Google Pixel 7a review: Good enough to make the Pixel 7 obsolete

by The Insights

Google has made its budget phone so good that it might have to stop making budget phones altogether.

Rumors are swirling(opens in a new tab) that Google could kill off the Pixel A-series range in 2024, and for good reason: the cheaper handsets are starting to look a bit like the previous year’s flagships Also a lot. That’s certainly the case with the $500 Pixel 7a, Google’s latest phone and possibly the latest A-series Pixel.

Announced at the Google I/O 2023 presentation, it’s essentially a cheaper $100 Pixel 7 with a slightly smaller screen, but few compromises. Its performance and battery life remain outstanding, while its main camera has been upgraded to megapixels while retaining the same software wizardry from last year. Pixel 7 phones so big.

In other words, the Pixel 7a could be the phone the Pixel 7 should have been all along. Android enthusiasts in need of an upgrade might want to jump on this deal before Google kills the best value smartphones.

A familiar face

Have the blues.
Credit: Molly Flores/Mashable

As is tradition with Pixel A-series phones, the Pixel 7a didn’t get a significant facelift from its more expensive older sibling. The iconic metallic camera bar on the back returns, along with the solid color scheme that unfortunately made the Pixel 7 far less distinctive than the Pixel 6. That said, the color choices this time around are nice: white, black, orange, and light blue.

Really, the only slightly shocking thing about the Pixel 7a is how closely its specs resemble the Pixel 7, less than a year after that phone was released. Unless otherwise stated, all items listed below are the same as Pixel 7:

  • 6.1-inch display with 90Hz refresh rate (compared to 6.3-inch on Pixel 7)

  • 8 GB RAM

  • 128GB of storage (the Pixel 7 had a 256GB option)

  • Tensor G2 chipset

  • 64 MP main rear camera (instead of 50 MP on the Pixel 7)

  • 13MP ultra-wide lens

  • 4385mAh battery

There are some notable and very welcome inclusions here that help justify the Pixel 7a being $50 more than last year Pixel 6a. The first is Face Unlock, which makes unlocking the phone so much faster that you may never use the under-display fingerprint sensor again. The Pixel 7a also has wireless charging, giving it another leg up on its previous A-series brethren.

I also shouldn’t exceed the 90Hz refresh rate, a first for the Pixel A series. It’s not a step up from the Pixel 7, but with that and everything else being almost equal, it’s That’s a big reason to discourage anyone from buying a Pixel 7 at this point. It’s also definitely an advantage over the Pixel 6a, which was locked at 60Hz.


Google Pixel 7a

It’s a solid little phone.
Credit: Molly Flores/Mashable

That smooth refresh rate bolsters a performance profile that’s just as sublime as last year.

Simply put, this phone doesn’t hang, slow down or anything like that during a normal day. You might be able to do something with it that would cause lag in extreme scenarios, but the Tensor G2 chip powering the Pixel 7a resists anything like normal circumstances I’ve seen.

Google has also brought the Pixel 7’s AI-powered software improvements. Things like graphical user interfaces for automated phone calls, speaker beacons for transcribed voice recordings, and clearer phone calls are also returning from Last year. None of this is new, but it’s nice to have compared to the Pixel 6a.

Of course, none of this matters if the phone doesn’t have a solid battery. Good news: it is!

I got just over 24 hours of normal use (social media, music and video streaming, web browsing) on ​​a full charge. That’s a very small step up from the roughly 22 hours I squeezed out of the Pixel 7, but by then you’re cutting your hair. You only need to plug in this phone once a day at most.

Go Pro if you want the best camera

Google Pixel 7a Camera

You only get two lenses here.
Credit: Molly Flores/Mashable

I’ll preface the point I’m about to make by saying that the Pixel 7a’s camera array is quite nice. As you will soon see, the photos taken on this phone are fantastic and the suite of software features to enhance photos is as good as ever.

That said, I still think people who imagine themselves to be mobile photographers should opt for the Pixel 7 Pro over the Pixel 7a. The main reason I say this is that the Pixel 7 Pro’s zoom lens is one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen on a smartphone, while the Pixel 7a’s 8x zoom might seem a little weird under certain conditions.

Example of 8x zoom on the Pixel 7a

An example of the 8x zoom looking pretty good.
Credit: Alex Perry/Mashable

Example of 8x zoom on the Pixel 7a

And an example that doesn’t look so good.
Credit: Alex Perry/Mashable

Zooming in on something without a lot of detail produces a sufficiently sharp image. However, you can see where the software is stepping in to fix things if you zoom in on something like a tree. The image is starting to look cartoonish and fake in a really off-putting way.

Other than that, however, it’s hard to complain about the results I got when testing my camera. Images taken with the primary lens at default settings are sharp, colorful and vibrant.

Pixel 7a graffiti picture

Gotta love graffiti.
Credit: Alex Perry/Mashable

Portrait mode continues to deliver some of the best depth of field effects in smartphone gaming.

Example of portrait mode on the Pixel 7a

I like this guy.
Credit: Alex Perry/Mashable

And Night Sight is still arguably the best night photography mode in the business. Google is really good at brightening up images without losing the nighttime atmosphere. It only takes a few seconds to generate each image as well.

Example of Pixel 7a night vision

Night Sight is always awesome.
Credit: Alex Perry/Mashable

Example of Pixel 7a night vision

Don’t confuse this with the day.
Credit: Alex Perry/Mashable

Finally, Google moved some of the Pixel 7’s AI features to the camera as well. The most important is Photo Unblur, which can take slightly blurry photos (even those taken on other phones) and make them look sharper. It’s hard to test because the camera frankly doesn’t take blurry pictures unless you try Really hard, but the results are pretty much as advertised.

Example of removing photo blur on the Pixel 7a

Unblur to 0.
Credit: Alex Perry/Mashable

Example of removing photo blur on the Pixel 7a

Photo Unblur at 100.
Credit: Alex Perry/Mashable

If so, Google is the winner.

The aforementioned (rumored) death of the Pixel A series may turn out to be untrue. Sometimes people are wrong. It is very good.

But if that’s true, Google’s latest and potentially latest A-series Pixel phone is a pretty good one. The Pixel 7a gives you everything the Pixel 7 gave, just with a slightly smaller screen and $100 off the price.

All of those fancy features of Tensor G2 AI are here. Another great camera array (though not as great as the Pixel 7 Pro’s) is here. All-day battery life has arrived. And best of all, it works as you’d expect, with no performance issues to speak of in my time with the Pixel 7a.

At just $500, the Pixel 7a is the Android phone to get if you don’t feel like spending flagship cash.

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