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Hardware Review

Google Pixel 8a Review

Google delivers the goods with the Pixel 8a

We’re now into the eighth generation of Google Pixel smartphones, and much like the previous couple of generations Google has released a new entry in its Pixel A Series – the Google Pixel 8a. The Pixel 8a is a mid-gen refresh that shares perks and features with its Pixel 8 series counterparts but at a more affordable price of $847. For the past few weeks we’ve been using the Pixel 8a to see how it stacks up and whether it’s worth considering if you’re in the market for a new smartphone. For those wanting the TL;DR version – the answer is a resounding yes.

One of the biggest assets of the Pixel 8 series is its 120Hz screen, offering a smooth scrolling experience perfect for those long nights on Instagram or TikTok, and the Pixel 8a benefits from this inclusion and it’s one of those features that you end up taking for granted. Furthermore, its 6.1” OLED display has solid brightness that allows for colours to pop and great visibility in sunny conditions.

No Aloe for Australia

The design of the Pixel 8a sees thicker bezels, however this is something that any user will easily get used to, if they even notice it to begin with. Google has opted for a matte back this time around, rather than the gloss of the 8 and 8 Pro, a choice I quite like. In terms of colours, there are four on offer: Bay (baby blue), Obsidian (black), Porcelain (light beige-white), and Aloe (green), which disappointingly isn’t available in Australia. The camera bar on the back remains but is less prominent here.

The Pixel 8a utilises the Tensor G3 chip that powers the 8 and the 8 Pro, alongside 8GB of RAM and comes in 128GB and 256GB storage options, although if you opt for the 256GB model your only colour option is Obsidian. Owners can use either face unlock or fingerprint biometrics to open their phone or to verify purchases.

If there’s one thing you know you’re going to get with a Google phone it’s a cracking camera, and with the Pixel 8a it’s no different, with the cameras capturing great detail and colour, even if images can be a little saturated at times. The Pixel 8a comes with a dual camera system of a 64MP Quad PD wide camera and a 13MP ultrawide camera, as well as a 13MP front-facing camera for those glorious selfies. On paper it’s better than the Pixel 8, however rating website DXOMark ranks the Pixel 8 (148) slightly higher than the Pixel 8a (136). Photos taken in low light and zoomed aren’t quite at the level of its series 8 counterparts, regardless, the Pixel 8a holds its own, taking clear and crisp images that are perfect for the everyday user.

What elevates the Pixel camera experience is the suite of AI tools at your disposal, such as Magic Eraser, which lets you remove unwanted objects or people from your photos and Best Take, which combines a collection of the same photograph to give you facial options for the best picture possible (if someone has their eyes closed in a good take but not another, for example). Other useful AI tools include Audio Magic Eraser and Google Gemini, although the latter isn’t available on the Pixel 8a until later this year.

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Battery life is always a tough spec to measure, as it will depend on how much you use your phone. However, with the Pixel 8a’s 4,492mAh battery I found myself easily getting through a day on a single charge on normal usage (some online surfing, doom scrolling, music listening, and the odd phone call). I did charge it every night just to start the day with it fully juiced, though I’m sure many people could get a second day out of a full charge.

The feather in the Pixel 8a’s cap is the seven years of OS support that comes with the phone (dated from the release date), which is a huge boon given a lot of consumers hang onto their phones for as long as possible. Only Samsung and Google offer seven years of support, with other brands such as Oppo offering four years, and Motorola three years.

Digging the matte back design

So what’s the catch? Why would someone pay more for the Pixel 8 when the 8a includes a lot of the same features? While there isn’t a lot of difference between the two devices, the Pixel 8 does have some perks over the Pixel 8a, such as better battery life (4575 mAh) and water resistance (can be submerged), the ability to be used as a wireless charger and faster wired charging. However, none of these features feel worth spending the extra $200 for.

Final Thoughts

The Google Pixel 8a offers an almost premium smartphone experience without the price tag. It’s a no-brainer for anyone chasing a smartphone with a cracking camera, solid performance and great features and support.

Review unit supplied by manufacturer

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Google Pixel 8a Review
Pieces of Eight
Those looking for a smartphone jam-packed full of features and a quality camera without spending flagship prices should look no further than the Google Pixel 8a.
The Good
Great camera and AI tools
Matte back design is a nice addition
Most of the bells and whistles of the Pixel 8 at a cheaper price
Seven years of OS support
The Bad
Battery life while solid is less than the Pixel 8
Only Obsidian available in 256GB and Aloe colour not available in Australia

Google Pixel 8a Review
Pieces of Eight
Those looking for a smartphone jam-packed full of features and a quality camera without spending flagship prices should look no further than the Google Pixel 8a.
The Good
Great camera and AI tools
Matte back design is a nice addition
Most of the bells and whistles of the Pixel 8 at a cheaper price
Seven years of OS support
The Bad
Battery life while solid is less than the Pixel 8
Only Obsidian available in 256GB and Aloe colour not available in Australia
Written By Zach Jackson

Despite a childhood playing survival horrors, point and clicks and beat ’em ups, these days Zach tries to convince people that Homefront: The Revolution is a good game while pining for a sequel to The Order: 1886 and a live-action Treasure Planet film. Carlton, Burnley FC & SJ Sharks fan. Get around him on Twitter @tightinthejorts

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