Google Pixel 7a Review - Pixel experience for the masses
- Pixel 7a is powered by the Tensor G2 chip, same as the flagships 7 & 7 Pro
- The 7a features a larger camera sensor against last years 6a
- Google Pixel 7a is priced at ₹43,999
AdvertisementIn a much-anticipated release, Google has unveiled the Pixel 7a, completing this year's lineup of Pixel devices. While the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro gained praise for their exceptional camera capabilities, stock Android experience, and the new Tensor G2 chip, their prices have created a barrier for some potential buyers, as is often the case with flagship devices. However, the Pixel 7a steps in to bridge this gap by offering a standard Pixel experience that stays true to its name, albeit with certain compromises. In this review, I delve into what makes the Pixel 7a worth your attention and explore how the omissions compared to its flagship counterparts impact the overall Pixel experience.
Price & availability
Google Pixel 7a is available in one variant that features 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. You can buy the 7a for a price of ₹43,999 from Flipkart.
Similar to its predecessors, the design of the Pixel 7a maintains a consistent aesthetic, which is executed remarkably well, as expected each year. Although it bears resemblance to last year's 6a, it becomes distinguishable once you hold it in your hand, primarily due to its slightly heavier weight compared to the 6a.
The device offers a premium in-hand feel, thanks to its near-perfect weight distribution that comfortably sits in your palm. With its 6.1-inch display, the Pixel 7a is a compact phone that is easy to operate with one hand, and its design further enhances its convenience.
The frame surrounding the 7a is made of aluminum, providing a solid construction that adds character to the device. These meticulous choices contribute to the overall quality of the product and ensure a secure grip.
On the back, we find the distinctive metal casing for the camera, which always reminded me of Robocop's helmet. Personally, I appreciate this design as I tend to gravitate towards more imposing aesthetics. Considering the current trend of camera modules, I find this execution to be sleek and tasteful.
Speaking of the back, it is made of plastic rather than glass, a characteristic that has divided opinions among purists. Personally, I don't have an issue with it, especially since the device still offers wireless charging. I would have had reservations if Google had omitted that feature.
That being said, regardless of whether it is glass or plastic, the back tends to attract smudges easily, which can be visually displeasing. However, in the sea color variant that I reviewed, the back panel looks exceptionally beautiful. Google also offers the 7a in charcoal (black) and snow (white) colors, providing healthy options for users.
Similar to the higher-end Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, the 7a boasts a water-resistant rating of IP67, allowing it to survive underwater at a depth of 1m for up to 30 minutes. The display is also protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 3, a tried and tested protective measure, for further safety.
Other design elements include the placement of the volume rockers and power button on the right side, aligned with each other. Initially, I confused the volume rockers with the power button due to their positioning, but over time, it has become easier to differentiate between them. On the bottom left side, we find the SIM card tray, which accommodates one micro SIM and offers an option for an eSIM alongside the physical SIM. At the bottom, there is a USB Type-C charging port.
The Pixel 7a showcases a 6.1-inch OLED display with a resolution of 1080 x 2400 pixels. Google's choice of display leaves no room for doubt when it comes to the exceptional image output it delivers. The panel boasts impressive brightness, ensuring clear visibility even under direct sunlight without straining your eyes.
The color reproduction on the display is top-notch, offering two color modes: adaptive and natural. The adaptive mode excels in presenting vibrant content and became my preferred choice, while the natural mode maintains accurate color properties true to the original source.
When it comes to watching content, the 7a supports HDR10 and HDR10+, enabling compatibility with popular streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, and YouTube for HDR content. The displayed content appears striking and rich in detail—I had the pleasure of watching "House of the Dragon" on the 7a, and the level of detail was truly impressive. Although the display lacks Dolby Vision support, its absence didn't notably detract from my viewing experience.
Enhancing the display experience is a dual-speaker setup that delivers loud and high-quality sound. With a bottom-firing speaker and a front-facing speaker, the audio complements the visual experience excellently.
The Pixel 7a offers a maximum refresh rate of 90Hz, which aligns with the Pixel 7. The display is smooth and responsive, especially when the smooth display mode is enabled, intelligently transitioning between the default 60Hz and 90Hz. However, I would have appreciated a 120Hz refresh rate, particularly because it would have further elevated the stock Android experience. It's somewhat surprising since competitors like the OnePlus 11R are already offering a 120Hz maximum refresh rate.
Additionally, the display houses a well-placed fingerprint sensor. In recent times, the placement of in-display fingerprint sensors on smartphones has been inconvenient. However, the Pixel 7a gets it right. Although an optical sensor, it swiftly unlocks the device and has yet to disappoint in its performance.
You also get an always on display here, which is subtle and provides you with notifications of the apps you want.
The Google Pixel 7a comes equipped with Android 13 right out of the box, offering a pure stock Android experience that sets it apart from other devices. In my previous reviews, I've noted how OEMs have incorporated their own skins into Android 13, resulting in a decent hybrid experience. However, it is on a Pixel device where the true prowess of the Android 13 OS can shine.
On the Pixel 7a, Android 13 performs exactly as expected. It is smooth, visually pleasing, and provides ample customization options. The pill-shaped drop-down menu, app tray, and seamless animations all contribute to a wholesome user experience.
While Android 13 offers a plethora of features, there are a few highlights that deserve mention. First and foremost is the enhanced theming capability on the Pixel 7a. Users can now customize every aspect of the UI, from the color of the text to the toggles and icons.
Another distinguishing factor of Pixel devices is the inclusion of Google-exclusive features, such as the Now Playing feature that identifies songs. Additionally, the Photos app comes equipped with a myriad of tools, which I will discuss further in the camera section of this smartphone review.
During my two weeks of testing, I encountered only one unique bug on the device. While watching YouTube shorts, pressing the comment toggle would cause the app to shut down. However, since downloading an update, this issue has been resolved, and the device is functioning perfectly.
Google's generosity shines through with the Pixel 7a, as it offers three years of Android upgrades and five years of security upgrades. This makes it a valuable long-term investment, ensuring users stay up-to-date with the latest features and security patches.
The Google Pixel 7a is equipped with Google's powerful Tensor G2 chip, the same SoC found in the high-end Pixel 7 and 7 Pro models. Google's decision to include the G2 chip in the Pixel 7a highlights the company's confidence in this smartphone and the immense value it brings.
While I won't delve into comparing the Tensor SoC with competitors like Qualcomm or MediaTek, I can confidently say that the Tensor G2 chip works wonders for the Pixel 7a. The smartphone effortlessly handles everyday tasks and performs admirably even when faced with graphic-intensive workloads. The chip's AI capabilities further enhance the device's performance.
During my workdays, I heavily rely on the Pixel 7a for social media management, emailing, and document sharing on platforms like Instagram and Slack. At times, I have up to 8 applications running simultaneously in the background, and the Pixel 7a handles it all with ease, ensuring my productivity remains unaffected.
AdvertisementGaming on the Pixel 7a is also a pleasant experience, even with high graphics settings. I played COD: Mobile without experiencing any noticeable frame drops or bugs that could hinder my gaming experience.
I also conducted a Geekbench 6 CPU benchmark on the Pixel 7a, which yielded impressive results with a single-core score of 1262 and a multi-core score of 2442. These scores indicate the device's strong performance capabilities.
However, it's worth noting that the device does tend to heat up, and you feel it more around the edges due to the aluminum frame. While noticeable, the heating is not severe enough to deter usage or cause discomfort.
Another aspect that may concern long-term users is the limited storage option. The Pixel 7a is only available with 128GB of storage and lacks the option to expand it. Considering the device's price, this may not be an ideal solution for everyone. Personally, I rely on cloud storage solutions, which mitigate this limitation. However, I hope that Google offers higher storage options in future iterations.
On the other hand, the 8GB of RAM on the Pixel 7a performs exceptionally well, effortlessly handling multiple applications and facilitating smooth transitions between them. The device's boot-up speed is also commendable.
AdvertisementMoving on to battery performance, the Pixel 7a houses a 4385mAh battery, which is decent for its size. However, I believe that optimization will improve over time, as the current average screen time stands at around 4 hours and 30 minutes for mixed-use scenarios. Light users can expect to achieve approximately 5 and a half hours of battery life.
Charging speed, on the other hand, is a contentious issue. The Pixel 7a supports 18W charging, which falls short compared to the competition. This compromises the charging experience for those seeking the stock Android experience. Personally, I have been using a 33W adapter, which takes approximately two hours to fully charge the device from 0% to 100%.
Fortunately, wireless charging provides a saving grace. With wireless chargers conveniently placed on my work desk and in my car, I never have to worry about running out of battery since I keep the device charging at all times. If you have a similar setup, wireless charging eliminates any concerns regarding battery life.
The Google Pixel 7a lives up to its reputation for delivering exceptional camera performance, with each year bringing new advancements to the setup. This time, the 7a takes it a step further with an entirely new set of cameras.
At the core, the 7a boasts a 64MP primary shooter coupled with a 13MP ultrawide sensor, while the front houses a 13MP selfie camera. The primary camera features a quad Bayer sensor, capturing two images and combining them to produce the best possible outcome. It also incorporates Quad PD autofocus for enhanced focus accuracy.
In daylight conditions, the primary camera produces excellent results, as expected. The images exhibit sharpness, vibrant colors, and exceptional color accuracy, with a satisfactory dynamic range that captures highlights and shadows effectively. This contributes to the overall aesthetic appeal.
The camera excels at capturing skin tones, although sometimes it tends to make them appear warmer than desired. Additionally, the digital zoom performs decently up to 2X, retaining good details, but loses quality as you zoom in further.
The ultrawide results are equally impressive, maintaining consistent color tones and benefiting from Google's software enhancements, compensating for the lack of autofocus.
In low-light situations, the camera's performance slightly diminishes, despite the Night Sight mode's efforts to maintain quality. When it works optimally, it produces solid results, but there are instances where it struggles to identify the scene accurately. To achieve consistent results in low-light conditions, it's recommended to manually activate the Night Sight mode. The colors in night shots pop nicely without overpowering the light and spoiling the frame.
Portrait images from the device are top-notch, featuring precise edge detection and generally accurate background blur. The camera app also offers various bokeh effects to experiment with, accompanied by an impressive selection of portrait presets, reflecting the Pixel legacy that the 7a carries forward.
Surprisingly, the 7a excels at video recording as well. The primary camera supports up to 4K 60fps recording, while the ultrawide camera can capture footage at 4K 30fps. I've extensively recorded footage for Business Insider India's Instagram, primarily B-rolls, and I'm impressed by the accurate colors, crisp audio capture, and satisfactory video stabilization. Even when shooting from a moving vehicle, the results are among the best I've seen on an Android device recently.
However, with the default 128GB storage option, storing large 4K files on the device might pose challenges. It's advisable to swiftly transfer the footage to your editing machines to manage storage effectively.
The 13MP selfie camera delivers decent results, avoiding excessive AI enhancements seen on other devices. The images are crisp, with generally accurate color reproduction, and the portrait selfies also showcase precise edge detection.
For video recording, the selfie camera supports 4K 30fps and 1080p 60fps, making it a reliable tool for content creation, especially for vlogging.
This section wouldn't be complete without mentioning the additional features in the Photos app. Not only does the app deliver precise results, but it also provides suggestions on how to enhance your photos. By selecting any picture in the app, you'll find options such as blur, dynamic range adjustment, or sharpening to improve the overall quality. This feature saves you time in making your images more presentable. And let's not forget the magic eraser, which works like a charm. While subject removal is not a new concept in smartphones, Google's execution sets it apart.
The Pixel 7a successfully continues the legacy it represents. This device delivers exactly what it promises: stock Android, impressive cameras, and a well-crafted, premium-looking smartphone. There are certain compromises, particularly in the battery department.
AdvertisementI would like to point here that the Pixel 7 on a good day is bargaining at around the same price, so you can look into that as well. But if camera altogether is not your priority, and you need performance then OnePlus 11R is also an option you can look into.
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