I used a LOT of phones this year, including all the flagships, mid-range phones, and budget options. While the flagships were predictably great, the mid-range category has never been stronger, and if you're looking to pick up a phone during Cyber Monday, you'll find plenty of great options under $500.
Most users would automatically gravitate toward the Galaxy A54 now that it's down to $324, and for good reason — Samsung did a good job with the device, and it is decent in daily use. But there's a much better option: the Pixel 7a. Google's mid-ranger beats the Galaxy A54 in most key areas, and the best part is that the Pixel 7a is now available for just $374, so you're getting a significantly better phone for just $50 more.
Google Pixel 7a (128GB):
$499 $374 at Amazon
I know what I'm talking about when it comes to phones, and this is the best deal you'll find this Cyber Monday. The Pixel 7a has the best cameras in this category, clean software, powerful hardware, and all things considered, is a much better choice than the Galaxy A54.
Here's why you should buy the Pixel 7a instead of the A54
While Samsung didn't change things too much with the Galaxy A54, it still offers a vibrant 120Hz AMOLED screen, decent cameras, and a large battery. The Pixel 7a has considerable upgrades over its predecessor, and you get a 90Hz OLED panel, terrific 64MP camera with the best wide-angle lens in this segment, more powerful hardware than the A54, and cleaner software that's enjoyable to use.
I used both of these devices extensively, and the Pixel 7a is the obvious choice here. It is smaller and easier to use one-handed thanks to a 6.1-inch screen (versus 6.4 on the A54), and while it is limited to 90Hz, it feels smooth in daily use. The biggest advantage with the Pixel 7a is the cameras — it demolishes the Galaxy A54 in this area, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that this is the best camera package you'll get for under $600.
Then there's the software. The Pixel 7a is already on Android 14, and there's no bloatware whatsoever. Google's interface is clean, colorful, and is packed with a ton of useful extras, and it just a lot of fun to use — and I'm saying that after using One UI for several months this year. Samsung has a lot to offer with One UI, but it's not optimized very well on the A54, there's too much bloatware out of the box, and it generally isn't as nice to use as the Pixel 7a.
While this doesn't factor into the purchasing decision, I also think the Pixel 7a looks better than the Galaxy A54; I like the camera bar at the back, and it adds a lot of character to the device. The one area where the A54 wins out is battery — it has a larger 5000mAh unit, and it manages to last over a day with ease. I didn't see any issues with the Pixel 7a's 4385mAh battery, and while I got a day's worth of use consistently, it wasn't as good as the A54.
Where the Pixel 7a has a clear edge is the hardware; the custom Tensor G2 is noticeably faster than the Exynos 1380 that Samsung uses in the A54, and you can feel the difference in daily use. The Pixel 7a isn't missing out one extras either, and it has the same IP67 ingress protection as the A54.
Look, I recommended Samsung phones widely in the past, but the dynamic has clearly shifted in favor of Google this year. The Pixel 7a is a better device in all the areas that matter, and the fact that it is now available for $374 makes it one of the best phone bargains of the year. So if you're looking to upgrade this Cyber Monday, make sure you get the Pixel 7a.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.