The Google Pixel 7a (S$749) is the cheapest Pixel 7 smartphone from Google. But not by a lot. The hardware and user experience aren't very different from the other Pixel phones, either. It's essentially the Pixel 7, but with a smaller display and a different set of cameras. Sort of like how the Samsung Galaxy S23+ and Galaxy S23 are practically identical. If you want a compact Pixel that's maybe a tad easier to use with one hand, or looking to save some cash, get the Pixel 7a.
- 6.1-inch OLED screen (2,400 x 1,080 pixels, 90Hz)
- Google Tensor G2 chip with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage
- 64MP main camera, 13MP ultra-wide, 13MP selfie
- 4,385mAh battery
If not for the two new colours — my review set is blue (Sea), but the Coral version isn't available in Singapore — I probably cannot distinguish between the Pixel 7a and the Pixel 7. Both phones have a camera bar with the camera cutout. But the Pixel 7a has a 6.1-inch screen (like the Pixel 6a) compared with the Pixel 7's 6.3 inches. The Pixel 7a also shares many of the same features as the Pixel 7. Like wireless charging (7.5W), which is rare at this price. Wired charging, though, is disappointingly slow (18W). Other similarities include a 90Hz display, and 8GB of memory. All the Pixel 7 phones also use the same Google Tensor G2 chip. So you will get similar performance (the phone also occasionally runs warmer than expected). Even the Pixel 7a's IP67 rating is effectively the same as the IP68 rating on the higher-end Pixel 7 phones.
The Pixel 7a also has many of the same software features, like Face Unlock. Note that Face Unlock doesn't work with masks, and is less secure than the optical fingerprint sensor, so it can't be used to unlock apps or mobile payments. Other useful Pixel software are the Recorder app (great for interviews, and since last December, it's able to identify, and label separate speakers) and Clear Calling (noise cancellation for your calls). Even the camera features are mostly similar across all the Pixel 7 phones. For instance, the Pixel 7a has the helpful Photo Unblur feature that fixes blurry photo. Night Sight is just as fast. There's also Super Res Zoom, which, like the Pixel 7, is only up to 8x digital zoom due to the lack of a telephoto lens. But the Pixel 7a lacks support for HDR video or the Cinematic Blur feature for videos.
The cameras on the Pixel 7a are different from the ones on the other Pixel 7 phones. But photos retain that signature Pixel look — punchy and contrasty. Photos taken by the Pixel 7a could probably pass off as the ones by the Pixel 7. Low-light photos using Google's Night Sight also looked better (less noisy, and brighter in really dark scenes) than other mid-range phones. However, the Pixel 7a's lack of a telephoto lens means that long-distance shots resemble watercolour paintings. I typically have around 20 to 30% battery remaining at the end of the day. You'll likely need to charge the phone every night. The Pixel 7a lasted 14hr 21min in our usual video playback test at maximum brightness. That's about 30 minutes longer than the Pixel 7 Pro.
The Google Pixel 7a is so similar to the Pixel 7 that I wouldn't be surprised if Google drops the A-Series name in the future. Even the pricing is fairly close. While the Pixel 7 is officially priced at S$999, you can find it for less than S$900. Think of the Pixel 7a as the smallest Pixel instead of the budget Pixel. While you save some money by picking the Pixel 7a over the Pixel 7, S$749 for a mid-range phone is still on the high side. The Samsung Galaxy A54 5G, for example, starts from S$588. But the Pixel 7a does perform better than most of its competitors, except maybe for battery life and charging speed. So perhaps pitting it against the Galaxy S23 (around S$1,100) is more appropriate. In Singapore, the Pixel 7a comes in white, black, or blue from Google, Shopee, and Amazon SG.
Note: Review unit provided by Google.
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