Google Pixel 8a review
Image: Chris Button

Google Pixel 8a review: still a sub-$1000 winner

Even with a price increase, the Google Pixel 8a remains a highly well-rounded phone for less than $1,000. It might not maintain the brilliant value proposition of its predecessors, but few other devices offer a similarly complete package in this price bracket.

At $849 in Australia, the price of the Pixel 8a is a big talking point. It’s $100 more than the 7a, a phone widely considered the best bang-for-buck handset on the market. Rubbing salt into the wounds is the fact that overseas markets didn’t get the same increase. Still, it’s considerably cheaper than the $1,699 Pro model, and the 8a’s price bump is comparatively smaller – roughly a 13% year-on-year increase versus the 8 Pro’s 30%.

Money aside, the Google Pixel 8a is a great phone with a pleasantly compact form factor. Its screen looks fantastic, there’s more under-the-hood power, and the seven years of promised updates are icing on the Google-baked cake.

Google Pixel 8a review

First impressions: it actually fits in your pocket

I think the Google Pixel 8a is the perfect-sized phone. So many Android handsets opt for big 6.6 or 6.7-inch displays, which are nice for looking at but annoying to hold and fit in pockets. Compact devices like the 5.9-inch Asus Zenfone 10 are the exception, not the rule. Foldables – like the Motorola Razr 40 and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 – let you have your cake and eat it too with a big screen that still tucks away easily when not needed.

With a 6.1-inch screen, the Google Pixel 8a is easy to hold and use one-handed. Although its bezels appear thicker than many modern phones, I found it actually helped make certain swipe gestures easier, like swiping up from the bottom or top.

Its button configuration tripped me up, though. Different to most Android phones I’ve used, the power button sits above the volume controls. Years of muscle memory using phones with the opposite alignment meant I often accidentally pressed the wrong input.

I will admit to being bummed out when learning Australia missed out on the Aloe colour. That’s a strong element of personal bias, mind you, with aqua and turquoise-adjacent shades among my favourite colours. Regardless, Obsidian is a sleek finish, accentuating the Pixel 8a’s smooth rounded curves. Making up for the lack of Aloe devices locally is a nice silicon case in its place.

Otherwise, it’s a streamlined Android 14 device that feels pleasantly familiar.

Google Pixel 8a specifications

 Display6.1-inch Actua OLED display
1080 x 2400 resolution
120Hz refresh rate
2,000 nits peak brightness
Dimensions152.1 mm x 72.7 mm x 8.9 mm
188 grams
ProcessorTensor G3
Storage and memoryFrom 128GB storage
8GB memory
Cameras64 MP main rear camera: f/1.89; FOV 80°
13MP ultrawide rear camera: f/2.2; FOV 120°
13MP front camera: f/2.2; FOV 96.5°
Battery and charging4,429mAh
18W wired charging
7.5W wireless Qi charging
ConnectivityUSB-C type 3.2
Dual SIM (Nano and eSIM)
Wi-Fi 6E
Bluetooth 5.3
NFC
Network bandsGSM/EDGE: (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
UMTS/HSPA+/HSDPA: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 19
LTE:
B1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/18/19/20/26/28/32/38/40/41/42/66
5G Sub-618:
n1/2/3/5/7/8/12/20/26/28/38/40/41/66/75/76/77/78
SoftwareAndroid 14
Seven years of OS and security updates
DurabilityIP67
Corning Gorilla Glass 3 cover glass
Price (RRP)$849
WarrantyTwo years
Official websiteGoogle Australia

Performance: well-rounded

Powered by the same Tensor G3 chip as the rest of the Pixel 8 family, the 8a is a comfortably speedy phone across basic apps. It tackles gaming reasonably well too. More graphically demanding games like the stylish Honkai Star Rail hit a fairly steady 60fps, although it doesn’t take long for the handset to heat up. Dialling down a few in-game visual effects helped achieve a smooth frame rate without getting too toasty.

At the time of writing, Geekbench 6 – a common mobile benchmarking app – wasn’t available to download on the Google Pixel 8a. 3DMark, on the other hand, was. The gaming-centric benchmarking app showed a decent leap in performance over the $150 cheaper Samsung Galaxy A55.

DeviceWild Life ScoreAverage frame rate (fps)
Apple iPhone 138,702N/A
Google Pixel 8a8,38650.22
Motorola Edge 404,464N/A
Samsung Galaxy A553,90923.41
3DMark benchmark results.

While the Google Pixel 8a isn’t considered a hardware powerhouse, its graphical prowess results in a decent all-around phone.

The Google Pixel 8a is also the first of the company’s A-series phones to get a 120Hz display. Previous models were capped at 90Hz, so it’s nice to get an extra bit of smoothness. It’s a sharp, vivid, and bright screen too, bringing out the best of apps, videos, and games alike. Even when taking beach photos in direct sunlight, I could comfortably see the screen’s contents after cranking up the brightness.

Although Google provided limited details about how long the Pixel 8a’s 4,429mAh battery should last, the company claimed a 15% improvement from the 7a. Anecdotally, I had no problem getting through a day without charging. I’m a fairly moderate phone user, so I usually only needed to charge late into the second day after a full charge.

It’s just as well: the Pixel 8a charges slowly for a device nearing $1,000. It only supports 18W wired charging speeds, not all that quick when much cheaper phones support significantly faster speeds. At least it has wireless charging, albeit the 7.5W first-generation Qi standard.

Camera: superb snapper

Google is responsible for some of the best phone cameras going around. Check benchmarking site DXOMARK at any given moment, and the main Pixel and Pixel Pro models routinely top the charts.

Not quite as fully decked out as its more expensive cousins, the Google Pixel 8a still takes some great snaps. On the back is a dual-camera array led by a 64MP main lens supported by a 13MP wide-angle lens. Turn it around and you see a 13MP selfie lens.

Compared to the corresponding camera setup on the standard Pixel 8, the 8a has smaller sensors and a narrower aperture. In essence, it’s similar but less capable in low-light conditions.

There’s also no optical zoom-enabling telephoto lens, which is reserved for the Pro model. You’d be hard-pressed to find a telephoto lens on any phone under $1,000, mind you – the Oppo Reno 10 5G is a rare exception.

Low-light photography: brightening the mood

With the house in darkness, the Google Pixel 8a did a reasonable job capturing the details of my plush Tyranitar. The photo errs on the dim side, but it’s always easier to edit an underexposed image than an overexposed one.

Slow the shutter speed to two seconds – the default for “Night Sight” – and you couldn’t even tell how dark the room was with all the curtains closed. Compared to the photo taken after opening the curtains, colour saturation is the only main discernible difference.

Contrast this with the iPhone 15 Pro, my daily phone, and the results are favourable. With a slower shutter speed, the iPhone photo looks overly processed. I slightly prefer the iPhone’s more natural colours in the regular shutter speed shot in better lighting conditions though.

In a night wide-angle photo at the footy, the Pixel captured a nicely detailed and well-lit photo. The colours appear vivid and realistic, while the iPhone’s photo looks over-processed. However, the iPhone captures a slightly better lighting range, with less glow spilling from the light towers into the night sky.

Daytime photos: saturated snaps

The Google Pixel 8a tends to favour an idealised image, I noticed when taking daytime photos. Not to the point of excessively visible processing, but enough to stand out. Take these beach photos, for example. The sky looks a picturesque vibrant blue, clearly the result of some post-processing.

Meanwhile, the iPhone 15 Pro photos more realistically depicted the skyline on that particular day. It’s still a beautiful view, albeit with more natural colours and definition. The iPhone also caught more cloud details and the warmth of the sun coming from the west.

Selfies also look nice, although the Pixel softens features a little bit. Not egregiously so, but it’s noticeable next to the more detailed iPhone snap.

The iPhone 15 Pro’s selfie lens also lets in more light, illuminating my face evenly. Conversely, the Pixel 8a photo is darker, casting shade over parts of my face. It’s a nice dramatic look though, not gonna lie.

And here’s a photo of my cat, Billie, for your viewing pleasure.

Cat photo
Image: Chris Button.

Magic Eraser: using AI editing tools

Google’s big focus is on AI features instead of raw processing power, with plenty of its headline features present here. Circle to Search is a nifty visual lookup tool, but I didn’t find the need to use many of the other tools.

Many of the software features revolve around photo editing, like Magic Eraser and Best Take. Both are neat ideas in theory, although I rarely needed to use them. Maybe I’m just an outlier who prefers not to touch photos after taking them, but they’re nice-to-have features as opposed to essentials.

Giving Magic Eraser a go, I found it performed better when making minor background adjustments than substantial edits. Removing the light and exercise bike handles behind my head in a selfie resulted in an impressive output. Looking closely, you can see something funky going on with the shadows where the light used to be, but it’s negligible.

On the other hand, Magic Eraser struggled when attempting to remove the photobombing Lugia from Tyranitar’s photo. Lugia’s totally gone, but Tyranitar’s claws extended too, along with the couch arm. It’s a cool feature that takes just seconds to process – you might want to save it for minor edits or photos with flat backgrounds though.

Who is the Google Pixel 8a for?

If your phone budget stretches no further than $1,000, the Google Pixel 8a is a fantastic well-rounded device. It takes lovely photos, plays games smoothly, and feels great to use.

It stings that Australia pays more for this handset than the rest of the world. Keep in mind that Google phones regularly discount deeply at retailers, so you’ll likely find one for less than a Pixel 7a in the not-too-distant future.

If Google backs up its promise of post-launch software updates spanning seven years – and that’s a big “if” – the Pixel 8a will remain the king of sub-$1,000 phones. Regardless, it’s still a great phone, even if it doesn’t reach that seven-year milestone.

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Google Pixel 8a
Not even a local price increase can stop the Google Pixel 8a from retaining its place as one of the best value phones.
Features
9
Value for money
8
Performance
8.5
Ease of use
9
Design
9
Positives
Excellent compact design
Tensor G3 chip produces smooth all-around performance
Solid camera performance
Negatives
Slow charging
Australian price increase
8.7