The Google Pixel 7a is a great little phone, and Google makes some colorful protective cases to keep it safe. I’ve been using one since getting the phone, but it has made me really miss a product that Google seems to have forgotten about: the fabric phone case. What we’ve got for the Pixel 7a (and the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro), is an admittedly durable, but really irritating silicone case. What it does is hammer home it’s time for Google to bring back the fabric one.
The official Pixel 7a case is bad
Google’s silicone case for the Pixel 7a will definitely protect your phone. It wraps around the sides and has a slight lip at the edge of the screen, so even if you put it face-down on a table, it’ll keep it relatively safe. The Google logo on the back has a swish brushed finish, and the buttons are separate from the case, giving them more feel and precision than if they were part of the silicone mold.
It comes in colors that match your phone too, and while my review Pixel 7a and its case are both in dreary Charcoal, you can make it much more interesting if you choose the Coral, Seafoam, or Sea versions. All this means there’s a lot to like about the Pixel 7a case, and it’s even relatively reasonably priced at $30 or 30 British pounds. Yes, it’s still a lot for a case, but when you consider Apple’s silicone cases for the iPhone cost $50, it’s a relative bargain.
But that’s where the good things about it end, and the worst thing about it is a dealbreaker. The silicone the case is made from is soft, but it’s also really sticky. It not only attracts all the lint in the world, but it also refuses to give up gripping the inside of your pocket. It hangs on until you really dig around in there, which isn’t the nicest look when out in public. When you do eventually extract it, the pocket lining inevitably comes with it, along with any lint hanging around, which is forever adhered to the silicone until you soak it in water.
It’s then a further fight to get it back in your pocket, making it feel like you’re forever battling against a silicone-clad Pixel 7a. If you think I’m exaggerating about the lint, the photos here are unedited to show you the true lint-filled horror of the issue. Even when you try and clean the case, it’s impossible to get it completely lint-free, as the close-up of the buttons and camera module show.
Google used to have the perfect case
It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, it actually wasn’t always this way. For the Pixel 5, Pixel 4, and a few other models, Google made a series of beautiful fabric cases, which added class, fun, and tactility to the phone — and none of the irritating stickiness that comes with the silicone version. But Google decided not to make a fabric case for the Pixel 6 series or Pixel 7 series, and one hasn’t arrived for the Pixel 7a either.
Google’s design language has moved away from the natural, friendly, sometimes even earthy textures and tones that defined products like the original Google Nest Hub, where the fabric cases fitted in perfectly, and toward the smooth, high-tech appearance and feel of silicone and glass. That’s fine, but this shouldn’t have come at the expense of usability and satisfaction. The silicone case looks smart and modern in Google’s online store, but it’s annoying and constantly covered in debris.
The fabric cases looked excellent and felt even better once you got them in your hand — warm to the touch and with a lovely scratchy-yet-soft texture that felt expensive and durable. There was subtle yet cool branding, just like the silicone version, which made them really desirable. Google has made huge leaps forward with the design of the Pixel series phones since the Pixel 5, but it has taken a step back with the accessory design.
It’s time to go back
The most obvious is to not buy the Google case for your Pixel 7a, and instead look at third-party cases to get your fabric fix. I’m sure there are some really good ones, but often the manufacturer cases are the best options and the only ones to have proper Google branding, adding to the appeal. But buying outside the Google Store isn’t really the right solution.
It’s annoying that Google made the best Pixel phone case you could get and now makes one of the worst cases for the Pixel 7a you can get. That’s quite a shift, and although I understand Google wants to revamp its product line, getting rid of a really good product doesn’t seem like the way to do it.
If you’re about to add a silicone case to the basket with your new Pixel 7a, do think twice and consider if you can live with all the lint and constantly embroiled in a pocket versus phone battle first. If you can, get a colorful one. If you can’t take a good look at the alternatives out there. As for Google, hopefully, it will consider bringing its lovely fabric phone cases back.
But until that day comes, at least there are plenty of other Pixel 7a cases that get the job done.