Sunday, June 23, 2024

Google Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 8: not an easy decision

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Renders of the Google Pixel 8a and Pixel 8 next to each other.Pixel 8a (left) and Pixel 8 Digital Trends

The Google Pixel 8a is now on store shelves, and so far, it seems like yet another fantastic budget phone. Digital Trends’ review mentioned that it’s “the cheap Pixel you should buy,” and a quick look at how it performs as a daily driver paints a solid picture of the sheer value it offers.

Contents

  • Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 8: specs
  • Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 8: design and build
  • Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 8: screen and battery life
  • Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 8: performance
  • Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 8: cameras
  • Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 8: verdictShow 1 more item

It boasts fairly powerful silicon that matches that of its flagship siblings, reliable cameras, and an OLED screen, all served atop the platter of a pristine Android experience with a ton of AI features to go with it. But at an asking price of $499, the Pixel 8a veers a little too close to the Google Pixel 8, which is now easily available with some sweet discounts in tow.

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If you are unsure of which phone to buy, here’s a detailed comparison of all the core metrics that should matter to anyone considering either phone.

Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 8: specs

Google Pixel 8a
Google Pixel 8

Size and weight 
Height: 152.1 mm
Width: 72.7 mm
Depth: 8.9 mm188 grams
Height: 150.5 mm
Width: 70.8 mm
Depth: 8.9 mm187 grams

Screen

Full-screen 6.1-inch Actua display

FHD+ (1080×2400) OLED at 430 PPI

20:9 aspect ratio

Up to 1,400 nits (HDR) and up to 2,000 nits (peak brightness)

Scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass 3 cover glass

Smooth Display (60–120 Hz)

Full 24-bit depth for 16 million colours

>1,000,000:1 contrast ratio

HDR support

Always-on display
Now Playing
At a Glance

Full-screen 6.2-inch Actua display

FHD+ (1080 x 2400) OLED at 428 PPI

20:9 aspect ratio

Up to 1,400 nits (HDR) and up to 2,000 nits (peak brightness)

Scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass Victus cover glass

Smooth Display (60–120 Hz)4

Full 24-bit depth for 16 million colours

>1,000,000:1 contrast ratio

HDR support

Always-on display
Now Playing
At a Glance

Operation system
Android 14
Android 14

Storage space
128 GB/256 GB UFS 3.1 storage
128 GB/256 GB UFS 3.1 storage

Processor
Google Tensor G3
Titan M2 security chip
Security core

Google Tensor G3
Titan M2 security chip
Security core

RAM

8 GB LPDDR5x RAM

8 GB LPDDR5x RAM

Camera
64 MP Quad PD wide camera
f/1.89 aperture13MP ultrawide camera
f/2.2 aperture
120° field of view13 MP front camera
f/2.2 aperture
Fixed focus
96.5° ultrawide field of view
50 MP Octa PD wide camera
f/1.68 aperture12 MP ultrawide camera
f/2.2 aperture
125.8° field of view10.5 MP dual PD selfie camera
f/2.2 aperture
Fixed focus
95° ultrawide field of view

Video
Rear camera
4K video recording at 30 fps, 60 fps
1080p video recording at 30 fps, 60 fpsFront camera
4K video recording at 30 fps, 1080p video recording at 30 fps
Rear camera
4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps, 60 FPS
1080p video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps, 60 FPSFront camera
4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps, 60 FPS10-bit HDR video

Bluetooth
Bluetooth 5.3
Bluetooth 5.3

Authentication
Fingerprint Unlock with under-display fingerprint sensor

Face Unlock

Pattern, PIN, password

Fingerprint Unlock with under-display fingerprint sensor

Face Unlock

Pattern, PIN, password

SIM card
Dual SIM (single nano-SIM and eSIM)
Dual SIM (single nano-SIM and eSIM)

Audio
Stereo speakers
2 microphones
Noise suppression
Stereo speakers
Three microphones
Noise suppression
Spatial audio

Battery
24+ hour battery life
Up to 72-hour battery life with Extreme Battery SaverTypical 4575 mAh (Minimum 4485 mAh)27W wired charging
Qi-certified Fast wireless charging
Battery Share
24+ hour battery life
Up to 72-hour battery life with Extreme Battery SaverTypical 4,492 mAh (Minimum 4,404 mAh)18W wired charging
Wireless charging (Qi-certified)

Network

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz, HE80, MIMO
NFC
Google Cast
GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou, NavIC

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz, HE160, MIMO
NFC
Google Cast
Dual-band GNSS
GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou, NavIC

Colors
Aloe, Bay, Porcelain, Obsidian
Hazel, Mint, Obsidian, Rose

Price
$499
$699

Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 8: design and build

Google Pixel 8a Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The Pixel 8a sports a familiar design language, with the only discernible deviation from the Pixel 8 aesthetics being the former’s rounded corners, which are more pronounced. I’d say the Pixel 8a looks a tad cuter, even though it’s slightly taller and wider than the Pixel 8.

But there are a few crucial differences here that set apart an affordable phone from a flagship. The Pixel 8 employs more premium materials like a matte aluminum frame, Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus, and IP68-tier dust and water resistance.

The Pixel 8a also puts its faith on a polished aluminum frame, but instead of glass, we get a plastic shell on this one. Moreover, the build is only IP67-certified, and instead of Gorilla Glass Victus, buyers get the much older (and weaker) Gorilla Glass 3 covering the screen.

Google Pixel 8 Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The plastic shell also doesn’t appear to be of particularly premium quality on the Pixel 8a. “Even though the case doesn’t add much grip, it does cover up the slightly cheap-feeling plastic rear panel, which is smooth to the touch and has an unpleasant amount of flex when pressed down,” Digital Trends observed in its review.

The Pixel 8a is available in Obsidian black, Bay blue, and Porcelain white shades, but the real head-turner is the new Aloe green shade. The Pixel 8, on the other hand, is available in Rose, Hazel, and Obsidian colors.

Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 8: screen and battery life

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The Pixel 8a offers a slightly smaller 6.1-inch OLED display compared to the Pixel 8’s 6.2-inch screen and also embraces noticeably thicker bezels. However, it matches its pricier sibling on crucial parameters such as the display resolution of 1080 x 2400 pixels, peak brightness of up to 2,000 nits, a 120Hz refresh rate, contrast ratio, and HDR support.

Keeping the lights on is a 4,492 mAh battery on the Pixel 8a, while the Pixel 8 edges it with a slightly bigger 4,575 mAh unit. Both phones are touted to last 24 hours on a single charge and both support wireless charging as well. But there’s a crucial difference here.

Wired charging support on the Pixel 8a peaks at 18 watts, while the Pixel 8 goes up to 27W, which means the latter’s battery can theoretically charge at a nearly 33% quicker pace. Moreover, the Pixel 8 supports power sharing to juice up other devices running low on charge, but its Pixel-A series sibling doesn’t offer that facility.

Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 8: performance

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Performance is another crucial area that puts the Pixel 8a in the same league as the Pixel 8. Google has fitted the two phones with the same LPDDR5X class of RAM (8GB capacity) and UFS 3.1 storage, which is available in 128GB and 256GB configurations.

Both phones offer Google’s Tensor G3 silicon, while the Titan M2 chip inside handles sensitive data and secure processes. Where you would feel the difference between the two phones is how well they handle heat management, owing to the thermal hardware inside and the choice of material for the outer shell.

“Playing Asphalt 9: Legends is fast and exciting, but the back of the phone does get warm to the touch after about 15 minutes,” notes Digital Trends’ Pixel 8a review. That’s not surprising, as the Unisoft title is fairly demanding, and warming can be experienced on a majority of top-end phones while playing the game.

The Pixel 8 doesn’t stray too far, however. “It does get very warm, but I wouldn’t call it hot,” says Digital Trends’ review of the Pixel 8. Now, Pixels have had a terrible history of overheating, but so far, it seems the Pixel 8a hasn’t set any undesirable precedent, so it’s quite reassuring if you’re concerned about thermal management.

Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 8: cameras

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

When comparing imaging hardware, we’ll say that this is yet another case of megapixel numbers against raw quality. The Pixel 8a offers a beefier 64-megapixel camera, but it has a narrower aperture, smaller pixel size, and a narrower field of view. The same is true of its ultrawide snapper, which packs smaller pixels and has a more constricted field of view.

The Pixel 8, on the other hand, has a 50MP main camera and a 12MP sensor for ultrawide capture. It also delivers a 2x optical-quality crop. It relies on a 10.5MP selfie camera, compared to a 13MP selfie front sensor on the Pixel 8a.

Notably, both the phones are evenly matched in terms of the signature Pixel camera feature set, which includes perks like Photo Unblur, Audio Magic Eraser, Best Take, Super Res Zoom, Live HDR+, Magic Eraser, Face Unblur, Magic Editor, and Astrophotography mode.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

How does it fare at actual photography? “While the Pixel 8a’s camera isn’t perfect, it is really good, and you won’t regret getting it,” says our review. “​​At night, it takes sharp, bright photos with only a hint of blur when you crop the image,” writes Digital Trends’ Andy Boxall.

So, if your primary concern is photography, you can rest assured that the Pixel 8a won’t disappoint. In fact, it shoots at a higher level than other phones in the same price bracket, which is no small differentiating factor.

Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 8: verdict

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The Pixel 8a starts at $499 in the U.S., while the Pixel 8 will set you back by at least $699. However, the latter often gets discounted, and its sticker price is oftev considerably lower. But before you try a price-matching ploy and think of a discounted Pixel 8 as the better choice, keep in mind the storage situation.

For $699, the Pixel 8 gives you only 128GB storage, while a similar spending spree will put a 256GB Pixel 8a variant in your pocket. If you plan on picking up a new Pixel phone to capture a lot of photos and aim to use it for at least a few years, a 128GB memory slot is not the ideal choice.

If pushing smartphone cameras is not your hobby, and all you need is a reliably snappy phone with clean software, you should pick the Pixel 8a over the Pixel 8 and save a few hundred dollars while at it.


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