- The Google Pixel 7a is the latest offering in the affordable A series smartphones.
- Although it comes with a lower price tag than the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro, the Pixel 7a runs on the same processor as they do, Google’s Tensor G2.
- Apart from very good cameras, software smarts, and clean Android (a given with the Pixel range), the Pixel 7a also comes with a number of features, including better design and display and wireless charging that place it in the budget flagship category. It could even be a Pixel 7 challenger!
Google’s Pixel A range of devices has been the more affordable part of its Pixel phone series. With lower prices, however, have also come relatively inferior specs. The likes of the Pixel 4a and 5a were very good devices for their price but were more mid-segment than flagship phones. Even 2022’s Pixel 6a was closer to a mid-segment device than a premium one, although it had the same chip as the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
With the Pixel 7a, Google has entered the budget flagship zone with a device that has not just the same chip as its premium flagships but also comes with a number of features that are distinctly high-end. But will this enable it to take on the likes of OnePlus in the flagship Killzone? Let’s find out.
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Google Pixel 7a design: Typical Pixel-looks
Google redefined its Pixel design with the ‘camera bar’ a few years ago, and this element is what marks the Pixel 7a out as a Pixel from the word go. The front is dominated by a 6.1-inch tall display with a punch-hole notch in the center. We have heard some say that the bezels around the display are on the larger side, but they did not strike us as eyesores. The back of the phone is polycarbonate with a metal alloy camera bar on its upper side—the back curves to meet the curved metal frame of the phone.
Google has called this the “most durable A-Series yet,” and there is certainly something chunkily solid about the Pixel 7a. Although the protection on display is Gorilla Glass 3 (which really is a blast from the past), the phone comes with IP67 dust and water resistance. At 193 grams, it seems a little on the heavy side. It is about as tall as the Pixel 6a (152 mm) but is slightly wider and thicker at 9 mm.
While it is relatively compact compared to most Android flagships, the Pixel 7a is not what we would call a ‘compact’ device – it is actually taller, thicker, and heavier than the iPhone 14. We got the Charcoal variant, and while its greyish shade is not as striking as the Sea and Coral versions, it stands out from the regular Android crowd, proud as a Pixel. Even though It feels a little heavy, it has a more premium feel than its predecessors. Many people who saw the Pixel 7a mistook it for the Pixel 7, which tells a story.
Google Pixel 7a specs: Tensor hardware and a refreshed display
Google had given the A series a serious spec boost when it used the same processor it had used in the Pixel 6 in the Pixel 6a. This continues with the Pixel 7a, which is powered by the same Tensor G2 chip that is seen in the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. There are some other hardware upgrades, too – the 6.1-inch OLED display is still full HD+ resolution but now has a 90 Hz refresh rate, similar to the display on the Pixel 7. There still is a fingerprint scanner below the display, but it is supposed to be a huge improvement over the slightly buggy ones seen on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.
RAM has also been bumped up from 6 GB to 8 GB, although storage stays at 128 GB, and you still have only one RAM and storage variant. The megapixels on the cameras have also been upped – that camera bar on the rear now houses a 64-megapixel main sensor with OIS and a 13-megapixel ultrawide sensor, while that tiny notch on the front has a 13-megapixel selfie snapper with support for 4K video. A bit surprisingly (considering the phone is thicker and heavier), the battery is a trifle smaller than on the Pixel 6a, going from 4410 mAh to 4385 mAh, but while charging speed remains at 18W (and the charger remains absent from the box), the Pixel 7a gets wireless charging, although at a rather sluggish 7.5W speed. And, of course, as this is a Pixel, you get Android 13, with not only assured and speedy updates for the coming years but also a lot of smart features facilitated by the G2 chip.
All of this makes for a decent but not exceptional spec sheet. The Tensor G2 is a flagship chip but has been designed more for smartness than for busting gaming benchmarks, and there will be those who will point out that one can get devices with faster chips, larger displays with higher refresh rates, and bigger and faster charging batteries (and chargers too). It is how it all comes together to perform that is key for the Pixel 7a.
Pixel 7a cameras: Of course, very good cameras
When it was launched, the Pixel range shook the mobile photography world with its concept of computational photography, which combined software smartness with the good camera hardware. The years then have seen other players close the gap on the Pixel. The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro did have excellent cameras but were not the runaway leaders that some of their predecessors had been. The Pixel 7a is largely similar. It comes with a very good set of cameras for its price tag, but it is not as far ahead of the competition as you would expect a Pixel to be.
The 64-megapixel main sensor takes great snaps in good light conditions and, in the best Pixel tradition, delivers an amazing amount of detail. Google’s Super Res 8x digital zoom works a treat when the light is good, letting you get decent zoomed-in snaps of birds and animals from a distance. We would say it is perhaps the best camera zoom in its price category. The ultrawide is a decent performer too. Low light performance is exceptional, with Google’s computational photography magic delivering color and details without too much noise, even in pitch-dark conditions. You also get access to some very powerful editing and tuning options, including Google’s Magic Eraser and Photo Unblur, which work more smoothly and swiftly on the Pixel 7a than on even premium flagships.
There are times when it does seem as if the camera invents details that did not exist, but that is something one has to live with in the world of computational photography. A rather odd bug in the phone is its erratic handling of portrait mode, with the background often not getting blurred out significantly and sometimes not at all. Selfies were good in terms of detail but, at times, seemed a little dull when it came to colors. Video quality from both front and rear cameras was good, although audio capture remains a bit of a challenge.
All in all, we would say that the Pixel 7a has very good cameras, but it is by no means a runaway leader in its segment. You will generally get good-looking snaps rich in detail (sometimes too rich) and some very smart and powerful editing options on board, but there are others (most notably the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ and the OnePlus 11R) that can run it close.
Pixel 7a performance: Smart and steady
Where the Pixel 7a really shines is in regular usage. The Tensor G2 chip will not handle high-end gaming as well as the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or later chips, but you can run most titles and get a decent experience by tweaking the settings a little. But it is in the routine day-to-day tasks that the Pixel 7a performs phenomenally.
The smaller form factor, as compared to other devices in its price segment, makes it easier to use, and it just flies through Web browsing, social networking, messaging, mail, and other tasks. The 6.1-inch display is not the brightest and most vibrant in its segment (the OnePlus 11R scores there) but is still very good for viewing shows and videos. Improved stereo speakers make multimedia and gaming a more immersive experience.
This being a Pixel, there is no bloatware in the interface, and Google’s own services, most notably Maps, and Photos, run much more smoothly than on other phones. Google’s transcribing and transcription services are still a little hit-and-miss when you venture beyond English words, but they are very handy otherwise – being able to view an audio message in written form is a great option to have when you are busy in a meeting or even while watching a film, and if one is careful enough with words, dictation via assistant voice typing works quite well for those times when one does not feel up to typing. Getting software and security updates quickly is the icing on the software cake.
That said, it is not all roses in Pixel 7a land. The phone shares the Pixel 7’s a worrying penchant for heating up when running high-end games or being used for extended photography sessions. It never got to dangerous levels, but it can get uncomfortable. The fingerprint sensor on the Pixel 7a is a definite improvement on the Pixel 7, but it still remains slower than most of the competition. And if you are the type that likes to notice scrolling speeds, the 90 Hz refresh rate of pixel 7a does not compare well with the 120 Hz seen on many of its competitors.
Pixel 7a battery: Good battery life, but slow-ish charging
The Pixel 7a also does well in the battery department. The 4385 mAh battery might be a little smaller than the 4410 mAh on the Pixel 6a, but the Pixel 7a actually delivers better battery performance than its predecessor. We easily got through a day of heavy use on the device, and slightly more careful usage saw us get a day and a half of usage, which is very respectable. However, it does take a bit of time to get charged as it can be charged only at a maximum of 18W. There is no charger in the box, so we used a 33W charger to charge the Pixel 7a, and it took about two hours to get from 0 to 100 percent, which is a lot in these 30-minute-to-full-charge times.
Pixel 7a price: Decent for a Pixel, Exp for the specs
The Pixel 7a is priced at $499 / Rs 43,999 and comes in a single RAM and storage variant of 8 GB/ 128 GB. While that makes it the most affordable of the Pixel 7 series, it does seem expensive when you consider that the likes of the OnePlus 11R and older but better-specced flagships like the Xiaomi 12 Pro and the iQOO 9 Pro are available for about the same or lesser price. In fact, some might even consider the Pixel 7a to be in the range of the Pixel 7, which is often available for under Rs 50,000. Yes, we are working on a comparison. Stay tuned.
Pixel 7a Review Verdict: Should you buy it?
So should you consider investing in the Pixel 7a? The answer really depends on how much you value the Google Android experience. For, that is where the Pixel 7a stands apart from other phones in its price segment – in its delivery of a smart, smooth, uncluttered Android experience with very good camera performance. And it delivers all this in a frame that is relatively compact by Android flagship standards.
If you are a person who chases specs and benchmarks and sits with a stopwatch calculating load times and charging speeds, this is not the phone for you. The Pixel 7a is for those wanting citizenship in Google’s Tensor-Land, with the least budgetary tensions. Its A-rated predecessors may have cut corners and made significant compromises, but the Pixel 7a is the closest Google has come to a budget flagship since its Nexus days.
- Typical Google Pixel design (relatively compact)
- Clean Android with smart features
- Same chip as Pixel 7 and 7 Pro
- Good stereo speakers
- Dust and water resistance
- Generally smooth performance
- Not a gaming beast
- Low refresh rate at this price
- No charger in box, no fast charging
- Carbonate back
Design & Appearance
Apart from very good cameras, software smarts, and clean Android, the Pixel 7a also comes with a number of features, including better design and display and wireless charging that place it in the budget flagship category.