Let’s start with the conclusion. The Pixel 7a is a well-rounded smartphone with good performance and great cameras but disappointingly average battery life. It is so similar to the Pixel 7 that if either of the two phones go on sale, my advice would be to just get the one that’s cheaper. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense phone that does everything you expect it to do for a reasonable price, the Pixel 7a should be high on your list.
What’s the difference from the Pixel 7?
They are practically the same phone. The differences, listed below, are minor in my opinion.
|Pixel 7a||Pixel 7|
|6.1″ FHD 90Hz OLED||6.3″ FHD 90Hz OLED|
|152 x 72.9 x 9 mm, 193.5 g||155.6 x 73.2 x 8.7 mm, 197 g|
18W wired, 7.5W wireless charging
20W wired, 20W wireless charging
|Selfie: 13 MP, f/2.2, 20mm, 1.12µm|
Main: 64 MP, f/1.9, 26mm, 1/1.73″, 0.8µm
Ultrawide: 13 MP, f/2.2, 120˚, 1.12µm
|Selfie: 10.8 MP, f/2.2, 21mm, 1/3.1″, 1.22µm|
Main: 50 MP, f/1.9, 25mm, 1/1.31″, 1.2µm
Ultrawide: 12 MP, f/2.2, 114˚, 1/2.9″, 1.25µm
There are some other minor differences. The bezels on the 7a are slightly thicker. The back is made of plastic instead of glass. And the camera visor has a noticeable seam where it meets the frame of the phone, unlike the Pixel 7 which is one seamless piece. But these are so minor that I didn’t notice, and you likely won’t either.
Things that I liked
- The Pixel stuff. These are the reasons for which you would want to buy a Pixel. The clean software. Excellent cameras. Useful AI features like Magic Eraser, Live Captions, Live Translate, and Now Playing. Being first in line for Android updates (but please Google, extend software support from 3 years to 4-5 years at least).
- The design. Google has stuck with the iconic visor design for 2 years now, and it’s starting to grow on me. It’s a nice implementation of the classic two-tone design that Google phones have been known for for years. The camera bump on the Pixel 7a is much less pronounced than that on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. And every person who saw my review unit’s new Sea colour gushed over it; it really does look nice.
- Performance. Unlike last year, Google has matched the amount of RAM that the regular Pixel 7 has — 8GB. And thanks to this, the 7a has fewer issues with multitasking than the Pixel 6a before it. The processor is also matched, though the Tensor G2 isn’t anything to write home about compared to the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, both in terms of performance and efficiency. Peak performance is on par with the Tensor G1 from the year before, which is just ~15% higher than the Snapdragon 888 from 2 years ago. That said, sustained performance saw significant improvements from the Tensor G1, ~50% higher. I’ve found it to provide snappy and smooth performance for everyday use. 3D games such as Laya’s Horizon also ran well enough, typically maintaining 30fps during short gameplay sessions, though I did notice frame dips in busier sections. If you game very frequently for long periods of time, you might want to go for something more powerful.
- Display. Again, unlike last year, the Pixel 7a now has a smooth 90Hz screen, which is the bare minimum that I’ll accept these days. Strangely, however, this is disabled by default, and you’ll have to toggle it on in the settings.
- Cameras. As expected from a Pixel, they’re fantastic. Accurate colours, good dynamic range, and an unrivalled night mode for both main and ultrawide cameras. But just like the Pixel 7, it lacks a telephoto camera; if you need this badly, consider getting the Pixel 7 Pro, which has an unbelievably good telephoto camera. Also, I don’t take video, but if you do, apparently video stabilisation isn’t as good as the Pixel 7. In terms of video quality, Google in general still has some catching up to do with Apple’s iPhones.
Things that I didn’t like
- The build. I was going to do my usual rant about how I hate the glass sandwich build that the Pixel 7a and every other modern smartphone has — it’s too heavy, it’s fragile, it’s slippery etc. But then I found out that the Pixel 7a’s back isn’t even made of glass; it’s plastic. And that just made me angrier — how can it be plastic and still weigh a whopping 193.5g? The 7a is way too heavy for its size and significantly heavier than the 178g Pixel 6a, which I already found too heavy. The weight annoys me to the point where I want to use the phone less. Google, please make lighter phones. Go back to the design of the Pixel 5, because that phone was perfect.
- Battery. Battery life is painfully average. I frequently get ~20% battery at the end of the day on this brand new Pixel 7a, and my usage is moderate at worst with just ~3h screen on time. It gives me little confidence that the battery will last me a full day after a year of use. The charging speeds aren’t great either, particularly for wireless charging.
Pricing & Conclusion
The Pixel 7a launched for $499 in the US — that’s $50 more than the Pixel 6a before it. But in Singapore, the Pixel 7a launches for the same S$749 that the Pixel 6a launched for. And that’s a pretty great deal, but I suspect it will get even better.
The Pixel 6a was regularly discounted to just S$499 shortly after its launch. That’s an absolute steal. And I suspect the same thing will happen to the Pixel 7a. So if you’re not in a hurry, do keep a lookout for a price drop. If it the Pixel 7a hits S$600 or less, it’s an absolute no-brainer.
As for me, I’m still holding on to my Pixel 5. And I will continue to do so until Google makes a phone of similar size and weight again. But hey, that’s just me. If the size and weight of the Pixel 7a doesn’t bother you, then get it — other than the average battery, it’s practically perfect.
You can get the Pixel 7a from Google Singapore’s official store or any of its partners. If you’re thinking of getting one now, be sure to take advantage of the launch promotions which are running till 22 May.
As always, when purchasing online, check if you can get additional cashback on your purchase with ShopBack. You can also check out our deals page for more Singapore deals.