs, which make possible high-end camera features on these tiny devices.

Pixel 9 design renders show the front and back of the phone.
Pixel 9 design renders show the front and back of the phone. Image source: 91mobiles and OnLeaks

Still, phones like the Galaxy S24 and Pixel 9 will copy the design lines of the iPhone. Even Apple copied itself. The iPhone 12 practically resurrected the amazing flat-side iPhone 4 design, and Apple kept improving it. For example, the iPhone 15 series still features flat sides and rounded corners. But the back of the handset curves slightly for a better grip. 

Back to the Pixel 9, the folks at 91Mobiles partnered with OnLeaks for a design reveal. The Pixel 9 renders match the Pixel 9 Pro leak from a few days ago. 

The phone has a large display on the front with symmetrical bezels and a hole-punch display. On the back, the camera bump still sits horizontally, but we have a circular module that doesn’t extend to the frame. I actually liked the Pixel’s camera bar. But, ultimately, the camera module design doesn’t matter as long as the camera produces amazing pics.

On the other hand, Google might want to bring uniformity to Pixel design. And the Pixel Fold features a camera island similar to the ones in these Pixel 9 renders. 

Or maybe one of the Pixel 9 phones comes with a titanium frame. Because Apple did it and Samsung copied it on the Galaxy S24 Ultra. And Google might not want any manufacturing headaches that involve merging that camera bar and titanium frame seamlessly. I’m just speculating here. 

Pixel 9 will feature three cameras on the back, according to design leak.
Pixel 9 will feature three cameras on the back, according to design leak. Image source: 91mobiles and OnLeaks

What I do know is that the Pixel 9 leaks here, as early as they might be, are probably showing the real deal. Google never keeps any Pixel secrets. And the leaks are always right, including design renders. 

Back to the base Pixel 9 model, the biggest reveal from these design renders concerns the composition of that rear-facing camera. We have three sensors inside the module, which can mean only one thing. A periscope camera is coming to the Pixel 9 phones. Gone seem to be the days when Google was happy with just two cameras on its Pixels. They’ll need dedicated telephoto cameras for better zoom.

The unnecessary temperature sensor the Pixel 8 Pro introduced might also be part of that camera module. But I’m just speculating at this point.

Finally, the leak also gives us the dimensions for the Pixel 9. The handset will feature a 6.1-inch screen and measure 152.8 x 71.9 x 8.5 mm. The camera module is 12 mm thick. 

Google should unveil the Pixel 9 phones in October. But considering these early leaks, Google could always tease the handsets earlier than that. 

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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