Google Pixel 7a Review: 2023’s Best Value-for-money smartphone
Google’s latest smartphone, the Pixel 7a, has a lot going for it, especially at its price point of Rs. 43999. But in the mid-range segment that is flooded with Android options, is it the one you should go for? Know it in our review.
Camera-centric smartphones have been around for a while. Before the Android revolution, there was Nokia N8 which offered a whopping 12MP camera. In 2013 came the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom, offering users 10X optical zoom with a 16MP camera. As years have gone by, not only the megapixel count has gone up, but so has the number of cameras on a smartphone. But all that changed when Google launched its Pixel smartphone, offering users a pure Android experience with stunning photographic capabilities. At that time, it left us wondering how the Pixel managed to capture crisp and detailed images with a single camera. Over the years, Google has built upon its past successes and the Pixels are one of the top camera-centric smartphones to buy today.
Google surprised us all last year when it launched the Pixel 7 series with not one but two entries - the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro. It recently added to the series with its latest A-series smartphone - the Pixel 7a. This is the most affordable member of the 7 series that you can buy today despite having top-spec internals. So, with the promise of near-flagship level performance, great cameras, and a pure Android experience, can the Google Pixel 7a manage to sway buyers in the mid-range segment?
I spent a couple of weeks with it and despite being a mid-range level smartphone, it has the potential to give the top devices in the market a run for their money. Here's why.
mobile to buy?
Google Pixel 7a: Design
At first glance, the Pixel 7a is nearly indistinguishable from its siblings. But hey, don't fix what isn't broken I guess? It is only when we take a deep look that we start to notice the subtle differences. The Pixel 7a gets the same metal visor running around the back which houses the dual camera system, but the visor is much sharper and slightly thinner this time around. You also get antenna bands on all sides of the device. One change that sets the Pixel 7a apart from the Pixel 7 is that it now gets a plastic back instead of Gorilla Glass Victus, just like the Pixel 6a and it picks up scratches easily, but putting on a case might mitigate that. It weighs slightly less than Pixel 7 and at 193 grams, the Pixel 7a is nearly 20 grams heavier than its predecessor.
In terms of colour options, you have a choice between Charcoal, Snow, and Sea. I've been using the snow variant which has a slight blue tone to it.
Google Pixel 7a: Display
This is one where the line between the premium Pixel 7 and mid-range Pixel 7a starts to thicken as you get much more noticeable bezels than the Pixel 7. You get a 6.1-inch FHD OLED panel at the front which now comes with an eye-pleasing 90Hz refresh rate, which is a nice change when coming from an iPhone 14. I've always felt that 6.1-inch is a sweet spot when it comes to smartphone sizes. It is not as small as the Samsung Galaxy S22 and you get plenty of display area for binge-watching content, and also not nearly as big as the iPhone 14 Pro Max which feels heavy and almost too big at times. The display is HDR10-certified and the colours reproduction is spot-on, especially in normal mode.
However, there is one issue that has plagued what has otherwise been a pleasant experience using the Pixel 7a. While the display is bright enough indoors, you have to crank it above 70% in order to even see content outdoors. This might be a software issue with the brightness slider, but it deserves a mention.
Google Pixel 7a: Performance
Surprisingly, the Pixel 7a gets the same Tensor G2 chip that powers the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro as well as the premium Pixel Fold. Despite being not as powerful as Apple's A16 Bionic or Snapdragon 8 Gen2, the Tensor G2 manages to hold its own, and the Pixel 7a breezes through most daily tasks. The RAM has also been bumped up to 8GB, putting it on par with the other phones in the Pixel 7 series. However, it might not be amiss to say that a lack of storage options is felt here as there's only a 128GB option available. With a camera as good as the Pixel 7a, photo freaks might run out of storage fairly quickly.
Having switched to iPhone a few years ago, I've tried several Android smartphones over the years, but none have swayed me to switch back until the Pixel 7a came along. It is the first Pixel I've ever used and the Pixel UI, which is based on stock Android is refined, snappy, and without bloatware. Having said that, there is a very noticeable issue during calls and internet usage. Calls drop more often than not and you also run into issues while using the internet. This is perhaps due to the Tensor G2 still sticking with the Samsung Exynos 5300 5G modem and not the Qualcomm one, which is used by most devices these days. Still, a bummer.
While it isn't a gaming-centric smartphone, the Pixel 7a gives a strong performance on all fronts. I played Call of Duty Mobile for about an hour straight and there was no noticeable lag although the phone does get quite warm sometimes. The phone is rated IP67 for dust and water resistance.
Pixel 7a: Camera
In terms of battery life, the Pixel 7a has a 4385mAh battery, which despite being less than the 4410mAh battery of the Pixel 6a, offers a slightly longer battery life due to the more efficient Tensor G2. Charging speed is capped at 18W and now there's wireless charging too, which maxes out at 7.5W. Although the Pixel 7a isn't a ‘battery monster', it still got me through a day with moderate usage that included frequent calls, emails, listening to music, and clicking photos.
Pixel 7a: Verdict
At its price point of Rs. 43999 there's a lot going for the Google Pixel 7a. You get a crisp 6.1-inch FHD OLED display, fast and efficient Tensor G2 SoC, and pair of great cameras. While there are underlying issues such as the phone getting warm and call drops, it isn't enough to break the pleasing Pixel experience which you get, thanks to the Pixel UI. The phone gets you through a day with moderate usage, and the charging capacity is capped at 18W, with added wireless charging capabilities.
All in all, the Pixel 7a is the best mid-range smartphone you can buy today.
- Slick 90Hz display
- Stellar cameras
- Terrific value for money factor
- Gets slightly warm sometimes
- Thick bezels
Rear Camera64MP + 13MP
OSPixel UI based on Android 13