In the highly competitive arena that is the smartphone market, Google puts forth three models within each range: the premium ‘Pro’, mid-range ‘Pixel’, and entry level ‘Pixel a’. The Pixel 7a is another contender for the ‘a’ series crown, and in this review, we showcase everything this handset has to offer, from performance, display, the cameras, and more.
If the Pixel 7a is your next phone of choice, you can pick it up from a range of three colours and with 128GB of storage.
Fans of the Pixel 6a will be right at home with the 7a. Much of the 6a’s design highlights make the transition across, including its 152mm x 72.9mm dimensions, resilient Gorilla Glass 3 front cover and alloy frame. The Pixel 7a therefore retains the range’s penchant for striking visuals, helping it stand out amongst the sea of competing devices.
The biggest shift from a design perspective is the return to a single colour palette across the device. Changing from that distinctive two-tone style will be a shame to some, but thankfully, the colour options available on the 7a more than make up for it. ‘Charcoal’ stands out with a black and grey combo, followed by the soft, light-blue ‘Sea’ and finally, a white variant called ‘Snow’, which carries a slightly darker hue than the traditional white colour scheme.
So whilst the core design of the Pixel 7a is very much business as usual, when so much of its predecessor worked wonders, there’s little reason to break the wheel.
One immediate improvement to the Pixel 7a over previous phones in the ‘a’ range, is its improved refresh rate. When it comes to providing a smoother experience, this change to 90Hz makes all the difference, and will be music to the ears of gamers in particular as the action unfolds with silky motion.
Beyond the rise in refresh rate, the Pixel 7a maintains its predecessor’s stunning 1080p 6.1” OLED screen, which impresses significantly with its bright colours and a fantastic level of detail. HDR (high-dynamic range) also features on the 7a, and brings with it those inky blacks and vibrant, true-to-life contrasts.
Continuing with the 6a’s OLED panel is a smart move here, as it keeps it incredibly enticing to many as an all-round media device. Add the increase in refresh rate on top of that, and you have a superb handset that makes gaming and watching videos on the go extremely accessible.
Pixel devices regularly appear in our reviews of the best camera phones, and for good reason: they’re superb. This is largely due to a potent combination of hardware and software, rather than focusing on just one. The Pixel 7a maintains this trend, but most impressively, it does so as a smaller phone with few compromises to its larger ‘7 Series’ siblings.
We can’t talk about the 7a without highlighting its powerful new 64MP main camera. This lens’ pixel count is a massive increase from the 6a’s 12.2MP camera, and it can’t be underestimated how significantly this impacts picture detail, particularly if you like to take larger landscape photos and modify them when editing. Higher pixel counts don’t automatically mean greater image detail, but they play a large role in maintaining pixel density when cropping photos later.
The fantastic 64MP camera is also joined by a** 13MP ultrawide lens** for those vast panoramic shots and a 13MP front camera with a 95-degree field-of-view; an 11-degree increase over the Pixel 6a.
Lighting is another area that Google has stepped up in with the 7a. Images in low-light conditions pop with detail, thanks to the main camera’s larger sensor being able to capture more light when taking a photo.
At software level, the Pixel 7a features Photo Unblur, a Google Photos tool that debuted with the Pixel 7 series and leverages the powerful Tensor G2 processor to remove blurriness from new or older photos. It works wonders on images that look noisy and distorted, especially if they were shot on older devices.
Because the 7a does include the improved Tensor G2 chipset, it can also make use of other features that previous phones didn’t have the processing power for, such as Long Exposure. With this tool, you can add blur to a moving subject in a photo when in Motion Mode. This technique is used in photography to highlight the speed of a subject in contrast to its surroundings, and works by exposing the camera lens to more light over time.
The rest of the Pixel 7a’s software arsenal will be familiar to Pixel 6a users, with features like Real Tone and Magic Eraser making the jump across.
Whilst this phone does feature a higher pixel count in its cameras than the mid-range Pixel 7, as we mentioned previously, pixel count isn’t always king; the Pixel 7 has the superior camera hardware overall. Regardless, take the Pixel 7a anywhere, and you have the ability to capture amazingly detailed photos from a device that fits much more comfortably in your pocket, is lighter, and is far more capable at maintaining detail when cropping images.
We talked about the Tensor G2 processor when looking at the Pixel 7a’s camera suite, and not only does it have the capability to run those useful software features effortlessly, it makes using this phone a joy from the second you start it up.
Performance sees an improvement over previous devices such as the 6a, due to the addition of two key pieces of technology: a faster CPU (central processing unit) and smarter Machine Learning unit. This means a quicker experience when loading and switching between apps, as well as reduced stutter in games.
The Tensor G2 chipset in the Pixel 7a is the very same at the heart of the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, so you’re getting minimal compromise in performance by choosing this entry-level model.
Software & storage
The Pixel 7a comes equipped with Android 13 out of the gate, granting you access to this version’s deeper customisation tools, such as enhancements to ‘Material You’ so you can match app icons to your phone menu’s colour palette, creating a more unified style that’s true to you.
The user interface on the Pixel 7a is also stunning to look at and navigate. Users of previous Pixel phones, such as the 7 or 6a models, will be right at home amongst the Pixel 7a’s breezy, light and responsive menus.
Being part of the Pixel 7 series, owners of the 7a can make use of handy software features not included on the 6a, such as Face Unlock and the built-in VPN (virtual private network), the latter of which is available to Google One subscribers.
Storage space is on-par with the Pixel 6a’s 128GB; this isn’t huge by any stretch, but it provides room for many photos and apps. There’s also the option of Google’s cloud storage should you need more space.
If there’s one area of the Pixel 7a that falls down slightly, it’s in battery life. Capacity is slightly less than the previous ‘a’ Pixel phone - the 6a - at 4385mAh, and general usage time when browsing or running apps is approximately 24 hours.
However, a significant advantage on the Pixel 7a is the inclusion of wireless charging, meaning you can keep it topped up when on-the-go. For a phone that excels at portability, whilst maintaining great performance, wireless charging is a winning addition.
The entry-level label can sometimes evoke the feeling that heavy compromises have been made to get the price down. The Pixel 7a is a phone that throws away such notions; this is a handset that packs in an incredible amount to love. If you don’t need the premium features in the 7 or 7 Pro models and simply want a small, powerful phone, the Pixel 7a has you covered and then some.
Now that you know everything there is to know in our Pixel 7 review, you might be thinking how to move your data across from your current Android device. Our step-by-step guide will explain how to do this, and get your Pixel 7a up and running in no time.