Google Pixel 7a Review: Probably the best mid-range smartphone right now

For the past two months, I have been using the Google Pixel 7a as my primary smartphone. And I have been quite impressed by it. Mind you, I was using the Pixel 6 Pro previously. Plus, I have been accustomed to using flagship smartphones, thanks to my previous job (though not anymore).

The Google Pixel 7a comes in three colours. (Photo: Google)
  • PRICE: S$749, get it at Google Store
  • PROCESSOR: Google Tensor G2 Titan M2
  • STORAGE: 128GB
  • REAR CAMERAS: 64MP wide-angle; 13MP ultra-wide-angle
  • FRONT CAMERA: 13MP ultra-wide-angle
  • CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth® v5.3 + LE, NFC, Wi-Fi 6
  • WEIGHT: 193.5g

For a start, the Pixel 7a maintains the clean and minimalist design language that Google is known for and looks very similar to the Pixel 7. With a smaller OLED screen of 6.1 inches compared to the Pixel 7, it features a sleek and compact form factor, making it comfortable to hold and use with one hand. The screen also gains a nice 90Hz refresh rate, compared to 60Hz of Pixel 6a.

The build quality is solid, with a sturdy frame and Gorilla Glass 3 protection on the front. And with its dust and water resistance of IP67, it can take a bit of rain but you probably do not want to go swim with it. My only complaint is probably that the smooth rear is a smudge and fingerprint magnet.

Can you see the smudges here? (Photo: Trevor Tan)

In the inside, it has the same Google Tensor G2 chip as the Pixel 7. So in theory, it should be blazing fast. However, in the Geekbench 5 benchmark test, it only clocked 1,107 (single-core score) and 3,003 (multi-core score). By comparison, last year’s Apple iPhone 13 has GeekBench 5 scores of 1,612 (single-core score) and 4,212 (multi-core score). Even when playing Pokemon Go, it has visible lag when you are throwing a Poke Ball.

90Hz OLED DisplayA tad slow for games
Flagship chipSmudge and fingerprint magnet rear
IP67 certificationOnly 128GB
Wireless charging
Great value for money

However, for most of modern tasks, such as browsing through social media and checking emails, the Pixel 7a is more than good and fast enough. This is no doubt due to its clean Android 13 operating system. There is no bloatware or skins found in other smartphone brands. And since my workplace uses Google Mail and Calendar, using it for work has been a breeze.

In terms of the next thing that most of us use our smartphones for, the camera is superb for its class. It might not have an optical zoom camera, but its 64MP wide-angle and 13MP ultra-wide-angle cameras are more than good enough for everyday use.

Look at the fur and the details on this cat’s iris in this photo taken by Pixel 7a. (Photo: Trevor Tan)
The photos shot with Pixel 7a are sharp with great dynamic range. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

The photos shot are highly detailed with great dynamic range. Not to mention, with Google’s computational photography, you can easily remove subjects you do not want quickly. For example, this cat does not seem too happy with the man behind him. So I took “him” out for this cat.

In addition, unlike its predecessor, the Pixel 7a gains wireless charging. This brings it more towards the flagship smartphone spectrum. Battery life is not fantastic, but it should easily last you a day with around 30% juice left when you head to your bed.

Another downer is the storage space of only 128GB. I know Google probably wants you to store your photos in the cloud. However, I am old school and prefers my photos in my phone. Not a deal breaker, but certainly a bummer in my books.

This is one smartphone to consider if you do not have much budget. (Photo: Google)

VERDICT: Priced at S$749, the Google Pixel 7a offers a nice balance of powerful performance, great camera capabilities, and a clean software experience, making it a compelling choice for anyone who does not want to pay an arm or a leg for a flagship smartphone. Pound for pound, it is probably the best mid-range smartphone right now.

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