Google Pixel 8a Review

Google Pixel 8a Review
Google Pixel 8a Review
May 28, 2024

Google’s A-series Pixels is incredibly straightforward: Combine top-notch cameras with a vivid display and then pack all that in a tried and tested design for a reasonable price. But with the addition of a Tensor G3 processor, the Pixel 8a now supports the same potent AI features as Google’s flagship phones. So when you consider that all this comes for just $499, you’re looking at not just the top midrange Android handset on the market but possibly one of the best values of any phone on sale today.

Design and Display

Aside from a new aloe color option – which in my opinion is the finest of the group – the Pixel 8a is virtually identical to the standard Pixel 8. However, there are a few subtle differences that become more noticeable when the two are viewed side-by-side. The most evident is slightly larger bezels, which also has an impact on the Pixel 8’s screen size. Instead of a 6.2-inch display like on its costlier predecessor, the Pixel 8a peaks out at 6.1 inches. That said, you still get a vibrant OLED panel that generates deep blacks and rich colors, plus a slightly speedier 120Hz refresh rate compared to the 90Hz on last year’s Pixel 7a.

Pixel 8a

With the addition of Google’s Tensor G3 computer, the Pixel 8a delivers useful AI features alongside a beautiful 120Hz OLED screen, excellent cameras and way above-average battery life for just $499.

The phone’s frame is still made out of aluminum, which feels fantastic, while the metal camera bar in the rear is actually a millimeter or two slimmer, resulting in an ever so slightly streamlined device. Google also switched out the Pixel 8’s rear glass panel for plastic. But due to a new matte finish that’s intended to replicate the texture of cashmere, it clearly doesn’t feel inexpensive. And while its IP67 rating for dust and water resistance is one step down from what’s on the mainline Pixel 8, that’s still enough to withstand dunks of up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. Not terrible.


Google Pixel 8 Mint: A Fresh Take on Smartphone Innovation

One of the greatest complaints against Google’s Tensor processors is that they don’t offer the same level of sheer performance you get from rival Apple or Qualcomm silicon. And while that’s still true of the G3, when we’re talking about it propelling a phone that costs $499, I’m much less troubled. In typical use, the Pixel 8a feels rapid and quick and even when gaming. Titles like Marvel Snap and TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge looked seamless. The only time I observed significant delays or latency was when playing more demanding shooters like Call of Duty: Mobile.

Of course, the other part of the performance equation is all the on-device AI features that the Tensor G3 enables such as Audio Magic Eraser, Best Take and the Magic Editor, which you can use as much as you want instead of the 10-picture limit that free users are subject to in Google Photos.


The Pixel 8a features the same 64MP main and 13MP ultra-wide sensors used in last year’s P7a. But that’s OK, because Google’s affordable phones punch way above their weight. So instead of comparing it with a similarly priced adversary, I decided to really challenge the Pixel 8a by placing it up against the Samsung 24 Ultra. And even then, it still largely kept up.

Pixel 8a Camera Examples

A camera sample from the Pixel 8a compared to a comparable image captured by the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.

In full light, I’d contend the Pixel 8a might be the superior photographer, as it captured more accurate colors and outstanding details compared to the warmer tones and often oversaturated tints from Samsung. This was notably noticeable when photographing a solitary yellow rose. The S24 Ultra made the middle of the flower appear orange and highly contrasty, which appears amazing in a vacuum but doesn’t reflect what I saw in real life.

However, at night the S24 Ultra’s enormous 200MP main sensor drew back in front, generating images that were generally sharper and more well-exposed. That said, due to Google’s potent Night Sight function, the Pixel 8a wasn’t far behind, an impressive feat for a phone that costs $800 less.

Finally, while the Pixel 8a doesn’t have any other hardware features besides a respectable 13MP facial cam, Google’s AI is here to take your photographs even further. Best Take enables you to capture multiple group photos and then substitute in people’s reactions from various options. It’s simple to use and allows you construct a composite where everyone is beaming, which feels like a win-win scenario. Then there’s the Magic Editor, an entertaining and potent way to eliminate distracting elements or move subjects around as you please. It’s the kind of thing you might not use every day, but now and then it will salvage a photo you might have otherwise deleted. So even if you don’t care about AI or how it works, Google is finding a way to add value with machine learning.

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Battery Life And Charging

Google Pixel 8a battery life and charging speeds tested: Is it good enough?

While the Pixel 8a’s 4,492 mAh battery is a tad smaller than what you get on the standard model (4,575 mAh), it actually claims slightly superior battery life, possibly due to its more diminutive screen. On our video playback test, the 8a lasted a respectable 20 hours and 29 minutes, narrowly surpassing the regular Pixel 8’s time of 20:16.

Meanwhile, when it comes to recharging, both wired and Qi wireless speeds have stayed the same. This means you get up to 18 watts when using a cable, but a rather lethargic rate of 7.5 watts if you put it on an induction pad. That might not be a huge problem if you only use wireless charging overnight or to conveniently fill up the phone while you’re doing something else. But if you need some power in an instant, you better snag a cord.


Google isn’t forging new ground with the Pixel 8a. But the straightforward formula of class-leading cameras, a fantastic display, robust battery life and a sleek design will never go out of style – particularly when you get all this for just $499. And with the addition of AI features that were previously only available on Google’s premier phones, the Pixel 8a is a midrange smartphone that really is wiser than all of its counterparts. To cap everything off, there’s a configuration with 256GB of storage for the first time on any A-series handset (though only on the Obsidian variant), plus even greater support with a staggering seven years of Android and security updates.

The one caveat to this is that the deciding factor comes down to how much its siblings cost. If you go by their default pricing, the $499 Pixel 8a offers tremendous savings compared to the standard $799 Pixel 8. However, prior to the 8a’s announcement, we saw discounts that brought the Pixel 8 down to as low as $549, at which point you might as well spend an extra $50 to get the complete flagship experience.

But for those who don’t feel like waiting for a discount or might not care about minutiae like delayed wireless charging rates, in addition to being the finest midrange Android phone, the Pixel 8a is just an extremely good bargain.