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Don’t get a Pixel 7 – pick the Pixel 7a instead. That more or less summarized our thoughts from our initial encounter with Google‘s latest a-series smartphone, and we’re here now with the full review to establish how correct that early assessment was.
It’s a pretty natural conclusion that anyone can arrive at, really, even by simply looking at the specsheet – and, simultaneously, at the pricelist. The Pixel 7a gets closer to the ‘high-end’ models than any previous offering with an ‘a’ in its name, and comes in at a not-insignificant $100/€100 less (or thereabout, depending on who you ask and at what time) – what’s not to like? But let’s not put the verdict before the review.
The Pixel 7a improves on some key areas that held the 6a back. Perhaps most importantly, you now get a 90Hz display in place of the old model’s dated 60Hz unit. Yes, the bulk of the competition is at 120Hz already, but the jump from 60 to 90 is the most noticeable from a usability perspective, so maybe we can give the 7a a pass.
The camera system gets a boost too. A new 64MP Quad Bayer main unit replaces the basic 12.2MP one of the 6a – those are more pixels than you’d get with a Pixel 7 (50MP), even though it’s a smaller sensor. Similarly, the 13MP ultrawide is also higher-res (if only just) than the one on the 6a and the 7, albeit with a smaller sensor. There’s no AF on this one, but then it’s only the 7 Pro that has an autofocusing ultrawide, so the 7a doesn’t really lose points here against the 7. The selfie camera is another 13MP affair, that one too being nominally superior to its brethren’s setups.
A noteworthy addition to the a-series feature set is wireless charging. You may scoff at the 7.5W throughput, but you’re unlikely to be in a hurry when sleeping. And it’s not like Pixels are known for fast charging to begin with.
You get the same Tensor G2 chipset on the Pixel 7a that the 7 comes with. While it’s somewhat underpowered compared to other high-end SoCs that the 7 is fighting against, it looks a lot better in the 7a’s context.
Battery capacity is essentially the same between the two models, and the 7a may eke out a few extra minutes of battery life thanks to its slightly smaller display and lower max refresh rate – we’ll see in due time if less ends up being more in this respect.
Less is less in the 7a’s IP rating, but the IP67 should be as good as the 7’s IP68 for that one-time accidental bathroom dunk. The lack of a storage option other than 128GB isn’t as easy to dismiss, though – maybe the 256GB version remains the key thing the 7 has going for it in this head-to-head.
Google Pixel 7a specs at a glance:
|NETWORK||Technology||GSM / HSPA / LTE / 5G|
|2G bands||GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900|
|3G bands||HSDPA 800 / 850 / 900 / 1700(AWS) / 1900 / 2100|
|4G bands||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 17, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 38, 40, 41, 48, 66, 71 – GWKK3, G0DZQ|
|1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 28, 32, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 66 – GHL1X, G82U8|
|5G bands||1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 12, 14, 20, 25, 28, 30, 38, 41, 48, 66, 71, 77, 78 SA/NSA/Sub6 – GWKK3|
|1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 12, 14, 20, 25, 28, 30, 38, 41, 48, 66, 71, 77, 78, 260, 261 SA/NSA/Sub6/mmWave – G0DZQ|
|1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 12, 20, 25, 28, 38, 40, 41, 66, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79 SA/NSA/Sub6 – GHL1X, G82U8|
|Speed||HSPA, LTE-A (CA), 5G|
|LAUNCH||Announced||2023, May 10|
|Status||Available. Released 2023, May 10|
|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)|
|Internal||128GB 8GB RAM|
|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|
|SOUND||Loudspeaker||Yes, with stereo speakers|
|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|
|BATTERY||Type||Li-Po 4385 mAh, non-removable|
|Charging||18W wired, PD3.0
|MISC||Colors||Charcoal, Snow, Sea, Coral|
|Models||GWKK3, GHL1X, G0DZQ, G82U8|
|Price||$ 425.00 / € 479.00 / £ 432.00 / ₹ 45,800|
|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)|
Disclaimer. We can not guarantee that the information on this page is 100% correct.
Google Pixel 7a unboxing
We’ve come to expect minimal bundles from certain companies, and Google is one of them. It’s no surprise then, that the Pixel 7a ships in a box that’s barely larger than the handset itself. The two-piece white cardboard package has a likeness of the phone on lid, color-matched to the actual unit inside.
The contents include a USB-C cable and USB-C male to USB-A female adapter – standard Google stuff. There’s no charger inside, but on some markets you may get Google’s 30W adapter (in its own separate retail packaging) included in the price – that was the case with our German review unit. We did get ours from a third-party retailer, as opposed to the Google online store, and not all retailers appear to be running the same promo. Chances are you’ll be needing to come up with your own charger, is what we’re saying.
Now, while the charger situation is not exclusive to the Pixel 7a, a lot of competitors in the segment do come with adapters in the box. A bundled protective case is also not unheard of. Perhaps a value-oriented consumer like the ones eyeing a 7a would appreciate getting a bit more for their money.
The Pixel 7a comes in at $500/€510 and that’s quite a heavily contested market segment. Google doesn’t like to sell its phones in more than a handful of markets though, so if you’re outside the select few countries with Pixel presence, things will be easily settled for you. But if Pixels are on the table, there will be some thinking to do.
For starters, you’ll need to consider the Pixel 7a’s in-house competition – an easy enough task. While it remains on sale, the 6a comes with a dated 60Hz display, previous-gen chipset, inferior camera and no wireless charging – we reckon the extra $100/€100 for the 7a are well worth spending. That said, we’re seeing $350/€350 promotional price tags on the 6a, and that calls for some more serious cost/benefit analysis.
It’s probably easier against the Pixel 7 – basically, if you don’t need more on-board storage than the 128GB 7a gives you, the 7 doesn’t really have much to justify the $100/€100 premium. And, technically, if you do insist on the 256GB of storage, you’d be looking at a $200/€200 extra over the 7a, which seems like a lot of money to pay for a storage upgrade.
The 7 Pro has gotten some heavy discounts, particularly in Europe, but it’s still a good deal more expensive than the 7a, so it doesn’t feel right to consider it an alternative to the 7a.
Google Pixel 6a • Google Pixel 7
Outside of Google‘s own roster, the very recent Motorola Edge 40 sounds like a very enticing alternative to the Pixel 7a. Sort of a ‘stock’ Android experience, but with Motorola’s own proprietary additions, the Edge 40 is similar, yet different enough to attract its own crowd thanks in part to the PC-like ‘Ready For’ functionality. It’s not really worse at anything, while being at least as good and often better than the Pixel in key areas – AF-enabled ultrawide, proper fast charging, way higher refresh rate display, actually good selfies, 256GB of storage. The Edge 40 is also as close as you can get to a capable midranger that’s also compact – something the Pixel ‘a’ can no longer claim.
The Moto does have a higher MSRP at launch, and it could be argued it’s worth the added cost. But we feel like its price is going to come down to Pixel 7a levels soon enough, and, unless you’re dead-set on having Pixel software, the Edge 40 sounds like the overall better package.
There’s no need to wait for a price drop with the Galaxy A54 – that’s already going for $100/€100 below Pixel 7a’s price. The biggest concession with the Galaxy would be performance – its mid-tier Exynos can’t quite match the Pixel’s kinda-flagship Tensor. The Galaxy does score a few small victories, like having expandable storage and longer battery life. We’d pick the Pixel for its cameraphone prowess, and the Galaxy if you’re after more of generally good smartphone.
The Nothing Phone (1) is another alternative that runs cheaper than the Pixel – at about the A54’s level. Alongside the savings, the blinky LED back of the Phone (1) is a major selling point, irrational as it may sound, but Nothing’s first… phone is not without objective merits. While we wouldn’t say it’s dramatically better than the 7a at anything, it’s a little better here and there – refresh rate, battery life, charging speed. The Pixel is again the better cameraphone, generally speaking, is bound to get way better software support, and has superior weather sealing (IP67 vs. IP53).
Motorola Edge 40 • Samsung Galaxy A54 • Nothing Phone (1)
The appeal of Pixel phones tends to be pretty niche, often not entirely well-founded in reason, and difficult to explain with just numbers and test results. It’s somewhat of a similar story with the Pixel 7a here, as a quick look at the pros and cons lists below will show you.
Google hasn’t been quick to adopt a high refresh rate display on its ‘midrange’ model and even when it finally has, it’s a 90Hz panel in a sea of higher RR competitors. Battery life is unremarkable, charging speed is downright unacceptable, the lack of storage options is limiting, and the Tensor G2 runs hot and throttles. There are also missteps in what should be any Pixel’s forte – camera performance.
Attempting to counter all of the above, we have an Android experience tailored to Google’s own vision with a clutter-free interface, Pixel-only features, and an update policy that’s hard to rival. An otherwise meh flagship chipset does make for a pretty great midrange one, prone to throttling as it may be. And so long as you avoid people shots in most of their incarnations, the Pixel 7a’s camera’s system will deliver image quality that wouldn’t be out of place on an actual flagship.
In summary, with the 7a, Google appears to have simply created a more affordable Pixel 7, making the latest a-series model the go-to option for someone just looking for a Pixel. If the ‘G’ logo on the back is not part of your requirements, perhaps there are better deals out there. Perhaps you’ll be missing out though.
- Clean Android interface, exclusive features, timely updates.
- Chipset has plenty of oomph, GPU is beefier than most in the class.
- Flagship-grade photo quality from the rear cameras in most situations.
- Limited availability.
- Display is 90Hz amongst competitors with 120Hz (or higher).
- Very slow charging, so-so battery life.
- Chipset tends to throttle, only 128GB storage option available.
- Portrait mode is subpar, selfies aren’t great either.
- Video stabilization isn’t flawless, video quality from the main cam is overall unimpressive too.