Google recently introduced the Pixel 7a — a confusingly priced budget phone that’s costlier than its predecessor, but cheaper than the Pixel 7, while trading a few features to achieve said price. With Google’s tendency to prefer an all-plastic build on the a-series, one would presume there’s no way the Pixel 7a is sturdier than the flagship Pixel 7 Pro. However, YouTuber Zack Nelson’s classic durability test has a surprising conclusion.
The JerryRigEverything channel has earned a name for itself in the tech YouTube community for videos that push devices to the physical limit of their endurance. With the $500 Pixel 7a, Google seems to have made a pretty sturdy phone, despite the liberal use of plastic in the construction. The phone has metal side rails, detachable metal buttons, and a metal SIM tray, all with adequate sealing to maintain the IP67 water resistance of the device.
The Pixel 7a’s display survives for 25 seconds directly under a lighter’s flame, and the OLED panel recovers completely as well. Its camera visor is still made of metal, and scratches easily. The screen has Corning Gorilla Glass protection, so it should be okay sharing a pocket with your keys and coins, but sand and other harder substances can leave a mark. The plastic back panel also gives in to scratches from a razor blade. So, you’ll be better off buying a protective case for your Pixel 7a, but not for the same reasons as the 7 Pro.
Nelson suggests we avoid associating plastic with low-cost or cheap items, noting that toys and tools built to last also use plastic. While we understand Google’s use of plastic on the Pixel 7a helps bring the cost down, there’s the counter-argument that the display is glass whether you like it or not. Nonetheless, the newest Pixel isn’t as weak as the 7 Pro, as we can see in the final bend test.
Google has also made an interesting design decision of having the metal camera visor separate from the metallic frame of the new budget phone. Although it looks like a structural weak point, the phone holds up to Nelson’s powerful bend tests admirably well, showing zero signs of permanent deformation. So perhaps a slim case would suffice, because Google’s design doesn’t need help with the structural rigidity here.
Google clearly learned valuable lessons from the Pixel 7 Pro’s design, and has made the Pixel 7a almost twice as rigid for just over half the Pro model’s price. You’re getting your money’s worth here, and the Pixel 7a is well on its way to becoming one of the best budget phones out there.
Google Pixel 7a
The Pixel 7a doesn’t quite fit into any one box. On one hand, it’s Google’s cheapest phone — but on the other, it matches the flagship Pixel 7 with features like a 90Hz display and wireless charging. So it’s not a budget phone, and it’s not a midranger in the truest sense, but it does pack some serious value at its price point.