Google Pixel new 7a smartphone review: no ‘wow’ features but don’t let that stop you
Google’s annual smartphone renewal season has arrived, and as Google typically does, it’s launched a new springtime budget smartphone: the Google Pixel new 7a is now available. While that’s good news, the even bigger news is that Google is also about to launch both a foldable phone—the Pixel Fold—AND a tablet closer to July that promises to kill off the Nest Home Hub gadgets by making them way better. Watch for the Pixel Tablet with its detachable speaker dock coming soon. Meantime, onto the device that is immediately available: the review of the Pixel 7a smartphone. I was provided with a demo version of the phone to test out and review to see what’s new, how it works, and whether it might be a good choice for your next Android smartphone.
Google Pixel 7a
Google Pixel 7a smart phone isn’t going to blow any minds with unheard-of new features or great leaps in technology, but it is a solid smart phone with plenty of meaningful upgrades.
- Fast, responsive
- Great screen
- Pretty phone
- Major camera improvements
- Great battery
- Smart software features
- You’re basically getting a Pixel 7!
- Plastic back
- Fingerprint scanner not great?
What’s new with Google Pixel 7a?
The key upgrades to the Pixel 7a include the addition of wireless charging, a memory upgrade from 6GB on the 6a to the same 8GB the Pixel 7 has. There’s also an upgraded chipset for a speedier, smoother performing phone and Android 13 comes preloaded on the device.
My hands-on video review
Also new: Face Unlock comes to the Pixel 7a, which wasn’t on the 6a but is on the 7. One of the biggest improvements is to the smartphone’s camera; gaining major ground over the 6a and even bettering the Pixel 7 some.
In short, the updates list is relatively short, but even these incremental improvements add value to the Pixel 7a. Let’s dig in…
On the hardware side there are a few improvements that should make the photos taken by the Pixel 7a a lot higher in quality. That’s saying a lot since in my reviews of every Pixel phone so far, al Pixel phones have always owned the road when it comes to great cameras.
When comparing the pgoogle pixel 7a to the Pixel 6a, the front camera has jumped up from 8MP to 13 MP and nudged a slightly wider field of view too. But it’s the rear camera array which is really substantial; while the Pixel 6a had a 12.2 MP dual-pixel wide camera, the 7a builds on that and goes further with its 64 MP Quad camera set up.
New on the Pixel 7a’s camera are some of the fun software tools that exist on other Pixel phones. You can now use Face Unblur (which sharpeners blurry photos and portraits automatically) on the 7a, as well as a new Long Exposure Mode.
Making a return are popular Pixel photo features including better low light photography with Night Sight, Magic Eraser (which is like built in free photoshop and Real Tone for better and more inclusive skin tone accuracy. These aren’t new features but they are new to the budget 7a phone.
Google Pixel New 7a Key Features
What are the key features that make this phone stand out?
Pixel 7a is the budget smartphone offering from Google so it rings in at a much smaller price than the full version Pixel 7. Selling for $599 CAD (compared to the Pixel 7’s $799CAD), it’s one of the most affordable smartphones where you don’t need to dial down your wish list very much.
It’s available in Charcoal, Sea, Snow, (and Google Store exclusive) Coral.
Google claims Pixel 7a is Google’s most durable A-Series phone yet. The test for this is usually faceplanting off a bike and seeing how it fares, but since I’m still upright, we’ll have to take Google’s word for this for now. Specifically the Pixel 7a can handle water and dust with IP67 rating against water and dirt, and the screen is scratch resistant, featuring Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3.
Better chip: meet Tensor G2
Google Tensor G2 is the newest offering of the processor custom-built for Pixel. It’s the same chip that’s in Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro meaning you’re getting an equally powerful phone for a way smaller price. Users should see a faster, more efficient, more secure phone, though since we’re talking about slivers of milliseconds, I can’t really measure and verify it for you. I can only say the phone is fast and responsive.
Long live the battery
If you’re wondering is google a good phone? here is your answer… Google’s marketing has touted “all day battery” lasting over 24 hours. I can say that from reviewing many Pixel phones, the battery life is outstanding, and you can stretch it further by using the existing Extreme Battery Saver mode feature. More specifically the 7a has a 4385mah battery which is pretty much identical to the 6a and 7. From my experience, Google phones have always been extremely long lasting in the battery department, and generally far out do the lacklustre performance of an iPhone.
Google helps you with life
Another set of features in the google Pixel new 7a are the ones that are less flashy but still helpful; things like Call Assistant for call screening which lets you employ the Google Assistant to pickup unknown calls so you don’t have to sit through a sales pitch.
Material You also makes a return, which lets you fully customize your phone screen and app icons too.
Overall review: Google Pixel 7a smartphone
Overall, the new Google Pixel 7a smart phone isn’t going to blow any minds with unheard-of new features or great leaps in technology, but it is a solid smart phone with plenty of meaningful upgrades.
On the pro side, you are essentially getting the Pixel 7 smart phone at a much lower cost. Sure the 7a is missing some of the ‘big deal’ features and specs that make the Pixel 7 special, but in my opinion, you’re not really going to miss them. The ideal buyer for the seven a smart phone is someone who’s a bit more budget conscious and the type of person who might be more inclined to spend less on a smart phone, up front and upgrade more often.
The camera is way better… with that said, it’s the kind of better that’s hard to measure incrementally, but the end results are quite dazzling. Plus Magic Eraser is my favourite smartphone camera feature on ANY phone ever.
The google pixel new 7a is fast and responsive with a beautiful screen, colourful display and a tonne of customization options.
So what are the downsides? Honestly, it’s hard to find a lot. I did find the fingerprint scanner to be a bit less than speedy, often requiring me to reposition my finger to unlock the phone. It’s hard to say, if that’s just me not being used to precisely where to place it or that the under the glass scanner is not as responsive as it could be. Either way with multiple ways to unlock the phone such as a pin code or facial recognition it hardly seems like a major concern. Truly, any major things you feel are missing from this phone can be remedied by simply boosting your budget and upgrading to the full-service Pixel 7or 7 pro.
Once again, I am more than happy to say I can heartily recommend the Google Pixel 7a budget smart phone to you.
When can I get Pixel Tablet?
The newly announced Google Pixel Tablet will be available in June or July. We are anticipating getting hands-on with it for reviews soon so stay tuned.
Can I get Pixel Fold in Canada?
Unfortunately, Google will not be releasing the Pixel Fold smartphone in Canada, I’m told by my contacts. Naturally, this is a huge disappointment for a lot of Pixel fans. Some of the thinking is that we might get the second generation model… Or Google will see what customer interest and sales figures in the United States are like before considering expanding up north. So for now that means you’ll either have to take a trip stateside and source one out… or hold on to your horses. The US store has it ready for preorder, delivering in August 2023. Pixel Fold will be selling for $1799US