Google Pixel 8a vs Pixel 6a: What’s new in two years of evolution

Google Pixel 8a vs Pixel 6a: What’s new in two years of evolution

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Intro

The Google Pixel 8a arrives two years after the Pixel 6a, and it brings a few improvements like a faster chip, more capable camera and a tweaked design, but there is just one feature that makes it worth an upgrade: the fast, 120Hz refresh rate.

All the rest seem like much less important additions. Despite the newer cameras, image quality has not changed much (except for video that is), and despite a two year difference we did not spot a huge difference in battery life.

But the smoother performance is definitely something you do notice, and the Pixel 8a certainly makes for one smooth experience and a great camera you are probably familiar with.

Table of Contents:

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Design and Display Quality

The Pixel 8a is more rounded in all ways, but the Pixel 6a is lighter

What has changed in two years of “A” series Pixels?

Well, the shape for once! The newer Pixel 8a is rounder and a bit more refined, while the Pixel 6a is a bit boxier. However, the newer model is noticeably heavier and if you value a light-weight phone, the Pixel 6a is actually better for that.

Both phones feature a plastic back, so not quite premium, and both come with an IP67 water and dust protection rating.

The two measure an identical 8.9mm for thickness.

However, the one big difference has got to be in the screens.

Both the Pixel 8a and Pixel 6a feature 6.1-inch screens and both share a huge bezel size that looks nothing like modern phones. Alas, looks weren’t first priority for these models.

The Pixel 8a screen however runs at 120Hz, while the Pixel 6a runs at 60Hz, and that difference is massive. The older Pixel feels choppy, while the Pixel 8a runs buttery smooth.

We do our own lab measurements here at PhoneArena, and you can see how the Pixel 8a smokes the 6a when it comes to max brightness. The Pixel 8a stands at nearly 1500 nits of max brightness (measured at 100% white), while the Pixel 6a only reaches 785 nits, roughly a half. That makes the Pixel 8a easier to use on a sunny day outdoors.

Performance and Software

Two years of chip gains

The Pixel 6a was revolutionary in a way because it came with a flagship grade chip, which was unheard of in the budget Android space.

However, the Pixel 8a now uses the newer generation of that chipset, so it’s clearly faster. And it also has the important advantage of more memory: 8GB of RAM on the Pixel 8a vs 6GB of RAM on the Pixel 6a.

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Performance Benchmarks:

As you can see above, the difference is noticeable in the CPU-focused GeekBench test, but it is amplified for gaming where the Pixel 8a scores vastly better.

Both phones also come with a 128GB of base storage, but the Pixel 8a is offered in a 256GB option as well.

Camera

Two cameras like before, but has the quality changed?

Both models have a main and ultra-wide camera on the back, but no dedicated telephoto lens.

The camera specs are slightly improved on the Pixel 8a: you get a high-res 64MP main camera compared to a 12MP main shooter on the Pixel 6a.

For ultra-wide shots, the Pixel 8a has a newer 13MP sensor, while the Pixel 6a has an older generation 12MP one.

But what about the actual photo quality?

Main Camera

It’s all about processing with Pixels and these two are quite similar indeed. You really need to pixel peep to find differences.

You have to be really picky to find a difference in the low light shots too. The higher-res sensor on the Pixel 8a should help but the effect is not really all that huge.

Zoom Quality

The digital zoom quality is where you see a bigger difference. The newer Pixel 8a goes for a softer look, while the Pixel 6a has a lot of oversharpening on it.

Ultra-wide Camera

The Pixel 8a has gained an ultra-wide camera with wider field of view, but colors and detail are quite comparable.

Selfies

Selfies have seen a change in image processing and skin tones, and it seems the Pixel 8a is smarter about recognizing faces and adjusting the colors to them.

Video Quality

Video Thumbnail

Video quality on the Pixel 8a is a bigger leap than photo quality as you have fewer limitations, less cropping and an overall improved footage.

Audio Quality and Haptics

The Pixel 8a has improved audio quality via the loudspeakers with more definition, boomier sound and better bass. That’s great to see!

The haptics are also now more refined and sharper, a small but important detail for your everyday comfort with notifications and typing.

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Battery Life and Charging

Sadly, battery life has not improved much in the last two years

You would hope that battery life would improve with time, but that does not seem to be the case.

The Pixel 8a ships with a 4492mAh battery compared to a 4410mAh battery size on the Pixel 6a, so a tiny change.

But what about actual battery life?

PhoneArena Battery Test Results:

We ran our own PhoneArena battery tests, and found the results nearly identical on these two phones. Of course, you have to keep in mind that the Pixel 8a runs at 120Hz for the browsing test, while the Pixel 6a runs at 60Hz, so it might be more efficient after all.

PhoneArena Charging Test Results:

Charging speeds have remained similarly sluggish as well and it takes around 1 hour and 50 minute to get a full charge on either one.

The Pixel 8a, however, adds wireless charging, which is missing on the Pixel 6a. Just don’t expect anything fast: the Pixel 8a wireless charging speeds is a meager 7.5 watts, which measn a full charge takes around three hours wirelessly.

Specs Comparison

Which one should you buy?

When you draw the line in the sand, you might be surprised that not all that much has changed in the Pixel 8a.

Of course, the fast 120Hz refresh rate is the big new feature and it alone is worth it. Other smaller improvements are the faster chipset, especially for gaming, and the 8GB of RAM that will certainly help with AI tasks. Plus, you get extras like wireless charing on the new model.

Should you upgrade? Well, if you want that smoother performance and slightly faster performance, the answer is yes, but just know that the upgrade will not be all that huge.

What do you want to see on the next A series Pixel?



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