The Pixel has always been my Android phone of choice. The 1st party offering from the giant Google has always made sense with outstanding cameras and smooth, stock Android software. One of the newest additions to Team Pixel is the budget-minded Pixel 7a.
How does this once-compromised smaller sibling add up to the hero lineup? You’ll find out in this full review that it’s as compelling as ever if you’re shopping for a new Made by Google device. We’ve been using a sample provided by our friends over at AT&T for a few weeks and I’m convinced it’s the new “just right model” for me.
Pixels have fallen into a very uniform design language between iterations. The Pixel 7a can easily be mistaken for any of its siblings the Pixel 7 or Pro at first glance. You get the same uni-body design with the now-infamous camera bar on the back.
The left side is vacant while the power button and volume rockers flank the right. The bottom houses the USB-C port and two downward-firing speaker grilles. The understated framing of the Pixels is present in the 7a, and those of us who like that will find this appealing as in previous models.
The front of the Pixel 7a is a 6.1-inch OLED display capable of 1080×2400 resolution and 429 ppi density. It also marks the first a-series Pixel to have a 90Hz refresh rate even though it’s off by default in Settings. It’s also an Always on Display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for shatter protection.
Internally, Google has updated the Pixel 7a with the latest Tensor G2 CPU and Mali-G710 MP7 GPU. Our review unit is paired with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for just enough space and plenty of performance for most users.
The sizing of the Pixel 7a’s overall build is fantastic. I’m still a sucker for a “small” smartphone, and Google has nailed that here. Much like the Fold while closed, it’s roughly the same size as my iPhone 13 with slightly slimmer aspect ratios.
Software and Performance
This is where Pixels have always shined and the Pixel 7a is no exception. The clean interface and fast transitions of the Pixel Launcher are excellent. There’s very little difference, if any, in using this phone over the flagship 7 Pro. The base software is rock solid.
It’s running Android 13 with all the Google bells and whistles onboard. You get the same Google Assistant, Now Playing, and cool array of wallpapers as any other Pixels. The same goes for free photo backups using Google Photos.
Performance has been great as well. In my usage, you’d have zero issues using the Pixel 7a coming from any Android phone, but especially another Pixel. The snappiness and fluidity of the interactions is what you’d expect from another offering from Google.
This might be my biggest negative. Much like my Pixel 6 running the Tensor G1, Google still has a long way to go in optimizing battery life and heat. The Pixel 7a only sports a 4385mAh battery. That will get you through most days but still lags behind what Qualcomm and Apple are making standard in other handsets.
The Tensor G2 also runs hot when using it for moderate sessions. I had similar issues during my time with the Pixel Fold and suffered the same Android Auto shutdowns and general concerns over the phone overheating.
Thankfully, the engineering lords at Google have finally added one of the most sought-after hardware features to the Pixel 7a. This year’s model includes Qi wireless charging. It’s slow, but still more than functional for overnight top-offs. Its true value is debatable, but this once and for all brings the smallest and cheapest Pixel on par with its rivals from Apple.
I’ve found I prefer the output of Pixels more than any other smartphone camera and I’m happy to report that Pixel 7a creates similar shots. Honestly, I can’t tell any difference between my Pixel 6 results and the 7a from the final photos.
Unless the lighting is just atrocious, the Pixel 7a outperforms almost any other Android devices I’ve used. Night Sight works great, and the new addition of Long Exposure is a nice touch of more integrated exposure shots. The same is true for Portrait and the wide-view camera. They just work. Consistently.
The Pixel 7a is by far the best bang for the buck member of Google’s smartphone family. For $500, this phone ticks almost every box you could want now. Reasonable size while still 6 inches, has great cameras, and finally wireless charging.
You can snag a new Pixel 7a from our friends over at AT&T right now. The full retail price is $499, but if you prefer monthly leases, it’s just $5 per billing cycle. That’s a great way to get this Pixel iteration. Hit the link below to purchase yours now.