Google has recently released its latest mid-range phone, the Pixel 7a, which boasts an OLED display with flagship-level performance and class-leading cameras. As a journalist, I have been using the Pixel 7a for over a week to provide readers with an honest review of whether it’s worth upgrading from the Pixel 6a.
One of the standout features of the Pixel 7a is its horizontal camera bar on the back, which hasn’t strayed from the already striking design of the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. However, it’s not as deep as the more expensive Pixel 7. The phone is slightly smaller and lighter than the Pixel 7 Pro, weighing 193.5g, making it more comfortable to hold and more ergonomic to use. The Pixel 7a features a stunning 6.1-inch 2,400 x 1,080px resolution OLED panel and now has a 90Hz refresh rate, which is an improvement from the Pixel 6a’s locked 60Hz refresh rate.
The front glass of the Pixel 7a uses Corning Gorilla Glass 3, while the Pixel 7 has the latest Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, making it durable and scratch-resistant. The Pixel 7a also has IP67 dust and water resistance, while the Pixel 7 has IP68. The aluminium in the housing uses 100% recycled material, and the packaging uses 99% plastic-free materials.
The back of the Pixel 7a is comprised of glossy plastic, but it has a feel and appearance similar to glass. The contoured metal frame of the phone gives it a sturdy, robust feeling. The Pixel 7a has impressive stereo speakers, one above the display facing forward and the other on the bottom edge, but there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack or microSD support. Biometrics come in the form of an optical under-display fingerprint reader as well as Face Unlock option, which is the same as the 7 and 7 Pro.
One of the biggest improvements over the 6a is the new Google Tensor G2 chip that provides a noticeable performance boost. The phone doesn’t feel sluggish when used for routine tasks, and the boost in screen frame rate up to 90Hz also helps to smooth up things like scrolling. In real-world tasks, I didn’t see any perceivable differences in performance between the Pixel 7a and Pixel 7. Tensor G2 offers additional performance improvements in real-time processing, including advanced features like Live Translate. While on paper, the G2 isn’t as strong a performer as the latest Snapdragon chipsets, the combination of various software optimisations doesn’t make it feel any slower. The only caveat is in gaming where the latest Snapdragon Gen 2 Plus has the upper hand.
The Pixel 7a includes the next-generation Titan M2, which works with Tensor security core to protect sensitive user data, PINs and passwords. Google has also extended their support window to at least five years of security updates and three for OS updates. The phone has 8GB of RAM up from 6GB on the Pixel 6a and 128GB of storage.
The Pixel 7a comes with a 4,385mAh battery that is capable of surviving a full day of heavy use. Battery performance is excellent thanks to OS tweaks and the Tensor chipset. There’s no charger in the box, but you do get a USB-C to USB-C cable. It does support up to 18W charging that’s good enough to fully charge it in less than a couple of hours. Fortunately, there’s wireless charging support which is another upgrade from the Pixel 6a.
The Pixel 7a also features Bluetooth 5.3, 5G, WiFi 6E, dual SIM (Single Nano SIM and eSIM) and NFC that supports contactless payments such as Google Pay.
The Pixel 7a has upgraded cameras, including a 64MP (quad-bayer wide, 0.8μm pixel width, f/1.9 dual-pixel and 80-degree field of view). The main sensor is 72% bigger than the one on the Pixel 6a. When you take a shot, the resulting image is pixel binned to produce a 16.1MP file. It also features a dedicated 2x zoom, which Google calls super res zoom. The resulting image is 16.1MP, and the quality and details are impressive considering it’s using the same main camera sensor. Super res zoom can go all the way up to 8x, and as long as the light is good, it still looks great. The ultrawide lens has a wider field of view than both the Pixel 6a and Pixel 7, 0.5x versus 0.7x, and features a 13MP sensor (1.12 μm pixel width ƒ/2.2 aperture and 120° field of view).
The camera app on the Pixel 7a is user-friendly, with a clutter-free interface while maintaining a lot of advanced features tidied away in the intuitive menu system. Photos taken in good light look natural with good contrast, realistic colours and lots of detail. You can capture video up to 4K 60fps and several stabilisation modes. You also get digital zoom up to 5x along with slo-mo video support up to 240fps. One of my favourite camera features is Night Sight which can capture incredible photos at night.
In conclusion, the Pixel 7a is an excellent mid-range phone that offers flagship-level performance and class-leading cameras. With its stunning OLED display, upgraded cameras, and impressive stereo speakers, the Pixel 7a is a worthy upgrade from the Pixel 6a. The new Google Tensor G2 chip provides a noticeable performance boost, and the phone’s battery performance is excellent thanks to OS tweaks and the Tensor chipset. The Pixel 7a is also environmentally friendly, with the aluminium in the housing using 100% recycled material, and the packaging using 99% plastic-free materials. Overall, the Pixel 7a is a great phone that delivers on all fronts.