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Google Pixel 8a hands-on

A Pixel 8a test. From a Pixel 7a owner.

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I first got into Google Pixels because I’m an Android user and I wanted brilliant photos. I’ve been through a few Pixels – first the 3 and then the Pixel 5, but then made the switch to a great value Pixel 7a. Why? Because from the camera and screen quality to the battery life, I found flagship features aplenty. It performed like a great phone at a price that didn’t feel like a major investment. What’s not to like?

But now Google have released their newest A series phone, the Pixel 8a. So as a 7a user I was both curious to see what had changed and felt pretty well qualified to find my way around it. With news of a more powerful processor, bigger battery and some AI wizardry onboard, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

So, is the Pixel 8a a major upgrade or will I be holding onto my trusty 7a for a bit longer?

Pixel 8a design

Let’s jump straight to how it looks, because immediately there’s a noticeable difference when you put it next to the 7a. The squared off corners of the 7a have been replaced by 8a’s more rounded look. Though both phones have that stylish aluminium frame. The 7a’s glossy plastic backing has been swapped out for the 8a’s matte finished. I think it’s a great move and gives it a slightly nicer texture. That said, my 7a spends its life trapped in a plastic phone case – so I guess I don’t notice so much.

If I owned the Pixel 8a, I could probably do without the protective phone case - since the 8a comes with Gorilla Glass 3 front and back. As it’s super tough, I’d feel a little more at ease carrying it around without a case.

Pixel 7a v Pixel 8a differences

HTML Table Generator

Google Pixel 7a Google Pixel 8a
 Battery  4,492mAh  4,385mAh
 Processor  Tensor G2 Tensor G3 
 Refresh rate  90Hz 120Hz 
Zoom  8x digital   8x Super Res
 Storage  128GB  128GB or 256GB
Brightness (max)   1,000 nits  2,000 nits
Weight   193g  188g

Pixel 8a screen

Different shape, same size screens. The 8a retains the 6.1-inch screen size which is perfect for me. Large enough to watch videos on that 1080 x 2400 pixel display, but not too bulky than I can’t comfortably slip the phone in my pocket.

Moving onto their OLED screens, the 8a’s is definitely brighter – now up to 2,000 nits – which is double what the 7a outputs. This makes it much easier to see what’s onscreen – especially on bright days. Scrolling around and opening apps on the phone also feels smoother. That might have to do with the boosted refresh rate – now at a maximum of 120Hz, whereas the 7a could only get to 90Hz. And let’s not forget the upgraded chip – moving up to the Tensor G3.

And playing the same video on Youtube genuinely looks better on the 8a. It’s sharper and more vivid at the same playback quality. So, the 7a’s OLED screen still looks great, but seeing the two phones side by side is giving me a bit of an upgrade itch!

Pixel 8a camera

The camera set up on the 7a is great – with its 64MP wide, 13MP ultrawide and 13MP selfie cam – and there’s been no need to change that winning formula for the 8a. Both are easy to point and shoot, letting the software take care of patchy light or shaky photographers! Whether 7a or 8a, you’ll still get the quality pictures and videos that make Pixels such a draw. And since both phones can be upgraded to the latest version of Android, there’s not much to separate them for picture quality.

The only really clear difference I found was with the zoom. The Pixel 7a has a regular 8x digital zoom. The upgraded 8a has an AI-powered Super-res zoom up to 8X. Testing out both cameras in my garden, the difference is apparent. When zoomed in fully, the 8a takes a more focused, detailed

More AI!

I mentioned the upgrade from Tensor G2 to G3 from the 7a to the 8a, but the new processor allows for a build on AI features. The Magic Eraser (which I’ve got used to) on the 7a has been given an upgrade. This means you can easily delete objects you want to remove from pictures. Even stray cat toys.

And there’s a whole new feature called Audio Eraser. Just as Magic Eraser removes unwanted things from the background, so Audio Magic Eraser identifies annoying background noises in your videos and removes them. You can check out the Audio Magic Eraser in action in our Pixel 8 hands on.

Pixel 8a battery

Since I’m basically a far too avid watcher of Youtube, the 8a’s larger battery is a great upgrade. The new phone has a 4,492mAh battery compared to the 7a’s 4,385mAh. It doesn’t sound like much but will mean a few more hours of my favourite restaurant reviewer! So that’s no bad thing.

Should you upgrade to the Pixel 8a?

If you’ve never had a Pixel before, the 8a is a great entry point. It’s got some real flagship features at great value for money. Its display and camera quality feel like they belong on a far more expensive phone. it’s a light and compact handset that feels great to use. And while its AI features may not be the first thing you look for in a new mobile, they’re very cool regardless. And while there isn’t quite enough difference for me to want to give up my beloved 7a, the Pixel 8a is a definite step up.

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