I’ve Spent 5 Days With the Pixel 8a

Google Pixel 8a

We may earn a commission when you click links to retailers and purchase goods. More info.

Shortly after the Pixel 8a was announced, we looked through all of the comments that were made about the phone and noticed that most people said the same thing – the Pixel 8a seems nice, but the with its $499 price and all of the regular discounts Google is known to offer, the Pixel 8 is probably the phone you should buy instead. That’s a fair initial assessment, for sure, but we still want to do our own testing and report back all that we can about Google’s latest phone.

And we do happen to have a Pixel 8a in house, so our testing of this new A-series phone is in full swing. We’ve had the device (a review unit from Google) for about 5 days now, which is not nearly enough time to fully evaluate it. So no review from us today, even as others may have whipped one together to meet today’s embargo time. Instead, since we know that pre-order deals are often something that pulls us in and you are looking for any bits of info you can find, we’ve put together a quick-hit list of some important points after almost a week with the 8a.

Here are 5 thoughts after 5 days using the Pixel 8a.

Google Pixel 8a - in hand

Pixel 8a Size: The Pixel 8a, even if it has the smallest screen of the Pixel 8 series, is not the smallest of the bunch. The Pixel 8a is actually a touch taller and wider than the Pixel 8, while still maintaining a frame that doesn’t come close to the excessive size of the Pixel 8 Pro. So no, it’s not a smaller Pixel 8, but is instead almost identical to it.

That said, I like the feel of the Pixel 8a in hand. For some reason, the Pixel 8 always had a sharpness to it that I didn’t like. It’s almost as if Google did a better job of blending the display glass with the metal frame on this 8a, so it’s a smoother transition. The massive camera hump from the 8 also isn’t here, so in general, the 8a is smoother, less chunky phone than the 8.

They are so similar, though, don’t take this all the wrong way. And if it comes to overall design, the bezels on the 8a are a turnoff if the Pixel 8 is in your other hand. So we have improvements and also some downgrades.

Performance: The Pixel 8a, even as the supposedĀ cheap Pixel phone, packs specs on a level with the Pixel 8. It has the Tensor G3 chip inside, 8GB LPDDR5x RAM, and choices of either 128GB or 256GB UFS 3.1 storage. It also has a 120Hz display, the latest in Android, and both fingerprint and face unlock options. Using the Pixel 8a is very similar to a Pixel 8 because it should be.

In my few days testing, the temperatures in Portland got into the high 80s, so I was able to throw Pokemon GO at it in the heat. I was able to test the camera on a hike. I took the device into the wild more than I often do (because, well, it’s usually raining here). That all means I could push performance some to see if heat or the elements would slow it down.

So far, the Pixel 8a has been solid. This is still Google’s odd Tensor chip, so we aren’t going to act like it’ll keep up with the Snapdragon chips in Samsung’s best phones. This often felt like an upper mid-range phone, which is probably what Google is going for. I definitely saw performance and frame drops during those Pokemon GO sessions, but not really in anything else. The keyboard is just as clicky as I wanted it to be, the camera opens and snaps first shots quickly enough, and running my typical app suite (Chrome, Threads, Instagram, YouTube, Google News, etc.) when on the go, while using a cellular connection, didn’t frustrate me by any means or completely overheat the device. The Pixel 8a is a solid performer, probably nothing more, though.

Google Pixel 8a Display

Display: The 6.1″ OLED display that Google included in the Pixel 8a looks great. It’s brightness levels match the regular Pixel 8 (peak brightness of 2000 nits), so it’s plenty bright when outdoors, plus the 120Hz refresh rate makes all content and UI elements extra smooth as you move about the OS.

The viewing angles hold and continue to show content from any view, but there is a touch of color loss or slight discoloration when those get steeper. This isn’t a dealbreaker or even a real complaint, I’m just pointing out that this display isn’t the best in the field. It’s still pretty darn good, though, and its touch responsiveness is as good as any other phone I’ve used recently, which includes Apple’s best iPhone models. This phone’s display easily matches the more expensive Pixel 8.

Pixel 8a camera: The camera in the Pixel 8a is a main 64MP lens next to a 13MP ultra-wide lens, just like we had in last year’s Pixel 7a. It is the exact same camera system, so if you wanted big improvements here, you aren’t likely to find them. Sure, the Tensor G3 could help process images faster, but the lens and sensor quality isn’t different.

The camera is quite good, as are most Google Pixel cameras. The main 64MP sensor can capture plenty of detail in all lighting conditions, but is notably excellent when outdoors and in good light. I’m also a sucker for a portrait shot of beer and food, which it handles to my approval. You can load the camera quickly to never miss a shot, it’ll snap multiple shots in a matter of seconds if you need it to, and all of the other Pixel controls are here too, like Night Sight. There aren’t any surprises here, but the camera is so far delivering.

I’ve started my Pixel 8a camera samples album on Google Photos (here) that you can keep up with if you want, because I’ll add more photos over the coming days.

Pixel 8a battery life: To wrap up these early thoughts, let’s talk battery life. How has it been? Pretty good. Google tossed a 4492mAh battery into the Pixel 8a, kept wireless charging around, and lets it charge via wire at up to 18W. The charging experience is nothing special, but the battery life has been better than expected.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’ve been hammering on the Pixel 8a, but on a day I used it the most I hit 3.5 hours of screen on time and went to bed at 11PM with 37% charge left. That’s quite good for my usage patterns and I haven’t had a worry about running out of juice on any other day. Even yesterday, for Mother’s Day, we took a hike, snapped dozens of pictures, used the phone throughout the day from breakfast to the Gorge to lunch and home, never once thinking, “Hey, I should probably charge before going to bed.” I just used the phone and it lasted.

The charging situation is not improved, but as long as you plan on charging overnight, you should be good. If you need to top up during the day, that can happen, just maybe not as quickly as a phone like the OnePlus 12. But that has been the case with Pixel phones for as long as I can remember and likely won’t change any time soon.

Should you pre-order the Pixel 8a? As much as I like the Pixel 8a, especially in this Aloe or green color, paying full price for Google products is tough to recommend. Pixel devices are discounted so regularly, that you’d be foolish to early adopt and pay whatever the sticker price is out of the gate. At $499, the Pixel 8a is probably priced appropriately, but if Google follows the 7a launch, we could see discounts shortly. The Pixel 7a was $50 off within the first month, then saw steady discounts over the summer before dropping by $125 during the holiday season. I’ll let you decide how to spend your money, just be warned.

If you do want to pull the trigger, you can still get $100 gift cards by purchasing from Amazon or Best Buy.

Pixel 8a vs Pixel 8 vs Pixe 8 Pro



Collapse Show Comments