The previous week has been one of many busiest I’ve ever had. I flew to Dallas, Texas, for a buddy’s wedding ceremony, drove to Austin to go to an in-law, drove again for the marriage festivities, then flew again to New York, solely to go out to San Francisco the subsequent day for Google I/O 2023. The excellent news is that the brand new Google Pixel 7A has been in my pocket all of the whereas, via each leg and layover, and it’s by no means felt restricted in any deal-breaking approach. It is a $499 cellphone, and it’s simply extra proof that you simply actually don’t have to spend rather more than that to get a superb expertise today.
Is it the right cellphone? No. There are options lacking right here that some of us would need. Additionally, battery life is simply OK, and the worth has been hiked up $50 from final yr’s mannequin. To treatment this, Google is continuous to promote final yr’s Pixel 6A at a lower cost—$349—although you may routinely discover it on the market at $299. That cellphone continues to be a superb purchase at both of these costs, however do you have to really feel the necessity to spend a bit extra, the Pixel 7A has nearly the whole lot you’d want.
The New Customary
The Pixel 7A mimics the design of the Pixel 7 and Pixel 6 collection that got here earlier than. It’s clear and distinctive, and it’s simple to identify in a sea of iPhones and Samsungs—good should you need to really feel totally different. It is available in Charcoal (black), Sea (child blue), Snow (white), and Coral (orangey pink), the latter of which is unique to the Google Retailer. The blue is somewhat too faint for me—it usually appears white—however the Coral is drop-dead beautiful. I like a flashy cellphone.
The cellphone’s body is manufactured from recycled aluminum, and the again is a plastic composite that in no way feels low-cost. (It’s additionally one much less spot for cracked glass in case you drop the cellphone!) The entrance is made with Gorilla Glass 3, a product which is a number of years outdated at this level and isn’t as scratch- and crack-resistant as trendy formulations from Corning, the corporate that creates the hardened glass. Utilizing older Gorilla Glass is among the simple methods to convey down the worth of a handset. Protected to say, even when the again can’t crack as simply, it’s price getting a case. This Pixel is IP67-rated for water and mud resistance although, so a drop within the pool gained’t destroy it.
The 6.1-inch OLED display hasn’t proven any weaknesses, even once I stared at it whereas strolling in full solar (to not point out 94-degree warmth paired with disgusting ranges of humidity) in Austin. Is it as vibrant because the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G, the Pixel’s closest competitor? No, however I not often needed to squint to learn the show. You’re handled to a 90-Hz refresh charge as nicely, which implies the whole lot from enjoying video games to scrolling Instagram feels extra fluid, because the display is outputting extra frames per second than conventional 60-Hz screens. It’s a pleasant perk.
Efficiency isn’t a difficulty both. The Pixel 7A packs Google’s Tensor G2 chipset with 8 gigabytes of RAM, the exact same stack that powers its flagship Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Professional. I’ve by no means seen the 7A stutter in my time with the cellphone. This chipset means you get entry to most of the identical G2-specific software program options that debuted on the Pixel 7 collection, equivalent to Lengthy Publicity within the digicam app and Photograph Unblur, which did successfully unblur some faces in my pictures of the dance flooring on the wedding ceremony.
The Pixel 7A is among the few sub-$500 telephones to function wi-fi charging, and it’s about rattling time this began exhibiting up in cheaper telephones. It’s a lot nicer to plop your cellphone on a stand as a substitute of trying to find a cable. That mentioned, the 7A does skip another niceties you may need favored to see, like a headphone jack, a microSD card slot, and a wall charger within the field (although you do get a USB-C to USB-C cable). The cellphone can be restricted to 128 GB of inside storage; it’d be good if Google took a web page from Motorola and began providing 256 gigs.
Google has lengthy had a lackluster in-display fingerprint sensor, and sadly the Pixel 7A follows that very same path. On my first day of use, I needed to put my thumb on the sensor a couple of instances for it to unlock. It received drastically higher over time, however I nonetheless wanted to be extra acutely aware and deliberate about finger placement than I used to be on different telephones such because the aforementioned A54. It’s simply not an ideal sensor.