Pixel 7a and Pixel 7 use different versions of Google's Tensor G2 — which is better?

Woman holding Pixel 7a in snow with water droplets on it
(Image credit: Google)

Although the Pixel 7a, Pixel 7, and Pixel 7 Pro are listed as having the same Tensor G2 chipset, according to Kamila Wojciechowska, a respected leaker, the Tensor G2 in the 7a is of lesser quality. Should consumers be angry because they thought they were purchasing a phone with the same quality chipset? That's up to them to decide. The question is, what is the difference, and is it a bait and switch? 

Should Google issue an explainer so consumers are informed that there is a difference and if there are any differences in performance? As reported by PhoneArena, the chips are mostly the same, with the difference being how the chips are packaged during the last production stage. 

Google went for a different packaging technique for Pixel 7a's SoC, the packaging is a protective layer meant to protect the chip from external elements while also helping to connect it to other parts of the device. Google supposedly used the IPoP tech for the Pixel 7a, which was first used by Samsung for 2018's Galaxy S9. The Tensor G2 uses a more advanced tech called FOPLP-PoP.

What is the difference

See more

The main difference between the two packaging techniques comes into play when discussing the chips' thickness and how well they displace heat. Chips using IPOP are thicker and more significant than those that use FOPLP chips. However, the latter is far more complicated and expensive to produce, which explains why Google went with the IPOP tech for the cheaper Pixel 7a.

The performance differences are minute, with most probably not even noticing, and notably the Pixel 7a actually outperformed the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro in our testing. However, other tests have shown that the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro's version of the Tensor G2 performed better for more extended gaming due to that slightly superior heat dissipation.

Users who aren't gamers won't notice the difference, again the Pixel 7a beat its pricier rivals in our tests, making its performance and price point all the more remarkable. It's one of the many reasons why the Google Pixel 7a currently holds the top spot as the ruler of the best smartphones of 2023. 

Mark Anthony Ramirez

Mark has spent 20 years headlining comedy shows around the country and made appearances on ABC, MTV, Comedy Central, Howard Stern, Food Network, and Sirius XM Radio. He has written about every topic imaginable, from dating, family, politics, social issues, and tech. He wrote his first tech articles for the now-defunct Dads On Tech 10 years ago, and his passion for combining humor and tech has grown under the tutelage of the Laptop Mag team. His penchant for tearing things down and rebuilding them did not make Mark popular at home, however, when he got his hands on the legendary Commodore 64, his passion for all things tech deepened. These days, when he is not filming, editing footage, tinkering with cameras and laptops, or on stage, he can be found at his desk snacking, writing about everything tech, new jokes, or scripts he dreams of filming.