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Google Pixel 7a review

Our Rating :
£449.00 from
Price when reviewed : £449
inc VAT

Google’s mid-priced Pixel returns ahead of schedule with a modest price increase


  • Exceptional cameras for the price
  • Same Tensor G2 CPU as more expensive Pixel 7
  • 90Hz display


  • £50 price jump
  • Only 18W wired charging

Google’s latest mid-range handset, the Pixel 7a, was an inevitability. What we didn’t expect, however, was for it to show up this early in the year. With the initial forecast for the Pixel 7a to make an appearance in the summer, akin to previous releases, its arrival was a welcome surprise.

Except, of course, this early arrival makes a lot of sense, considering things didn’t work out quite as planned for 2022’s Pixel 6a. Terrific in almost every measure, it didn’t have an easy ride to the top of the mid-priced podium, launching a couple of weeks after the hugely anticipated Nothing Phone (1).

READ NEXT: Best mid-range smartphone

For 2023, however, Google is hoping to get ahead of the game this year. We already know that the Nothing Phone (2) is on its way, but the Pixel 7a now has an early chance at (mostly) unimpeded fame and fortune – at least for a month or two.

Google Pixel 7a review: What you need to know

The Pixel 7a is Google’s answer to those that want a flagship-class experience for less money. There are a few key differences, but broadly speaking the feature set is mostly the same as the rest of the range.

In fact, perusing the list of core specifications presents a tricky game of spot the difference. The Pixel 7a incorporates the same Google-made Tensor G2 chipset as the regular Pixel 7 and, while its display is slightly smaller (6.1in vs 6.3in), it’s still an OLED panel with a 90Hz refresh rate. It also comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage with no option to bump that up to 256GB.

The phones look identical, too, with the same horizontal camera bar on the rear. The only noticeable difference is the photographic hardware itself, with the Pixel 7a utilising a 64MP (f/1.9) main shooter and a 13MP (f/2.2) 120-degree ultrawide on the back, with another 13MP (f/2.2) selfie on the front.

Google Pixel 7a review: Price and competition

The Pixel 7a is available to buy from 10 May and the price is right where it should be. There’s only one version available (8GB+128GB) and this costs just £449 – £150 less than the original launch price of the Pixel 7 seven months prior.

There has been a slight increase in price for 2023 compared to last year’s Pixel 6a, though. The 6a started at £399, which means we’re expected to pay an extra £50 (13%) for the Pixel 7a. That’s not a huge jump – we’ve certainly seen bigger increases from other companies – but it’s worth mentioning.

How does that price fare against the rest of the competition, then? The iPhone SE costs the same as the Pixel 7a at £449, though it only has a 4.7in display, single 12MP rear camera and a measly 64GB of storage. Its A15 Bionic processor trounces its opponents, however.

There’s also the Nothing Phone (1), which is still a great option even if it is due to be replaced in the coming months. It’s cheaper than the Pixel 7a at £399, its display has a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz and it has a unique light-up ‘Glyph Interface’ on the rear. The OnePlus Nord 2T is another worthwhile option and is the cheapest of all of these phones at £369.

Google Pixel 7a review: Design and key features

If you’ve seen one Pixel, you’ve seen them all, and the Pixel 7a is no different. The horizontal rear camera bar, which stretches across the entire width of the phone, is back again, although it’s nowhere near as chunky as the unit on either the Google Pixel 7 or the Google Pixel 7 Pro.

At 73 x 152 x 9mm, it’s quite a bit smaller than the full-fat models, and it’s also a smidge lighter at 193g vs 197g and 212g. With smartphone sizes steadily ballooning with every new release, it’s refreshing to find a handset that’s heading in a more pocket-friendly direction. By contrast, my iPhone 13 Pro Max feels absolutely gigantic.

The phone can be picked up in either Charcoal (seen here), Snow, Sea or Coral colours. Google has gone as far as colour matching the horizontal camera bar with your chosen hue, and it’s also launching these new pastel shades across its  Pixel Buds A-Series earbuds – just in case you wanted to pick up a new, colour-coordinated pair while you’re at the checkout.

At the launch, Google was keen to mention that the 7a is “the most durable A series device ever built” and this is apparently thanks to a new mid-frame architecture, which the company says better protects the display in the event of accidental drops. It’s also IP67 rated for water and dust protection, just like before.

The Pixel 7a’s lineup of buttons and ports can all be found in sensible places, with the power button and volume rocker on the right-hand edge and the nanoSIM slot located on the opposite side. The 18W USB-C port is at the bottom, and this sits between a pair of speaker grilles – although one of these exists solely for the purposes of cosmetic symmetry.

A brand-new addition for this year is the return of face unlocking. This was a feature that was missing from Pixel phones for a number of years, so it’s great to see it return alongside the usual under-screen fingerprint and PIN unlock methods.

Google Pixel 7a review: Display

The Pixel 7a’s 6.1in Full HD resolution (2,400 x 1,080) display is an OLED panel with a 90Hz refresh rate which can also be toggled to 60Hz if you prefer. Google says that peak brightness is 25% higher than last year’s Pixel 6a, although this doesn’t quite align with our testing, with the 7a achieving roughly the same levels of luminance. I recorded 505cd/m2 with auto-brightness off, 480cd/m2 with auto brightness on and 859cd/m2 in HDR playback.

Colour performance, on the other hand, is exquisite. There are two display modes on offer this year – Natural and Adaptive – with the former being the most colour accurate of the two. In this mode, the Pixel 7a’s display covered 93% of the sRGB colour gamut, with a total volume of 94% and an average Delta E of 0.86 – anything less than one here is essentially perfect.

Google Pixel 7a review: Performance and battery life

As for the Pixel 7a’s internal componentry, we’re getting Google’s Tensor G2 chipset this year. This is a 5nm octa-core part, with a clock speed of 2.85GHz and is the same processor found inside the rest of this year’s Pixels. It also has the same 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage but lacks the Pixel 7’s 256GB option.

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There’s not much that separates the performance of the Pixel 6a and 7a in our benchmarks, but there’s still a lot to like here. Speeds are reasonably fast, achieving both 1,061 and 3,309 in the Geekbench 5 single- and multi-core tests, outperforming the Nothing Phone (1) by a comfortable distance.

The Pixel 7a’s bump in refresh rate from 60Hz up to 90Hz opens the door for higher frame rates in gaming apps. The Tensor G2 is quite powerful in this regard, too, with the Pixel 7a reaching 62fps in the GFXBench Car Chase test, compared to 50fps last year. Run the Manhattan 3 benchmark, which is a slightly older, less graphically demanding test, and you get a perfect 90fps.

What’s even better is the Pixel 7a’s battery life. This is an area where the Pixel 7a is hugely improved on last year’s model. It scored 23hrs 49mins in our looping video benchmark, which is three hours longer than what the Pixel 6a achieved last year. It’s also the longest-lasting phone in its price bracket that we’ve tested and by a comfortable margin, too.

Google Pixel 7a review: Software

A key part of the Pixel’s appeal is its software. They’re usually the first phones to receive core Android updates – Android 14 is on the horizon – and they’re as close to “stock” Android as it possible to get.

The Pixel 7a is no different, launching with Android 13 and layered with Google’s ‘Material You’ interface tweaks. Like last year, this gives you granular control over how themes and widgets look on your phone and matches the UI with your chosen wallpaper style.

The Pixel 7a gets a handful of new Google Assistant features, too. Call assist options that were previously limited to the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro can be found here, including Clear Calling wind noise reduction and call screening, where your phone handles robocalls for you. However, the latter is only available in the US at the time of writing.

Other AI-based features include an automatic voice message transcription option in the Messages app as well as hands-free assistant-based voice typing.

Google Pixel 7a review: Cameras

Where the Pixel 7a diverts course from the rest of the range is in its camera hardware, although it’s worth mentioning that its software and shooting capabilities remain exactly the same as the rest of the range.

READ NEXT: Best phone camera

This year, the Pixel 7a is equipped with a 64MP main camera on the rear, which is located next to a secondary 13MP 120-degree ultrawide. On the front, a single 13MP camera handles the phone’s selfie-snapping duties and this is embedded in the top centre of the screen in a small hole punch notch.

Pixel enthusiasts may have spotted that all these cameras have a higher resolution than those on the pricier Pixel 7. Indeed, the total number of megapixels is higher across the board on the 7a, with the biggest difference being the main lens at 64MP vs 50MP. On paper, this might make you question why you would bother to spend the extra £150.

Regardless, it punches well above its price and matched its siblings in my camera tests, capturing spectacular shots in a wide range of lighting conditions and environments. Images are highly detailed and captured with a pleasingly rich colour palette.

Google says that Night Sight capture is 2x faster than before and it really shows. Low-light images are captured almost instantaneously and there’s less time spent in the back-end processing stage after you snap the picture.

I did encounter one bug during my tests, however, where the Pixel 7a refused to capture an image, even when pressing the on-screen shutter button multiple times. Thankfully, this only happened once and was rectified by simply closing and re-opening the app.

There’s no telephoto camera but the Pixel 7a is capable of digitally zooming up to 8x courtesy of what Google calls “Super Res Zoom”. This merely crops the image but it also applies some of Google’s back-end trickery to clean up the image and the result look surprisingly good.

The phone’s ultrawide sensor isn’t quite as impressive as the main unit but there’s still plenty to like here. You lose a bit of detail in squeezing more stuff into the frame but the colours are accurately represented and the image processing does a great job at removing optical distortion in the corners of the picture.

The Pixel 7a gets a handful of other software-based camera features as well. The excellent Photo Unblur mode has finally trickled down to Google’s mid-priced Pixel, alongside Magic Eraser – to remove unwanted people or objects simply tap or draw a circle around those parts of the image – while Real Tone produces accurate skin tones in portrait mode.

In fact, it’s one of the best smartphones, full stop, for capturing portrait images. Subject definition is nice and crisp, with well-judged tonality and facial features as well as a clear separation of the blurred background. And, finally, video recording is pretty good with the ability to shoot 4K resolution clips at 60fps, fully stabilised. Footage was nicely detailed and was largely rock-steady, even during rapid panning.

Google Pixel 7a review: Verdict

On the surface, the Pixel 7a’s changes are few and far between but dig a little deeper and you’ll discover a wide range of improvements across the board, from battery life to cameras to software.

All told, the Pixel 7a is one of the most well-rounded mid-priced handsets I’ve put to the test in a number of years and is a worthy recipient of our Best Buy award.

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