Google Pixel 7a vs. OnePlus 12R: which budget phone is king?

Google Pixel 7a vs OnePlus 12R
(Image credit: Future)

 Google’s Pixel 7a has topped our best smartphones list for quite some time now, but the lightweight Pixel has been hard to beat. At a similar starting price , OnePlus’ 12R may finally be a worthy challenger for the top of our best list.

Of course, power users will still gravitate toward the major flagships, but the average user doesn’t need to leverage all that computing power on their smartphone. So a combination of low price point, excellent cameras, vivid display, and good support has kept the Pixel 7a as our reigning champion. However, the 12R combines a number of those features along with solid performance. Is that enough to tip the scales? 

OnePlus 12R vs Google Pixel 7a: Price

Best smartphones: Google Pixel 7a, Apple iPhone 14 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, and OnePlus 10 Pro fanned out in a hand over a slatted wooden bench

(Image credit: Laptop Mag/Sean Riley)


The starting price for the Google Pixel 7a and OnePlus 12R was an identical $499. However, it has been some time since the Pixel 7a launch, so you can find the phone for as low as $374. As a new phone, the 12R is still available at only its full price of $499 for the base model ($599 for the upgraded RAM and storage). The 12R can drop down to $399 starting with a valid trade-in, but that’s still above the 7a’s current base price. Google also offers trade-in rebates that can knock $374 down even further.

So this is certainly still a win for the Pixel 7a, primarily due to age and the imminent launch of the Pixel 8a which is expected sometime this spring. 

 Winner: Google Pixel 7a 

OnePlus 12R vs Google Pixel 7a: Design & display

Google Pixel 7a phone from left to right in black, white, blue and coral

(Image credit: Google)


This one may come down to personal preference, as the two phones are very different in terms of design language. 

Google’s Pixel 7a is a sleek, minimalist design with a full-width camera array. As Sean Riley put it in his review of the Pixel 7a, the tactile alloy camera setup is reminiscent of Geordi La FOrge’s visor from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” or Cyclops’ visor in “X-men.” It sticks out from the rest of the phone, but because the camera bump extends across the phone, you can lay it flat without a case and not worry about the phone tipping over.

OnePlus’ 12R keeps the camera-array pancake to one side of the chassis which fails the “no case” tip test. While it does offer more cameras than the 7a, the massive camera setup tips the design into maximalist territory. That said, I rarely use a phone without a case so the tip test is less of an issue for me.

However, the Pixel 7a comes in more colors, offering four different colorways over the 12R's two. Since the Pixel 7a comes in a light blue Sea and bright pink Coral colorway, I do have to tip toward the Pixel on this one.

Winner: Google Pixel 7a

OnePlus 12R vs Google Pixel 7a: Performance

OnePlus 12R

(Image credit: Future | Madeline Ricchiuto)


This is the one case where the Pixel 7a shows its age. With a Tensor G2 chipset, the Pixel 7a is rather underwhelming in benchmarks. The OnePlus 12R is running a slightly older Qualcomm chipset, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, but it still outperforms the Tensor G2 on all of our benchmark performance metrics.

We have benchmarks for only Geekbench 5.4 on the Pixel 7a, which aren’t quite comparable to the OnePlus 12R’s 6.2 scores. So we’ll have to rely on the category average to make the determination.

On Geekbench 5.4, the Pixel 7a averaged a multi-core score of 3,021, which was well behind the smartphone average for the time. The OnePlus 12R boasts a multi-core average of 5,135 on Geekbench 6.2 which is well above the 4,981 category average. While new flagships certainly outperform the OnePlus 12R its performance is competitive for the category.

The Pixel 7a can still keep up with most daily usage, even keeping pace in “Call of Duty: Mobile” without skipping any frames. The OnePlus 12R handles daily tasks with ease and also performs better on our strenuous smartphone benchmarks, so it does edge out the Pixel 7a.

Winner: OnePlus 12R

OnePlus 12R vs Google Pixel 7a: Cameras

OnePlus 12R

(Image credit: Future)


The OnePlus 12R has more cameras, even if one is a macro lens that some may find less useful than a standard telephoto lens.

The Pixel 7a has a primary 64MP Quad Bayer wide-angle camera and a 13MP ultra-wide camera on the rear camera array. The front-facing selfie cam is a 13MP 95-degree ultrawide camera, which does offer great selfie performance.

The OnePlus 12R has a primary 50MP main camera, 8MP 112-degree ultra wide-angle, and a 2MP macro lens. The front-facing selfie camera is a 16MP fixed-focus camera. As a camera enthusiast, playing around with the macro lens on the 12R was the most fun I’ve had with a smartphone camera in years. 

While some of our staff here at Laptop are skeptical about the use of a macro lens instead of a telephoto camera, the 12R does have more cameras in its camera array than the Pixel 7a. So between quantity and novelty, this one has to go to OnePlus. 

Winer: OnePlus 12R

OnePlus 12R vs Google Pixel 7a: Battery life


The ultimate test of a phone’s usefulness is its battery life. While we love nice cameras and high performance scores, battery life is the end-all be-all for mobile tech. And the OnePlus 12R has impressive battery life, lasting 18 hours and 37 minutes on the Laptop Mag battery test.

The Google Pixel 7a lasted only 10 hours and 5 minutes. That’s decent battery life, but it's far behind the OnePlus 12R. So if you need to live a life untethered from power banks and outlets, the OnePlus 12R is the clear choice.

Winner: OnePlus 12R

Overall winner: OnePlus 12R

OnePlus 12R

(Image credit: Future | Madeline Ricchiuto)


The biggest points keeping the Pixel 7a in our minds are its astoundingly low price and its fun color options. It’s a cute, fun phone, but its performance was never particularly great to begin with. While the OnePlus 12R isn’t running the newest Qualcomm chipset, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is a workhorse of a processor, so the 12R can keep up with more demanding workloads than the Pixel 7a.

Add in the OnePlus 12R’s triple camera array and astounding battery life, there isn’t any reason to go with the Pixel 7a, unless you’re a diehard Google fan or just really want a bright yellow phone. Those are valid opinions, but in a head to head battle, the Pixel 7a just can’t win.

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Madeline Ricchiuto
Staff Writer

A former lab gremlin for Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Tom's Hardware, and Tech Radar; Madeline has escaped the labs to join Laptop Mag as a Staff Writer. With over a decade of experience writing about tech and gaming, she may actually know a thing or two. Sometimes. When she isn't writing about the latest laptops and AI software, Madeline likes to throw herself into the ocean as a PADI scuba diving instructor and underwater photography enthusiast.