Pointless Pixel 7 — why the Google Pixel 7a has created an unlovable middle child

Google Pixel 7a review
(Image credit: Laptop Mag/Sean Riley)

The Google Pixel 7a is here, and one of the worst kept secrets of 2023 received our prestigious 5-star rating for providing critical improvements to the display, battery life, and cameras over the standard Pixel 7.

So now that we have it, what’s the point of the Pixel 7? Honestly, there is no point. Google just turned its own flagship phone into an unlovable middle child with this budget beast.

More for less

Let’s break down every way the Pixel 7a is better than the Pixel 7, which comes in three key areas. First of all, the 6.1-inch OLED panel may be smaller than the Pixel 7’s 6.3-inch display, with the same spec sheet too (1080 x 2400-pixel resolution, 90Hz refresh rate, and HDR). But the 7a’s screen is a far superior stunner.

Brighter and more color accurate. This is a definite win for the Pixel 7a. Second, the battery is bigger. Granted, the size change is miniscule from 4,355mAh in the Pixel 7 to 4,385mAh, but in our own testing, that small change has made a big difference.

And finally, the camera. The Pixel 7 has been one of the best phones I’ve used for photography. In fact, it turned my iPhone stan heart into a lover of green bubbles. But with the Pixel 7a, Google has turned its camera hardware up to 11.

The primary 64MP Quad PD Quad Bayer wide-angle camera with its f/1.89 aperture and 0.8µm wide pixels (1.6µm with pixel binning) produces incredible pictures and mindblowing low light shots.

Not only that, but the ultra-wide has got an upgrade to 13MP at f/2.2 and a 1.12µm pixel width. And the selfie camera is a whole lot sharper too at 13MP with a 95-degree lens at f/2.2 aperture. The end result across all of them is crisper images with better lighting, and all of Google’s fantastic software photography is stronger than ever thanks to some of its new AI-driven tools. 

One key thing I’m seeing in a lot of reviews is the complaint that the Pixel 7a is receiving a $50 price jump. But as you can evidently see, that increase pales in comparison to how much more stuff you’re getting with this phone, especially over the Pixel 7 that is $100 more.

We gotta talk, Google

Google Pixel 7a review

(Image credit: Laptop Mag/Sean Riley)

This is a problem entirely of Google’s own making. I loved using the Pixel 7, and with the near-permanent discounts bringing the price down to $449/£460 at one time, it became a great value phone too.

But now we know what the company is able to pull off in the realms of a budget mid-range phone, you can’t help but feel sorry for those who may be using the Pixel 7 with a bit of a sour taste in their mouth. Even more so when you take into account the fact that the OG Pixel 7 is back up to full price.

Because the truth is this: the Pixel 7 is actually the entry level phone, and the Pixel 7a would have received just as good reviews if launched as the fully-fledged Pixel 7 it quite clearly is. Google has got it all backwards, and the company needs to do a better job of arranging its smartphone lineup in the future to avoid this situation happening again.

Bottom line

Google Pixel 7a review

(Image credit: Laptop Mag/Sean Riley)

With the Pixel 7a, Google has gone ahead and created a phone that is better in almost every way than the Pixel 7 — all for a cheaper price. Why even waste your time (and money)?

I can see the gripes about the “a” line of Pixel phones going up in price by $50 over last year’s model. But for that additional investment, you’re getting so much more bang for your buck. 

One thing is abundantly clear: the Pixel 7 is the middle child that used to feel loved, but the parents have turned their attention to the newest kid on the block. The 7a eclipses the 7 in almost every metric, so the choice is obvious.

Jason England
Content Editor

Jason brought a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a writer at Laptop Mag, and he is now the Managing Editor of Computing at Tom's Guide. He takes a particular interest in writing articles and creating videos about laptops, headphones and games. He has previously written for Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.