Google's Pixel 7a might be one of the new best Android mid-range phones for anyone that's looking for a high level of performance at a lower price, especially now that we can't quite recommend the Galaxy A54 due to general UI performance issues seemingly caused by a lack of optimization around the Exynos 1380 SoC.
The Galaxy A54 may improve with future software updates, and potentially, it might become a real Pixel 7a alternative for performance-oriented users. But speaking of updates, as hot as the Tensor G2 chip might be for the mid-range market, it's still amusing to see that a pure Google phone such as the Pixel 7a can't match the Galaxy A54, and indeed cheaper Galaxy A phones, in terms of firmware support.
Even the Galaxy A24 gets more updates than the Pixel 7a
Samsung really pushed the bar in terms of firmware updates over the past couple of years. Its Galaxy A54, Galaxy A34, and even Galaxy A24 ship with Android 13, and they'll get four major Android OS upgrades and five years of security patches. Meanwhile, Google's own Pixel 7a, which is supposed to be the face of pure Android, also ships with Android 13 but will be good for three major OS upgrades and five years of security patches.
Arguably, using the Pixel 7a might end up being a more pleasant experience in the long run, thanks to the Tensor G2 chip. Especially if Samsung doesn't fix its optimization issues concerning the Galaxy A54's Exynos 1380 SoC. But regardless, it's interesting to see Samsung beating Google at its own firmware game and offering more firmware upgrades even for cheap $200+ devices like the Galaxy A24.
Now, if you are eyeing the Pixel 7a with interest, keep in mind that, just like the Galaxy A54, the phone has high and low points. It has poorer battery life than the A54, no expandable storage, a smaller 6.1-inch screen with a 90Hz refresh rate, and Gorilla Glass 3 display protection 5. It also has a plastic back, for better or worse, whereas the Galaxy A54 is wrapped in Gorilla Glass 5.
If performance at a low price is your main concern, the Tensor G2 should provide that. But if you're a fan of prolonged firmware support, the Galaxy A series might be the way to go if you can look past the A54's UI performance issues or you're willing to wait for an optimization update Samsung may or may not release.