Google announced and began selling the Pixel 7a earlier last month, and I ordered a Sea colored version from Amazon about a week later. The Pixel 7a is replacing the Pixel 4a that has been my everyday carry phone for the last three years. I really like the size and feel of the Pixel 4a and so I was not eager to up-size to the newer phone, but it has come to the end of the road with Android and there are features the 7a has that make the upgrade a “no-brainer.”
My main concern about the Pixel 7a has been its size and glossy back. The Pixel 7a is taller than the Pixel 4a and because of that I find it harder to operate with one hand. The weight, however, is the most noticeable difference. I am finding that due to the weight it is more comfortable holding the phone in my left hand, but in a position where I can’t scroll apps with that same hand and as a result this phone requires more two hand operation than the Pixel 4a. The weight and size difference is also noticeable when I put the Pixel 7a in a front pant pocket. Fortunately, the size do not make these use cases impossible, just different and I suspect the difference will become less noticeable over time.
The back of the Pixel 7a is more “polished” than the Pixel 4a, but it doesn’t feel so slippery that I fear it is going to quickly slip out of my hand. I purchased a really nice Latercase that does not add much weight or bulk and gives a more matte like feel to the back of the phone.
Battery life appears to be better, but I don’t know whether that is simply because the battery is larger or the Google Tensor G2 is that much more efficient. Accubattery is showing that screen of battery consumption is at 2% or less, which is definitely better than the Pixel 4a that is closer to 3%. Battery life is an item that requires a longer duration to evaluate.
I don’t know if it is just me, but I think pictures using the wide angle lens have a bit of a fish eye affect. (See the last picture on this page for an example.) I don’t think the camera app clearly indicates how to switch between cameras.
I really like the under screen fingerprint scanner, although that may be more due to the fact that scanner is on the front of the phone rather than on the back. Now I know exactly where to put my finger and therefore the scanner works more accurately. The face unlock also works ok, but doesn’t seem to trigger fast enough. People complain about the speed of the finger print scanner, but I find it plenty fast.
As I expected, it was a real pain to move the Pixel Watch from the Pixel 4a to the 7a. Google really does not understand what is a technology ecosystem, it’s not just a suite of products that have the same appearance, it’s products that work together with little effort by the user. The fact that one has to factory reset a WearOS watch to move it from one Pixel phone to another is the clearest evidence of Google’s cluelessness when it comes to tech ecosystems. At least the Pixel Buds were automatically recognized and work.
Of the new features I get with the Pixel 7a, I like the wireless charging the best, although I am still working on how often to do the charging. I bought the Pixel Stand and have it on my desk where I could put my phone during the work day, but what is the impact on battery health from keeping the phone on the charger for extended periods of time? Articles on lithium batteries say it’s best to keep the phones between 20% to 80% charged given that each full cycle has an impact on the life time of the battery. Seems to me though that Google intends users to keep the phone on the stand, so you would think they would incorporate programming to help with the battery health.
Over all I am happy with the Pixel 7a. It’s larger than the Pixel 4a but it is the smallest Pixel, and I definitely think it is better to buy it than the cheaper and older Pixel 6a. Rumor is that the 7a may be the last of the “A Series” pixel phones, but it’s not clear exactly what that means. It could mean that Google will stop staggering the release of phones in the spring/summer and fall/winter like they have over the last several years but keep the “small, medium, and large” sizes, or it could be they drop the phone all together. Given that the Pixel 7a has nearly all the same specs as the Pixel 7, it seems the only reason one would buy the “flagship” phone is to get a larger screen. I really hope that Google keeps a phone that is no larger than 6-inches tall.