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Fresh out of the box: 13 tips to get the most out of your Google Pixel 7a

Here are just a few tips, tricks, and recommendations to help you make the most out of your new Pixel 7a.
By
February 26, 2024

The Google Pixel 7a arrived on the market last summer, bringing a lot of upgrades with it. Like its predecessor, the new phone packs a lot of smarts into a very small package. If you’re looking to get the most out of your new Pixel 7a, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you out. We’ve put together some of the best ones.


Google Pixel 7a tips and tricks


1. Buy a Pixel 7a case and screen protector

Google Pixel 7a case white front
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

As someone who recently broke his new Pixel 7 just a day before the case arrived in the mail, I can assure you that one of the first things you should do when you buy a phone is to get a case and screen protector. All it takes is one freak accident, and it’s game over. If you’re looking for a good screen protector that won’t mess with the fingerprint reader, we recommend the Spigen Tempered Glass Screen Protector.

As for cases? You can certainly consider a first-party case, but you’ll likely save money and get just as good of quality with a third-party option. Check out our guide to the best Pixel 7a cases for specific advice on the right case.

2. Consider what other accessories you might need

Google Pixel 7a Android 13 easter egg Pixel Stand
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

There are plenty of other accessories that can help make the most of your experience with the Pixel 7a. Remember, the phone doesn’t include a charger in the box, so that’s a good place to start. You can check out our dedicated best Pixel 7a chargers post for ideas. You’ll also want to consider a wireless charger. The Pixel 7a is the first member of the Pixel A family to charge wirelessly, though it does it at just 7.5W. Charging the phone from zero takes nearly four hours, but it could still come in handy if you’re looking for something simple you can throw your phone on and charge overnight.

Beyond obvious things like a charger or battery pack, you might also want to consider a smartwatch such as the Pixel Watch. For more accessory advice, check out our guide to the best Pixel 7a accessories.

3. Set up Face Unlock and Fingerprint Reader

google pixel 7a face unlock 1
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

The Pixel 7a gives you multiple ways to protect your phone, including two different biometric methods: face unlock and fingerprint scanning.

Google lets you set these methods up during the initial setup, but if you skipped the process, it’s easy to do it later. Here’s how to set up the fingerprint reader:

  1. Open the Pixel 7a’s Settings app.
  2. Tap Security.
  3. In the new Security menu, select Face & Fingerprint Unlock. You may be asked to enter a PIN or Passcode.
  4. Select Fingerprint Unlock.
  5. Follow the on-screen steps to set up your first fingerprint.
  6. Once it’s complete, it will ask you if you want to set up more fingerprints. We recommend setting up a few different fingers, at least one on each hand.

While the fingerprint scanner is the safest option, Face Unlock is more convenient. Just be aware that you can’t use it for things like confirming purchases or making bank transfers.

To set up Face Unlock:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down to Security. Tap on it.
  3. Scroll down to Face & Fingerprint Unlock and tap on it. You may be asked to enter a PIN or Passcode.
  4. Select Face Unlock option and follow the on-screen prompts.

4. Make Android yours with Material You

google pixel 7a tips personalization
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

First introduced with Android 12, Google’s Material You design language aims to unify your phone’s look by tuning accent colors to match your wallpaper. You can even set up color-matched icons, though they are mostly limited to first-party apps. Aside from this, the theming engine will also better tune the colors used in widgets and even select app interfaces.

This is a very different approach to something like Samsung’s themes, as it’s a bit more automated and more about creating a cohesive look. If you’re looking for 3rd-party apps that support Material You customizations, you’ll want to check out our guide to the best Material You apps.

5. Set up Call Screening and other calling features

google pixel 7a buttons with dialer
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Google’s official Phone app has some of the best calling management features available, perfect for keeping telemarketers and other unwanted calls at bay. Not only can you block potential spam calls and send them straight to your voice mail, but you can also turn on Call Screen. This feature lets Google Assistant answer the call for you and ask who is calling and why. If it’s an unwanted call, it will usually just hang up. But if it’s an important call from a number you don’t recognize, it can confirm why they are calling and give you the option to join the call.

That’s not all, though. If you’ve ever been stuck on the phone line waiting for customer service, you know how much of a pain that can be.  Hold for Me can take over a call when you’re on hold and alert you the second someone finally picks up.

Then there’s Direct My Call. This feature helps you keep track of long lists of robotic menu options. Basically, it transcribes what each option is as it happens, so you can read through it and make sure you pick the right option.

Most of these options can be found right within the Phone app’s settings. Still not impressed? Google Assistant even has the power to make reservations at restaurants and set up select appointments via Google Duplex.

6. Type with your voice, via Google Assistant

google pixel 7a tips voice assistant typing
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Speaking of Google Assistant, did you know that you can use it to voice type? This is much more reliable than traditional voice typing, as it uses power the power of Google Assistant and the Tensor chip to ensure the most reliable dictate possible with correct punctuation and everything. You can even add emojis and send the message using just your voice.

Google Assistant voice is baked right into Gboard, so if you switch to another keyboard, you won’t get this handy integration.

7. Set up safety features like Crash detection and Heads Up

google pixel 7a tips crash detection
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Your Pixel 7a is capable of detecting if you’ve been in a crash. This isn’t anything new, of course, as Pixels have had this feature for a few years now. To turn it on, you’ll need to go to the Safety app. You’ll be asked to enter emergency contact info and other information like blood type and medical conditions. From there, scroll down to Crash Detection and tap Turn On.

That’s not the only useful safety feature. Heads Up is designed for those that have the bad habit of walking while staring at their phone. It gives you alerts periodically if it detects you’re walking around while staring directly at your phone. To turn it on:

  1. Open Settings and go to Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controls > Heads Up.
  2. Tap Next and grant permission to access location data and physical activity when it asks.
  3. You’ll tap Next once more, followed by Done. That’s it.

8. Change the display to 90Hz

The Pixel 7a is the first Pixel A device to offer a 90Hz display, but for some reason, it’s turned off by default. Google likely did this to conserve battery life, but it feels like an odd decision considering it’s one of the Pixel 7a’s selling points. Thankfully, turning it on is super easy:

  1. Open up the Settings app.
  2. Scroll to the Display section and open it.
  3. Scroll down the Display section to Smooth Display.
  4. Flip the toggle to enable the 90Hz setting.

9. Turn on Adaptive alert vibration mode

Most of the Pixel 7a’s features can be found on other members of the Pixel family, but here’s one that’s truly unique. Adaptive alert vibration lets you reduce vibration strength when your phone is sitting still and has the screen facing up. Basically, the idea is you’ll notice the screen anyhow, even if the vibration isn’t as strong.

Turning it on is super easy:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down to Sound & Vibration > Vibrations & Haptics. Tap on it.
  3. Turn on Adaptive alert vibration.

That’s it. Unfortunately, you can’t control exactly how much the notification vibrations are reduced, as Google handles all that automatically. Keep in mind this feature applies to both notifications and alarms.

10. Quick Tap Gesture can launch apps and other features

Quick tap is a handy feature you can trigger by double tapping on the back of the Pixel 7a. This will then launch a specific app, toggle the flashlight, take a screenshot, or play (or pause) media. Of course, you have to set it up first, and it can only support one action. To turn it on, open the Settings happen and then go to System > Gestures > Quick Tap.

From there, you’ll see a toggle that lets you turn Quick Tap on or off. You can also pick what action you want it to take when you trigger the feature.

11. Change between the front and rear cameras with a simple twist

Google Pixel 7a case white back 2
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Did you know you can quickly switch between the front and rear cameras by twisting the phone in an almost screwdriver-like motion? It’s simple once you get the hang of it. To enable the feature, go to Settings > System > Gestures > Flip camera for selfie. 

12. Make the most of Google’s camera and photography features

google pixel 7a camera interface
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

The Pixel 7a’s biggest draw is its camera and photography software. There are quite a few things you can do with the Pixel 7a camera. There’s Night Sight for better nighttime photography, Magic Eraser for getting rid of unwanted items in photos, and much more.

One feature we absolutely have to highlight is Photo Unblur. Not only can Photo Unblur remove blurry elements from your photos using AI, but it can also be applied to pre-existing photos. We have a guide that better explains how to use Photo and Face Unblur.

That’s far from all you can do, though! Some other cool camera features include the ability to shoot in RAW, or even add grid lines to your viewfinder.

To shoot in RAW, you just need to follow these simple steps:

  1. Open the Camera app and tap the Settings icon in the upper-left corner.
  2. Tap the More Settings button and go to Advanced.
  3. Toggle the RAW+JPEG control to on.

As for grid lines? That’s also really simple:

  1. Go Settings in the Camera app again.
  2. Tap More Settings.
  3. Under Composition, tap Grid type.
  4. Pick from 3×3, 4×4, or the golden ratio.

13. Use smart storage to better manage your space

google pixel 7a smart storage
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Pixel 7a is a great phone, but its lack of expandable storage means you might run low on space if you’re someone who takes a lot of photos or downloads a lot of apps. One way to ensure you always have space is to use smart storage. This feature frees up space by deleting photos, videos, and other media that has been backed up to the cloud.

To turn on Smart Storage you just need to follow a few simple steps:

  1. Head to Settings > Storage.
  2. Select Free Up Space towards the top of the screen.
  3.  This opens the Files app. From there, go to the three-line menu bar in the top left.
  4. Tap Settings from within that bar.
  5. You’ll see Smart Storage as an option. Tap it to activate.

These are just a few Pixel 7a tips and tricks that will help you take your Pixel 7a experience to the next level. If, for some reason, you haven’t already picked up the phone yet, be sure to check out our Pixel 7a review as well!