The time is almost here, and in what could be considered a monumental shift for Google, the company is now set to retire the only piece of hardware that has been in Pixel phones since 2017 – the Sony IMX363 camera sensor that powers the Pixel 6a. (but also Pixel 2). As I mentioned briefly in a recent story, Google has managed to squeeze immense value out of one of Sony’s most iconic mobile sensors – a remarkable achievement by all accounts, considering the Pixel 6a still takes great shots. In fact, the Sony IMX363 sensor has been such an integral part of Pixel phones old and recent that I really can’t believe the company is giving it up after seven years. But now it’s time for something new and better! This is pretty much confirmed by a very recent leak of marketing materials for the upcoming Google Pixel 7a, which is now basically 100% sure to be upgraded with a brand new 64MP Sony camera sensor identical in size to the flower inside. eyelet Pixel 7 Pro , Galaxy S23 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro!
So, let’s take a look at how Sony’s new 64MP sensor works Pixel 7a could be compared to the mid-range Pixel 6a, Galaxy A54, iPhone SE, but also $1,200 flagships like the Galaxy S23 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro Max. What’s particularly interesting here is that the Pixel 7 as a new 64MP shooter has a good chance of even surpassing the Pixel 7 Pro.
Let’s find out how
New 64MP camera on Pixel 7a destroys Pixel 6A, Galaxy A54, iPhone SE on paper; matches the size of Galaxy S23 Ultra and Pixel 7 Pro
Pixel 7s 1/1.3 sensor background blur compared to Pixel 6as 1/255 (no Portrait mode used). The same-sized main camera sensor is now coming to the Pixel 7a.
For one thing, compared to the 12MP Sony IMX363 in Pixel 6a, the Sony IMX787 is a 2022 sensor that debuted in the ZTE Nubia Z40 Pro (now also featured in the beautiful ZTE Nubia Z50 Ultra). That makes it about seven years newer than the IMX363, an age gap that could make a bigger difference than some might predict.
If you know a thing or two about the advancements phone cameras have made over the past seven years, you’d know about the incredible leaps in light gathering, noise reduction, HDR, and detail rendering that current camera sensors are capable of. compared to the older ones. Of course, the sensor is nothing without a powerful SoC and an intelligent image processing algorithm. Fortunately none of that should be a problem for the Pixel 7a, which is expected to arrive with the flagship Tensor G2 chip and processing wizardry from Google’s experts.
The other detail, arguably more important here, is that the 64MP IMX787 coming to the Pixel 7a will be significantly larger than the 12MP IMX363 found in the Pixel 6a. For the uninitiated, we didn’t talk about resolution but about sensor size, which on the IMX787 is 1/1.3 against 1/2.55 (smaller is better).
In theory, this should allow the Pixel 7a to gather much more light than the Pixel 6A (without night mode though); the same goes for the Galaxy A54 (1/1.56), and especially the iPhone SE (1/3.60): Samsung and Apple offers in the price range of the Pixel 7a, which should start at $499.
The $500 Pixel 7a gets the same primary camera sensor (dimensions) as the $1,200 Galaxy S23 Ultra and $900 Pixe 7 Pro (the largest camera ever on a midrange phone); All-new 13MP ultra-wide-angle and selfie cameras bring 4K video to all lenses
Low-light video performance of the Pixel 7s 1/1.3 sensor compared to the Pixel 6as 1/2.55 camera. A similar difference in brightness and quality should now come to the Pixel 7a.
But here things get even more interesting (and even better)…
The 64MP IMX787 camera coming to Pixel 7a simply won’t outperform the main cameras in mid-range phones like Pixel 6a, Galaxy A54, No Phone 1 and iPhone SE, but they’ll also match the size of the primary camera sensors of $900-1,200 flagships like the Galaxy S23 Ultra and owned by Google Pixel7 Pro! Both Samsung’s and Google’s premium flagships support Samsung-made 1/1.3 sensors (HP2 and GN1), which are the same size as the Pixel 7a. In practice, this would make the Pixel 7a the mid-range phone with the largest image sensor. the market and never, which should give photos and videos taken with the $500 device the look of much more expensive smartphone cameras. The benefits of a larger image sensor include, but are not limited to:
- Increased depth of field (bokeh), which is the natural blur you get when you take a photo of something from a close distance (without using Portrait mode)
- Much higher light sensitivity (especially compared to the older IMX363 in Pixel 6a), which is crucial when shooting in low to medium light, indoors or at night
- Greater ability to maintain vivid colors in low light conditions, again thanks to the extra light hitting the sensor
- Less noise in photos and videos thanks to increased light-gathering capabilities
- Sharper images and videos in low to medium light (you guessed it) due to extra light passing through the larger sensor – think of it as a window that lets in more light because it’s bigger
In a very recent development, which came just before I was ready to pitch this story, the Pixel 7a is also getting a brand new 13MP ultra-wide camera and a new 13MP selfie shooter – they’re replacing the 12MP UWA lens and old 8MP selfie shooter on Pixel 6a. This means that the Pixel 7a will now be able to record 4K selfie videos, while the ultra-wide-angle lens may offer better low-light performance.
The irony! Sony’s new 64MP sensor could help Pixel 7a surpass Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro 50MP camera made by Samsung
- Lens flare during the day and especially at night, which could spoil photos with street lights
- Definitely bad portrait mode with lots of cropping errors and overprocessing
- Excessive noise in otherwise good video quality
The funny thing is that camera comparisons have shown that the budget Pixel 6a could actually be better in these three aspects than the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro (depending on the conditions), especially when it comes to lens flare and edge detection in Portrait mode.
Of course, it’s not thanks to the Pixel 6a’s much smaller sensor, but perhaps thanks to who made this sensor and how Google’s algorithm behaves when equipped with this type of sensor. The GN1 found in Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro is made by Samsung, while the IMX363 in Pixel 6a is, of course, made by Sony, which is also the maker of the new IMX787 in Pixel 7a.
It’s a happy reunion for Sony and Google which could actually lead to the Pixel 7a producing better photo and video results than the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, which would be confusing (since other phones are more expensive). I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but I’m happy to go on record and say such a turn of events wouldn’t surprise me at all.
4K selfie video, 2x optical quality zoom coming to Pixel 7 as camera to make Pixel 7 rather redundant; Early samples of the Pixel 7a camera confirm a larger sensor with beautiful bokeh
Finally, you may have noticed that I didn’t talk about resolution, so let’s resolve this.
12MP (Pixel 6a) vs 64MP (Pixel 7a) makes a huge difference in resolution, but don’t kid yourself – not because the Pixel 7a will be able to take much more detailed photos than the Pixel 6a which you can blow up on a billboard . As we’ve known since the Pixel 7, Google limits high-resolution sensors to 12MP output via pixel-binning, and won’t let you use your camera’s full resolution even if you want to.
However, what could prove useful is that a higher resolution camera would be able to do something called sensor cropping to give Pixel 7a users 2x optical quality zoom, just like phones like the pixels 7, iPhone 14 Pro and Xiaomi 13 Ultra. There is no information on whether this will happen for sure, but it costs Google nothing to make it happen, so I’m willing to believe it will happen.
A new 13MP selfie camera, which is expected to be capable of 4K selfie video recording, is also in the leaked spec sheet of the Pixel 7a. This would be a big upgrade over the Pixel 6a’s 1080p selfie shooter, putting the Pixel 7a on par with the pricier Pixel 7 Pro, Galaxy S23 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro!
Of course, those looking for a mid-range device will benefit directly, but people choosing expensive flagships should also be happy, as this $500 phone could move the whole industry forward a little faster, and that’s always positive!
The Pixel 7a and its new camera are going to make it not just a flagship phone, but practically a flagship phone, something I’ve never been able to say about a mid-range device. Ever and never!
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