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Google Pixel 8a Review: The Mid-Range Champion is Back

nextpit Google Pixel 8a Test
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The Pixel 8a arrived a few months after its bigger siblings, offering mostly the same package at a lower official price point. But is it worth considering the Pixel 8a? We tested its performance, camera, battery life, and more to find the answer.

Google Pixel 8a

Good

  • Seven years of security and feature updates
  • Excellent Pixel camera
  • Good everyday performance
  • Good enough battery life
  • Bright and fast 120 Hz display
  • Some AI features that are actually useful

Bad

  • Slow charging times and no charger included
Google Pixel 8a
Google Pixel 8a
Google Pixel 8a: All deals

In a nutshell

The Pixel 8a is the direct successor of the Pixel 7a which scored five stars from Camila Rinaldi’s review. It carries the same $500 MSRP in the US (although it jumped €40 to €550 in Europe), and packs a mix of specifications from the Pixel 8 and 7a.

While the CPU, memory, screen resolution, and refresh rate are inherited from the Pixel 8, the Pixel 8a uses a similar configuration as the 7a in the camera department, with a 64-megapixel main sensor, and a 13 MP ultra-wide camera.

The result is a device that is closer than ever to the model above it. A situation worsened by the fact that the Pixel 8 is long enough in the market to see frequent discounts. On the other hand, previous Pixel A models had similar issues with market positioning, and got their own discounts over time, with the Pixel 7a selling as of publishing time at around $400/400€.

Design and display

The Pixel 8a comes with an OLED FullHD+ display, which refreshes at 120 Hz and offers higher brightness than its predecessor. Its 6.1-inch screen is slightly smaller than the 6.2’’ on the Pixel 8, but the 8a model features bigger bezels, resulting in similar dimensions.


Pros:

  • Bright and smooth OLED display.
  • Compact dimensions.
  • Good ergonomics.
  • Plastic back doesn’t capture fingerprints as much as glass.

Cons:

  • Thick display bezels.

Late in 2023, the Pixel 8 models brought a rounder design compared to the previous generations, and the Pixel 8a takes the change a bit further, with almost toy-like corners that reminded me of the iPhone 5c.

Google Pixel 8a viewed from the back
The Pixel 8a features a matte plastic back finish with rounded corners. / © nextpit

The 8a features a humble Gorilla Glass 3 slab on the front, and a nice plastic finish on the back, which avoids fingerprints much better than its glass-covered siblings, due to its matte finish.

Ergonomics are great, especially if you prefer smaller phones, with the buttons on the right side placed where the thumb is expected to be. And I had the impression that the fit and finish was superior to the Pixel 8’s, with a smoother transition between the plastic back and the metal side frame on the Pixel 8a. At least on each review unit we have at the nextpit office.

The display—like most other 2024 launches—features high brightness levels that will be welcomed by those who frequently use the phone outdoors. It was one of the weak points Camila mentioned in her Pixel 7a review, so that is one upgrade between generations.

Google Pixel 8a selfie camera viewed up close
The 6.1-inch display is surrounded by relatively thick bezels. / © nextpit

Another improvement was the refresh rate, which jumped from 90 to 120 Hz. This change offers smoother animations on the screen, but the upgrade from 90 to 120 Hertz is not as noticeable as the one from 60 to 90, at least in these tired eyes. By default, the Pixel 8a is set at 60 Hz for energy-saving reasons, which is something to keep in mind.

Software and performance

The Pixel 8a offers pretty much the same specifications as the regular Pixel 8, with Google’s newest chip (for now), 8 GB of LPDDR5x memory, and fast storage standard. The setup is not as fast as current flagships but is still more than enough for daily use.


Pros:

  • Same configuration as the more expensive Pixel 8.
  • Good performance in daily tasks and games.
  • The best software update policy.

Cons:

  • Not quite flagship-level performance.

Gamers, on the other hand, will have to make some compromises in image quality, due to the weaker GPU onboard the Tensor G3 chip, but all Play Store games should run.

  Google Pixel 8a
(Tensor G3)
Google Pixel 7a
(Tensor G2)
Google Pixel 8
(Tensor G3)
Xiaomi 14 Ultra
(Snapdragon 8 Gen 3)
Redmi Note 13 Pro 5G
(Snapdragon 7s Gen 2)
Nothing Phone (2a)
(Dimensity 7200)
AnTuTu 1,153,512 924,465 991,246 1,939,484 593,863 688,613
3DMark Wild Life
Extreme Stress Test
Best loop: 2437
Worst loop: 1667
Stability: 68.5%
Best loop: 1875
Worst loop: 1381
Stability: 73.6%
Best loop: 2410
Worst loop: 1657
Stability: 68,8%
Best loop: 4708
Worst loop: 3606
Stability: 76.6%
Best loop: 800
Worst loop: 763
Stability: 95.4%
Best loop: 1153
Worst loop: 1148
Stability: 99.5%
Geekbench 6 Single: 1688
Multi: 4362
Single: 1417
Multi: 3549
Single: 1698
Multi: 4277
Single: 1828
Multi: 6317
Single: 889
Multi: 2523
Single: 1148
Multi: 2589

After running some graphic-intensive tests on the Pixel 8a we could confirm our suspicions, with performance numbers roughly on par with the Pixel 8: Not quite on the same level as a 2024 flagship phone, but superior to phones in the $300~$500 segment.

Unsurprisingly, the Pixel 8a offered very similar performance numbers as the Pixel 8 powered by the same chip. And when it comes to the Pixel 7a, there is a small improvement in general processing, and some more horsepower for games.

Google Pixel 8a benchmark results
Performance-wise we got similar numbers between the Pixel 8a (above) and Pixel 8. / © nextpit

For longer gaming sessions, the Pixel 8a displays the same weak point we found on the Pixel 8: As the Tensor G3 is pushed hard, over time the heat generated starts to accumulate forcing the chip to lower its processing frequency.

The result is lower performance over time in heavy tasks (particularly games). On the 3DMark stress test that runs a fixed graphical test 20 times, the Pixel 8a had a stability score of 68.4%, very close to the 68.8% of the regular Pixel 8. 

On the software side, expect the usual stock Android experience, with the same features found on the Pixel 8, including all the AI tricks for editing pictures, doing online searches, and more.

Google Pixel 8a screenshots
Clean Android installation with seven years of security updates. / © nextpit

Another advantage inherited from the Pixel 8 family is the improved software update policy, with a promised seven years of features and security updates.

The clean Android installation meant that we had 18 GB of used storage after updating the stock system and apps, which obviously did not include third-party apps.

Camera

The Pixel 8a brings a 64-megapixel main camera, a 13 MP ultra-wide lens, and another 13-megapixel sensor for the selfie camera. The specs may look familiar, as they all mirror the ones on the Pixel 7a, which performed well in our tests.


Pros:

  • Excellent day and night pictures from the main camera.
  • Very usable 2x digital zoom.
  • Lots of "AI" powered features for editing.

Cons:

  • Blurry or noisy ultra-wide photos at night.
  • 8x digital zoom is nice, but doesn't replace a proper telephoto lens.

The Pixel 8a is the cameraphone to beat in its price category. Just like the Pixel 7a before it—from which Google unashamedly copied the components over—, the Pixel 8a has a good balance of hardware and software features, missing only a telephoto (zoom) lens.

Google Pixel 8a camera up close
The Pixel 8a has the same excellent camera setup as the Pixel 7a. / © nextpit

Weather conditions were not ideal throughout the test, but the Pixel 8a performed similar to its predecessors when it came to color reproduction and contrast, as well as as the level of detail, especially on the main camera, with good results in day and night conditions.

Just like Camila mentioned on her Pixel 7a review, the 2x digital zoom on the Google Pixel 8a gave surprisingly good results, not losing much detail when compared to the default focal length. Even the 8x magnification had good results—although not quite print-level—but a true telephoto lens would be much better, of course.

The ultra-wide camera (0.5x) is very open, and seem to distort the corners a little. It sometimes presents colors differently from the main camera, most of the time giving less saturated colors, but results are good in daylight regardless. At night however, we noticed some noisy images, and colors seemed paler when compared to the main camera.

Google Pixel 8a viewed from the side
The camera bar on the Pixel 8a protrudes a little less than the bar on the Pixel 8. / © nextpit

Daylight selfies were excellent, with realistic skin tones and texture, without overprocessing or blurring details. Selfies portraits were good when viewing on the phone's display, but a closer look at the magnified image shows some issues with background separation resulting in some image artifacts.

Google Pixel 8a battery

With a 4492 mAh battery capacity, the Pixel 8a won’t win any endurance competition, but our first impressions indicate the phone is capable of offering the same all-day battery life as the Pixel 8 and 7a before it. Charging is also not chart-topping but is good enough for most people.


Pros:

  • Wireless charging support.

Cons:

  • Slow charging speeds.
  • No reverse wireless charging.

Even though the Tensor G3 is not made on the most efficient process—it comes from Samsung Foundries' 4-nm class fabs—the Pixel 8a still managed to offer all-day battery life, even with the 120 Hz refresh rate activated. In the PCMark Battery test, the new Pixel got 13h44min of runtime running a simulated task between 80 and 20% charge.

Google Pixel 8a's USB-C port
Besides 18 W wired charging, the Pixel 8a is compatible with Qi wireless charging. / © nextpit

We are still running the same test under the default 60 Hz setting, but we expect it to match the good numbers returned by the Pixel 7a and Pixel 8 you can see in the table below.

As with other Pixel releases, the Pixel 8a does not come with a charger in the box. When using a 65W charger, we got a full charge in a little over 1h40min, which was comparable to the other phones mentioned above.

Charging Google Pixel 8a Pixel 7a Pixel 8 Galaxy A55 Redmi Note 13 Pro 5G
5 minutes
  • 8%
  • 9%
  • 10%
  • 9%
  • 20%
10 minutes
  • 15%
  • 17%
  • 19%
  • 18%
  • 34%
20 minutes
  • 29%
  • 31%
  • 36%
  • 36%
  • 56%
30 minutes
  • 42%
  • 43%
  • 52%
  • 53%
  • 78%
1 hour
  • 75%
  • 78%
  • 90%
  • 85%
 
Full charge
  • 1h40
  • 1h30
  • ~ 1h25
  • 1h33
  • 45 min
PC Mark Battery test
  • 13h44 (120Hz)
    11698 points
  • 16h09
    10532
  • 17h49
    9803
  • 14h9
    13395
  • 12h20
    13047

One important difference between the Pixel 8a and 8 is that the more expensive model is compatible with charging at up to 27 W wired and 18 W wirelessly. The Pixel 8a tops at 18 W for wired charging, and 7.5 W for Qi wireless charging.

Another difference is that the Pixel 8a does not support reverse wireless charging—aka Battery Share—admittedly, it is not the most used feature, but it can be a lifesaver in emergencies.

Google Pixel 8a technical specifications

  Google Pixel 8a
Display
  • 6.1-inch OLED
    2400 × 1080 pixels
    120 Hz refresh rate
SoC
  • Google Tensor G3
Memory
  • 8 GB LPDDR5x RAM
    128 / 256 GB UFS 3.1 storage
    No storage expansion
OS
  • Android 14
    Seven Android upgrades
    Seven years of security updates
Camera
  • Main: 64 MP, f/1.89, OIS
    Ultra-wide: 13 MP, f/2.2
Selfie Camera
  • 13 MP, f/2.2
Battery
  • 4492 mAh
    18 W wired charging
    7.5 W wireless charging
Connectivity
  • 5G | eSIM | Wi-Fi 6E | Bluetooth 5.3 | NFC
IP Certification
  • IP67
Dimensions and weight
  • 6 × 2.86 × 0.35 in, 6.63 oz
  • 152.1 × 72.7 × 8.9 mm, 188 g

Other points that may interest the nextpit community:

  • The Pixel 8a includes NFC support and is compatible with Google Pay for contactless payments.
  • The review unit packaging included a USB-C to USB-C charging cable, SIM tray tool, and a USB-A to USB-C adapter.
  • The software version during the test was Android 14 with the May 2024 security patch.
  • After resetting the updated handset, the operating system indicated 18 GB of used space.

Final verdict

The Pixel 8a is a solid smartphone from Google, after the complicated—to say the least—refresh of the Pixel 6 family. Much like Android 15 feels like a small evolution of the changes brought by Android 12, the Pixel 8a looks like the maturing of the current Pixel lineup, with Google finding the right mix of features and compromises for the $500/550€ market.

Yes, the Pixel 8a feels like a downgrade when you look at its bezels, Gorilla Glass 3-only protection, and slower charging speeds when compared to other models in this price range, but none can challenge the cameras, bloatware-free installation, and seven years of security support of the Pixel 8a.

Just like with the Pixel 7a versus the 7, there is strong competition for the Pixel 8a from its sibling Pixel 8, especially with its ongoing sales. But it is rather safe to assume the Pixel 8a will get its own round of sales over time, just like what happened with the 7a—which is currently $400/400€ from its $500/510€ original MSRP.

Even so, we don't recommend products based on assumptions but on what we have (and the company's history in the case of software updates). And the Pixel 8a nails the delicate balance between power/features/price that is so difficult to get right in the mid-range market.

Google Pixel 8a viewed from the front showing the default home screen
The Pixel 8a may be the true "Fan Edition" with its reasonable compromises for the price category. / © nextpit

It is a phone that we would have no difficulty recommending to a friend or family. That and the fact that Camila's review set the bar very high with her 5-star review of the Pixel 7a, makes us give 5 stars for an improved Pixel 8a.

 The best smartphones under $400

  Editorial tip Price tip 3rd place 4th place 5th place
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Rubens Eishima

Rubens Eishima
Writer

Having written about technology since 2008 for a number of websites in Brazil, Spain, Denmark, and Germany, I specialize in the mobile ecosystem, including various models, components, and apps. I tend to not only value performance and specifications, but also things like repairability, durability, and manufacturer support. I tend to prioritize the end-user's point of view whenever possible.

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