All Google Pixel Smartphones In Order Of Chronology

google pixel phones in order
google pixel phones in order

In a world where Apple and Samsung are pawing at each other for supremacy, Google sits as the silent observer, learning from their plans and coming up with interesting alternatives to the rather staid iPhones and Galaxy smartphones. The Google Pixel lineup has been around for seven generations and in all these years, it has presented the idea of a smartphone baked with actual smart features and unconventional designs. From chic hardware design to impressive cameras, the Pixel smartphones stand out from the crowd and for all the right reasons. It may not set the sales charts on fire, but it’s nice to know that there exists a full-fledged smartphone from a software giant that breaks the monotony.

The history of the Google Pixel is as interesting as the Pixel smartphones of today. Originating in 2016 as the successor to the Nexus lineup, the Pixel has been showcasing Google’s vision of a modern-day smartphone and how to keep evolving it throughout the years. The early generations of the Pixel phones earned fame for their still photography performance and sublime Android user experience. The platform also allowed Google to present all of its experimental features to the public and when none of those worked, the intentions (and subsequent goals) changed to offering the most posh smartphone experience.

While the upcoming Google Pixel 8 series is going to take the baton forward, we think it’s a good time to look at all the previous Google Pixel phones in order of chronology to celebrate their journey so far.

All Google Pixel smartphones in order of chronology

1 /14

Google Pixel and Pixel XL (2016)

After years of providing a reference point for Android-based manufacturers with the Google Nexus-branded smartphones, Google shifted its priorities. The idea with Pixel was to showcase Google’s finesse in clever software design that better justifies flagship-grade hardware. The journey began in 2016 with the Pixel and Pixel XL.

Built to rival the Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, these Pixel smartphones focused highly on a smart user experience and top-tier cameras. The DxOMark scores had scientifically proven that the Google Pixel was the best camera smartphone of the time. The single 12.3-megapixel rear camera impressed tech pundits and masses alike with its exceptional image post-processing that resulted in great details, amazing low-light photos and good video recording.

Beyond its camera, the first-generation Pixel also stood out for its unique dual-tone back panel that cleverly incorporated the rear fingerprint sensor. It was also one of the few phones to make do without a camera hump and despite those chunky display bezels, looks beautiful to this day. It had the 3.5mm headphone jack, which the iPhone 7 had sacrificed at the time.

You could either opt for the compact Pixel with a 5-inch AMOLED display and 2,770mAh battery or the larger Pixel XL with a 5.5-inch AMOLED display and a 3,450mAh battery. Irrespective of the size you chose, the phones came with the Snapdragon 821 chipset and ran Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box. The Google Assistant was a highlight on the Pixel and in a bid to show its supremacy, Google even offered unlimited cloud storage for Google Photos.

The first generation Pixel was lapped up well and set the stage for an even more incredible follow-up.

(Image Credits: Courtesy Google)

2 /14

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL (2017)

It was 2017 and the world was being bowled over by the radical, game-changing iPhone X and its next-gen technologies. It would take Google something substantial to draw attention to its own flagship smartphone and boy oh boy, did they pull off an absolute stunner. The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL were, for lack of a better word, simply perfection.

Even though both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL had big display bezels (the Pixel 2 XL had reduced them substantially though), Google’s design team made clever use of the dual-tone colour combo to make these two the cutest and most desirable smartphones of the year. Even all these years later, the memories of the ‘Panda Pixel’, with its black and white back panel, are fresh.

While Google made the necessary annual upgrades under the hood to match the flagship Android phones of 2017, computational photography was the hero feature here. Using machine learning and advanced neural networks based on the Pixel Visual Core chip, the Pixel 2 could produce incredible HDR performance, amazing Night Sight pictures, a clever portrait mode and augmented reality stickers in the camera app! Google also introduced a ‘squeeze’ function to summon the Google Assistant and the updated Pixel UI could now study user patterns to make suitable recommendations. As someone who used and reviewed the Pixel 2 XL back in the day, it was superior to the admittedly powerful iPhone X.

Sadly, the Pixel 2 didn’t come without its fair share of controversies. The LG-made Pixel 2 XL suffered from OLED screen burn-in issues and the infamous blue tint. The HTC-made Pixel 2 had questionable aesthetics with its offset rear camera and vintage bezels. Nonetheless, these phones were smart and offered a powerful Pixel experience.

(Image Credits: Courtesy Google)

3 /14

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL (2018)

The world was in love with the display notch of the iPhone X and Google decided to follow suit. The standard Pixel 3 reused the Pixel 2 XL’s design with the exception of a dual front camera system and a cleaner rear look with a dual-tone finish in the same colour. Unfortunately, the Pixel 3 XL went for a half-baked implementation of the ‘notch trend’ with the biggest display notch seen on any smartphone. And unlike the iPhone X, it had a chunky bottom bezel! The Pixel 3 XL, as a result, became the focus of some truly hilarious memes. 

Once you look past the huge ‘bathtub’ notch, however, the Pixel 3 series has a lot of cool things to offer. It carried most of the smart features from the Pixel 2 series, though the cameras were mildly improved and the Snapdragon 845 took care of the general performance needs. The glass back allowed for better water resistance and wireless charging, a first for the Pixel smartphones. Since the 3.5mm headphone jack was gone a year after Google mocked Apple for doing the same, the tech community left no stone unturned to mock these Pixel 3 handsets. What also didn’t help was the endless onslaught of bugs and issues, messing up Google’s reputation of offering a smooth user experience. 

(Image Credits: Courtesy Google)

4 /14

Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL (2019)

After the disastrous showing of the Pixel 3 series, Google introduced the Pixel A lineup as the more affordable and watered-down variant of its flagship models at Google I/O 2019.

The Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL were the first of their kind, lowering the starting price to USD 399. For that price, these phones offered the familiar Google Pixel experience with a clean Android OS and all of Google’s smart features. It even retained the same 12.3-megapixel main rear camera from the Pixel 3, offering almost similar still photography. The larger Pixel 3a XL stuck to the uniform bezels instead of the dreaded notch. 

Sadly, the Snapdragon 670 chip strictly made it a midrange smartphone. The lack of a Visual Core chip meant that these phones took more time for image processing and other demanding tasks. The battery life was slightly better though and when they were on sale, these Pixel 3a devices sold well.

(Image Credits: Courtesy Google)

5 /14

Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL (2020)

Though the COVID-19 pandemic was causing widespread chaos around the world, Google wasn’t deterred from putting out its best hardware on show. The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL debuted Google’s idea of a face unlock system, Motion Sense, and it turned out to be even more technologically advanced than Apple’s FaceID. Using the advanced Soli chip, the Pixel 4’s massive forehead had sort of a mini radar that detected your presence and activated Face Unlock. The Motion Sense feature was also able to turn on the display automatically when you went near it and allowed for hand gestures to control basic tasks such as skipping to the next music track or silencing an alarm.

The Pixel 4 series was also the first Pixel device to get a dual rear camera system, with the second 16-megapixel camera offering 2x optical zoom. It also had a Neural Core that allowed for on-device processing of Google Assistant and better Machine Learning. A high 90Hz refresh rate made the display even smoother while the Snapdragon 855 chip ensured the annual performance enhancements under the hood. 

Sadly, the Pixel 4’s battery life was a sore point and its radar chip for Motion Sense didn’t meet regulations in certain regions, thereby restricting its sale to select countries.

(Image Credits: Courtesy Google)

6 /14

Google Pixel 4a series (2020)

The Google Pixel 4a was a watered-down variant of the Pixel 4 and the lower price ensured that Motion Sense, the pricey Snapdragon 855 chip and the telephoto camera were not included in the package. Instead, a midrange Snapdragon 730G chip was used to take care of basic performance needs while the single 12.3-megapixel camera carried on in a world full of competitive Android phones. An edge-to-edge display design was a welcome change on the Pixel 4a and with a 3,140mAh battery, it was able to easily last an entire day. 

For a slightly higher price, the Pixel 4a 5G offered a bigger 6.2-inch 60Hz OLED display, a more powerful Snapdragon 765G chip, a dual 12-megapixel and 16-megapixel rear camera setup and a bigger 3,885mAh battery.

(Image Credits: Courtesy Google)

7 /14

Google Pixel 5 (2020)

By 2021, Google’s Pixel recipe of innovative features and a digitally enhanced camera had turned stale. The Pixel 5 was the best (or rather the worst) example of this.

The Pixel 5 degraded from a flagship phone to a well-equipped mid-range Android smartphone. The lower price was welcome but the lack of Pixel-specific features wasn’t. A 6-inch 90Hz OLED display, a dual rear camera system with a 16-megapixel ultra-wide camera, a Snapdragon 765G chip and a 4,080mAh battery made it the easiest-to-use Pixel ever but it lacked any of the oomph of its predecessors. The Pixel 5 is often seen as a filler model before Google changed directions with next year’s flagship Pixel series. 

(Image Credits: Courtesy Google)

8 /14

Google Pixel 5a 5G (2021)

No, you aren’t seeing a typo! The Google Pixel 5a 5G existed and it was probably the most forgettable Google smartphone ever built.

It was introduced in early 2021 to keep the budget-friendly Pixel A lineup alive. Google simply took the Pixel 4a 5G, increased its display size to 6.3 inches, added a metal body with water and dust resistance, stuffed in a mammoth 4,680mAh battery and voila – the new Pixel 5a 5G was here!

This phone was only sold in the US and Japan and for the most part, made for a sound smartphone choice. It didn’t score highly on the excitement front though and so it was time for Google to hit the reset button. Speaking of which…

(Image Credits: Courtesy Google)

9 /14

Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro (2021)

Just when people started counting the Pixel lineup out, Google revised its strategy and rebooted the series with the Pixel 6 series. The focus now was on offering a premium experience over everything else and Google’s complete control over the hardware could finally give the iPhone its true rival.

The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro had the most radical design of any smartphone on sale in 2021. A horizontal camera visor with a dual-tone paint job was highly reminiscent of the original Google Pixel from 2016. The Pixel 6 Pro was the more advanced of the duo, featuring a curved edge 120Hz OLED display and a massive 5,000mAh battery. The Pixel 6 Pro also featured a triple rear camera system with a dedicated 48-megapixel telephoto camera with 4x optical zoom, a 50-megapixel primary camera and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera, all of them managed by Google’s clever algorithms. The standard Pixel 6 had a 90Hz OLED display, a smaller battery and lacked the telephoto camera on the rear.

However, the biggest change in these smartphones was Google equipping them with its Tensor chip, replacing the Qualcomm Snapdragon chips of the past. Tensor promised improvements to machine learning with a better neural engine and flagship-grade performance. 

(Image Credits: Courtesy Google)

10 /14

Google Pixel 6a (2022)

The Pixel 6a fortified Google’s budget smartphone lineup by basing itself on the Pixel 6. It retained the same beefy Tensor chip from the Pixel 6, thereby offering tremendous performance that only a handful of budget smartphones could dream of boasting. The design was largely similar to the Pixel 6 as well but Google swapped out the glass back for a plastic one. The OLED display had slightly larger bezels around it and was limited to a 60Hz refresh rate. The wonky under-display fingerprint sensor was also carried over from the Pixel 6. Even though Google retained the old 12.3-megapixel sensor for the main camera, the Pixel 6a fared better at times in still photography than the pricier Pixel 6 in professional tests. The 4,410mAh battery kept the phone alive for a whole day though it did miss out on wireless charging.

(Image Credits: Courtesy Google)

11 /14

Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro (2022)

The Pixel 7 series was a refinement of the Pixel 6 series, bringing in a refreshed design and new colours.

The Tensor G2 chip promised improvements in performance and efficiency for both models. The Pixel 7 Pro also continued to feature the same curved edge OLED display, though its 48-megapixel telephoto camera could now optically zoom to 5x. The Pixel 7 continued without a telephoto camera and came with a 90Hz OLED display and a 4,355mAh battery. Both phones featured an improved optical fingerprint sensor. 

Upon launch, the Pixel 7 Pro received rave reviews for its superior camera performance, showing improvements in still photography and videography. The user experience also got a shoutout for being among the most polished ones on any Android smartphone. Sadly, battery stamina was a bigger concern with this generation of Google Pixel phones and as of writing this, little has been done to fix the issue. 

(Image Credits: Courtesy Google) 

12 /14

Google Pixel 7a (2023)

Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, the Pixel 7a borrowed a lot of features from the Pixel 7, including its refreshing new design with a metallic camera visor, a 90Hz OLED display and a 4,385mAh battery with 18W wired and 7.5W wireless charging. Google ditched the old 12.3-megapixel sensor and opted for a new Samsung-made 64-megapixel sensor for the main camera. The upgrades on the Pixel 7a narrowed the gap to the Pixel 7 and as of today, the Pixel 7a continues to offer a much better deal than its pricier sibling. 

(Image Credits: Courtesy Google)

13 /14

Google Pixel Fold (2023)

Over the years, the Google Pixel lineup has been able to take exceptional photos, run the best version of Android and boast stunning designs. What it couldn’t do was…well…fold in half and hence, in the summer of 2023, the Google Pixel Fold was released to the public.

Borrowing its design and some of the internal specifications from the Pixel 7 Pro, the Pixel Fold is Google’s way of portraying its idea of an ideal foldable smartphone. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, the Pixel Fold has a wider and more useable aspect ratio. This means that the Pixel Fold has a 5.8-inch 120Hz OLED cover display that could be traded up for a 7.6-inch 120Hz OLED main display when unfolded. While the larger display allows for better multitasking, Google didn’t sacrifice other key aspects for it. Case in point, the cameras. Since it wears the Pixel badge, the Pixel Fold also gets a beefy camera system, consisting of a 48-megapixel main camera, a 10.8-megapixel telephoto camera and a 10.8-megapixel ultrawide camera. 

On the flip side, while it lacks a fancy under-display camera, what it’s not lacking are thick bezels around the display. Also, no support for a stylus is included. 

(Image Credits: Courtesy Google)

14 /14

Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro (2023)

Years of evolution of the Pixel phone finally brings us to the Google Pixel 8 series set to be unveiled on October 4, 2023.

The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro will see further refinements in design to enhance their premium appeal. Google is also ditching the curved edge display on the Pixel 8 Pro in favour of slimmer side bezels. A new Tensor G3 chip is expected to offer better performance with superior power efficiency. A new ultrawide camera on the Pixel 8 Pro is also being rumoured along with a Magic Audio Eraser feature. Moreover, Google could finally outdo itself by offering up to five years of Android OS upgrades on the Pixel 8 series, thereby leading the charge for longevity on the Android side. 

(Image Credits: Courtesy Google)