Is it worth the upgrade?

Google has taken the wraps off the Pixel 8a, its latest mid-range device and the successor to the excellent Pixel 7a.

The Google Pixel 7a was one of the best affordable phones of 2023, offering plenty of features – including wireless charging and an IP rating – for a price that we felt was very good value for money.

A year on and we’ve now got its successor, the Pixel 8a. But what are the big differences? Let’s take a look and see.

A faster, more capable chipset

For the Pixel 8a, Google is using the same Tensor G3 chipset you’ll find in £999 Pixel 8 Pro – considering this is a sub £500/$500 phone, that seems like a very good deal. Using a high-end chip in a cheaper device is nothing new for Google, as it used a similar tactic with the outgoing Pixel 7a. That phone used the Tensor G2 chip, the same silicon found in the Pixel 7 series.

While someone who paid a lot more for the Pixel 8 Pro might be a little annoyed that the same chip is being used in a phone half the price, this is a huge benefit for those picking up the Pixel 8a.

Many of the AI features Google is touting with the Pixel 8a are either enabled or improved by Tensor G3, including support for Gemini Mini. This is currently the cheapest phone to support Gemini Mini, even if it’s not enabled by default.

Google Pixel 7a front menu android
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Two standout new colours

Google has switched up the colour choices for the Pixel 8a, ditching the Sea and Coral options and tweaking the more neutral black and white options.

Now we’ve got Obsidian (black) and Porcelain (white) plus the same Bay hue that was introduced with the Pixel 8 line. This is a very bright, vivid blue. Alo is the new colour, and it’s bright green, far more punchy than the muted Mint Pixel 8.

The back of the Pixel 8a is now matte, to reduce fingerprints, and it has satin sides.

A brighter, faster display

There are numerous upgrades to the screen on the Pixel 8a when compared to the 7a. First off, the refresh rate has been boosted to 120Hz, making it faster than the 90Hz screen used before.

This isn’t a fancy LTPO panel, instead it can switch between 60Hz and 120Hz depending on usage. You can also lock it to 60Hz if you want to be more energy efficient.

Google also said that the display is brighter, up to 40% thanks to the Actua Display used.

Double the storage – with a catch

For the first time, Google is offering both a 128GB storage and a larger 256GB variant. Previously, 128GB was the only choice and as there’s never been expandable storage on the Pixel, it could be tricky for those who wanted to store lots of offline files on the phone.

However, there is a catch. That 256GB option is only available if you plump for the fairly dull Obsidian colourway – not any of the brighter options.

Google Pixel 7a back in Charcoal and box
Google Pixel 7a

A lot will come down to the cameras

Google is positioning the Pixel 8a as the best camera phone at its price, and there’s every chance it could achieve that goal.

In terms of specs, the phones seem very similar but of course a lot can change thanks to the Tensor G3’s processing. They both have a 64MP f/1.9 main camera, 13MP ultrawide and 13MP selfies. 4K video up to 60fps is supported.

We’ll have a full look at the cameras when we’ve had time to properly test the Pixel 8a and compare it to the 7a.

There’s been a price rise

In the UK, the Pixel 8a will sell for £499, an increase over the £449 RRP of the Pixel 7a. In the USA it retains the same $499 price as the 7a.

It is worth noting that Google has been selling the Pixel 8 for £569 previously and we’ve seen it drop below £500 thanks to a fantastic deal from EE.

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