- The Pixel 7a is the latest in Google’s Pixel a, which is a more affordable version of the flagship Pixel devices.
- The Pixel 7a, in the best Google Pixel tradition, comes with a lot of smart software, clean Android with assured updates, great cameras, and even runs on the same Tensor chip that is seen on the more expensive Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.
- At its price tag of $499/Rs 43,999, however, the Pixel 7a finds itself going up against some very well-specced competition and, in fact, close to even its own sibling, the Pixel 7. Here are our initial impressions of the latest Pixel!
The Pixel might be the official king of Android phones (it is, after all, made to showcase Android), but in India, its crown is accompanied by a poisoned chalice – its price. It is the same year after year. The Pixel range gets a lot of applause for its performance (especially its cameras) and design and takes curtain calls for them. Then the prices are announced, and suddenly the stage is littered with brickbats.
Unfortunately, the Pixel 7a (our review) does not break this routine, which is a little ironic when you consider that the ‘a’ series of the Pixel has always been the most affordable of the Pixel range and was launched with the objective of making the Pixel experience accessible to those who could not afford the Pixel proper and its Pro variant.
Google Pixel 7a: Typically Pixel looks…and that’s great!
We have been using the Pixel 7a for a few days. And it is a wonderful phone to use. At 152 mm, it is relatively compact by current phone standards. It is not the slimmest (9 mm), and at around 193.5 grams, it is definitely on the heavier side, but it has a reassuringly solid feel to it. The front is dominated by a 6.1-inch OLED display with FHD+ resolution and 90 Hz refresh rate, while the back is what Google terms ‘3D thermoformed composite’ material, which joins ‘glasstic’ and ‘carbonate’ in the tech thesaurus of plastic synonyms. The frame is metallic and made of tactile alloy.
The overall design of the Pixel 7a follows the modern Pixel blueprint, with the ‘camera bar’ on the back being its most prominent feature. The camera bar contains the two cameras on the back of the device and runs right across the back, jutting out slightly. It is a typical Pixel look that many (us included) love and the Pixel 7a carries it off well. Google has persisted with placing the display/power button above the volume rocker, but thanks to the relatively more compact size of the Pixel 7a, reaching it is not a problem. You will need two hands to use the phone from time to time, but it can often be used one-handed, which is rare in this day and age.
The Pixel 7a comes in charcoal, sea, and snow shades. Our charcoal shade looked elegantly grey, with that metallic-looking camera bar marking it as a Pixel. The back has a glossy finish that picks up smudges, and the display is protected by Gorilla Glass 3, which now feels a little dated, but can keep scratches at bay for a while. The phone also comes with IP67 dust and water resistance.
Google Pixel 7a: Tensor chip, camera muscle, software smarts… typically Pixel, and that’s awesome!
The innards of the Pixel 7a are impressive too. The star of the show undoubtedly is the Tensor G2 chip, the same that is seen on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. There is a single 8 GB/ 128 GB RAM and storage variant, and Google has used speedy LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 storage. This is a phone built for speed. The display is quite good, although those who love vibrant colors might find it a little on the dull side, and you get stereo speakers on the base.
Cameras have always been the USPs of the Pixel series, and Google claims to have packed the sensors on the Pixel 7a with some photographic magic. The main sensor is a 64-megapixel quad PD quad Bayer sensor with OIS and accompanying it on the camera bar on the back is a 13-megapixel ultrawide sensor. Selfies are handled by a 13-megapixel camera in front. As always, there is more to those cameras than just numbers.
Google’s computational photography sorcery is at work behind the scenes, aided by that special Tensor chip that delivers a crazy level of detail that make normal Pixel snaps look almost like super HDR ones. There are other features out there, too, including photo unblur, magic eraser, night vision, and long exposure, although we STILL cannot see a manual or Pro mode. Suffice it to say the Pixel 7a is expected to be a camera rock star. Whether it lives up to that billing will be revealed in our review.
On the software front, the Pixel 7a is a dish brimming with smart bytes. Of course, it comes with clean, uncluttered, and Android 13 right out of the box, as well as assured security updates for five years. In the best Pixel tradition, the Pixel 7a will also be one of the first Android devices to be in line for Android OS updates for a few years at least.
There are also features like Voice Message Transcription, Assistant Voice Typing, where you can type by speaking, Quick Phrases, which lets you do key tasks by simply speaking a phrase, At a Glance which shows the information on your homescreen, Clear Calling, which reduces background noise and much more. There is also Google’s own version of security with its Titan M2 Security Co-Processor. There is no bloatware on the Pixel 7a, but there is a lot of smartness packed in there, and from what we have seen so far, most of it works very smoothly.
Rather oddly, though the Pixel 7a is heavier than the Pixel 6a, it has a slightly smaller battery – 4300 mAh as compared to 4410 mAh. But that smaller battery now comes with wireless charging (which the Pixel 6a lacked). Unfortunately, fast charging is capped at 18W, and there is no charger in the box. Google claims that the Pixel 7a will last a day of normal usage and can even go up to three days on Extreme Battery Saver mode. So far, it does seem to be seeing off a day of usage, but in this day and age of massive battery lives, this is a bit of a disappointment.
Google Pixel 7a: Typically Pixel price…and that’s ouch!
The Pixel 7a has a lot going for it. It is a compact phone with giant potential, and Google is also looking to improve its after-sales service and support scenario in India by launching 28 multi-brand stores in collaboration with F1 Info Solutions, where Pixel owners can walk in to get support for their devices. But with this giant potential and promise also comes a giant-ish price tag.
The Pixel 7a will be available at $499 in the US and Rs 43,999 in India (or Rs 39,999 with some offers if you have the right credit cards). And that puts it in the ring against the likes of the OnePlus 11R and the Xiaomi 12 Pro, which come with more compelling hardware and their own set of special features. Most ironically, at Rs 43,999, the Pixel 7a actually gets into the range of its suffixless sibling, the Pixel 7, which comes with better cameras and a more premium build for Rs 49,999.
Of course, these are just first impressions. For all you know, the Pixel 7a might rout all those in its price segment and prove to be excellent value for money. But given what we have seen so far, it has to traverse the same rough road that its siblings have traveled. Will the Pixel 7a be crowned king of the Rs 40,000- Rs 45,000 price segment? Can it survive sipping from the poisoned chalice of its price?
Stay tuned for our detailed review to find out.