Google’s Pixel “a” series has been around for a few iterations now (since the Pixel 3a) and typically offers great value for the price, considering the internals are mostly identical to their flagship lineup.
Estimated reading time: 13 minutes
Our Google Pixel 7a review looks at the company’s second mid-range Android smartphone that features the company’s Tensor G2 processor. Read on for our full review!
Table of contents
The Google Pixel 7a we reviewed has the following features and specifications:
|Processor||• Google Tensor G2|
• Titan M2™ security coprocessor
|Display||• Full-screen 6.1-inch (155 mm) display, up to 90 Hz|
• 20:9 aspect ratio
• FHD+ (1080×2400) OLED at 429 PPI
• Smooth Display (up to 90 Hz)
• Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3™ cover glass
• Always-on display with At a Glance and Now Playing
• High brightness mode
• >1,000,000:1 contrast ratio
• HDR support
• Full 24-bit depth for 16 million colours
|Memory||• 8 GB LPDDR5 RAM|
|Storage||• 128 GB UFS 3.1 storage|
|Rear Cameras||• 64 MP Quad PD Quad Bayer wide camera|
• 0.8 μm pixel width
• ƒ/1.89 aperture
• 80° field of view
• 1/1.73″ image sensor size
• Super Res Zoom up to 8x
• 13 MP ultrawide camera
• 1.12 μm pixel width
• ƒ/2.2 aperture
• 120° field of view
• Lens correction
• Auto-focus with dual pixel phase detection
• Optical and electronic image stabilisation
• Fast camera launcher
|Front Camera||• 13 MP|
• 1.12 μm pixel width
• ƒ/2.2 aperture
• Fixed focus
• 95° ultrawide field of view
|Camera Features||• Photo Unblur, Magic Eraser, Night Sight, Long Exposure, Real Tone™, Face Unblur, Panorama, Manual white balancing, Locked Folder, Top Shot, Portrait mode, Portrait Light, Super Res Zoom, Motion Auto-Focus, Frequent Faces, Dual exposure controls, Live HDR+|
|Video||• Rear Camera: 4K video recording at 30 FPS, 60 FPS; 1080p video recording at 30 FPS, 60 FPS|
• Front Camera: 4K video recording at 30 FPS; 1080p video recording at 30 FPS
• Slo-mo video support up to 240 FPS
• 4K timelapse with stabilisation
• Astrophotography timelapse
• Optical image stabilisation
• Fused Video Stabilisation
• 4K Cinematic Pan video stabilisation
• 4K locked video stabilisation
• 1080p active video stabilisation
• Digital zoom up to 5x
• Video formats: HEVC (H.265) and AVC (H.264)
|Authentication||• Fingerprint Unlock with under-display fingerprint sensor|
• Face Unlock
• Pattern, PIN, password
|Sensors||• Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Gyrometer, Magnetometer, Barometer|
|Buttons & Ports||• USB Type-C® 3.2 Gen 2|
• Power button
• Volume controls
|SIMs||• Dual SIM (single nano-SIM and eSIM)|
|Media & Audio||• Stereo speakers|
• 2 microphones
• Noise suppression
|Connectivity & Location||• Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax) with 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz + 6 GHz, HE80, MIMO|
• Bluetooth® v5.3 + LE, BT diversity
• Google Cast
• GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou
|Network||• Varies slightly by model, see full specs on the Google Store|
|Hearing Aid Compatibility||• M3/T4 HAC rating|
|Battery||• Over 24-hour battery life|
• Up to 72-hour battery life with Extreme Battery Saver
• Minimum 4300 mAh, Typical 4385 mAh
|Charging||• Fast charging|
• Wireless charging
|Security||• VPN by Google One at no extra cost|
• End-to-end security designed by Google
• Multi-layer hardware security: Tensor security core, Titan M2™ security chip and Trusty (trusted execution environment)
• Minimum five years of security updates
• Anti-phishing and anti-malware protection
• Automatic security checks and privacy controls with security and privacy settings
• Camera and mic toggles
• Private Compute Core
• Android System Intelligence
• Android Messages end-to-end encryption and Android backup encryption
|Materials||• Scratch-resistant Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3 cover glass|
• IP67 dust and water resistance
• Fingerprint-resistant coating
• 3D thermoformed composite back with tactile alloy frame and visor
• The aluminum in the housing is 100% recycled content
• Packaging uses 99% plastic-free materials
|Operating System||• Android 13|
|Security and OS updates||• 5 years of Pixel updates|
|Colour||• Charcoal, Sea, Snow, Coral (Google Store exclusive)|
|Dimensions||• 152 height x 72.9 width x 9.0 depth (mm)|
|Weight||• 193.5 g|
|Warranty||• 1 year|
What’s in the box
- Google Pixel 7a Android smartphone
- 1m USB-C to USB-C cable
- Quick Switch Adapter (USB-C male to USB-A female)
- SIM Tool
- Quick Start Guide
The Google Pixel 7/7 Pro design marked an update over the previous Pixel 6-series Android smartphones. The Google Pixel 7a has a similar design to the 7/7 Pro, giving it a sleeker look albeit with a horizontal camera hump.
The Pixel 7a we reviewed has a light blue “3D thermoformed composite back” mounted over a tactile alloy frame. While not a glass back, it looks and feels just fine. Located near the top is the aforementioned blue camera bump. It’s not a huge lip, but it’s enough of one that you’ll definitely want to pick up a case with this phone if only to protect the edges of the camera bump. On the left side are the two rear-facing cameras (a 64 MP Quad PD Quad Bayer wide camera and 14 MP ultrawide camera) while the LED flash sits towards the right. The Google G is printed in light blue on the middle of the phone. At first, I wasn’t sold on the blue (Sea) colourway but it is quite nice and grows on you. If blue isn’t your colour, the Pixel 7a also comes in Snow (white), Coral (pink), and Charcoal (dark grey).
On the right edge of the phone, you’ll find the power button and volume rocker. On the right side is where you’ll find the SIM card slot (the device also supports eSIM technology), and the bottom edge is where the USB-C charging/data port and two speaker cutouts (one’s a dummy cutout as the other speaker is located near the top of the phone).
Flipping the phone over, you’ll notice a pinhole camera cutout, centered near the top of the screen. The edges of the display are a bit rounded, and curve into the curved edges of the phone, giving the device a flowing feeling.
The display on the Google Pixel 7a is a 6.1-inch FHD+ (2400 x 1080) OLED display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 cover glass with a maximum refresh rate is 90Hz. With HDR support, 24-bit depth, 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, and high brightness mode, the display colours were pretty nice and vibrant on the OLED screen. I had no issues with the responsiveness of the screen or viewing content even in the brightest of conditions.
Now a staple on the Pixel smartphones, the Pixel 7a features the front pinhole camera style. While it bothers some people, I never really noticed it as it sits nicely in the top notification icon bar.
While technically not a display consideration, the fact that the fingerprint scanner is under the screen can be cause for concern. In the case of the Pixel 7a, I had no issues with using the fingerprint scanner. However, when I placed a glass screen protector on it, it was a bit hit-and-miss and triggered about 80% of the time. This isn’t just a Pixel issue, however, as a lot of phones do encounter some issues with under-screen fingerprint scanners and screen projectors. Fortunately, there is a setting that can enhance sensitivity with a screen protector and once enabled, I only encountered a few fingerprint misfires.
The Pixel 7a ships with Android 13. As with each iteration of Google’s smartphone operating system, there are both subtle and major enhancements. If you’re curious about all of them, you can hit the Android website, but in the meantime, here are a few of the key updates:
- More personalization features include an evolved look and style that builds on Material You.
- Updated media player that tailors its look and feel based on the music or podcast you’re listening to.
- In Android 13, you can select only the specific photos and videos apps need to access.
- Android will automatically clear your clipboard history after a period of time to prevent unwanted clipboard access.
- The apps you download will now need your explicit permission to send notifications, rather than being allowed to send notifications by default.
- On supported headphones that enable head tracking, Spatial Audio shifts the source of the sound to adapt to how you turn your head.
- Android 13 adopts Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) Audio, a new Bluetooth audio standard that results in lower latency than classic audio.
- Smart Home Controls on the lockscreen.
- Ability to set different languages for apps.
As you can see, while some of these are under-the-hood updates, there are plenty of visible ones as well. Overall, the updates to Android 13 over Android 12 offer more of a refinement than an overhaul.
As is the case with previous Pixel a-series devices, the Pixel 7a features the same chipset as the 7/7 Pro. When compared side to side with the Pixel 7, which we reviewed last year, apps launched and ran just as well on the Pixel 7a. Given they both run on the Google Tensor G2 chipset, have 8GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and 128GB of UFS 3.1 storage, it’s not surprising the 7a can keep up to the 7 when it comes to app use.
Honestly, one of my favourite things about the Pixel 7a smartphone is that Google doesn’t gimp it with a lower processor like they used to in the past when using Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets. Anyways, you shouldn’t have performance issues for most phone tasks, including browsing the web, social media, playing games, and using the camera.
Like other Pixel smartphones, the Pixel 7a has stereo speakers. While the earpiece doubles as one, the second is on the bottom edge of the phone. Unfortunately, this means one speaker is potentially covered when in landscape mode by your hand. This causes the sound to be muffled a bit. Aside from that, the sound does get quite loud and has a nice soundstage when listening to music or watching videos. That being said, it’s still lacking bass so sounds a bit unbalanced but it’s definitely fine in a pinch for a quick song or YouTube video watching.
Unfortunately, there’s no 3.5mm audio jack on the Pixel 7a (that was ditched with the 6a) so you’ll need to upgrade to Bluetooth headphones or earbuds if you want better sound than what’s onboard.
The Google Pixel 7a does feature a different camera than the Pixel 7/7 Pro. Instead of a 50MP shooter, 64 MP Quad PD Quad Bayer wide camera. While the numbers sound bigger, the pixel width is only 0.8μm instead of 1.2 like the Pixel 7. As a result, their is less surface area for the camera to collect light which can results in a dimmer picture. However, I didn’t notice much of a difference in photo quality taken at default settings between the 7a and the 7. The camera does feature options like auto-focus with dual-pixel phase detection and optical + electronic image stabilization. Out of the box, the Pixel 7a takes pretty decent photos but, as with all Pixel devices, Google puts a really big focus on the camera software.
Because of the new Google Tensor G2 chip, the Pixel 7a series phones have improved upon features like Face Unblur, Magic Eraser, and Real Tone. The first does what it says and detects blurred faces in an image and can unblur them. It does a pretty good job of it as well. Magic Eraser lets you edit out unwanted features (including people) in the background. Finally, Real Tone uses new camera tuning models and algorithms to more accurately highlight diverse skin tones.
Of course, there are plenty of other modes and features of the Pixel 7a camera including Photo Unblur, Night Sight, Long Exposure (first time on the a-series devices), Panorama, Manual white balancing, Locked Folder, Top Shot, Portrait mode, Portrait Light, Super Res Zoom, Motion Auto-Focus, Frequent Faces, Dual exposure controls, and Live HDR+. For the most part, the camera’s live view actually portrays what your picture will look like. Whatever brightness or colour you see on your phone will be exactly how the photo will turn out. In addition, the brightness slider and a contrast slider right on the main screen allow for quick and easy adjustments.
As for photo quality, while there are a few phones out there with better image quality, the Pixel 7a still produces some great photos, indoors or out. Night Sight remains one of my favourite features of the Pixel phones (yes, other devices have the same) for taking photos in dimly lit areas.
Camera Photo Gallery
As with most smartphones these days, reception wasn’t an issue at all with the Google Pixel 7a. Of course, that may depend on where you live/frequent but in major centers on LTE, the device worked just fine. In addition, the Pixel 7a supports 5G, however, that was more hit-and-miss due to the slow rollout in some areas. In fact, most of the time I got better speeds on LTE than I did when 5G was available to no fault of the phone.
As with reception, there was no issue with call quality on the Pixel 7a. I could hear the other party just fine, as they could me.
The Google Pixel 7a sports a 4385 mAh battery, which is slightly larger than the 4355 mAh batter in the Pixel 7. It easily lasts through the day, and I frequently plugged it in with no less than 20% left at the end of the day. Typical usage included emails, texting, some web browsing, watching the odd video, and using the camera for between 3-4 hours of screen time.
Unlike the Pixel 6a before it, the Pixel 7a does have wireless charging, one more feature Google included with the a-series, narrowing the gap between them and the company’s flagship devices.
While not included with your purchase of the Pixel 7a, Google does offer a Pixel 7a case for $29.99. The case is made with 35% recycled plastics, with the power and volume buttons made of 100% recycled aluminum. As expected, it fits the phone very nicely, feels nice, and adds grip and protection to it.
Priced at just USD$449/CAD$599, the Google Pixel 7a Android smartphone offers fantastic value for the features you get. The only thing noticeabley different over the 7/7 Pro series is some of the materials used in its construction and a different set of cameras. Not everyone needs a flagship smartphone and the Pixel “a” series continues to offer great bang for your buck.
If you’re looking for an affordable smartphone, the Google Pixel 7a is an excellent choice. The latest in Google’s mid-range line blurs the lines between it and the flagship devices even more. Not only does it feature the same Google Tensor 2 chipset as the flagship 7-series devices, but it is also very reasonably priced, has great battery life, and has a decent camera. At the end of the day, the Pixel 7a is more than enough phone for the average user.
Google Pixel 7aUSD$499/ CAD$599
- Solid design
- Same Tensor processor as Pixel 7/7 Pro
- Decent camera with great photo features like Face Unblur and Magic Eraser
- Great battery life
- IP67 rating
- Wireless charging
- Very reasonably priced
- Different camera than in Pixel 7/7 Pro
- Photo quality a bit odd once using the Super Res Zoom feature
- Camera bump begs for case to be used
- Only one RAM/storage configuration available
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Last Updated on November 27, 2023.