Google Pixel 7a review: Pixel 7, meet your replacement (2023)

Unlike most in this space, the Pixel 6a didn't win me over last year. While the Google A-series phone took the Pixel's redesign and brought a solid set of specs for a reasonable price at launch, I had a few gripes that made it a no-brainer. The 60Hz refresh rate on the screen was a cheap decision by Google, the battery life worried me, and the camera didn't give me the confidence of the Pixel.

With the Pixel 7a, Google seems to have solved these three problems, at least on paper. We have a 90 Hz refresh rate, battery life that can be improved with a new processor and a brand new camera system. Luckily, Google sent me 7a to check out and I spent a solid few weeks with them saying if they had really fixed the issues with 6a. Is this the new Pixel you should buy? With the price hike in mind, let's talk about it.

Here's our Pixel 7a review.

What do I like about the Pixel 7a?

project. Either you'll love the design of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7, with Google's signature new camera strap, or you won't. Okay. Coincidentally, I'm still in the camp of people who are fans of hers. It is different. It certainly stands out in the crowd of phones that constantly cram the camera settings into the top left corner of the phone. But not only is Google different, it also helps the device not rock in an annoying way when it sits on a table.

With the Pixel 7a, Google aligns the A series with the design of the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. You now have a metal camera strap, a metal body and a phone that totally looks part of the Series 7.

The Pixel 7a is the smallest of the bunch and fits well in the hands of those who prefer a smaller device. It's not as short as the smallest Galaxy S23, the current champ of small phones, but it's slightly shorter than the regular Pixel 7. It's a lot shorter than the Pixel 7 Pro. It has buttons where Google likes them, a flat screen, good rounding of the edges where you need it, and an overall width that makes it an easy-to-use phone. In my opinion, size 7a is a great advantage.

I tested 7a in the color "Sea", which is very similar to baby blue. It's fun, if not a little crazy, but I'm all for Google and other people who sell phones in strange colors. It is also available in Charcoal and Snow colors, as well as an exclusive Coral color on the Google Store. Coral color can be the best of the range if you can handle the brightness.

There's nothing new about the Pixel 7a's design department. It is known and updated correctly from version 6a. It looks nice, is easy to hold and is unique to Google. I like this.

display. Google decided to ship the Pixel 6a with a 60Hz display last year at a time when almost everyone else in the industry was updating their mid-range phones to 90Hz and above. This was a major omission from Google and probably my biggest complaint about the phone. The 90 Hz refresh rate on the screen is definitely noticeable compared to the standard 60 Hz. The liquidity it offers should be the industry standard by now.

Fortunately, with the Pixel 7a, Google went ahead and updated it to 90 Hz, so my complaint disappeared. They also went with a flat 6.1-inch 1080p OLED display.

The display itself is not a high-end display. Brightness always seems to be set lower than currently required, and content viewed from an angle can quickly become blurry or look ridiculous. However, I didn't expect this screen to be great. I just wanted it to be smooth (90 Hz), feel fast, and not look terrible. It met all those needs for a sub-$500 phone.

efficiency. Google phones continue to show what's possible if the OS manufacturer fully optimizes the hardware to take advantage of it. With the Google Tensor G2 inside, as in the Pixel 7 Pro, Google has given this phone the best processor, even if it's not up to the level of Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. What Google gets out of it is enough to make a . to present a well-functioning telephone.

Almost everything you do on a Pixel phone, including the Pixel 7a, is powerful. The best example I can give is a combination of haptics, software animations and CPU all working together to give you the most satisfying swipe in an app switching interface. No matter what you do on the phone, this gesture is as precise and perfect as any other.

From a pure performance perspective, this phone does everything you can ask it to do. Running Chrome all day, dancing on Twitter and Instagram, opening the camera in a flash, or jumping from Score to Reddit to YouTube and back again, don't waver the phone. That said, I have seen the phone get very hot while playing games in a hot environment. Google chips are hot and nothing has changed here for 7a. Everyday tasks are performed with ease - heavy objects can heat him up.

Software. As for Android flavors I like, Google is still my favorite. On the Pixel 7a, you get a Pixel experience that doesn't overwhelm you, is as polished as any Android skin, and has been regularly updated for quite some time.

The Pixel 7a ships with Android 13 as standard because it's the current stable version of Android. When Android 14 launches later this summer, it will be one of the first phones to get it. But it can also participate in Android 13 or Android 14 beta programs if you like to test new features and software. I like to play around with new things on a regular basis, so that's another reason why Pixel phones are often for me.

When it comes to software features, it's hard not to like the Google UI color customization that comes with the wallpaper. It still gives you a sense of personal ownership that can reflect your personality and mood. The Google Pixel Launcher remains one of the simplest and fastest to use, plus it's backed by a universal app drawer search that's extremely useful. The entire suite of Google apps is present and deeply integrated. You have tons of display controls, including a dark theme, tons of touch settings, and Google has one of the better sets of built-in wallpapers.

Google Pixel phones have it tooLookthat "Pixel!" It's big, full of life, colorful and fun, and everything is easy to touch.

Finally, Google promises another 5 years of security updates. I'm not sure if they've officially confirmed 3 years of Android OS updates too, but that's been the standard since the Pixel 6 launched. The monthly updates it gets usually come at the beginning of each month, and Pixel phones also get the quarterly Pixel feature Drop updates that add new features.

wireless charging. Yes, the A series now has wireless charging! While it's not fast, it was a huge bonus for someone who puts their phone on a wireless charger every night to charge. This sounds like an odd complaint, but as someone who regularly checks phones, it can be frustrating to have to completely change my systems for this. A phone without wireless charging is annoying when you're used to it. For example, the OnePlus 11 was terribly frustrating for me because I had to physically plug in my phone every night. The Pixel 7a allowed me to seamlessly turn the phone into my life for testing. I imagine many of you will appreciate it too.

Camera. We have a brand new camera system on the Pixel 7a that consists of a 64MP main lens alongside a 13MP ultra wide angle lens. This is the first time Google has ditched the 12MP setup on the A Series, so we've entered this review period with an open mind. As it turns out, Google is still very good at fine-tuning its cameras, even when they're new.

We'll look at some examples in a moment, but since this is a Pixel phone, Google includes a range of camera features found on more expensive phones. You get ridiculously good Google portrait mode, Night Sight for those night shots, long exposure for creative types, capturing real skin tones, motion autofocus and much more. It's a full-featured Pixel phone, even if it's technically their mid-ranger.

When it comes to camera performance, this camera opens just as quickly as the camera on my more expensive Galaxy S23 and takes one photo after another just as quickly, if not faster. It captures excellent depth, can take stunning shots with rich, complex backgrounds, and is good when the lighting isn't. Google's processing is even cooler, which still catches my eye.

I've been slowly collecting photos of 7a over the past few weeks and have really gotten into it as I write this review. Honestly, I didn't expect to be so impressed. I'm impressed. This is a camera I trust now and could use in the future. I don't say that about every camera.

What is it that bothers me?

Battery life. Ever since I received this Pixel 7a review unit, I've wondered if that middling to poor battery life was the phone, the way I'm using it, or if there was some hidden reason that never surfaced before I posted my final thoughts. See, I thought the Pixel 6a had poor battery life too, and the Pixel 7 is by no means a battery champ, but a big part of me was hoping something was out of my hands.

And then Googlehe told us all that they made a change in the back rooma Google app that caused excessive heating and battery drain in the May update. This could be it! However, I'm still using the 7a for two days since Google announced it and the battery life still isn't great. For me and my use of 7a it is.

My typical schedule hasn't changed over the years. I take my phone off the charger at 6 or 7 a.m. and try to get through a day of constant use of Chrome, Twitter, Instagram, Telegram, Duo, Google News, and Reddit before going to bed around 11 p.m. Most days I get between 3 and 5 hours of screen time, but with this phone the system only reads 3 hours at a time. I don't know if Pixel phones track screen usage differently than all other Android phones or what, but it kept telling me I barely used it. And this supposedly light use led to my battery being at 6-12% most days at 9pm, and I replaced my phone with another one because I assumed it would die by the time I finished watching a show on the couch.

For comparison, my Galaxy S23 with a smaller battery (3900 mAh on the S23 vs 4385 mAh on the 7a) and a 120 Hz display (7a is only 90 Hz) is usually at 50% power at the end of most days. I guess Google's Tensor chips just aren't that efficient, which is why Pixel phones tend to have worse battery life than any of the other phones I've tested with Qualcomm chips. Either way, the Pixel 7a isn't a battery champion, and battery life was definitely something I worried about every day during testing. Not funny.

Fingerprint reader. I understand that this is technically a budget phone and that these types of devices tend to have cheaper, less reliable components, but I'm tired of Google's built-in fingerprint readers. They are all so bad. The Pixel 7a's fingerprint reader seems to be back with the 6a's fingerprint sensor, which was also bad. It's slow, often misreads my finger, and was unreliable enough to actually set up facial recognition. Thanks for that anyway, Google.

Cena. At $499, the Pixel 7a is $50 more than the Pixel 6a at launch. At the time I thought the Pixel 6a wasn't competitively priced, and I almost believe it with the Pixel 7a. While it's not ridiculously expensive for the upgrades, $499 more or less takes it out of the budget-friendly realm where the Series A lives or wethoughtwent to live.

But what worries me most is future price cuts. Google dropped the price of the 6a by $120 within a few months of launch, then basically gave it a fixed monthly discount for an extended period of time to $299. Now it starts at $349, which I definitely wouldn't pay, because I'm sure it will go on sale again (only in March). For the Pixel 7a, you have to wonder how long it will cost $499 before Google launches a similar discount program that will bring it below $400. I'd hate for someone to pay $499 and then get mad in 6 weeks when the first Amazon-inspired summer sale goes up.

With this in mind, we will remind you againnever pay full price for Google gadgets.


Unpack and present Pixel 7a

Is it worth buying the Pixel 7a?

The Pixel 7a is an excellent mid-range phone with the features you'll see in Google's high-end Pixel 7 Pro. The camera can keep up with the big guys, the screen finally lives up to it with a 90Hz refresh rate, the software delivers Pixel vibes and the overall size will appeal to those of us fed up with the bulky phones that have flooded the market.

There's nothing not to like about the Pixel 7a, I just wouldn't buy one if I expect the battery to last 50% most nights. For heavy users, this phone may need to be charged mid-day or at least before dinner to get through the night. That's really my only complaint.

At $499, the Pixel 7a probably isn't too expensive, but you should expect to pay less assuming Google runs all the discounts it did for the 6a. We have already seen the first discount and the phone has been out for a week.

The other thing is that this phone basically killed every reason why you bought a regular Pixel 7. It's slightly smaller, making it easier to use, has a similar screen and most of the other specs of the supposedly more expensive 7. The camera even manages to get by and the support will keep the software running longer at this point.

Kup Google Pixela 7a:Amazon|Best offer|Google

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