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Google Pixel 7a charging test: Running a little too hot
Google doesn’t provide a charger in the box with the new Pixel 7a, so you’ll have to pick up a compatible third-party charger. Before you do that though, you’ll want to learn more about how the Pixel 7a charges, what specifications it uses, and how long it takes to fill up. We tested the phone to bring you everything you need to know.
These are the key facts about the Google Pixel 7a's battery and charging capabilities.
- According to our Google Pixel 7a review, the phone's 4,385mAh battery is just enough for a full day of use but might require top-ups when used heavily.
- The phone uses USB Power Delivery for wired charging, so plenty of compatible third-party chargers are available.
- Charging at 18W takes at least 146 minutes to charge the Pixel 7a from empty to full.
- Wireless charging is supported at up to 7.5W, meaning it will take several hours to fill the phone from empty.
How quickly does the Pixel 7a charge?
To test the phone’s charging times and capabilities, we grabbed the official Google 30W USB-C Power Charger ($25 at Google Store) and the second generation Pixel Stand ($79 at Amazon) for wireless capabilities.
Google’s charger supports USB Power Delivery PPS to fast charge the Pixel 7 series but the Pixel 7a defaults to the standard USB Power Delivery protocol. It pulls 18W (9V, 2A) maximum from this plug, so you can buy plenty of low-power third-party alternatives and still power the 7a without issue.
At 18W, the Pixel 7a takes one hour and 46 minutes to full, which is pretty slow. Hitting 25% takes 16 minutes, getting the battery to halfway takes 36 minutes, and making it to 75% a rather agonizing full hour. As you can see from the graph above, the tail end of the charging process is by far the slowest portion, but the phone isn’t quick to top up in short bursts either.
Due to high temperatures, Google's Pixel 7a takes between one hour and 45 minutes to two hours to fully charge.
It’s even slower than the Pixel 7, which features a similarly sized 4,355mAh battery. That might be expected given that it supports but faster marginally faster 20W USB PD PPS charging, but we saw the same charge time when using 18W USB PD. And not just to full charge either; the Pixel 7 hit the 50% and 75% milestones several minutes faster as well. It appears that charging temperatures might have something to do with it.
Why does the Pixel 7a battery charge slowly?
Even if you’ve picked out the correct phone charger, the Pixel 7a takes quite a long time to charge compared to other phones. This is because 18W is already quite a low power level, and it isn’t even used for the whole charging cycle. The latter stages charge at 11W before declining below 5W to finish topping up the battery. Furthermore, Google’s charging algorithm is temperature sensitive, aiming to keep the cell below 40°C by reducing power further.
We can see this clearly in the chart below. The Pixel 7a sustains 18W of power for a decent portion of the early charging cycle when the device is cool (starting unused at 20°C). But once temperatures approach 37°C, the Pixel 7a throttles back the charging power down to 14W and later just 11W until temperatures have declined. When this happens, it adds several minutes to the phone’s already slow overall charge time. We observed it taking just over two hours to charge the phone up with a slightly warmer starting temperature, and the phone becomes quite hot while charging either way.
This temperature issue fits our observed pattern of slower charging in the mid to late portions of the charging cycle compared to the Pixel 7, which does not exhibit the same throttling issues when using 20W or 18W charging. The exact reason for this isn’t completely clear. Still, it’s possible that the Pixel 7a’s chassis cannot dissipate heat at the same rate as the Pixel 7 series or that Google is cautious about this (cheaper?) battery’s sensitivity to higher temperatures.
This also makes sense in the context of the Pixel 7’s conservative low-power wireless charging capabilities. It takes the Pixel 7a over 3 hours to reach full charge on the Pixel Stand (2nd Gen) due to its lackluster 7.5W charging power level. While wireless charging is a welcome addition, it’s painfully slow and unsuitable for topping up your phone quickly.
Google Pixel 7a charging: It’s not all bad
Google’s Pixel series has always been more sluggish to charge than its competitors. We were reminded of this during our Pixel 7 charging test, and the Pixel 7a is no different. The good news is that it’s straightforward to find compatible USB Power Delivery and Qi wireless products that meet the Pixel 7a’s conservative power needs. The downside is that the phone appears bound by temperature constraints that make charging even slower than expected in certain conditions. If you think you’ll need to top your phone up in a hurry, picking the Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 Pro will be a better option than the budget model.
If you’re looking for a Google phone that doesn’t charge quite so slowly, the new Pixel 8 shaves around 20 to 25 minutes of the total charge time of the Pixel 7 and fills up almost half an hour faster than our Pixel 7a. Finally, Google’s latest Pixel 8 fully uses that 30W charging plug that’s been on sale for years.
Yes. The Pixel 7a brings wireless charging to Google’s A-series for the first time, with support for up to 7.5W charging over the air. However, it takes around three hours to charge the phone from empty.
Yes, the Pixel Stand (original and 2nd gen) supports the Pixel 7a, but you won’t see wireless charging speeds higher than 7.5W on either.
Yes, of sorts. The Pixel 7a charges at 18W with a USB Power Delivery plug, which is faster than the default 10W the phone draws from standard USB adapters or ports.
Compared to its contemporaries, the Pixel 7a is slow to charge. This is mainly due to Google’s temperature-sensitive charging algorithm in our experience.
Yes any USB-C charger will work. However, the Pixel 7a charges fastest with a USB Power Delivery compatible plug that can supply 18W of power or more.
No, the Pixel 7a does not include a charger in the box, but it’s relatively easy to find a compatible charger that meets the 18W demands.
In terms of battery life, the two devices are similarly disappointing. However, the Pixel 6a has a larger battery than the 7a.
The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro charging speeds top out at 21W and 23W, respectively, while the Pixel 7a maxes out at 18W.