May 30, 2023

The previous week has been one of many busiest I’ve ever had. I flew to Dallas, Texas, for a pal’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 move 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, by means of each leg and layover, and it is by no means felt restricted in any deal-breaking approach. It is a $499 cellphone, and it is simply extra proof that you just actually need not spend rather more than that to get an excellent expertise today.

Is it the proper cellphone? No. There are options lacking right here that some people would need. Additionally, battery life is simply OK, and the value has been hiked up $50 from final yr’s mannequin. To treatment this, Google is constant 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 remains to be an excellent 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 every part 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 is clear and distinctive, and it is simple to identify in a sea of iPhones and Samsungs—good in the event 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 just a little too faint for me—it usually seems to be white—however the Coral is drop-dead beautiful. I really like a flashy cellphone.

The cellphone’s body is made from recycled aluminum, and the again is a plastic composite that under no circumstances feels low-cost. (It is also 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 previous at this level and is not as scratch- and crack-resistant as trendy formulations from Corning, the corporate that creates the hardened glass. Utilizing older Gorilla Glass is without doubt one of the straightforward methods to carry down the value of a handset. Protected to say, even when the again cannot crack as simply, it is price getting a case. This Pixel is IP67-rated for water and dirt resistance although, so a drop within the pool will not destroy it.

{Photograph}: Julian Chokkattu

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 shiny because the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G, the Pixel’s closest competitor? No, however I not often needed to squint to learn the show. You are handled to a 90-Hz refresh charge as effectively, which implies every part 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 is a good perk.

Efficiency just isn’t a problem 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, comparable 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 without doubt one of the few sub-$500 telephones to function wi-fi charging, and it is about rattling time this began exhibiting up in cheaper telephones. It is a lot nicer to plop your cellphone on a stand as a substitute of attempting to find a cable. That stated, the 7A does skip another niceties you might need appreciated 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 also be restricted to 128 GB of inside storage; it would 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 just a few occasions for it to unlock. It obtained drastically higher over time, however I nonetheless wanted to be extra aware and deliberate about finger placement than I used to be on different telephones such because the aforementioned A54. It is simply not a terrific sensor.

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