It was only at the end of last year that the Google Pixel 7 series launched, and yet despite this, it wasn't long until the updated variant known as the Pixel 7a was announced by the technology titan. Believe me when I say that this is the real "a" variant we're getting here, because Google has finally addressed all the complaints from previous generations, and therefore this is, without a doubt, among the most attractive smartphones of the year - for pretty much everyone.
Okay, let's quickly address the aforementioned objections. The Pixel 7a has 18 watts of wireless charging, something that most phones in this price range lack. And yes, the display now runs at 90Hz instead of 60Hz, and while this isn't as silky smooth as the 120Hz we might be used to on flagships, it's eerily close and delivers a razor-sharp user experience most of the time. These are perhaps the two most important aspects that have kept the Pixel a family from becoming the mainstay among a myriad of consumers, though many still recommend them over most other Android competitors.
That's not to say that there aren't a few things that have been cut here and there. First of all, there's Gorilla Glass on the front, but the back is plastic, even though it's not immediately noticeable. Also, you only get two camera lenses, not three. There's a 64 megapixel wide and a 13 megapixel ultrawide, and with Google's near-magical tuning, you get some of the best stills from this camera, and that includes competitors that cost two, if not three, times as much as the 7a.
But beyond that, this is a masterful display of power from start to finish. The display, in addition to running at 90Hz, is a 6.1-inch OLED HDR panel in 1080p that delivers a PPI of just over 431, so it's saturated, gorgeous and favourably calibrated. There's an optical fingerprint reader too, and facial recognition from the small selfie camera works impeccably.
The design itself is timeless and modern, and the Arctic Blue variant we have here may not escape fingerprints on the back, but at the same time it oozes quality. There's no way you can tell that this is a budget-friendly smartphone. There's also IP67 certification, something most Chinese competitors lack. There's WIFI 6, Bluetooth 5.2, a 4385 mAh battery that lasts all day... it's awesome.
It has even got Google's own Tensor G2 SoC in it, so there's no skimping even here. No, Google isn't going toe-to-toe with the latest Snapdragon from Qualcomm, but Tensor has already proven its worth, delivering consistent performance for everyday tasks. Will you get high and consistent frame-rates in Genshin Impact? No, of course not, but it will remain fast for many years and can do everything else you need a smartphone to do. The 128GB may be a limitation for some, understandably, and in the future Google may have to offer more space for those who want it, but there's 8GB of RAM, and that's plenty.
The central camera lens, where we assume most images will come from, is optically stacked, but that's not really what's important. What's important is that it supports Google's suite of Pixel-exclusive tools, and there's a software suite that delivers razor-sharp and colour-balanced images. There's Night Sight, there's Real Tone, there's Magic Eraser - these aren't just buzzwords, they're useful tools that ensure you can quickly capture an image you're likely to be happy with, while also allowing you to use software to customise if that's what you want.
Is there anything you really have to sacrifice? Well, the 128GB might be annoying for some, and the 20 watts of wired charging might be a bit much compared to competitors from OnePlus and Xiaomi, who rarely offer wireless charging at this price point. But it's really small nuisances we're talking about here. Pixel 7a will be the first Android phone I will recommend to friends, acquaintances and family, and therefore the grade is also self-evident. Bravo. And now let's get that Fold, Google.