Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Whatever you do, don’t buy the Google Pixel 7a right now

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Google Pixel 7a in Snow in hand portrait.Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Google I/O 2024 is just a month away. We expect Android 15 to be shown off, and some hardware, too. In previous years, Google has used I/O to show off the latest for its Pixel A-series device. This year should give us the Google Pixel 8a, and we might even get a peek at what’s coming with the next-generation Pixel Fold 2.

Contents

  • What I still like about the Google Pixel 7a
  • The issue with the Google Pixel 7a in 2024
  • Don’t buy the Pixel 7a right now

The Google Pixel 7a launched last May, so it’s almost a year old now. At the time, while the 7a was mostly solid, the higher price made it a bit of an awkward recommendation, considering its specs and close positioning to the higher-end Pixel 7.

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I haven’t used the Pixel 7a since I originally reviewed it, so I picked it up again to see how it holds up in 2024. Here’s what still works about the phone and, more importantly, what doesn’t.

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  • Google Pixel 8a: news, rumored price, release date, and more

  • 5 phones you should buy instead of the Samsung Galaxy S24

  • The Google Pixel 8 is better than it should be in 2024

What I still like about the Google Pixel 7a

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

As a proprietor of small phones, the Pixel 7a is a great size. It has a 6.1-inch display, which seems to be the standard for “small” phones these days. It’s very similar to my daily iPhone 15 Pro, so using it with one hand is manageable, unlike larger Android phones I’ve been using recently (the Galaxy S24 Ultra and OnePlus 12).

Even though the Pixel 7a is a “budget” Pixel device, I appreciate Google’s design changes from the Pixel 6a. The Pixel 7a still has a high-gloss plastic back and aluminum frame, but the metallic camera bar gives it a more elegant touch and makes it look similar to the flagship Pixel 7 and Pixel 8.

As I mentioned above, I haven’t used the Pixel 7a since I tested it out last May. It’s been a year since, and a whole new version of Android came out during that time. I updated the Pixel 7a to Android 14, and it’s been a (mostly) pleasant experience so far.

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

One of the new features in Android 14 is the new lock screen clocks, and I love this addition. It gives you more options to customize your lock screen, and it’s cool that it can be dynamic and change with lock screen content. I always enjoy being able to make my devices more personal, so changing it up from the default setting is always welcome to me.

Another one of my favorites is Circle to Search, which originally launched on the Samsung Galaxy S24 series but recently rolled out to Google Pixel devices. It’s not a feature I use all the time, but it’s very convenient when I do. And when I don’t need it? Well, it disappears, so it doesn’t get in the way of my normal usage.

From my experience with Google Pixel devices, they are always capable of taking great photos, and the Pixel 7a is no exception. I was impressed with the camera specs when it was first announced, and it’s still pretty now — as long as you don’t need to zoom in on your subjects.

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Photos taken with the Pixel 7a are still quite detailed and sharp, and the shutter is still reasonably fast with the Tensor G2. The colors have a bit of pop without being overly done and still look realistic, which I appreciate.

The only issue I have with the Pixel 7a’s cameras is the digital zoom—it’s not very good. Of course, that’s to be expected from a phone with only a dual camera system that lacks a telephoto lens. Still, I’m a bit sad that the images I captured of a squirrel running in the park are barely usable.

The issue with the Google Pixel 7a in 2024

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

While you can get the Pixel 7a for pretty cheap these days, it still has the awkward pricing issue. The Google Store previously had the Pixel 7a at a discounted price of $374, down from $499. That’s some pretty good savings! That is until you see that you could also get a Pixel 8 for $499. These discounts appear to have ended at the time of publication, but it’s a prime example of how the Pixel 7a still finds itself in an odd middle ground even in 2024.

The pricing for the Pixel 7a was always an awkward sticking point. When it launched, Google still had the Pixel 6a for sale at $349, but it now looks like that is discontinued, so the Pixel 7a pricing makes a bit more sense. But for just a little bit more, you can get the Pixel 8, which is a much better phone overall.

Despite the Pixel 7a’s compact size, I have had trouble holding it at times without a case. The rounded edges seem to make it harder to hold comfortably, as I’ve become accustomed to the flat edges on most phones these days.

Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

I’ve also noticed a tiny bit of screen stutter when using the phone after updating to Android 14. It’s not a huge problem, but I can definitely see some occasional hiccups. Perhaps that also has to do with the fact that the Pixel 7a only has a 90Hz refresh rate display, rather than the 120Hz that I am used to. Rumors suggest the Pixel 8a could get a 120Hz display, which would be a nice upgrade.

Battery life is also not a strong point, and the slow 18W charging is a bummer. I mean, even the newest Moto G Power charges at 30W, and the OnePlus 12R has very impressive 80W speeds that blow way past the Pixel 7a.

Don’t buy the Pixel 7a right now

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

While the Google Pixel 7a is still a pretty decent phone, you have better options right now. For one thing, the Pixel 8 is now available and relatively inexpensive. It has a similar dual-camera system to the 7a, but it also has larger sensors, so it does take better low-light photos. It also uses the newer Tensor G3 chip that doesn’t overheat as much as the G2 chip inside the Pixel 7a.

And with Google I/O 2024 in about a month, we’re sure to get a Google Pixel 8a from the looks of things. Not only could we see a 6.1-inch FHD+ OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, but other rumors indicate up to 256GB storage, the Tensor G3 chip, a larger battery, and even faster 27W charging, among other upgrades. This pretty much addresses all the flaws I have with the Pixel 7a right now. If you insist on picking up a Pixel 7a, I would at least hold off to see what the Pixel 8a will bring. If you need a new phone right now, you’re better off with something like the OnePlus 12R or Motorola Edge (2023).

Again, while the Pixel 7a could be tempting — especially if you find it on sale — there are better options for a similar price, especially now in 2024. And with the Pixel 8a coming in just a few weeks, you don’t have to wait that much longer for a potentially huge upgrade. The Pixel 7a is not a bad phone by any means, but it’s also not one you should buy in 2024.

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