I am Team Compact. Any phone screen that is significantly bigger than 6 inches is too big for me. As such, phones like Samsung S23 and Pixel 7A fall within my area of primary interest. They both have a 6.1-inch display, making them two of the best small Android phones you can buy today.
But size appears to be the only thing they share in common (apart from the fact that they are both Android smartphones). Samsung clearly knows how to make well-optimized smartphones, while Google is still struggling with it.
Samsung S23 vs Pixel 7A
Let’s start with what we can see and feel: size and weight. Despite having the same screen size, the S23 is thinner, shorter, and narrower than the Pixel 7A. It is also 25 g lighter than the Pixel 7A. When you hold both in your hands, as a lover of compact phones, it is the Samsung S23 that you don’t want to drop.
I am not going to give the Pixel 7A slack for being trounced by the Samsung S23 when it comes to performance. The Tensor G2 does not hold a candle to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, and that is okay. The $200 price difference between these two phones has to come from somewhere, and things like performance and cameras are the easiest areas to cut costs. Which Google did nicely. The Pixel 7A is a solid phone for the person on a budget.
Where the Pixel 7A disappoints once more is in the battery performance, which should not be a surprise to anyone who is familiar with the antecedents of Pixel phones. But how bad it is really shows when the 7A stands beside the S23.
Pixel 7A has a 4385 mAh battery, compared to he S23’s 3900 mAh battery. It also has a less demanding processor than the S23. And it also has a less demanding screen. How is it then possible that it delivers only about 75% of the S23’s battery life? It doesn’t add up. In practical terms, it means that if you are browsing the web or social media, the Pixel 7A’s battery will empty 2 hours before the Samsung S23’s.
Of course, by comparison, the Pixel 7A’s battery life is still better than the iPHJone SE 2022, another compact smartphone that I have used (see the iPhone SE 2022 review). But that is Aaples and oranges, if we are being honest. As I have said before, Google needs to develop or purchase the capacity to optimise their phones. The batteries of Pixel phones drain too fast.
As a matter of fact, iPhones and Pixel phones appear to be leading the cause of smartphone brands with poor battery life. And seeing how Apple is doing better these days, Google will likely take that crown. Every single Pixel phone I have used has had the worst battery life of its contemporaries from other brands. Every single one. And the Pixel 7A is following in that tradition.
Pixel phones have good cameras, but they keep falling short in the most important things. Google needs to hire people who know how to optimise phones. Your ability to enjoy taking photos with a good camera is severely hampered if battery life is poor. And I don’t even want to get started about the overheating issues, which also stems from poor optimisation.
The Pixel 7A has the same screen size as the S23, has a less powerful processor, has a bigger battery, yet the battery life is piss-poor, while the S23’# battery life is stellar. Make it make sense.
PS: Check out our Samsung Galaxy S23 review.