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Google's Pixel 7a has only been out for a few days, but it has already raised the stakes for what you can expect from a budget phone in 2023. Yes, it's right at the top of what I'd consider "budget" with a $499 price tag, but it's impressive how it blurs the line between a mid-range phone and a flagship. It shares such a tightly-knit DNA with its flagship sibling that it leaves the standard Pixel 7 in an awkward middle ground where it doesn't do enough to stand out or particularly excel in its own lineup.

I was really excited about the regular Pixel 7 when it was announced, so much so that I preordered one to be among the first in line to receive it. But now, about seven months later — especially after seeing how the Pixel 7a has improved in all areas this year — I wish I waited for the affordable Pixel model. I know I am not alone when I say the Pixel 7a makes the regular Pixel 7 a bit of a middle child in Google's Pixel lineup, but here are a few reasons why I am starting to regret the Pixel 7 instead of waiting for the Pixel 7a.

Looks and feels the same

I've always thought the Pixel 7 looked way better than the Pixel 6a, thanks to a tasteful move from a glass camera bar to a metal one. The anodized metal styling looks great as it blends into the frame, giving a dual-tone look to the device. It also made the flagship phone stand out a bit more than the affordable A-series model. But that's changed with the arrival of the Pixel 7a, which looks identical to the Pixel 7. Side by side, as you can see, there is little, if anything, to distinguish between the two.

The Pixel 7's camera bar protrudes more than the 7a's
The Pixel 7's camera bar protrudes more than the 7a's

Even though the Pixel 7a has a plastic back, both phones feel similar in the hand. In fact, they look and feel so similar in hand that my colleague Ben had to double-check the reviewer's guide to see if it was indeed using a plastic back. That's definitely an improvement because you could clearly distinguish between the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 6a. It's good to see an affordable mid-range phone getting a flagship treatment, but I'd be lying if I said it's not daunting to see a relatively affordable phone offering the same quality as your costly "flagship."

Flagship-grade hardware and features for less

The theme of our Google Pixel 7a vs Pixel 7 comparison is all about similarities than differences, and it's because of the kind of hardware and features the affordable A-series phone brings to the tablet for its price. Not only is it the best A-series phone Google has ever made, but it also stands toe to toe with the standard Pixel 7 when it comes to the key hardware specs. I am talking about things like the improved 90Hz display, Google's flagship Tensor G2 processor, a surprisingly capable set of cameras, and more. Heck, the Pixel 7a even has a slightly bigger battery, that too with support for wireless charging. Sure, it doesn't offer the fastest wireless charging speeds, but let's not pretend like the Pixel 7 is winning awards with its laughably slow charging speeds.

Pixel 7a in the hand
Pixel 7a in the hand

The fact that the Pixel 7a brings all these flagship features, which I once thought made the Pixel 7 great, is already quite impressive. But to think that you get all that for a cheaper price is what I find more surprising. There was a clear distinction between the Pixel 7 and Pixel 6a's specs sheet to justify the price difference, but that's simply no longer the case.

Cutting the right corners

Google has cut some corners to keep the Pixel 7a's price low, but I believe they've cut the right corners instead of taking away from crucial features. The decision to go with a plastic back instead of glass is one of them, which doesn't take away from the overall appeal of the phone. Similarly, the Pixel 7a comes with Gorilla Glass 3 protection on the front instead of Gorilla Glass Victus protection, but that's not necessarily a deal-breaker for me. The same goes for the IP67 rating and the relatively slower charging speeds overall. There are some subtle differences between the Pixel 7a and Pixel 7, but none of them get in the way or affect the overall experience.


Cutting the right corners has allowed Google to upgrade the Pixel 7a to include very similar specifications as the flagship model. In fact, the Pixel 7a is better in some ways, which is quite surprising. For instance, it comes with Bluetooth 5.3, up from 5.2 on the regular Pixel 7. You also get a slightly bigger battery which, for all intents and purposes, allows the Pixel 7a to last just as long as the Pixel 7 on a single charge, if not more. The new affordable Pixel is also guaranteed to receive three years of Android OS updates and up to five years of security updates. I also like the fact that the Pixel 7a is slightly more compact and weighs a few grams lighter compared to the Pixel 7.

Almost the same cameras

Pixel 7a's camera hardware
Pixel 7a's camera hardware

The Pixel 7a's upgraded camera hardware also holds up quite well. The upgraded 64MP f/1.89 primary sensor and the 13MP f/2.2 ultrawide sensor, both produce excellent images that look almost identical to shots you get out of the regular Pixel 7. It also uses an in-sensor crop to produce a 2X zoom and compensate for the lack of a zoom lens like the Pixel 7, and the results are just as promising. The front-facing camera has also seen a modest upgrade to 13MP, up from 10.8MP, so you should be able to grab similar-looking selfies. Lastly, it's worth noting that both phones can capture 4K videos at up to 60fps from the rear cameras, which is great. The Pixel 7a tops out at 30fps footage when recording at 4K using the front camera, but that's not necessarily a pain point.

I am leaving some camera samples captured using the Pixel 7a below, but I highly recommend reading our Pixel 7a review (linked earlier in this post) to see how the photos from Pixel 7a stack up against the ones captured using the flagship model. I still recommend picking up the Pixel 7 Pro for the best camera experience, but the Pixel 7a should be enough for casual photographers.

The Sea blue color is calling me

Google Pixel 7a (4)-2

As someone who likes showing off the design and color of my phones with either a clear case or no case, I really wish I could get my hands on the Pixel 7a's Sea variant. It's a perfect splash of blue which looks nothing like the Sorta Seafoam finish that Google offered for the Pixel 6. It looks different — dare I say better — compared to any other color offered by Google. Of course, this is more of a preference thing and may not be a deal-breaker for many, but I am truly disappointed that this wasn't a color option for the Pixel 7. I would pick the Pixel 7a's Sea colorway over any of the Pixel 7 finishes.

Google Pixel 7a: Middle child syndrome

Overall, the Pixel 7a is nearly as impressive as the Pixel 7. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that they're both identical when it comes to all the key metrics, be it performance, battery life, or display. They even have the same software experience and features, and you get to enjoy all the Pixel-exclusive features along with Google's superior software support. It's just a no-brainer when you consider the $100 price difference between the two phones. I wish I had waited for the Pixel 7a instead of pulling the trigger on the Pixel 7 because I truly believe it's stuck between two better phones in its own lineup.

Sea Pixel 7a on transparent background
Google Pixel 7a
$444 $499 Save $55

Google's latest mid-ranger brings several improvements over last year's model, making it a great option for the budget conscious. The Pixel 7a packs the flagship Tensor G2 chip, flagship-tier cameras, an improved 90Hz display, more RAM, better durability, and wireless charging support.

Out of all three phones bearing the Pixel 7 badge, I'd say the Pixel 7a is the most appealing device for those who just want the Pixel experience without all the bells and whistles. The Pixel 7 Pro, on the other hand, is also a good option for those who want the best of what Google has to offer. It gets a relatively bigger and sharper display and a more capable set of optics, among other things. Now that leaves the regular Pixel 7 in an awkward spot which, as I mentioned earlier, doesn't do enough to stand out. It's hard to recommend it over the Pixel 7a at full price, so my recommendation would be to wait for some Pixel 7 deals or simply go with the new A-series model.