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Forget the Pixel 7a: This $349 Google phone is secretly the best deal right now

If you're rushing to buy the latest Pixel 7a, give this affordable alternative a look first.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
The display of the Google Pixel 6a
Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

Google just launched two new smartphones during its annual I/O conference: the Pixel Fold and the Pixel 7a. The latter of which is a direct replacement for last year's Pixel 6a. However, a year-old difference doesn't mean you should pass on the predecessor, especially since Google is still carrying the device in stores, and just dropped its price down to $349.

On the other hand, the Pixel 7a sells for $499, so you have to wonder, are the improvements truly worth the extra cost? 

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First of all, with the new Pixel 7a, Google improved its most affordable phone model in nearly every way. I won't discount that. The company finally added wireless charging, Face Unlock, and a 90Hz display to its mid-range phone, and made significant upgrades to the camera system, raising the main camera from a 12MP sensor up to a 64MP.

And there are the benefits that come with a polished new chipset in the Google Tensor G2, too, like a faster interface and snappier performance overall.  

Review: Google Pixel 7a review: Meet the new best sub-$500 Android phone

But, refinements aside, you have to consider what features remain the same or are similar between the Pixel 6a and 7a -- which there is a lot of. For example, the phone's storage space remains at 128GB, and the RAM has only been upped from 6GB to 8GB. 

Google Pixel 6a colors

The Pixel 6a's color options are not as vast as the 7a, but they're still fashionable.


Though not the latest chipset, the Pixel 6a is also powered by a Google-made chipset, Tensor, much like the one that's found in the Pixel 6 Pro. And if you're drooling over the Pixel 7a's water and dust resistance, rest assured that the Pixel 6a is just as durably certified.

As a person looking for a mid-range Android phone myself, the discounted sale price of the Pixel 6a is very attractive. My hunt for a mid-range phone hinges a lot on how the manufacturer can balance affordability with capability -- I'm not so much focused on having the latest and greatest technology. 

Also: All the hardware Google just announced at I/O 2023

When it comes down to it, the Pixel 6a, at $349 (and sometimes lower), is secretly the better deal than the new Pixel 7a. Whether the improvements are worth that price difference or not will depend on who's buying the phone. For me, I can live without the 90Hz display and wireless charging, and I'll happily take the $150 discount as a bonus.

You'll be in good hands no matter which of the two phones you buy; ZDNET's full reviews can attest to that. But if you want the most bang for your buck right now, don't look past the Pixel 6a just yet.  

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