By its photographic qualities, its beautiful design and some specialties signed Google, hard to believe that the Pixel 7a is offered at only $ 599. Its slowness and unspectacular battery life remind us, however, that this is indeed a mid-range device.
It’s been ten years since Google entered the ultra-competitive smartphone industry with the Pixels. Despite generally favorable critical reception, their commercial success was very limited, hovering around 4% in North America.
So hats off to the search engine giant for not having given up on these phones, which had a rather dull design in their early days, but which were however distinguished by impressive photographic quality and appreciated software sobriety. Design-wise, there’s nothing dull about the all-new Pixel 7a anymore, with its two rear cameras encased in a metal bar, its aluminum frame and a glossy rear cover. It is not actually glazed like in the more upscale models, but the difference is hardly noticeable.
A good note also for the choice of colors, very soft and with evocative names like Coral, Snow, Charcoal and Ocean.
As has been done since the Pixel 3, a few months after the launch of the main model comes the “a”, which takes over most of the features of its big brother at a more affordable price. Here, for the Pixel 7a, we find the same Tensor G2 chip that powers the Pixel 7 Pro, sold almost $600 more expensive. The 7a’s OLED display is 6.1 inches, the smallest in this range, with the same 90Hz refresh rate as the Pixel 7.
For the photo, we still find the two main lenses, the 64 MP wide-angle and the 13 MP ultra wide-angle on the back. You have to give up on the telephoto lens of the Pro. Our tests gave us virtually identical photos for these three models, with the obvious exception of the subjects for which a zoom was used. The Pixel 7a, like almost all phones in this range, delivers very well-crafted photos, with excellent ability to handle low-light environments and good contrast handling. Its ability to blur the background is one of the most convincing we have experienced, with quite attractive natural results. However, it can be blamed for rather bland colors, which have nothing to do with those provided by Samsung phones, for example.
Still a rare gift for phones at this price, it accepts magnetic charging and can notably be paired with a Pixel Stand. We also have the choice between facial recognition and fingerprints, with a reader under the front screen. Both seemed reliable to us and responded smoothly nine times out of ten.
One of the funniest features, and one that’s finally almost done, is instant translation, billed as a Pixel phone exclusive. For example, just ask the Google Assistant: “Be my assistant in Spanish” and all the sentences spoken into the microphone are immediately translated. Chat and photos can also be translated. The reverse also works: words spoken in Spanish or Arabic will be translated and read by the Google Assistant. We sometimes get lost in the settings and we should not speak too quickly, but this is obviously a function that has greatly improved over time.
As is the trademark of these phones from Google, the Pixel 7a has a very simple Android 13 interface, without the many frills of certain manufacturers. And we guarantee updates for five years, that these phones are always the first to receive.
If you’re used to the speed monsters that are the best phones from Samsung and Apple, the Pixel 7a, and the Tensor G2 chip in general, is clearly slower. Nothing unbearable, but a noticeable delay in opening apps and browsing the web.
Calibration by the Geekbench 5 platform confirms it: the Pixel 7a is not a speed champion, far from it.
For a new phone, we found its battery life to be disappointing. It’s true that we subjected it to more bumping than normal, but we had to recharge it twice before the end of the day. Yet it promises an “all-day battery”.
If your Pixel is unfortunately faulty, Google’s customer service is pretty minimal. The company does business with “repair partners” who are of uneven quality and motivation, as a few readers have reported and as this writer has found.
At $599, it’s clearly excellent value for money, with many not hesitating to crown the Pixel 7a as the best mid-range Android phone on the market. We’re not so adamant, but this phone is a good buy for an average user, who doesn’t necessarily need the tech fanfare of the high-end models.