- Phenomenal camera for the price
- Excellent Google software
- Strong performance
- Slow charging
- Wireless charging is unreliable
- Not as fast as the Pixel 7
- Only 90Hz display
The Pixel 7a is Google’s next fantastic mid-range smartphone, and it’s quite similar to its premium predecessor. While the camera is always the star, the streamlined software and solid performance make this interesting despite its flaws.
Google’s mid-range Pixel phones are among the best on the market. The Pixel A-series phones are the company’s offspring, and they share so much DNA with the flagships that they may be mistaken for them at times.
That’s more true than ever with the Pixel 7a, which not only reuses the same processor as the flagships it succeeds but also has the same display technology and wireless charging to give the impression that it is a Pixel 7 in all but name.
The Pixel 7a does enough to put every other mid-range phone on notice, and the price increase isn’t enough to disturb the value on offer here (at least, it’s within the boundaries of inflation over the previous year).
Plan and construct
Quite small by today’s standards
IP67 rated metal casing with polycarbonate and glass windows.
The design of the Pixel 7a was clearly inspired by that of the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro.
However, there are some distinctions. This Pixel 7 is smaller than the regular Pixel 7 due to its smaller screen. While not as compact as the Asus Zenfone 9 or iPhone 13 Mini, this is still a lot more compact than the average contemporary smartphone.
The 7a is somewhat thicker than the 7, one of the few outward giveaways of its lower pricing, but the trade-off is a camera bar that sticks out from the device less than it does on the 7.
The phone is 15 grammes heavier than the 6a while having the same size. It’s still lighter than the Pixel 7, but at 193 grammes, it’s no longer a featherweight smartphone.
That much heft guarantees long-lastingness. The new design, which Google claims is more durable than ever, features a Gorilla Glass screen, a polycarbonate back, and a metal frame. The phone’s IP67 classification means it can withstand dust and water better than most of its competitors.
Finally, it’s available in a variety of cheery hues. I’ve been using the underwhelming Charcoal variant, but it’s also available in Snow (white) and Sea (blue) at most retailers and in Coral (red/orange) via Google Play.
Display & Audio System
‘Small’ Screen Size: 6.1in OLED
Refreshing at 90 hertz
The Pixel 7a’s screen quality is now on par with that of the flagship Pixel 7, which ironically means it’s still behind the pack.
The 6.1-inch display is on the tiny side, and it’s surrounded by a thick black bezel; Google has never prioritised bezel-less displays.
It’s the first A-series device to have an OLED display with a refresh rate of 90Hz, matching that of the Pixel 7. That translates to more fluid animations and maybe greater frame rates in games, making the phone seem quicker overall.
The Pixel 7a’s screen is now on par with that of the flagship Pixel 7, but that doesn’t mean it’s any better than its rivals.
The bad news is that the 7a is still lagging behind its competitors, most of which have 120Hz displays (typically OLED displays as well). There isn’t much to gripe about here, as the difference between 90Hz and 120Hz is little in practise. Since Google has completed the crucial part, a 90Hz display is no longer noticeably slow.
The display is also impressive, with vivid colours and wide viewing angles. It’s not the brightest on the market, so it could be difficult to see clearly in strong sunshine, but other than that, I can’t really find fault with it.
Stereo speakers that are both loud and punchy are useful. The sound quality isn’t quite what I’d like it to be on a phone in terms of clarity and separation, but it gets the job done.
Technical Specifications and Operational Effectiveness
Google’s Tensor G2 processor chip
128GB of storage space and 8GB of RAM
Physical lack of dual-SIM
As has been customary, the Pixel A retains the same processor as the flagship devices of the previous year. The Tensor G2 is Google’s second-generation in-house semiconductor, and it’s used in the 7a as well as the Pixel 7 smartphones, the Pixel Fold, and the Pixel Tablet.
While the G2’s performance is on pace with mid-range competitors like the Samsung Galaxy A54, the Tensor processors in Google’s flagship phones can occasionally feel under-powered due to their emphasis on machine learning.
Looking at benchmark scores, it’s strange that the phone is barely quicker than the 6a and far slower than the Pixel 7, while using the same hardware. Know that right now you are not exactly receiving the full flagship performance. This may be due to incomplete optimisation, inadequate cooling, or even a purposeful effort to underclock the G2 in this phone.
Still, the G2 is robust enough to keep the Pixel 7a feeling speedy no matter what you throw at it, though it may start to struggle if you crank up the graphical settings on some of the most taxing Android games available.
The 7a is offered in a single configuration from Google, with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage. Google evidently hopes you’ll instead spend in Google One cloud storage alternatives, which aren’t extensible either.
While the Pixel 7a has the newest networking technology like as 5G (including mmWave), Bluetooth 5.3, and Wi-Fi 6E, it does not accept dual-SIM cards like the Pixel 6 or 7 models. However, depending on your carrier, you may need to go elsewhere for a dual-SIM phone, since you can instead combine one physical SIM with a second eSIM.
The improvement in biometrics is also noteworthy. Google has finally implemented support for Face Unlock for the A-series Pixel utilising the single selfie camera, complementing the dependable fingerprint sensor behind the display. It’s effortless, quick, and effective.
Cameras and video
Superb 64-megapixel primary camera
Superb 4K video recording in low light from every camera.
Google completely redesigned the camera for the Pixel 7a, using sensors that aren’t included in the previous-gen 6a or the current-gen 7.
The primary camera’s 64 megapixels make it the highest-resolution Pixel A-series camera to yet and also the biggest sensor.
The camera produces high-quality images. While most mid-range smartphones can capture clear images in bright environments, the 7a shines in low-light situations such as restaurants and city streets.
Shots are sharp and clear, with rich yet natural colours and exceptional dynamic range, thanks to the 64Mp primary camera’s usage of the highest resolution and biggest sensor in a Pixel A-series phone to date. The lack of a distinct macro setting was the only time I had serious issues, and that was when I was photographing up close.
A 13MP ultrawide lens supplements the primary camera. There isn’t much of a difference between this and the primary camera in normal lighting conditions, but at night, the two start to diverge. The ultrawide isn’t terrible, but it loses clarity in low light and has a greater propensity to overexpose spots of light like streetlamps.
As expected, the Pixel 7 does not include a telephoto lens in this variant. The default zoom level in the camera app is 2x, and with some digital trickery off the main lens, you can go as high as 8x. The outcomes are passable but unremarkable, and some images, like my 2x enlargement of some graffiti beside a canal, nonetheless turn out artistic and soft.
When you turn the phone around, you’ll discover a front-facing camera with 13 megapixels. This wide-angle lens is equally at home capturing large groups or taking intimate portraits of just yourself. Even most flagships have trouble with low-light selfies, so I wouldn’t hold that against Google too much. Quality degrades substantially at night.
Through the Google photographs app, you can also access some of Google’s Pixel-exclusive software tricks, such as Magic Eraser for erasing unwanted items and Unblur for, well, unblurring your photographs.
The primary camera can shoot at up to 60 frames per second in 4K, and the other two lenses can each handle 4K at 30 frames per second. Compared to other phones I’ve examined, the 7a is more TikTok-ready since its front-facing camera can shoot 4K video.
Power source and charging
Power that lasts all day
Wireless and wired charging, but it’s sluggish
There was no battery charger included.
The 7a’s 4385mAh battery is good for a full day of moderate use, but don’t count on it for much more.
Most nights I put my phone to bed with less than half a charge, and if I start the next day with a fully charged battery at 8 a.m., it will be dead by midmorning.
In summary, you won’t have to worry too much about battery life, but you will need to stick to a daily charging routine.
The ‘Adaptive Battery’ technology in the phone aims to learn from your usage to optimise power consumption, so in principle this should get better with time, but after only a week with the phone I can’t say for sure.
There are pros and cons to charging. The 7a has received a significant boost from Google in the form of wireless charging at 7.5W in addition to the 18W wired rates.
However, those transfer rates are poor, and Google does not include a wired or wireless charger with the phone.
A full charge takes about two hours, but I was able to get the phone to 20% with a third-party USB-C charger in 15 minutes and 38% after half an hour. This is not a fast charger.
Wireless charging was a nightmare for me; while the 7a charged quickly and easily on one of my Qi pads, it refused to pair with two others and charged painfully slowly on the third. Maybe a firmware update will cure this, but I wouldn’t put all my faith in it just yet.
Applications and Upgrades
Preloaded with Android 13
Pixel continues to have the greatest Android OS.
With three anticipated OS upgrades
Android 13, the most recent version of Google’s operating system, is preinstalled on the Pixel 7a.
Even when compared to Apple’s iOS, this mobile OS has the finest aesthetics.
The Pixel phones will be among the first to receive the Android 14 update later this year, and Google has promised further updates to at least Android 15 and 16. If you buy a new phone in 2018, you won’t have to worry about security updates until 2028.
Despite competition from Samsung and OnePlus, Google’s Pixel phones now have the greatest Android software available. This software is not exactly stock Android, however, since it contains a few exclusives.
Supported by Substantial Evidence Thanks to the redesigned Android 12 (much more so than iOS), this is the simplest and most intuitive mobile operating system out there.
The branded search bar is permanently installed on your home screen, for example, and there are a few other Google-isms you’ll have to deal with, but if you’re purchasing a Google phone anyway, you probably won’t care.
It also has several perks that are exclusive to Pixel phones and not available on other Android handsets. In addition to the supplementary camera features I’ve already mentioned, the Pixel offers access to Google’s superb Recorder app, intelligent automated call filtering, Google Assistant dictation typing, and more, with new features being introduced in the form of irregular Pixel Feature Drops.
Cost and accessibility
The Pixel 7a may be purchased for $499 (or £449 or €509) via Google or any of a number of other vendors. Some of the most attractive contract offers in the UK now are as follows:
That’s $50/£50/€50 more than the launch price of the Pixel 6a, but it’s still a significant discount compared to the $599/£599/€649 price of the Pixel 7.
Most people won’t need the extra features, but the 7a’s camera and luxury design make the 7 an appealing option for those who can afford it.
It has the greatest camera you can get for the price, and it delivers a more attractive package than any other mid-range phone on the market right now.
Google’s Pixel 7a is another budget-friendly success, offering quality features at a reasonable price and posing serious competition to other mid-range smartphones.
While some consumers, especially in the United States, may be tempted to spend the extra $100 on the more aesthetically pleasing Pixel 7, the 7a should still be more than capable of meeting the needs of the vast majority of consumers by providing fast performance, long battery life, and a high-quality primary camera.
With its long-term software support and flagship features like an IP67 rating and wireless charging (when it works), this device is unlikely to require replacement very soon.
There is now no better mid-range phone than this one.
|BODY||Dimensions||152 x 72.9 x 9 mm (5.98 x 2.87 x 0.35 in)|
|Weight||193.5 g (6.84 oz)|
|Build||Glass front (Gorilla Glass 3), aluminum frame, plastic back|
|SIM||Nano-SIM and eSIM|
|IP67 dust/water resistant (up to 1m for 30 min)|
|DISPLAY||Type||OLED, HDR, 90Hz|
|Size||6.1 inches, 90.7 cm2 (~81.8% screen-to-body ratio)|
|Resolution||1080 x 2400 pixels, 20:9 ratio (~429 ppi density)|
|Protection||Corning Gorilla Glass 3|
|Chipset||Google Tensor G2 (5 nm)|
|CPU||Octa-core (2×2.85 GHz Cortex-X1 & 2×2.35 GHz Cortex-A78 & 4×1.80 GHz Cortex-A55)|
|MAIN CAMERA||Dual||64 MP, f/1.9, 26mm (wide), 1/1.73″, 0.8µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS|
13 MP, f/2.2, 120˚ (ultrawide), 1.12µm
|Features||Dual-LED flash, Pixel Shift, Auto-HDR, panorama|
|Video||4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps, OIS|
|SELFIE CAMERA||Single||13 MP, f/2.2, 20mm (ultrawide), 1.12µm|
|COMMS||WLAN||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e, tri-band|
|Bluetooth||5.3, A2DP, LE|
|Positioning||GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS, QZSS, NavIC|
|USB||USB Type-C 3.2|
|FEATURES||Sensors||Fingerprint (under display, optical), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer|
|MISC||Colors||Charcoal, Snow, Sea, Coral|
|Models||GWKK3, GHL1X, G0DZQ, G82U8|
|Price||₹ 2,499 / $ 454.00 / £ 449.00 / € 495.00|
|TESTS||Performance||AnTuTu: 765281 (v9)|
GeekBench: 3191 (v5.1), 3631 (v6)
GFXBench: 62fps (ES 3.1 onscreen)
|Display||Contrast ratio: Infinite (nominal)|
|Camera||Photo / Video|
|Loudspeaker||-26.5 LUFS (Good)|
|Battery life||Endurance rating 76h|
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