I finally ditched my Pixel 3 for the shiny new Pixel 7a. The switch came at a fortuitous time because I bricked my Pixel 3 by dropping it in a stream while hiking. It’s not the only reason I made the change. It so happened I purchased the Pixel 7 the day before I went hiking. My Pixel 3 was getting long in the tooth. It’s 4 years old and the software was getting sluggish, in addition, Google abandoned security updates.
I was a bit apprehensive given my experience with the Pixel 6. I hated it and sold it on Ebay just after the 14 day return period expired. If you’re interested in reading my opinions on that here’s a link.
What I Like
Google fixed the fingerprint reader… mostly. It’s not nearly as frustrating as the piece of shit they put in the Pixel 6. This one works 99% of the time. I may be that I’m the one person that has such dry fingertips where I need to press hard on the screen to stop my finger from sliding. Any movement doesn’t allow the sensor to properly read my finger. It’s something I have to get used to but at least it works. Not as good as the hardware fingerprint reader on the back of my Pixel 3 but useable.
The camera is comparable to my Pixel 3. The Pixel 6 took weird photos. The colors were off, the focus was off, and I thought the low light performance sucked. The Pixel 7a has none of those problems that I can see so far. I’m happy with the pictures coming out of the phone. I can’t do side by side comparisons like I did with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 3 (because I bricked the Pixel 3). But, I don’t have the same immediate revulsion to the photo quality. Below are some pics from the Pixel 7a. They are unedited in color or quality. They are only compressed for file size as WordPress limits me to about 2.5 mb per pic.
Battery life is good. I don’t think it’s great but in my typical use I have 40% to 50% left at the end of the day. Much better than my Pixel 3 where I changed the battery myself twice and would frequently have less than 20% at the end of a typical day. So far so good on that front. The phone doesn’t charge very well on lower wattage chargers. When plugged in on most of my chargers through out the house it won’t charge rapidly. It’s not the biggest deal because I purchased the 30 watt charger from Google for when I travel. At home I can charge the phone at night where charging time is not an issue.
The Pixel 7a is light… well, lighter than the Pixel 6. My Pixel 3 was only 148 g so when moving to the Pixel 6, weighing in at a whopping 207 g, it felt like I was holding a brick. The Pixel 7a is 197 g. I didn’t think 10 g would make a perceptible difference but it does. I guess that’s the benefit of having a plastic back on the phone versus glass (I prefer plastic anyway because it’s not so fragile).
The Pixel 7a feels more balanced. The Pixel 6 felt top heavy. I expected the same thing with the 7a because of the similar camera bar but I guess they moved some things around internally to balance the weight.
The price is right. $499 is a bargain in a sea of $1,000+ phones. The hardware and performance is almost the same as what you’ll find in the Pixel 7 but at a lower price. I can rationalize $500 for a phone every few years.
What I Hate
The Pixel 7a runs Android 13. I’m not all that happy with with the changes since Android 11. The home screen still has that stupid area at the top with the date and temperature in the upper left hand corner that cannot be customized. It consumes the entire top of the screen even though it only shows information in the top left.
The text is too small for an old man like me. It’s totally useless without my reading glasses. There’s the Google Search Bar at the bottom of the home screen. You can’t get rid of it, you can’t make it smaller (that I can tell), and it just wastes space. I don’t use it. Ever. When I search I use the Brave Browser and Brave Search. Brave anonymizes my searches so I get raw results rather than the results Google thinks I want. I don’t use the Google Assistant.
On previous phones I downloaded alternative launchers. I’m holding off for now to see if I can get used to stock Android as Google envisions it. But I don’t care for it right now. Google… it’s Android. For crying out loud let me customize it.
It’s too big. The Pixel 3 is 145.6 mm x 68.2 mm. The Pixel 7a is 155.6 mm x 73.2 mm.
No judgment on my Pixel 3. It’s 4 years old and has lived a long prosperous life. It’s mature.
The damn phone now sticks way out of my back pocket. There is a good 1/2 inch or more sticking out the top. I prefer a smaller phones. I have medium sized hands and I can no longer reach from one corner of the phone to the other. The Pixel 3 was about the maximum size for a phone to be useable with one hand for me. Now, many times I have to hold it with two hands to tap on things in the far corners of the screen. It’s a pain in the ass. I want a smaller phone with the latest hardware inside. Is that too much to ask?
I bought the Coral color. It looked deeper coral on the web site and in the reviews I saw (maybe I need to calibrate my computer monitor). In person it’s more pink/peach. I would not have bought this color. This is the downside of buying things online without ever seeing them in person.
When I ordered it came with a free “limited edition” case. With that case on it looks like I’m carrying a phone for a 13 year old girl. Maybe I’m old fashioned (old for sure as I’m 56) but I don’t want to walk around with a phone like that.
After a few days of not liking the way it looks I purchased a gray silicone case from Google. I had a $10 discount so at least I had that going for me. With the gray case the phone looks better. The camera bar, the earpiece, and the USB-C charging port acts as color accents now instead of being the main focus. Much improved.
The case, however, is a little slippery. My dry fingers combined with a slippery silicone case means this phone will most likely end up in another stream. I’m not that concerned about that for now because it’s IP68 rated. My Pixel 3 was IPX8 rated which is the same rating for water protection. That rating doesn’t mean anything though when you replace the battery twice. Once the seal is broken… it’s broken. Hopefully this battery lasts longer than the 2 years for my Pixel 3.
I’ve only had the phone for 11 days. I can say that I won’t be returning this one or selling it on Ebay. I’m happy enough. It’s a good phone at a good price.
All the pictures were taken with my Pixel 2 (not bad for a five year old phone, huh?) except for the gallery at the top of some flowers and my dog. To see more pictures of my dog go to www.galooteusmaximus.com. There's a link to his Instagram there.