In a tech world once marked by annual leaps in innovation, we’ve transitioned into an era of more thoughtful, incremental smartphone updates. This shift prompts a pertinent question: Can a two-year-old phone still hold its own in 2023?
Google Pixel 7a - Unlocked Android Cell Phone - Smartphone with Wide Angle Lens and 24-Hour Battery - 128 GB – Charcoal
Cast your mind back to 2021, and you’ll recall the Pixel 5a as a reliable workhorse that garnered plenty of affection. Fast forward to today, and the Pixel 7a has raised the bar on almost every front compared to its predecessor, solidifying its position as one of the standout budget-friendly phones of 2023. Whether you’re contemplating upgrading from your trusty Pixel 5a to the shiny new Pixel 7a, or you’re on the hunt for a new phone and weighing the dependable Pixel 5a against its successor, we’ve got you covered with all the insights to make your decision easier.
Price, Availability & Specs
The Pixel 7a made its debut in May 2023, hitting 17 countries, marking one of the most widely available Pixel devices in recent memory. In the US, the Pixel 7a starts at $499, with a Verizon-exclusive mmWave version priced at $549. Already, we’ve seen discounts of up to $50 on the Pixel 7a through Google’s official site and third-party retailers like Amazon.
Google Pixel 7a - Unlocked Android Cell Phone - Smartphone with Wide Angle Lens and 24-Hour Battery - 128 GB – Charcoal (Renewed)
Turning to the Pixel 5a, it made its entrance in 2021 but faced limited availability due to the pandemic, primarily being sold in the US and Japan. Launched at $449, it has grown increasingly scarce in recent years. While you can still find new units from outlets like Amazon, there are multiple listings offering renewed or pre-owned Pixel 5a units for as low as $200—an option well worth considering.
While both hailing from the Pixel family, the Pixel 7a and 5a showcase striking differences in design. The Pixel 7a adopts the refreshed design language introduced with the Pixel 6 series, departing from the metal unibody with a matte plastic finish seen on the Pixel 5a. Instead, it features an aluminum frame coupled with a polycarbonate back.
Google Pixel 5A 5G 6GB RAM/128GB ROM, 6-Inches Display SmartPhone - Black (Renewed)
Both phones share an IP67 protection rating, ensuring resistance to dust and water. However, the Pixel 7a goes a step further by supporting wireless charging, a feature absent in the Pixel 5a.
In terms of physical dimensions and ergonomics, these phones are quite similar, with the Pixel 7a being marginally smaller and heavier. The Pixel 5a is offered in a single ‘Almost Black’ color, while the Pixel 7a introduces more variety with color options like Charcoal, Sea, Snow, and the Google Store exclusive Coral.
The most significant aesthetic change arrives in the camera module placement. The Pixel 5a retains its two-camera setup in a conventional square module, while the Pixel 7a boldly stretches the cameras across the device’s width—a distinctive style choice that has elicited mixed reactions. Additionally, the Pixel 5a’s physical fingerprint reader resides in the middle at the back’s top, while the Pixel 7a incorporates an in-display fingerprint scanner on the screen.
Google Pixel 7a - Unlocked Android Cell Phone with Wide Angle Lens - 128 GB - Snow with Pixel Buds A-Series - Wireless Earbuds - Headphones with Bluetooth - Charcoal
In the display department, the Pixel 7a and 5a don’t veer too far apart. The Pixel 5a boasts a 6.3-inch OLED display with a 2400 x 1080 resolution. In contrast, the Pixel 7a features a slightly smaller 6.1-inch OLED display with the same 2400 x 1080 resolution. This minor difference in size gives the Pixel 7a a slightly higher PPI (Pixels Per Inch) of 429 compared to the Pixel 5a’s 415 PPI.
Google Pixel 5A 5G Smart Phone 6 Inches, 6GB RAM, 128GB HDD
Both displays deliver vibrant OLED colors, deep blacks, and ample brightness levels. However, the real upgrade lies in the refresh rates. While the Pixel 5a offers a standard 60Hz screen, the Pixel 7a flaunts an adaptive 90Hz refresh rate. This translates to smoother scrolling and animations on the Pixel 7a—a subtle yet impactful enhancement in user experience.
It’s worth noting that Google ships the Pixel 7a with the Smooth Display feature turned off by default, citing battery-saving reasons. New users should remember to enable it to maximize their screen experience.
In the audio department, both phones come equipped with stereo speakers, but the Pixel 7a bids farewell to the 3.5mm headphone jack, which you can still find on the Pixel 5a.
Google Pixel 7A 128GB Charcoal Smartphone-Verizon (Renewed)
Beneath the surface, the Pixel 5a runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor—a step below the flagship 8-series chipsets from Qualcomm. It packs 6GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage. In contrast, the Pixel 7a utilizes Google’s in-house Tensor G2 chip, roughly equivalent to last year’s Qualcomm 8-series chips in terms of raw power. The 7a boasts 8GB of faster LPDDR5 RAM and significantly improved UFS 3.1 storage.
Google Pixel 5a with 5G (128GB, 6GB) 6.34" OLED, Snapdragon 765G, 4K Dual Camera, IP67 Water Resistant, Volte Fully Unlocked (T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Global) (w/Fast Car Charger, Black) (Renewed)
Benchmarks make it evident that the Tensor G2 outperforms the Snapdragon 765G chipset by a notable margin, a development expected given the two-year gap. This doesn’t imply that the Pixel 5a is sluggish by any means. However, the combination of its mid-range chip and a 60Hz display makes the performance gap noticeable in various activities, whether it’s casual social media scrolling or engaging in graphics-intensive games.
There is, however, a caveat when it comes to the real-world performance of the Tensor G2, particularly in terms of thermal efficiency. Like other phones in the Pixel 7 series, the Pixel 7a tends to heat up during regular usage. While it’s common for phones to get warm during demanding tasks like gaming or 4K video recording, the Tensor chip also struggles to maintain cool temperatures during everyday activities. Addressing this thermal issue is crucial for Google, especially with the anticipated release of the Pixel 8 later this year.
The thermal efficiency woes of the Tensor chip have implications for battery performance, presenting an area where the Pixel 5a holds an edge over the Pixel 7a. The Pixel 5a boasts a 4680mAh battery capacity, while the Pixel 7a lags slightly behind with a 4385mAh capacity.
Typically, advancements in processor generations are accompanied by improvements in battery efficiency. However, the Snapdragon 765G’s efficient design, coupled with the thermal management challenges