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Pixel 8a vs 8 vs 7a: Best entry to the Pixel lineup?

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Google quietly announced the Pixel 8a on May 8, giving users another affordable option to enter the Pixel lineup and bringing its affordable line of phones up to the latest generation of the Tensor chip. However, while previous A-series phones have been a slam dunk recommendation, the Pixel 8a sits in a weird spot, priced just $50 below the Pixel 8.

There’s also the Pixel 7a in the mix, which is still a great phone for 2024. The only major differences between the 7a and 8a are the processor, screen, and slightly bigger battery on the latter, making the choice more difficult than ever.

Performance, memory, and storage

One A-series staple has always been bringing the affordable lineup to the next-gen SoC being used in the main Pixel phones, and the Pixel 8a does just that. You now get the same 4nm process-based Tensor G3 chip on the Pixel 8a.

It’s been a while since G3 debuted with Pixel 8 and 8 Pro, and it has proved to be a rather capable chip, if a tad inefficient. The bigger battery should help offset that. The Pixel 7a, on the other hand, uses the old Tensor G2 chip. It’s still plenty capable, but not as fast as the G3.

The Tensor G3 now powers the entire Pixel 8 lineup. | Source: Google

All three phones have 8GB RAM paired with 128GB UFS 3.1 storage. The Pixel 8 and, for the first time in the A lineup, the Pixel 8a get 256GB variants as well. However, aside from the amount of storage, the performance should be identical between the three devices. Any differences here come down to the Tensor G3 chip being faster and slightly more efficient than the Tensor G2.

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Display

While all three phones have an OLED display, there are small differences between them. The Pixel 7a and 8a have a 6.1-inch OLED HDR display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3, but the Pixel 8a’s display has a higher maximum refresh rate—120Hz compared to 90Hz on the Pixel 7a. The maximum brightness is also higher on the Pixel 8a, reaching a 2,000 nits peak.

The Pixel 8a gets a much better display than its predecessor. | Source: Google

As for the Pixel 8, you get a 6.2-inch, OLED, 120Hz, HDR10+ display that can also hit 2,000 nits of peak brightness. As the numbers suggest, the display on the Pixel 8 isn’t all that big compared to the Pixel 7a or 8a, and the resolution is the same across the three devices. However, regarding display performance, you can expect the Pixel 8 to be the best of the three, followed by Pixel 8a and Pixel 7a.

Cameras

Now, what made the Pixel phones stand out among the crowd in the first place was the cameras.

The Pixel 7a and 8a share identical cameras. The front has a 13MP, f/2.2 ultrawide camera, and the back has a dual camera setup consisting of a 64MP main camera and a 13MP ultrawide camera. Photos are expected to look identical between the Pixel 8a and Pixel 7a until both phones run the same software.

The Pixel 8a and 7a share the same cameras. | Source: Google

For the Pixel 8, however, don’t let the numbers fool you. The 50MP main camera and 12MP ultrawide might sound unimpressive on paper compared to the A-series models, but the larger sensor behind these cameras ensures you get better, more detailed and well-lit photos. The front camera is also weak regarding the megapixel count, coming in at 10.5MP, but the photos are still on par, if not better, than the A-series devices.

Connectivity and software support

Connectivity options are similar between the three phones; the Pixel 8 has all the bells and whistles that the A-series phones miss out on. On paper, all three phones support WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3. However, only the Pixel 8 gets WiFi direct and aptX HD support.

The only port on the phone is the USB-C at the bottom, perfectly centred between the bottom speaker and microphone openings. You get your usual array of sensors, which are, once again, identical between the three devices, although the Pixel 8’s under-display fingerprint sensor might be more consistent than the one on the A-series phones.

The Pixel 7a will kick the bucket first regarding software support. | Photo: Linaimages / Shutterstock.com

The Pixel 8 lineup is getting up to seven years of software support. This means you’ll be able to use your Pixel 8a, 8, and 8 Pro until Android 21 comes out, considering Google names each Android version consecutively after Android 14. You also get all the flashy AI features such as Best Take, Magic Editor, Audio Magic Eraser, the Pixel Call Assist suite of features, and more. Google’s Gemini AI model will also run locally on the Pixel 8a.

The point is that you’ll get seven versions of Android updates to keep your phone up and running for a while, along with all the current-gen AI features that the Pixel 7 lineup didn’t get. The Pixel 7a, on the other hand, comes only with three years of Android updates and five years of software support — forcing you to upgrade quicker than if you had a Pixel 8 right now.

Battery and charging

The battery gets progressively bigger as you move up the ladder. The Pixel 7a gets a 4,385 mAh battery, the Pixel 8a gets a 4,492 mAh battery, and the Pixel 8 gets a 4,575 mAh battery. As you can probably guess, there’s not much difference between the three devices’ battery life. That said, the Tensor G3 is more efficient than the Tensor G2, and hence, you might get a better life on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8a.

Battery life should be slightly better on the Pixel 8 lineup.

All three phones support wireless charging. The Pixel 8 is the fastest, with 18 W wireless charging and reverse wireless charging support. The Pixel 8a and 7a get barely usable 7.5W wireless charging, but at least it’s there. As for wired charging, you can use as fast as 27W on the Pixel 8 and 18W on both A-series phones.

Hardware spec overview

Here’s a quick overview of the hardware specs of the three phones.

SpecificationsPixel 7aPixel 8Pixel 8a
SoCTensor G2Tensor G3Tensor G3
Memory and Storage128GB UFS 3.1 Storage
8GB RAM
128/256GB UFS 3.1 Storage
8GB RAM
128/256GB UFS 3.1 Storage
8GB RAM
Display6.1-inch OLED display
90Hz
6.2-inch OLED HDR10+ display
120Hz
2,000 nits peak brightness
6.1-inch OLED HDR display
120Hz
2,000 nits peak brightness
Main Camera64 MP main camera
13 MP ultrawide
50 MP main camera
12 MP ultrawide
64 MP main camera
13 MP ultrawide
Front Camera13 MP ultrawide10.5 MP ultrawide13 MP ultrawide
Battery and Charging4,385 mAh battery
18 W wired charging
7.5 W wireless
4,575 mAh battery
27 W wired charging
18 W wireless
Reverse wireless charging
4,392 mAh battery
18 W wired charging
7.5 W wireless
ConnectivityWiFi 6E
Bluetooth 5.3
WiFi 6E, WiFi direct support
Bluetooth 5.3 with aptX HD
WiFi 6E
Bluetooth 5.3
SoftwareAndroid 13 out of the box
3 years of Android updates, 5 years of security updates
Android 14 out of the box
8 years of Android and security updates
Android 14 out of the box
8 years of Android and security updates

Which one should you get?

At its current price, the Pixel 8a retails for $499, the same as the Pixel 7a when it was announced. However, you can pick up a brand-new Pixel 8 for as low as $549, making the Pixel 8a a very hard sell.

Don’t get me wrong, the Pixel 8a is a great phone, but for $50 more, you’re getting better cameras, a better display, faster charging, a slightly bigger battery, more software features, and better dust/water resistance, to name a few things.

On the flip side, if you’re looking to save money, the Pixel 7a will soon drop its price tag to the $300-$400 range. For that price, the Pixel 7a becomes a strong entry point to the Pixel lineup without being too old or outdated to keep up with the competition.

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Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: yadullahabidi@pm.me.

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