Google Pixel 7a Review: It's worth it

17comments
Google Pixel 7a review
It seems that Google hasn’t broken the mold used to make the Pixel 6a, as its new and improved Pixel 7a is made of the same “winning” material. That's fine with us, as the affordable Pixel 6a was one of the more pleasant surprises on the mid-range scene in 2022. 

The new and affordable Pixel 7a might not be as exciting as the foldable Google Pixel Fold, but combines the great features of the Pixel 7 series with a super-affordable price tag that’s too hard to pass up. It's also the sensible phone to consider. 

Not to mention that, even though it does not come with the same camera system as its pricier brothers, the Pixel 7 still has an impressive set of shooters, and we have scored each one during our in-depth camera testing procedure, the results of which you can find in the 'Camera' section of this review.

If you want to find out more about how we rate each camera check out our PhoneArena Camera Score benchmark page.

Google Pixel 7a Summary


The Pixel 7a employs a familiar design as the more premium Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, but cuts some corners in order to achieve its killer price. For example, it comes with a plastic back, has the smallest display among all new Pixels, and is only available with 128GB of storage.

However, there’s much more to the Pixel 7a than meets the eye. It comes with the same Tensor G2 chipset that powers all recent Pixel flagships, so you can expect excellent performance.

Moreover, the Pixel 7a delivers the same signature grim and "dirty" Pixel photography style that we’ve come to appreciate and cherish.

At $499, the Pixel 7a is a budget phone done right, with more than acceptable shortcomings and lots of other redeeming features and qualities. Those make it arguably a better buy than the premium Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.

Let’s dive deeper into the Pixel 7a and see what makes it a noteworthy affordable phone!

5.8
Google Pixel 7a
Google Pixel 7a
What we like
  • Good value for money
  • Stock Android with tons of AI/ML-powered software features
  • Display finally has a 90Hz refresh rate
What we don't like
  • More expensive than its predecessor
  • Some slight build quality issues
  • Only a single 128GB storage option
5.8
PhoneArena Rating
6.1
Price Class Average
Battery Life
6.1
6.7
Photo Quality
7.4
6.8
Video Quality
6.4
5.6
Charging
4.6
6.8
Performance Peak
3.2
3.9
Performance Daily
4.9
5.7
Display Quality
8
7.4
Design
6
6.2
Wireless Charging
3.5
5.3
Biometrics
6
6.8
Audio
5
5.8
Software
5
5.4
Why the score?
This device scores 4.9% worse than the average for this price class, which includes devices like the OnePlus 12R, Samsung Galaxy A55 5G and Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
We may receive a small affiliate commission if you purchase from these offers.

The Pixel 7a total score is now lower than one might expect. That is not because of some newly discovered flaw, but because we have implemented a new rating system at PhoneArena that gives readers a better idea of the performance of a phone across different categories. Remember to look at the scores and compare them to the average for the class, and we believe you will find these scores tremendously useful. Learn more about the new PhoneArena Review Scoring system here.

Also see:

What’s new about the device

  • Tensor G2 chipset
  • 90Hz display
  • 64MP wide camera, 13MP ultra-wide camera
  • 8GB RAM
  • Pixel 7-like design

  Table of Contents:
 

Google Pixel 7a Unboxing



Inside the Pixel 7a box, you'll find a USB Type-C to USB Type-C cable (but no charger), A USB Type-A to USB Type-C adapter, a SIM ejector pin, and the usual booklets. Oh, and you should also find a Pixel 7a there, otherwise count yourself unlucky and ask for a refund ASAP.

Google Pixel 7a Specs

Notable hardware improvements
 

Google Pixel 7a Design & Colors

A slight change of heart
 

The Pixel 7a closely follows into the footsteps of the Pixel 7 series and definitely looks and feels like it belongs to Google's latest flagship series. It has a more pronounced rear camera strip, which Google calls "3D metal visor", which now neatly links up with the anodized aluminum frame. This definitely makes for a more coherent and modern look, though I'd lie if I say I wouldn't miss the understated black strip of the Pixel 6 era. 

However, the camera strip still attracts pocket lint and debris like crazy, not to mention that the plastic back of the phone is a fingerprint magnet in the purest sense of the term. As far as build quality goes, there are some minor issues on the Pixel 7a: the backplate forms a slightly noticeably lip where it links up with the side frame, which isn't a big deal, but definitely triggered my OCD and doesn't really feel so nice in the hand. The Pixel 6a, for example, doesn't have such an issue and feels better in the palm. 

The Pixel 7a is heavier than the Pixel 6a, but you are unlikely to notice the difference. That's regardless of the predominantly plastic build, which has allowed for wireless charging. Albeit painfully slow, it's still nice to have on an affordable Pixel.


Much to the chagrin of many, the Pixel 7a does not have a 3.5mm headphone jack. It's okay, the Pixel 6a didn't have one either, so it's time to abandon all hope that Google will bring back the classic audio interface on its phones ever again.

And just like the Pixel 6a, the Pixel 7a proudly wears an IP67 certification as a badge of honor, making it dust- and water-proof. This means that the phone is protected against prolonged exposure to dust and can survive brief contact with water in up to 3ft (1m) in depth. 

What's the situation with the Pixel 7a colors? Keeping up with the tradition to come up with playful names and hues for its devices, Google has both classic and playful colorways: Charcoal (black), Snow (white), Sea (pale blue), and Coral. Decent selection that could match the taste of a wide selection of people. I had the pleasure of reviewing the Charcoal version of the phone, which is dark grey in person and looks classy and understated. 

Google Pixel 7a Display



The Pixel 7a retains the 6.1-inch display of the Pixel 6a with mostly the same specs, but upgrades a vital hardware specification–– the refresh rate. Welcome to the 90Hz club, Pixel 7a!

The interface is much smoother as a result, leaving the impression of being much faster than the Pixel 6a, for example, though in real-life scenarios there might not be any significant performance differences between the two phones. Having a 90Hz screen is definitely great to have on an affordable Pixel. The phone tones the refresh down to 60Hz when displaying static content (like photos), but will immediately ramp it up to 90Hz when you touch the display. 

Aside from that, the Pixel 7a has that 6.1-inch OLED FHD+ display. The bezels are slightly thicker than what we saw on the Pixel 6a, but you will get used to them in no time. 

Recommended Stories
From a quality perspective, I doubt anyone could be disappointed with what the Pixel 7a has to offer. It achieves very good maximum brightness under the correct ambient lighting conditions, though it's a bit conservative and slow to amp up the brightness even in broad daylight, so an iPhone or a Galaxy will react to the changes quicker. Color rendition is also excellent on the Pixel 7a, and can be either true-to-life in the Natural mode or much livelier in the default Adaptive screen mode. Viewing angles are great as well. Overall, it's a very good display. 

Display measurements



Google Pixel 7a Camera

Something promising looming on the horizon


Gone is the ol' reliable" IMX363 camera sensor, the Pixel 7a boasts a main camera with the Sony IMX787 64MP camera sensor. Have in mind that you won't be able to make use of its full resolution. Google use quad-pixel binning with the Pixel 7a, combining four pixels into one, thus outputting 16MP photos. Aside from sounding cool, pixel-binning delivers more detailed photos as it can help the sensor soak in more light. That's great for low-light image quality, too. 

At the same time, the ultra-wide snapper is also getting a camera sensor change, as the Pixel 7a will employ the 13MP Sony IMX712 sensor for its ultra-wide camera. As a refresher, the Pixel 6a and many previous Pixels utilized the 12MP Sony IMX386 ultra-wide sensor. Up front, we have another 13MP selfie camera. 

Enough specs and boring talk, let's see how the new camera setup fares!

Main Camera - Day



The Pixel is extremely capable when the lighting is sufficient. I love the natural yet lively color reproduction, the tack-sharp details, and great dynamics that the Pixel 7a delivers. Definitely on the same level as the Pixel 7, which is great, as you get the same unmistakable signature camera quality on a tighter budget!

Main Camera - Low-light



At night, true to its family legacy,  the Pixel 7a is a very strong contender. Detail is nice across the board, with correct color rendition, but just the tiniest bit of noise in the darkest areas of a given image. 

Zoom quality



If zooming is important to you, look past the Pixel 7a. It doesn't come with a telephoto lens, so you're stuck home with digital zoom. Google boasts that Super Res Zoom is part of the Pixel 7a's arsenal, and while the 2X preset in the camera app provides decent results, anything past that is hardly usable. Not that you will have a lot of room to cover––the Pixel 7a makes out at 8X digital zoom, but anything past 2X is hardly usable.   

Portrait Mode



When it comes to portraits, the Pixel 7a does a very good job at isolating the subject from the background. Sure, some strands of hair will probably fall victims to the algorithm, but that's normal. Some issues may be expected if the background is on the same plane as your subject, as evident in the portrait with the flowers. Generally though, portraits are lovely, with a moody appearance that embodies that classic Pixel look. 

Ultra-wide Camera



The Pixel 7a's brand-new ultra-wide camera is wider than the one on the Pixel 6a. That's great! It makes the camera that much more usable in capturing, well, ultra-wide scenes. 

Selfies



Selfies delivered by the 13MP selfie camera are very decent, with more than acceptable level of detail and lovely color rendition, as well as pleasing facial colors. Those are definitely selfies you might want to upload on social media, if you still do that on the regular. 

Video


Video Thumbnail

When it comes to video, the Pixel 7a will do a fine job, provided that there's ample light and you don't have to engage the stabilization often. Videos appear noisy at low light, you might have some issues with the Pixel 7a. Even though the main camera is stabilized and you have a few different stabilization modes to choose from, you might still experience undesirable jitter in your videos, so the Pixel 7a is definitely not at flagship level when it comes to stabilization. Otherwise, 4K videos at either 30 or 60 fps are perfectly fine and give you a lot of leeway for your post-processing endeavors. 

Google Pixel 7a
PhoneArena Camera Score
BEST 154
132
PhoneArena Photo Score
BEST 160
138
Main (wide)
BEST 85
73
Zoom
BEST 27
18
Ultra-wide
BEST 25
19
Selfie
BEST 30
28
PhoneArena Video Score
BEST 149
125
Main (wide)
BEST 79
70
Zoom
BEST 24
12
Ultra-wide
BEST 23
20
Selfie
BEST 28
24

We have rigorously tested the camera on the Google Pixel 7a and above you can see the results of those tests. We carefully measure the performance of all cameras in various test scenes, ranking the performance across important metrics like exposure, subject exposure, color accuracy, detail, artifacts and more. We do these tests for both photos and videos. 

You can learn more about our PhoneArena Camera Score testing protocol here.
 

Google Pixel 7a Performance & Benchmarks

Tensor G2 reporting for duty


The Pixel 7a is powered by the flagship-grade Tensor G2 chipset, which debuted alongside Google's Pixel 7 series in late 2022. The Tensor G2 is mostly similar to its predecessor in terms of architecture: it is built on a 5nm manufacturing process and comes with a 2+2+4 configuration; dual high-performance ARM Cortex-X1 cores, two mid-range Cortex-A78 cores, and finally, quad Cortex-A55 efficiency cores. The difference between the Tensor G2 and G1 is mainly found in the mid-range cores, which were the slightly slower Cortex-A76 on the Tensor G1.

It's not at all surprising that the Pixel 7a achieves similar synthetic benchmark results as the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro, though not that far away from the previous generation Pixels as well. But we should always remember that the Tensor chipset was never about raw performance, it's a platform that enables improved on-device artificial intelligence and machine learning, both of which become more and more important in this day and age.

In terms of real-life usage, the Pixel 7a is quite capable and performs well. The only whiff of a serious stutter only revealed itself when navigating through Minecraft's menu interface, but once in-game, the phone performs as you'd expect, maintaining a near constant 90fps. The phone gets warm during intense gameplay, but nothing too excessive or too unpleasant to handle, as the mostly plastic back insulates from the accumulated heat. 

Performance Benchmarks


Geekbench 6
SingleHigher is better
Google Pixel 7a1437
Google Pixel 6a1428
Google Pixel 71452
Apple iPhone 142122
Geekbench 6
MultiHigher is better
Google Pixel 7a3461
Google Pixel 6a3313
Google Pixel 73318
Apple iPhone 144876
3DMark Extreme(High)Higher is better
Google Pixel 7a1631
Google Pixel 6a1620
Google Pixel 71854
Apple iPhone 143018
3DMark
Extreme(Low)Higher is better
Google Pixel 7a1095
Google Pixel 6a1011
Google Pixel 71521
Apple iPhone 142115

The Pixel 7a comes with 8GB of RAM, a very decent bump of 2GB extra in comparison with the Pixel 6a, and on par with many contemporary flagships. Definitely a surprising (to me) spec bump that makes the Pixel 7a way more future-proof. In all honesty, Google could have kept the RAM at 6GB, and probably nobody would have objected. 

As far as storage is concerned, 128GB of native storage is what we get on the Pixel 7a, of course with no extra hardware expansion options. Google is unlikely to offer another storage variant, so you will probably need to rely on a cloud-based storage option at some point in time. A Google One subscription is your best bet here, not only due to the extra cloud storage you get, but also thanks to the host of additional software services and features that will play extremely nice with your Pixel phone.  

Google Pixel 7a Connectivity


Just like the Pixel 6a and most recent Pixels, the Pixel 7a is a 5G-capable device, with both sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G support. This means that you will be able to benefit from the low-band and high-band 5G speeds on Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T.

Google Pixel 7a OS / Android version


Although Android 14 is technically sort of official as it's currently available as a beta for eligible Pixel phones, the upcoming Android update will officially arrive to the Pixel 7a in August 2023. The Pixel 7a ships with Android 13 out of the box.

The Pixel 7a will receive three years of major software updates as well as five years of security patches. This means that Pixel 7a users will have the one-in-a-lifetime pleasure of experiencing Android 14, Android 15, and Android 16 earlier than most other Android users. Meanwhile, your phone will be secure up to 2028. 

Of course, the appeal of the Pixel is the vanilla software on board that's chock full of excellent Google services and features. Functionalities like Clear Calling, Voice Message Transcription, Call Screening, Assistant Voice Typing, and all the smarts of the Google Assistant are part of the Pixel 7a's feature roster. 

I just love how good the Pixel is when used heavily in conjunction with Google's services. Being a heavy Google user myself, usually juggling between at least two Google profiles daily, using a Pixel usually takes away a lot of stress and makes the experience more pleasant than usual. Shocking, I know, but most Android devices out there generally lack the same level of detail and amount of polish when it comes to accommodating your own 

Google Pixel 7a Battery and charging


Google Pixel 7a
( 4385 mAh )
Google Pixel 7a
Battery Life Estimate
6h 4m
Browsing
15h 27m
Video
9h 7m
Gaming
4h 20m
Charging speed
18W
Charger
0%
30 min
1h 59m
Full charge
Wireless Charging
7W
Charger
18%
30 min
3h 19m
Full charge

The Pixel 7a comes with a 4,385mAh battery, which is technically slightly less than the 4,410mAh one that was found inside the Pixel 6a, but the Pixel 7a has a slightly more capable chipset, so it should be more efficient, at least in theory. 

In practice, the Pixel 7a battery life is more than decent. With my specific usage, which involves lots of multitasking between apps, reading, and some social media, the Pixel 7a routinely ended the day with around 30 to 40% of battery left. However, heavier usage and gaming especially might take a very serious toll on the phone's battery life and force you to seek out a wall charger prematurely. If you're an enthusiastic mobile gamer, the Pixel 7a is probably not the perfect phone for you. 

When it comes to our custom battery benchmark tests, the Pixel 7a fares mostly similar to the Pixel 7 and surpasses the Pixel 6a in some regards. 

PhoneArena Battery Test Results:


Web Browsing(hours)Higher is better
Google Pixel 7a15h 27 min
Google Pixel 6a13h 51 min
Google Pixel 713h 56 min
Apple iPhone 1415h 23 min
Video Streaming(hours)Higher is better
Google Pixel 7a9h 7 min
Google Pixel 6a8h 51 min
Google Pixel 79h 13 min
Apple iPhone 148h 35 min
3D Gaming(hours)Higher is better
Google Pixel 7a4h 20 min
Google Pixel 6a6h 48 min
Google Pixel 74h 43 min
Apple iPhone 146h 44 min

In our dedicated video playback battery test, which had the Pixel 7a loop through a playlist of videos with the brightness set at 200 nits, the new trooper lasted for 9 hours and 7 minutes, which is a great result if watching videos is a regular daily activity for you.

Meanwhile, in our web browsing test that simulates a regular web browsing, the Pixel 7a lasted for 15 hours and 27 minutes, surpassing both the Pixel 6a and the Pixel 7. Finally, our gaming test proved to be a bit too taxing for Google's new phone, as it endured for just 4 hours and 20 minutes (consistent with the Pixel 7's mostly similar result of 4 hours and 43 minutes in the same test).

Google Pixel 7a Charging Speeds



When it comes to charging, the Pixel 7a supports 18W wired and 7.5W wireless charging, a first on an affordable Pixel phone. The phone charges slowly: it takes two hours to charge it from 0 to 100% with Google's own 30W USB-C wall adapter. The 7.5W wireless charging should only be used overnight, as it's paaaaaaainfully slow.

hoursLower is better
Google Pixel 7a
1h 59 min
Google Pixel 6a
1h 53 min
Google Pixel 7
1h 36 min
Apple iPhone 14
1h 28 min

Pixel 7a Audio Quality and Haptics


With two stereo speakers on board, the Pixel 7a produces a very decent soundstage that doesn't shine with deep bass or super-clear highs, but delivers strong and punchy sound with bright mids. The iPhone 14 delivers clearer high frequencies, but lacks the same prowess in the mids; while the iPhone sounds like a phone, the Pixel 7a delivers an audio experience similar to a not-too-shabby smart speaker. In comparison with the Galaxy A54, the Google phone is both quieter and not as fun to listen to. 

The haptics are decent, but nothing to really write home about. Mostly unchanged from the Pixel 6a, the Pixel 7a delivers exact vibrations that aren't too strong, but aren't too mushy either.  

Google Pixel 7a Models


The Pixel 7a joins the ranks of the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro, which were announced back in late 2022. Check out their respective reviews by following any of the links below:


Google Pixel 7a Competitors


The fresh new Galaxy A54 5G is one of the more serious Pixel 7a competitors at the same price point. The fresh Samsung upper mid-range phone comes with a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display, FHD+ resolution, smoother 120Hz refresh rate, as well as 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a microSD card slot for some storage expansion.

Powered by the Exynos 1380 chipset, this one has a triple camera setup, consisting of a wide, ultra-wide, and macro camera. There's also a 5,000mAh battery with 25W wired charging, but no wireless charging. Prices for this one start at $450, so definitely in the ballpark of the Pixel 7a.

But guess what, the Pixel 7 itself is also a very decent alternative of the Pixel 7a. With a slightly higher price tag, but a mostly similar camera setup and image quality, as well as even more native storage if you pay $100 more,  available with 256GB of storage, it could be a noteworthy alternative that should be considered. 

Google Pixel 7a Summary and final verdict



Overall, the Pixel 7a is a more than a decent phone with very decent improvements over the Pixel 6a. Should you upgrade from last year's affordable Pixel? No. You shouldn't, just save your money. 

But if you're coming from an older Pixel, say, a Pixel 4a or a Pixel 5, the the Pixel 7a is a very, very, very lucrative and appealing offer. It brings the best of Google in a user-friendly and affordable package that makes. 

If you don't need some of the exclusive flagship features of the pricier Pixels, then this stock Android champ is certainly the phone to get. After all, it has it all, the AI/ML chops of the larger Pixels, a capable camera with many software features, a super compact size in comparison with your average Android phone, and finally, a $500 price tag that is very sensible. 

 *Disclaimer: You may notice review scores have changed on PhoneArena! Since September 20th, we have started using a new scoring system. Learn more about the new PhoneArena Smartphone Review Rating system here.

Pros

  • Good value for money
  • Stock Android with tons of AI/ML-powered software features
  • Display finally has a 90Hz refresh rate
  • Compact and user-friendly size
  • Face Unlock on board
  • Wireless charging
  • Capable camera with lots of features

Cons

  • More expensive than its predecessor
  • Some slight build quality issues
  • Only a single 128GB storage option
  • Uninspiring digital zoom
  • Charges slowly

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless