There is only a $100 difference in price between the Google Pixel 7 and the new Google Pixel 7a, so if you’re looking at one, it makes sense to look at the other, too.
You can either save some money or get a better model for not much more cash. But which camera is better? On paper, the Pixel 7 seems like it should win, but what about in reality? We’ve found out. There is a decisive winner here, just not the one you expect.
Pixel 7 vs. Pixel 7a: camera specifications
Let’s start with the
The Pixel 7a is a little different, swapping the 50MP camera for a 64MP main camera, again providing an 8x Super Res Zoom. This isn’t an optical zoom, but it uses Google’s software expertise to ensure the zoomed shots look as good as possible. The wide-angle camera has 13MP and a 120-degree FOV, plus there’s OIS and EIS and phase detection autofocus. The selfie camera has 13MP and fixed focus.
When you dig more into the specification, other differences emerge. The
What will these mean to the photos? We took a variety of shots over several days and in different conditions to find out.
Pixel 7 vs. Pixel 7a: main camera
The two phones may have different main camera sensors, but there is very little difference between the photos, and only if you directly compare the two (and only when you really criticize) will you notice them. If you use the main camera most of the time, then either phone will work for you, and both take fantastic photos.
This is worth saying right up front, along with how much I’ve enjoyed taking photos with both the
The first photo shows the Pixel 7a delivering some deeper colors, but this is not a trend, as sometimes the
You can also see this in the second photo, where the Pixel 7’s photo emphasizes the white side panels on the van more than the Pixel 7a, and the colors are perhaps a tiny bit more vibrant. However, the level of detail is identical, as is the tone and the atmosphere. You have to zoom in and nitpick to spot the noise in the Pixel 7a’s clouds, but few will be overly concerned about it.
The photo of the muffin demonstrates the depth of field possible with the main camera in the right circumstances, and also the detail both produce. Again, the white balance is better in the Pixel 7’s photo, but the overall tone is more pleasing from the Pixel 7a, and a slight edit to boost the exposure would make it really pop. Generally, the Pixel 7a is better for close-up photos than the
The final photo minimizes the differences in color, contrast, and white balance, and if there is any additional noise in the Pixel 7a’s photo, you really have to look hard to see it. Both provide pretty much the same interpretation of the scene, and the differences don’t make one photo better. The main camera category is simply too close to call, and I’d be happy with any of the photos taken with either camera.
Pixel 7 vs. Pixel 7a: wide-angle camera
If you want to take wide-angle photos that look like wide-angle photos, then the Pixel 7a is the phone to choose here, as its 120-degree field of view returns a far more expansive image than the Pixel 7’s tight 114-degree FOV. It’s immediately noticeable, too, as you can see in our first photo of the church.
There’s so much more of the surroundings in the Pixel 7a’s photo, but the camera doesn’t distort the image too much, so it does appear fairly natural. The Pixel 7’s photo avoids fish-eye distortion but at the expense of an epic, wide-angle view. I prefer the Pixel 7a’s exposure and the brightness of the image in general, although the
The Pixel 7a’s fish-eye effect is more noticeable in the second photo, with the fence posts appearing at a far greater angle than in the Pixel 7’s photo, but the deeper into the image you look, the less obvious it becomes. The colors, contrast, and exposure look very similar, but again you “see” more in the Pixel 7a’s photo.
The photos appear very similar, but the Pixel 7a’s wider field of view separates it more from the main camera, while the Pixel 7’s photos can appear almost the same regardless of which camera you use. I want wide-angle cameras to take wide-angle photos, and this has let the Pixel 7 down in previous tests too. It gives the Pixel 7a the win here, and this may prove to be very decisive later on.
Winner: Google Pixel 7a
Pixel 7 vs, Pixel 7a: 2x zoom
The first photo of the field and house shows a similar level of detail in both images, while the
The second photo is all about the white balance, which has been a theme running throughout the test, as both treat the color of the car slightly differently. Personally, I look at the Pixel 7’s photo and prefer it, but there is more of a blue tint to the white than in the Pixel 7a’s photo, and arguably, it’s more true to life due to this. Detail is no different, as is the depth of field created, and one photo is not technically better than the other.
Pixel 7a vs. Pixel 7a: night mode
The Pixel 7a’s lowlight photos are superb when you take into consideration the price of the phone and its direct competition. There’s almost no visible edge enhancement, colors are realistic and natural, and there are always masses of detail. It does seem to pitch the white balance better than the
Where does the
Pixel 7 vs. Pixel 7a: portrait mode
There’s no point looking at the portrait mode to try and decide a winner here either, as this photo of a friendly dog proves. Edge recognition in both is good, with individual hairs mostly isolated in a convincing way, and both even have the same haloing effect in similar places too. The colors captured by the
The photo of the car’s headlight and front wheel shows how both can differ in composition. I shot the image from the same position with the same setting in the camera, but the Pixel 7a added a far greater blur effect by default than the
This didn’t happen all the time, though, and our final photo in the set shows — once again — just how similar the two cameras are. It also reminds us how Google’s software works almost identically across all its cameras, regardless of the phone.
Pixel 7 vs. Pixel 7a: selfie camera
The selfies in the gallery were taken on two different days in quite different weather conditions. One has portrait mode active, and the other is without. These are the differences between the photos, and while there is a difference in camera spec, there really isn’t much to choose between the photos here either.
Skin tone is great (it should be, given Google’s research into the subject), background colors are natural, and there’s a decent level of detail. I’ve seen sharper selfies from other cameras (the Galaxy Z Flip 4, for example), but overall the two Pixel phones take excellent selfies. They don’t take selfies that look any different from each other, though, which means we’ve got another draw.
The winner is: you
Yes, there are differences between them, but they don’t make a photo or the camera in general dramatically better or worse than the other. Genuinely, whichever one you choose, the camera is going to really impress. What’s more, there’s very little to choose between the two phones themselves on a performance or ability level either. While the Pixel 7a didn’t actually win the comparison, it’s really our recommendation due to it matching the
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