The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are still in their first few months of life, but the never-ending excitement for upcoming smartphones means the tech world has already started thinking about what will replace them. Naturally that means the Google Pixel 9 rumour wagon has hitched its horses and is galloping towards the horizon. But when can we expect Google’s next flagship phone to make an official appearance, and how will it differ from this year’s model?
With AI being such a focus for 2023, we’re expecting even more machine learning for the next generation. Photography will almost certainly be a star attraction again, too. There are only whispers doing the rounds right now, but they do help us start to picture what to expect from the Pixel 9 and Pixel 9 Pro. Here’s everything we’ve heard so far.
Google Pixel 9 expected release date
Google’s smartphone line-up has never been more popular than it is right now, so there’s little doubt the firm will follow up the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro with a new Pixel 9 generation. It will almost certainly land in late 2024, in line with the wider industry trend for annual updates. We’re betting October, and a quick look at Google’s history with phone launches will show why:
- Pixel 8 / 8 Pro release date: October 4, 2023
- Pixel 7 / 7 Pro release date: October 6, 2022
- Pixel 6 / 6 Pro release date: October 19, 2021
- Pixel 5 release date: September 30, 2020
- Pixel 4 release date: October 15, 2019
- Pixel 3 / 3 XL release date: October 9, 2018
- Google Pixel 2 / 2 XL release date: October 4, 2017
- Pixel / Pixel XL release date: October 4, 2016
Barring an anomaly in 2020 when the world was mid-pandemic, Google has consistently released its new phones in October. Going even further back, the Nexus 5X also saw an October release. Google usually puts its phones up for pre-order on the day of reveal, with deliveries starting a few weeks later.
Google Pixel 9 rumoured pricing
Pricing is, as ever, much harder to nail down until Google makes anything official. The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro both saw price rises compared to the last-gen Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, climbing from $599/£599 and and $899/£850 respectively to $699/£699 and $999/£999.
We have our fingers crossed there won’t be any further increases in 2024.
Google Pixel 9 hardware & design rumours
According to a leaked device roadmap reported by AndroidAuthority, Google is actually working on three Pixel 9 models – a mainstream Pixel 9, and two sizes of Pixel 9 Pro. We can apparently expect the Pixel 9 to have a 6.17in screen, while the two Pros will have a 6.3in and 6.7in display respectively. They’ll no doubt carry Google’s new Actua and Super Actua branding, indicating adaptive refresh rates and super high brightness. However, those figures were since challenged by display analyst Ross Young, who claims the Pixel 9 series will see larger screen sizes across the board.
The latest rumours, however, actually point to a Pixel 9 Pro with a 6,5in flat display, alongside the best potential look at the final Pixel 9 design we’ve seen to date. Mysmartprice has collaborated with OnLeaks to create a 3D render of the Pixel 9 Pro, which shows a more refined handset with flat sides, and a pill-shape camera cut-out on the back that’s more minimalistic than the current Pixel 8 series’ rear camera bar.
It seems like Google-designed, Samsung-manufactured Tensor silicon will make a return, rather than the purely in-house chips Google was rumoured to be working on. According to The Information, missed internal deadlines mean it’ll be at least the next generation of phones before any such CPUs arrive. Tensor G4 is reportedly a minor bump on Tensor G3, similar to how Tensor G2 wasn’t a step change from the original Tensor.
Camera hardware may not change too dramatically from the Pixel 8 generation, as Google tends to go through two model years between big upgrades. The last pair to do that were the Pixel 6 and 7 series phones, so it would make sense for the Pixel 9 to reuse familiar sensors and lenses. We’re sure Google will have come up with some more clever AI-assisted editing tools by launch day, too. According to the previously mentioned collaboration with OnLeaks, the Pixel 9 Pro’s triple rear camera setups will include a periscope telephoto sensor, with support for variable aperture.
There’s no word on battery sizes or charging speeds, but we do know a senior Google hardware engineer is on the board of the Wireless Power Consortium; that suggests the Qi2 wireless charging standard will be making an appearance for the Pixel 9 generation.
A trio of colour options for each model are expected, but it’s an unknown right now if Google will bring the Pixel 8 Pros frosted rear glass to both Pixel 9 models, or if the smaller handset will stick with a more reflective, mirror-like finish.
Our feature wish list
We’re huge fans of the Pixel line here at Stuff, having awarded the Pixel 8 Pro a full five star score – but despite high praise there are a still a few places we think Google could stand to improve. The following are our top wants for the sequel… whether Google will include any remain to be seen.
Faster charging, with Qi2
Google hasn’t properly increased its phones charging speeds in what feels like forever – or at least it does when rivals are regularly coming out with devices that can handle a triple-digit wattage. An official peak of 30W isn’t all that quick, and it’s debatable whether the latest Pixels actually charge at that rate. We’d love to see the Google Pixel 9 jump to at least 65W, which seems to be what Samsung has lined up for the Galaxy S24 series. Qi2 wireless charging would also put Google on par with Apple for MagSafe-style accessory support.
A more power-efficient CPU
This year’s Tensor chips were a marked improvement on the previous gen, but it’s still fair to say they lag behind the latest Qualcomm silicon – for both performance and power efficiency. While we wouldn’t call the Pixel 8 Pro a slouch, it isn’t able to stretch its battery out nearly as far as Snapdragon-powered rivals. Seeing Google catch up here would be a real boon.
Greater home screen customisation
It’s been a bugbear for Pixel owners for years that Google steadfastly refuses to let them move the “At a Glance” widget from its prime position on the Android homescreen. iOS is also leagues ahead when it comes to widgets, both in terms of design consistency and the number on offer. We’ve seen hints that the former may be changing in the latest Android 14 QPR2 beta, but the latter will need some serious software overhauling to catch up with what Apple is doing.
A zoom lens for the Pixel 9
Now that Google has nudged the price of the Pixel 8 closer to premium territory, we think a successor needs to match its closest rival – Samsung’s Galaxy S24 – on camera lens count. The Galaxy S23 has a 3x optical zoom lens in addition to a main and ultrawide, while the Pixel 8 makes do with the latter two only. Google might say its Super Res digital zoom is just as good as a dedicated lens, but adding one would help further separate the mainline Pixel and A-series devices. The Pixel 9 Pro could continue to offer greater optical zoom with a 5x telephoto, so there was still a reason to step up to the pricer model. Consider this one very unlikely.