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The Pixel 7a — Google’s latest entry-level Android — follows the same blueprint as the Pixel 6a it replaces. The newcomer has a similar design and specs as the bigger Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, but it’s more compact, and at $499, considerably cheaper. Google unveiled the 7a during this year’s I/O developer conference alongside a Pixel Tablet and a Pixel Fold Android smartphone.
Compared to its predecessor, the Pixel 7a brings meaningful hardware improvements, headlined by a more powerful chip, a better display with a higher refresh rate, and a superior camera, to name a few. The upgrades justify the price bump that the Pixel 7a carries over the $449 6a.
• Google Tensor G2 chip
• 6.1-inch FHD+ OLED display with HDR compatibility, 90 Hz refresh rate
• Dual camera with 64MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 13MP selfie camera
• 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage
• 5G, Wi-Fi 6E connectivity
• 4,385 mAh battery, fast wired charging, wireless charging
• Stereo speakers, IP 67 waterproof
After a few weeks as my go-to Android phone, the Google Pixel 7a proved a worthy sequel to an excellent product. Its design, ergonomics, hardware performance, and user experience make a rock-solid case for not overspending on a new smartphone. Here’s why:
Think of the Pixel 7a as the Pixel 7, but shrunk down like a fancy sweater run through a hot machine wash cycle. Like its Pixel 6-resembling predecessor, the Pixel 7a has the same design as the pricier Pixel 7, but a smaller footprint. The phone is easy to use with one hand — I had no trouble answering texts and Slack messages while out and about.
The size difference is hardly surprising, as the starter Pixel has a 6.1-inch screen instead of the 6.3-inch panel in the Pixel 7. That said, because the 7a’s screen has slightly wider bezels, the size difference between it and the Pixel 7 is barely noticeable.
Regarding durability, the Pixel 7a is a step behind the bigger Pixel iterations because it has a plastic back and a screen covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The front and back panels of the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are made of Corning Gorilla Glass Victus — a tougher material less prone to cracking or collecting marks if you drop them.
Still, the waterproof Pixel 7a is plenty durable, and thanks to a metal frame, great to interact with. And if you are looking for an extra layer of protection, there are plenty of great cases for the phone.
I applaud Google for equipping the Pixel 7a with an OLED display with a maximum refresh rate of 90 Hz. Notably missing in the Pixel 6a and past product iterations, the new feature treated me to faster and smoother Android and app interactions (e.g., switching between apps, scrolling through emails and social media feeds, etc.). Gameplay was more fun, too.
Of course, the OLED panel of the 7a also produces superb contrast and vibrant colors. Save for lower peak brightness, the device’s display is on par with the Pixel 7 and miles ahead of the screen of the older Pixel 6a.
As with earlier iterations of the Pixel, the top-of-the-line camera is among the many reasons you should opt for the latest Pixel phone over rivals from other makers. The dual camera setup of the Pixel 7a includes a 64MP primary snapper, whose resolution is the highest on any Google phone, including the big-screen Pixel 7 Pro. On the other hand, the device's 13MP selfie camera has a higher resolution than the front-facing snapper of the Pixel 6a.
The Pixel 7a camera snaps gorgeous 16MP still photos, including in scenes with less-than-ideal lighting, by combining the data captured by a quartet of pixels into one. This high-tech feature is also standard on the bigger Pixel phones, meaning that, remarkably, the entry-level 7a takes higher-resolution photos. However, the larger image sensors of the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro give them an edge in picture quality.
Super Res Zoom is a cool trick I like about the high-resolution wide camera of the Pixel 7a. As its name suggests, the feature allows you to zoom in two times by cropping into the tens of millions of pixels its sensor offers. Similar functionality is also available on the iPhone 14 Pro, so hat tip to Google for offering it in a phone at half the price. Up to an 8x digital zoom is also available, though the shots, while instantly shareable, aren’t as detailed.
As expected, the 4K videos I captured with the Pixel 7a were stellar. I wish the phone had a legit telephoto camera with optical magnification, but its absence is okay. Cameras with such capabilities are still reserved for pricier phones — the Pixel 7 Pro and the soon-to-arrive Pixel Fold are the only ones with one in Google’s product range.
Overall, the Pixel 7a camera performance is a rock-solid contender for the best in its price range, courtesy of high-quality hardware and Google’s proven excellence in computational photography and image processing. Unless you are willing to spend more, this is the best camera phone worth your attention.
The Pixel 7a packs the Google Tensor G2 chip — the same silicon that powers the higher-end Pixel 7, 7 Pro, and Fold — and 8GB of RAM, a welcome improvement over the 6GB of its predecessor. The hardware brings abundant power and speed, resulting in quick app launches, swift multitasking, and superb local and cloud gameplay.
I felt as if I were using a pricier product while putting the 7a through its paces. The performance puts the new Pixel in an elite category of Androids, dominated by its siblings and top-shelf Samsung Galaxy phones. Unsurprisingly, because of its beefier chip and smooth-scrolling screen, the Pixel 7a is also noticeably snappier than the Pixel 6a.
Regarding battery life, I consistently got a full day of heavy use from the Pixel 7a between power-ups during my testing. That’s perfectly sufficient and in the same ballpark as pocket-friendly rivals from Apple and Samsung. The Pixel 6a has longer battery life, but the smoother screen of its successor is a tradeoff I wouldn’t hesitate to make.
Google addressed a glaring shortcoming of the Pixel 6a by adding wireless charging to the Pixel 7a specs. Its speeds are slower than those of the bigger Pixels, but it served me well for overnight charging and keeping the phone ready to go on my desk. Reverse wireless charging isn’t available, but it’s yet to make its way into mainstream under-$500 phones.
An up-to-date Android platform free of unnecessary app clutter has been a major Pixel draw, and the 7a is no exception. The phone runs the latest Android release with additional features for next-level convenience and security.
The onboard Google Assistant can transcribe audio recordings, make calling toll-free calls to businesses easier by displaying menu prompts on the screen, hold the line for you, and type your voice messages, among many other tasks. Tapping into these features saved me time dealing with mundane tasks over the past few weeks.
In addition, the Pixel 7a will receive three major platform updates, feature drops with more functionality, and 5 years’ worth of security updates. This guarantees a best-in-class Android experience for years.
The last few Pixel A-series phones, including the Pixel 5a and the Pixel 6a, made a convincing argument for not spending big to upgrade your old handset. By bringing fresher design and superior hardware to go with a cutting-edge Android experience, the Pixel 7a is the best in its class. If you want your next phone to cost below $500, the Pixel 7a deserves a spot at the top of your shopping list.
Samsung’s Galaxy A54 is the most formidable Pixel 7a alternative that comes to mind. It has a bigger and brighter screen with a higher refresh rate, but I’d take the Pixel for its superior wide camera and stock Android experience. If you are considering an iPhone, keep in mind that the most reasonably priced Pixel 7a alternative – a 3-year-old iPhone 12 with matching 128GB of storage — costs significantly more.
When it comes to pricing, Google has a long track record in discounting Pixel phones — the 6a got a discount shortly after its launch, and the bigger Pixel 7 Pro is currently on major sale. Therefore, it is almost inevitable that keeping a close eye might land you the Pixel 7a for less than its original sticker. Thankfully, even at full price, the value you’ll get is hard to beat.
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