Well we knew it was coming and now it’s here, Google’s Pixel 7a, the smaller, more mid range budget sibling device to the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro from Google and so far the impressions are well, interesting. Granted we all knew there was going to be a Pixel 7a but the future for the Pixel a devices is well and truly under a cloud of doubt.
As someone who has owned and played with a few Pixel and Pixel a devices over the years, when we were given the chance to review one, I jumped at the opportunity.
So does the Pixel 7a improve on where the Pixel 6a Phil reviewed last year had issues, lets have a look shall we?
What’s in the box?
You get the 1 metre USB-C to USB-C charging cable, alongside the usual warranty booklet, albeit you might need a magnifying glass to read should you need to but also another info card with links to the warranty, troubleshoot and more.
The only thing missing is a charging brick to plug the cable into so you will need to buy this separately from either the Google store or retailers and it will need to be a 20W fast charging brick to take advantage of the Pixel 7a´s 20W fast charging.
The Pixel line up since the 2021 revamp of the line up have taken a slightly different approach to previous Pixel devices and the 7a looks to continue the evolving refresh which we saw with last year’s Pixel 7 and 7 Pro.
The front of the device houses the 6.1-inch display which is bright and clear. Granted there are small bezels around the outer of the display but this doesn’t affect the viewing at all. The display also houses the under display fingerprint scanner which to be honest at times it didn’t pick up my fingerprint and not sure as to why but it still happens every now and again.
The sides, top and bottom of the Pixel 7a is made of aluminium and I like this design touch as it does help the device at least seem and feel a little premium.
The right hand side of the device houses the standby/power button which is atop the volume rocker which is located just below the standby button.
The bottom of the Pixel 7a houses the rear external speakers to the right and left of the USB-C charging port.
The left hand side of the device houses the sim tray which the box does include a sim tool kit to open this up.
The top of the Pixel 7a has an external microphone to help drown out background noises when on the phone or video chat.
The back of the Pixel 7a is made of a plastic almost metallic/glass like rear and the top and bottom rear of the device. The top part does have the usual camera band which goes from left to right in a rectangular type of band which seems to be made out of an aluminum metal. In this band it houses the two rear cameras which are located towards the right hand side and made up of a 64MP main sensor and a 13MP ultrawide camera lens with the left hand side of the band housing the single LED flashlight.
Google was lovely enough to include a Pixel 7a phone case which was matte rubber but very soft to touch case. The case is also more of a hard shell with the sides being a little bit flexible to be able to get the device in and out of the case with ease.
Lastly, the Google Pixel 7a does include an IP67 rating for dust and water protection and can support water submersion up to 1 meter which a lot of Mid-Range devices don’t come with.
Lights, Camera, Action!
The Pixel 7a comes with a dual rear camera setup built into the camera strip which includes a 64MP main sensor and a 13MP ultrawide camera lens.
The photos taken with this set up as always are very much true to life and Google’s AI which runs in the background ensures you get the best photo possible and I have to say that the Pixel 7a camera is exceptional and why wouldn’t it be. Having owned a few pixel devices over the years from the OG version to the Pixel 3XL to the Pixel 7a the camera and experience is just exceptional.
However, there is an Achilles heel with the zoom lens only being a mere x2 zoom lens and if you try to sadly zoom in any more than this then you will find pictures won’t be crystal clear. Even the AI does struggle to fix this but otherwise photos taken with the rear cameras are pretty damn good as always.
In low light the camera is able to handle whatever you throw at it and the below pics show this thanks in part to Google’s AI form to help ensure you pictures always turn out insta famous.
The front facing 13MP selfie camera is an improvement over the previous 8MP in the Pixel 6a and previous pixel device. It can certainly still take some pretty darn good selfie pics for social media or just to take a selfie with besties or families. Though I did notice that in certain lighting conditions the camera lens can either make your face look pasty white or extremely dark depending on the lighting conditions.
Performance, Battery Life and Software
The Pixel 7a runs Android 13 right out of the box and paired with the Google Tenor G2 chipset processor, the device is able to handle a lot without missing a heartbeat. Multi tasking is a breeze, however graphic and GPU intensive can be a little frustrating as playing asphalt 9 there were a couple of times the graphics seem to be a little jarring and fuzzy. Also the screen display was not as big as say my Galaxy S22 Ultra it was a little harder to use but otherwise the Tensor G2 chip processor seemed to do the job quite well.
As stated multi tasking and going between social media, emails and playing games the Pixel 7a didn’t miss or skip a beat.
Alongside performance in the general sense is the battery, of which the Pixel 7a comes with a 4385 mAh non removable battery and to be honest this is the other Achilles heel as I found that battery power was mixed.
With medium usage I could get just about a full day by the time I got home at about 7pm and having about 30-50% but with heavy usage – lets just say by about 3-4pm, I was needing to charge up the Pixel 7a.
Granted the Pixel 7a can support 25W fast charge, although with cable charging it seems that the device caps this to about 18W charging which is a little perplexing, which can take up to an hour or so to fully charge the device. You can turn on Extreme Battery Saver settings, for which Google has stated can give you up to 72 hours battery life, I am a little skeptical with this as I wasn’t sure the device could handle this.
Also the Google Pixel 7a does come with a VPN which you can activate as part of Google One subscription which is a welcomed addition given that privacy is a big thing now thank to the latest hacking events since late last year.
The one thing to keep in mind is that if you need more storage than say 128GB which is what is the only storage options for the Pixel 7a, you will need to pay for Google One membership for extra storage given you are not able to use a MicroSD card slot included and to be honest it is to be expected no additional storage other than in the cloud.
Wi-Fi connectivity on the Pixel 7a was quite good and the devices does support Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e, tri-band however I did notice a couple of times the Wi-Fi didn’t always automatically connect to my home Wi-Fi when I got home but I put this down to a possible bug in the software somewhere.
The Pixel 7a also comes with Bluetooth 5.3, A2DP, LE and I was able to connect my earbuds to the device quite easily without any issues.
Lastly, the Pixel 7a does support 5G connectivity alongside 4G and the network connectivity was great and strong, albeit depending on the area and what service you have available.
Should you consider buying one?
The Pixel 7a is a great option for those who would like a pixel without forking out nearly $1000 for a flagship device. Granted there are some compromises, with the battery and a little with the camera, the Pixel 7a does offer some great features at a bargain price.
I also like that it runs Android 13 with Material you which is just super intuitive and much easier to use thanks to its butter smoothness.
I can easily recommend the Pixel 7a for those that want a great camera phone and a great experience overall.
The Pixel 7a is available from the Google store and major retailers such as JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks, Optus and Catch websites and instore and comes in the following colours – sea, charcoal and snow – for $749.