Google Pixel 8a review: Google’s excellent mid-range gives the Pixel 8 an early retirement

Google Pixel 8a review: Google's excellent mid-range gives the Pixel 8 an early retirement

Google Pixel 8a review: Google’s excellent midrange gives the Pixel 8 an early retirement

Google Pixel 8a in Porcelain.

A case of Google cannibalising its flagship offering?

It’s long overdue, but Google’s midrange option with its latest AI features is finally here.

 As a Google Pixel product, the Google Pixel 8a contains the same chipset as its flagship-grade siblings, the Google Tensor G3 seen in the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. 

TL;DR version:

If you haven’t bought the Pixel 8, it’s not too late for you. The Google Pixel 8a is cheaper and just as good where it counts.

Buy it online from Google Store, Amazon SG, Challenger, Courts, Singtel, Lazada, Shopee, and SprintCass (Airport).

The same processor means it’s capable of the same on-device and cloud AI features, which include its Magic Editor suite (which removes shadows, reflections, and offers generative fill for photobombers) and its wider Pixel AI (like the newly-added Circle To Search by Google, which debuted via Samsung’s flagship handsets this year).

Where the value lies in Google’s A-series Pixel is the affordability that comes with being a midrange product. Starting at S$799 for 128GB and S$899 for 256GB, Pixel 8a’s starting point is a whole S$300 below its flagship counterpart. You would also be happy to know that the price point hasn’t deviated much from the S$749 of past Pixel A-series phones in a climate where handset prices have mostly increased across the board.

Google Pixel 8a.

In return, Google trimmed some ، to keep costs reasonable. It’s missing a Laser AutoFocus module, a higher optical zoom quality, and older protective glass (Corning Gorilla Glass 3) with a slightly smaller display (6.1-inch instead of 6.2-inch). We have the full comparison against Pixel 8 here, if you’re interested.

However, it has maintained most of its flagship qualities, such as its 1080p, 120Hz refresh rate AMOLED panel. It also offers a watered-down version of other core components, like an IP67 rating (instead of IP68) against water and dust ingress, and a mildly lower 18W wired charging.

More importantly, the Google Pixel 8a also seems frozen in time, while rival phone brands are emerging with all sorts of AI-powered handsets and fluctuating price points in a competitive midrange phone market.

Would the Google Pixel 8a still hold up despite it all? Let’s find out. For starters, for those thinking of upgrading from Pixel 7a and 6a counterparts, we’ve compiled a specs comparison table right after the jump below.


Google Pixel 8a

Google Pixel 7a

Google Pixel 6a

Google Pixel 8a

Google Pixel 7a

Google Pixel 6a
Launch SRP
Operating system
  • Google Tensor G3
  • Titan M2 security co-processor
  • Google Tensor G2
  • Titan M2 security co-processor
  • Google Tensor
  • Titan M2 security co-processor
Built-in Memory
  • 6.1-inch, AMOLED, 2,400 x 1,080 pixels resolution, 60-120Hz refresh rate, HDR, 24-bit colour, up to 1,400-nits HDR brightness, 2,000-nits peak brightness, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • 6.1-inch, gOLED, 2,400 x 1,080 pixels resolution, 90Hz refresh rate
  • 6.1-inch, AMOLED, 2,400 x 1,080 pixels resolution, 60Hz refresh rate, HDR, 24-bit colour
  • Rear:
  • (Main) 64MP Quad PD, 1/.73-inch sensor size, f/1.89 aperture, 0.8μm pixel size, 2x Optical Quality, 8x Super Res Zoom
  • (Ultra-wide) 13MP, f/2.2 aperture, 1.12μm pixel size, 120° FOV
  • OIS+EIS on main camera
  • Front:
  • 13MP, f/2.2 aperture, 1.12μm pixel size, fixed focus
  • Rear:
  • (Main) 64MP
  • (Ultra-wide) 13MP, 120° FOV
  • Front:
  • 13MP
  • Rear:
  • (Main) 12MP, f/1.7 aperture, 1.4μm pixel size, Super Res Zoom up to 7x
  • (Ultra-wide) 12MP, f/2.2 aperture, 1.25μm pixel size, 114° FOV
  • OIS, EIS
  • Front:
  • 8MP, f/2.0 aperture, 1.12μm pixel size, fixed focus
Video Support
  • (Rear) 4K60FPS, Slow motion 240FPS, OIS
  • (Rear) 4K60FPS
  • (Front) 4K30FPS
  • (Rear) 4K60FPS, Slow motion 240FPS, OIS
  • Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, USB Type-C 3.2, Google Cast, Dual Band GNSS, GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou
  • Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC
  • Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 1, Google Cast, GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou
Storage Type
  • 128GB (UFS 3.1)
  • 256GB (UFS 3.1)
  • 4,492mAh
  • 18W wired fast-charging (PD 3.0)
  • Wireless fast-charging (Qi-certified)
  • 4,385mAh
  • 18W wired fast-charging (PD 3.0)
  • 7.5W wireless fast-charging (Qi-certified)
  • 4,410mAh
  • 18W wired fast-charging (PD 3.0)
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Deliberately similar to its flagship

Google Pixel 8a.

If you haven’t checked out our initial impressions of Google Pixel 8a, it’s worth reading since it covers many of the core offerings of Google’s latest midrange mobile.

In our first-look experience, we felt that the Google Pixel 8a handling saw minor improvements. Most notable was a less clunky camera bar, which retained a compact build that’s easy to grip with one hand. After more time with the phone, we’d like to point out a few more things that may affect your day-to-day usage. 

Volume and power buttons on the Google Pixel 8a.

Google Pixel 8a has the same reversed layout for its volume rocker and power buttons, as seen on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. It took some getting used to, especially after reviewing a string of Android phones with conventional layouts like the Xiaomi 14 Ultra, Honor Magic6 Pro, and even the Vivo V29. I’ve lost track of all the times I lowered the volume when I wanted to lock the Pixel 8a. You might also face the same concern if you’re too used to a certain way of handling your existing device, so take note.

Google Pixel 8a, front.

The phone’s flat 6.1-inch Actua Display was capable of accurate colourisation, and it’s extremely pleasant in nearly all situations. The default profile tends towards lower saturation, but there were no issues outputting highly vibrant HDR content.

Like most flagship phones, the 120Hz refresh rate can be toggled inside the Settings app. However, some apps will not always use the maximum refresh rate, helping to conserve battery.

Google Pixel 8a's USB-C port.

For a midrange alternative, it has surprisingly decent speakers. Pixel 8a uses three vents (two speakers beside its USB-C port, and the call speaker on top) to output audio. While its treble notes could use a little more clarity and punch, audio from the Pixel 8a has a snug, full-bodied soundstage.

Pixel does what Pixel does best 

Google Pixel 8a.

There’s not much to say about Material You on Android 14, or the Pixel AI features on the Google Pixel 8a. Since the launch of the flagship variants, Google has only added one consumer-facing feature, which was already present earlier in the year: Circle To Search. If you recall, Circle To Search was a Google-made feature, but it debuted in Samsung’s Galaxy S24 line-up. To nobody’s surprise, it works just as well on the Pixel 8a.

The other existing Magic-type AI features explored on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are also available. Since their debut, the Pixel 8a also had sufficient time to get the most updated versions of these editing tools. To be honest, we didn’t experience a significant upgrade in its Magic Editor editing abilities, but that’s also because Magic Editor already shipped with great practicality. We’re more excited about upcoming inclusion of a fully multimodal Gemini Nano (which would only come in the next version of Android, since the current version is just a better Google AI Assistant for text-based apps).

Google Pixel 8a.

Perhaps the most notable thing about Pixel 8a is one of the least ، tidbits about the device. Google offers up to seven years of security updates for the phone, which is great for users who don’t swap out to a new device frequently. It makes sense, too, for Pixel 8a’s target audience since midrange phone owners tend to prioritise functionality and longevity over having the latest and greatest. 


Rear cameras of the Pixel 8a.

From our brief hands-on experience with the Pixel 8a previously, it was already pretty clear that the phone’s imaging capabilities punch above its weight. Google was also clear that its Magic Editor-related tools (Best Take, Photo Unblur, etc.) are available through its midrange offering. Why wouldn’t it? It’s the same chipset and the same cloud servers either way.

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We took the opportunity to give it another spin and repeated the same attention to clarity, detail, and colour, even in a different environment. 

Main camera.

Main camera.

As introduced at its launch, Pixel 8a uses a 64MP main and 13MP ultrawide with up to 8x Super Res Zoom. If you consider its imaging quality, that means the Pixel 8a omitted a dedicated telephoto camera (which is only available on the Pixel 8 Pro) and also removed the finer comforts, like Laser Detect Autofocus, a Spectral and Flicker sensor, and in-sensor zoom.

Main camera.

Main camera.

While Pixel 8a has already proven that these cuts do not negatively impact its imaging quality, you must contend with lower shooting versatility (no 5x optical zoom, slower focusing). We think this is a clever way to help reduce cost on a midrange device without severely crippling its imaging powers. You also get to edit in post with Google’s AI, which is what most people would need instead of another lens.

Front camera.

Main camera.

Ultrawide camera.

2x zoom.

8x Super Res Zoom.

Main camera.

Utrawide camera.

2x zoom.

8x Super Res Zoom.

Benchmark Performance

Google Pixel 8a follows the same formula as its last two A-series predecessors, where it adopted the latest Tensor processor for its latest flagship offering, albeit months later than its peers. That means Google Tensor G3 on the Pixel 8a, also found on the flagship Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. We’re not expecting a massive difference in synthetic performance, but we still throw in a Pixel 8 for easier cross-referencing below.

Otherwise, the Pixel 8a’s price makes it compete squarely against other midrange alternatives, including recent ones like Redmi phones, Vivo’s V-series devices, the OPPO Reno series, and Nothing Phone (2a). We’ve also plonked in a Pixel 7a to check for generational gains.

Putting it to the test

To find out how the competitors line up specs and price-wise, check them out in this link.

To find out more about the tests we conduct and what they relate to, we’ve jotted them down here.

Benchmark Performance remarks

Among other midrange and flagship-lite choices we’ve seen recently, the Google Pixel 8a would be a competent alternative. But, we’re mindful that the same chipset was originally competing against true flagship alternatives. In day-to-day use, the phone was fluid and fuss-free.

Battery Life

Our battery benchmark uses PCMark for Android’s Work 3.0 Battery Life test to determine a modern Android-based smartphone’s battery uptime in minutes. This controlled benchmark simulates real-world usage with a combination of both web and social media browsing, video and photo editing, parsing data with various file formats, writing (on documents), and more. 

Google Pixel 8a can deliver an astounding 12+ hours of battery life despite its relatively small 4,492mAh battery capacity. Its battery uptime is one of our favourite things about the phone, and it’s hard to believe that it can provide so much use despite how compact it looks.

With a weird 18W wired fast charging profile and no charging adapter provided in the box, we settled on a 120W GaN charger with many different charging profiles that can even support laptops. However, the Pixel 8a could only manage a peak 10W speed (slowing down to 5W after reaching 50%). The phone took over two hours for a 0-100% charge. It was within expectations, but the Pixel 8a faces a tough market, with many of its midrange rivals offering compatible charging adapters right out of the box.

You’d think its S$50 markup from the Pixel 7a would at least see Google try to subsidise that with a free adapter somewhere, but that did not happen. We didn’t like this omission, since the official 30W adapter costs only S$45. 

Pixel 8a supports Qi-certified wireless charging, which is still uncommon in phones of its class. However, the official specification sheet doesn’t specify the exact wattage or whether it’s any faster than its predecessor. Given that its wired charging rates are identical to its predecessor, we suspect the wireless charging rate is also identical at 7.5W.

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Conclusion: A Pixel 8 in hiding

Google Pixel 8a.

Suppose you aim to get all of Google’s Pixel AI and Magic Editor on a cheaper phone without diminishing its main camera capabilities and display quality. In that case, the Google Pixel 8a achieves that in spades. Heck, the battery uptime has made it extra sure it’s the sensible choice until the next major Pixel launch.

The only downside to repeating the success of its Pixel 8 also meant that it shares the same flaws: if you hated the Camera Bar design, you’re not going to suddenly fall in love with the Pixel 8a’s thinner version. If you never liked Google Tensor G3’s performance beyond its battery and AI efficiency, it’s the same chipset again. You’re saving some money to get a “low-،” version of a Pixel 8, but it’s inherently still just here to fill a gap in its 2023 Pixel lineup. While we could afford its compatible charging adapter, it’d be less of a hassle if they included it by default.

With Pixel 8a at just S$799 for 128GB, it’s hard to see why anyone would want the original Google Pixel 8 now, especially if it isn’t going at a discount. The S$300 you save can go into other essential tech gadgets, like a cloud storage subscription to complement its low on-device capacity or a nice pair of earbuds. Those would be more pertinent than an extra 5x optical zoom on the Pixel 8 Pro, which is far more expensive at nearly twice the price of the Pixel 8a!

That’s not to say that the Pixel 8a is a jaw-dropping game-changer. In fact, very little has changed from the Pixel 7a other than the processor update. What we think is strange is Google’s strategy of using a midrange update to refresh its Pixel lineup (while making its flagship base model obsolete), especially when phone brands generally struggle to distinguish themselves across various price points.

In a space with midrange and flagship-lite alternatives that are out for blood (like Nothing Phone (2a), OPPO Reno11 Pro, and even the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE), the Google Pixel 8a falls right in the middle of the pack in terms of value, processor prowess, and even imaging quality. Where it exceeds the rest is its Pixel AI perks, which just might be enough to convince Android smartphone users that a midrange handset doesn’t mean losing out on having consumer AI tricks that can improve your productivity needs (besides the obvious photo-taking corrections).

Where the Pixel 8a truly stands can be seen in how Google handled the phone’s launch ahead of its annual major developer conference, Google I/O 2024. It was deliberately announced a week earlier than its deluge of AI updates. We’re not Google, but we interpret the timing as the brand’s belief in the phone’s strengths: Pixel 8a could flourish even without the fanfare or hype that came along with the keynote. 

If you haven’t gotten a Pixel 8, or originally had plans for one, the Google Pixel 8a is here to make you hit the brakes and detour for its newer, cheaper alternative that’s just as good. Pixel 8a isn’t here to wow you further, nor does Google need to prove something out of its midrange offering. You know you want it, so they’ve made it easier for you to get it, period. 

Google Pixel 8a.

The Google Pixel 8a is officially available in Singapore. It is available in 128GB and 256GB configurations, priced at S$799 and S$899, respectively. There are three colours to choose from: Obsidian, Porcelain, and Bay. You can buy it online from Google Store, Amazon SG, Challenger, Courts, Singtel, Lazada, Shopee, and SprintCass (Airport). 

It is also available in physical stores at Challenger, Courts, Singtel, and SprintCass.