The new Google Pixel 8a mid-ranger is cheaper and features a more pronounced chin

Google’s Pixel 8a brings nothing new to the Pixel 8 table except for the price and future-proof updates.

The new Google Pixel 8a mid-ranger is cheaper and features a more pronounced chin
Image Credit: Phandroid

The Google Pixel 8a arrived amidst a crowded phone launch window on May 14, 2024, but its attractive price tag as a Pixel 8 alternative deserves a closer look.

Starting at $499/₦746,603, the Pixel 8a packs the same powerful Tensor G3 chip, AI features, and a smooth 120Hz screen as its pricier sibling. This positions it as a tempting mid-range option. But with the Pixel 8 occasionally dropping to around $600, is the Pixel 8a the undisputed budget champion?

This review will dissect the Pixel 8a's key features, including its impressive cameras (despite being slightly inferior to the Pixel 8), surprisingly long battery life, and bright display. We'll also explore trade-offs like the plastic back and potential performance dips under heavy use.

Ultimately, we'll help you decide if you should save money with the Pixel 8a, consider the slightly more expensive Pixel 8 (which might be on sale), or even explore competitor flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S23.

Google Pixel 8a Key Specifications

Here's a quick breakdown of the Pixel 8a's key features:

  • Price: Expected to start around ₦746,603 in Nigeria
  • Processor: Google Tensor G3 (4 nm)
  • Display: 6.1 inch OLED, 120Hz refresh rate
  • Battery: 4492 mAh
  • Camera: Dual rear camera system (64MP main + 13MP ultrawide) and a 13MP selfie camera
  • Colours: Obsidian, Porcelain, Bay, and Aloe
  • Storage: 128GB or 256GB (no expandable storage)
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Build: Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection
  • Weight: 188g

Google Pixel 8a’s design borrows a familiar look with Cost-Saving tweaks

As expected, the Pixel 8a closely resembles the pricier Pixel 8 phone. Both phones share a similar design language with an aluminium frame, a distinctive camera visor, and softer corners compared to previous generations.

To hit a more attractive price point, Google opted for a plastic back on the 8a instead of the Pixel 8's glass. This also translates to a slightly lower water resistance rating (IP67).

Despite these tweaks, the Pixel 8a comes in a range of stylish colours (Aloe, Bay, Obsidian, and Porcelain) and offers a comfortable size of 152.1 x 72.7 x 8.9mm and 188g.

The Pixel 8a boasts a vibrant 6.1-inch OLED display with a sharp 1080 x 2400 resolution. The inclusion of a punch-hole camera and a 120Hz refresh rate (up from 90Hz on the Pixel 7a) ensures a smooth and immersive viewing experience. This 2000 nits display even surpasses the Pixel 8 in terms of peak brightness.

While the screen size might seem very similar to the Pixel 8 on paper (with a slight 0.1-inch difference), it's worth noting that the Pixel 8a has slightly larger bezels. In the real world, however, many users add phone cases for protection, so this difference might be negligible for most people.

Things get a little interesting with the Pixel 8a's display choices, including a lower clock speed processor, which contributes to some key advantages like a better contrast ratio on the display, and photos with a wider colour gamut thanks to the Sony sensor (compared to the Samsung sensor in the Pixel 8).

Pixel 8a design | CNET photos

Pixel 8a display | CNET photos

Pixel 8a AI Smart Cameras

The Pixel 8a inherits the same dual-camera system as the Pixel 7a, featuring a 64MP main sensor and a 13MP ultrawide lens. While this differs from the sensor choices in the pricier Pixel 8, Google's software prowess remains a key strength.

Despite the hardware similarities to the 7a, the Pixel 8a boasts the full suite of AI features found in the Pixel 8. This includes Magic Editor for creative edits, Best Take for capturing perfect group photos, and Magic Eraser for removing unwanted objects from your images.

In essence, you get excellent image processing and editing tools, even if the raw hardware might not be the absolute latest.

Pixel 8a Camera | CNET photos

Google Pixel 8a Performance

The combination of Google’s Tensor G3 flagship chip paired with 8GB of RAM delivers a decent performance for everyday tasks on the Pixel 8a device. However, to hit the Pixel 8a's attractive price point, some strategic choices were made.

The Pixel 8a's processor operates at a lower clock speed compared to the Pixel 8. This translates to two key benefits: improved efficiency and a larger battery life (as discussed earlier). While this enhances day-to-day battery performance, it might impact performance in demanding games.

The phone also benefits from the latest Android 14 software, brimming with a suite of AI features like Call Assist and Circle to Search. These features enhance usability without a significant drain on battery life, thanks in part to the optimisations within the Tensor G3 chip.

Speaking of battery life, the Pixel 8a packs a 4,492mAh battery, a bump in capacity compared to the Pixel 7a. Google claims this translates to over 24 hours of use on a single charge, with the ability to stretch further in Extreme Battery Saver mode.

It's important to manage expectations: heavy users, especially those who crank up the 120Hz refresh rate and rely heavily on AI features, might need a top-up before bedtime. The 18W wired charging speed is decent but not the fastest.

While the battery life might not match some flagships on the market, the combination of capable performance, a large battery, and efficient software keeps the Pixel 8a in contention for users who prioritise value.

For casual gamers, the Pixel 8a should handle most titles well. However, hardcore gamers might find the Pixel 8 or competitor flagships with more powerful processors better suited for their needs.

Geekbench 6.3.0 scores (1576 single-core, 3795 multi-core) indicate the Pixel 8a's capability for Android AArch64 benchmark reflecting the phone’s ability to handle individual tasks that don’t require multiple parts of the processor at the same time.|

Pixel 8a Software

Following in the footsteps of its predecessors, the Pixel 8a runs the latest Android 14 operating system. This translates to a seamless user experience with all the same features and AI functionalities found on the Pixel 8.

Unlike competitors who restrict mid-range device features, Google offers the full suite of AI tools on the Pixel 8a with Gemini Nano, a feature previously exclusive to Google's flagships.

This commitment to software extends to updates. Google provides a generous seven years of updates for both the Pixel 8 and 8a. The extended software support translates to a phone that can potentially last you well into the next decade (until at least 2031). 

This longevity is further enhanced by Google's openness to custom ROMs. If you're comfortable with tinkering/rooting, you can extend the software lifespan even further by installing a custom ROM once it becomes available for the Pixel 8a (thanks to Google's easy bootloader unlocking process).

While storage limitations are a valid concern for any phone, the long software support is a significant advantage. It means you can leverage the Pixel 8a's capabilities for an extended period without worrying about missing out on updates or security patches.

Why we like the Google Pixel 8a

  • Great cameras
  • Good battery life
  • 7 years of software support
  • Clean, smooth Android experience with AI features
  • IP67 dust and water resistance

Why we don’t like the Google Pixel 8a phone

  • Slow charging
  • No SD card slot
  • Big bezels around the screen
  • Gorilla Glass 3 on a premium phone
  • Not a gaming beast

Pixel 8a in Porcelain and Obsidian

Should you buy the new Pixel 8a phone?

Yes, consider the Pixel 8a if you prioritise a clean Android experience, long software updates (7 years), and a good value. It offers excellent software, a capable camera, and future-proofing at a lower cost than the Pixel 8.

However, you can hold off on the Pixel 8a if:

  • You crave the latest hardware: The Pixel 8 might be worth the extra cost for top-of-the-line specs.
  • You're a bargain hunter: It is typical for Pixel phone prices to drop in the coming months after a launch season.
  • You're open to exploring other features: We'll discuss competitor flagships in coming reviews to help you compare functionality.

Pricing and Availability

Contrary to expectations, Google did not wait for the I/O 2024 event to unveil the Pixel 8a. Instead, the company announced on Tuesday, May 7, 2024.

The entry-level Pixel 8a, equipped with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, is priced at $499. The 256GB model is available for those requiring more storage at $559. Based on current exchange rates, Nigeria's equivalent prices would be approximately ₦746,603 and ₦837,872, respectively.

Customers can purchase the Pixel 8a directly from the Google Store or through Jumia, both of which were already official points of sale for the Pixel smartphones.

While the Pixel 8a is not yet widely available in Nigeria, Google has provided a financing option for users, allowing them to pay $20.79 per month over 24 months.

Please note that the availability and pricing can vary, and it’s always best to check the latest information from the official Google Store or local retailers.

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