Now we say unsurprising, but that doesn't mean this device doesn't have a few tricks up its sleeve and secrets to uncover. And as ever, we take great joy in revealing all the cool new specs and smart bits to you (as well as offering some pretty sweet deals on the device, if we do say so ourselves.)
Simply put, Google has done the best thing it could do for customers who want to get in on the action of the Pixel 7 range. Taking the Pixel 7 and watering it down a little has resulted in the stunning Pixel 7a – and as is often the case when you add water to something small, it has blossomed beautifully.
When it comes to design, there's definitely a particular look that screams "Google!", and honestly, we're good with that. In fact, the design of the Pixel 7a is actually super similar to the Pixel 7 – and side by side, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference without a measuring tape to hand, since there's only 0.2 inches between the two.
However, the Pixel 7a offers up a fresh colour option on top of the Charcoal and Snow choices we're already familiar with: Sea. A stunning pale blue that's about as summer-ready as it gets.
In terms of those all-important Google-isms (for lack of a better word), you can expect to see the familiar camera shelf across the back that's perfect for offering a bit more grip when using the device one-handed. Though the back of the device is made of plastic, there's a premium feel to it that's emphasised by the sleek recycled aluminium frame – which has a matte finish that's closer to the Pixel 7 Pro in appearance than the Pixel 7. Overall, it's distinctive, and we're fans.
Around the front, you can rest easy since the screen is protected by Gorilla Glass, and though the Pixel 7a's IP67 rating is a little lower than the IP68 rating of the Pixel 7, it's still an effective way to protect your device, particularly for a lower cost.
Back to the subject of screens, the Pixel 7a keeps the OLED display of the Pixel 6a, but levels up the refresh rate to 90Hz (just like the Pixel 7) so you can enjoy zippy scrolling speeds to your heart's content. However, you can't just pick your 90Hz rate – you have to pop over to your settings and toggle it on so that Google can switch between 60Hz and 90Hz depending on what you're doing. Which also (and quite conveniently) prevents the higher refresh rate from draining your battery for no good reason.
At 6.1-inches, it's neither the smallest nor the largest screen on the market, but it looks seriously bloomin' good – especially for a lower-cost device. You can enjoy HDR playback when streaming, and as with all Google phones, you'll find it rich in detail and depth, showing off gorgeous colours without getting too false and gaudy.
Honestly, our favourite part of the Pixel 7a has to be the camera. Sure, we know Google are brilliant with this stuff – but come on, this camera is significantly better than last year's Pixel 6a, and almost on par with the pricier Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. Almost.
For this price bracket, you can't go wrong with a 64MP main sensor and a 12MP ultra wide lens. Sure, it's a dual setup, not a triple or quadruple one – but this is Google's budget handset, and it's better than some of the flagships on the market from other brands!
There's plenty of processing power going on from Google's very own chipset that makes sure the lenses are pulling their weight and working together, and it's a joy to see – photos that come out looking professional, pretty much every time.
Night Sight is faster than ever and isn't a mode you need to root around in the settings for either – the camera app will automatically pick up on when it's most suitable, so you can take snaps that almost look like daylight, right in the dead of night. Don't worry though, you can toggle this mode off if you prefer.
Though the dual setup doesn't include a telephoto or zoom lens of any sort, Google has an alternative option that works pretty well to replace it. The Super-res Zoom on the Pixel 7a can go up to 8x magnification, but functions better at the lower end, around 2x and 4x. Higher than that, and you start to lose quality and spot graininess, but for most of us that's all the zoom we'll ever need outside of a spy film.
As for the video, recording at 4K at up to 60 frames per second leaves you with footage that looks clean, bright, professional – and surprisingly steady. It's a great choice for vloggers who don't want to fork out for pro-grade recording devices.
Since the Pixel 7a is a Google device, it's also got a fair few camera tricks up its sleeve, some of which we can guarantee you'll love to have a play with. Take Long Exposure for example – better at night, definitely, but there's a childlike joy in seeing shiny, bright light trails running across your screen, even if you don't use the mode as often as you probably could. And with basically no effort required on your part, you can take artsy shots in no time at all, so long as you can keep your hand steady for a couple of seconds.
A final note on the Pixel 7a camera has to cover the front-facing lens, which has been upgraded from the Pixel 6a's 6MP lens to a lovely 13MP – which is actually better than both the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro's 10.8MP setups. With 13MP, shots are detailed, bright and generally flattering (especially if you make good use of Google software), so you'll likely take more selfies than you normally do. You can also take 4K video with the front camera, at 30fps, which is frankly brilliant for a budget handset.
Since Google started making their own chipsets, we've been pretty impressed at how they offer all-around improvements to the way Pixels run – and it’s about more than just speed, too.
The Pixel 7a is no exception and actually uses the same Google Tensor G2 chipset as the others in the Pixel 7 range, so it was pretty much a given that we'd be impressed with the processing power in this device. It genuinely doesn't feel like a low-cost device at all and can handle just about anything you throw at it, from intense gaming sessions to streaming every last episode of the latest Netflix release.
Yes, the Tensor G2 isn't as heavily concerned with being super-fast, but unless you're obsessed with statistics, you'll find it's a smooth and speedy piece of tech that instead of favouring one area of processing, takes a balanced approach to AI and machine learning. The result is that it levels up just about everything the phone can do – with a particular emphasis on the camera processing, which is neat.
One extra lovely little thing about the Pixel 7a over its predecessor is the addition of wireless charging, which while not relevant to everyone (you still have to buy the kit, of course) is still a nice extra we weren't expecting.
Though the charging speeds of both 18W wired and 7.5W wireless aren't up to par with the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, it's a small price to pay for decent battery life in this price bracket – you'll still get up to 35 hours of use from one charge, no problem, thanks to the 4385mAh battery (which is bigger than the latest Samsung Galaxy S23 flagship.)
The Pixel 7a and Google's A-Series in general are considered to be more budget-friendly than the rest of the brand's devices, and overall, we've got to agree. The Pixel 7a is a little pricier than its predecessor, true, but still considerably cheaper than the next model up.
Coming in at just £22 a month and with no upfront cost on Three, the Pixel 7a was previously £64.99 upfront but is now £0 for a limited time only (at the time of writing.)
With a better camera than most handsets in the same price range, and improved refresh rate, battery, chipset and charging, there are a lot of little tweaks that bring this device up to the next level. And we've got some great offers on with the best UK networks so you can get this handset in your hands sooner!