Google Pixel 8a vs Pixel 8: The little mid-ranger that could

Google Pixel 8a vs Pixel 8: The little mid-ranger that could

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Intro

It’s finally spring time, and aside from nature, another slumbering giant is awakening as well: Google. 

As it is now tradition, Google usually releases an affordable version of its compact flagships in the summer, and that’s precisely what we expect to see announced at the Google I/O conference on May 14. The Pixel 8a will land as a more affordable variation of the Google Pixel 8, and while it will have some corners cut for cost reasons, it will still offer the same core experience. 

Meanwhile, the Pixel 8 has remained one of the few small-factor flagships out there, pulling way above its weight. How would it compare against its slightly more affordable variant, though?

Pixel 8a vs Pixel 8 differences:

Table of Contents:

Design and Size

Slight changes

Not many differences are expected between the Google Pixel 8a and the Pixel 8. The Pixel 8a will generally adopt the same general design language as the Pixel 8, of course, with a hint of some changes. The rear camera strip, a signature Pixel feature, is still on the Pixel 8a, but according to design leaks, it could adopt a slightly more curved backplate in comparison with the Pixel 8.

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The Pixel 8a might come with a matte finish at the rear, an upgrade over the Pixel 7a‘s glossy backplate. The Pixel 8 also comes along with matte glass at the back. 

Another major difference could be size itself: rumors reveal that the Pixel 8a might boast a 6.1-inch display, whereas the Pixel 8 has a 6.2-inch screen. Provided that the screen estate difference doesn’t only stem to the potentially thicker bezels on the Pixel 8a, we could get a slightly smaller phone. Once again, there’s a possibility that the two devices could have the same overall size. 

In terms of colors, we could see the Pixel 8a in several fresh colors, like the bright baby-blue that has already leaked, as well as a salmon color, or peachy pink if you will. 

Display Differences

According to the hearsay, the Pixel 8a display won’t be that much different from the Pixel 8 as far as hardware properties come and go. Despite the hinted discrepancy of 0.1 inches in favor of the Pixel 8, which will have the larger 6.2-inch display, the 6.1-inch screen of the Pixel 8a will be mostly equivalent. 

Both will be OLED ones and will have a sensible FHD+ resolution, which should be more than enough to deliver decent sharpness. Reports also claim that the Pixel 8a will feature a screen refresh rate of 120Hz, which will make interface navigation super-smooth. Having such a screen refresh rate would match the Pixel 8, which sounds strange because we’d normally wager that an affordable Pixel will push 90Hz maximum. 

It’s also said that the Pixel 8a will likely be able to hit up to 1,400 nits of maximum display brightness, which is just as much as the Pixel 8 is capable of. This further brings the two devices closer in terms of display specs. 

Biometrics-wise, the Pixel 8a surely could improve on the Pixel 7a‘s lackluster and slow-to-react fingerprint scanner that’s built into the display. The Pixel 8‘s fingerprint sensor will unlock the phone quickly and would rarely give an erroneous fingerprint reading. 

Performance and Software

Not all Tensor chips are made the same
While we’re fairly certain that the Pixel 8a will come along with the Tensor G3 chip that’s also ticking inside the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, it won’t be the same chip. As per the rumors we keep hearing, the Tensor G3 version slated for the Pixel 8a will be a slightly underclocked variation of the flagship Tensor chip, achieving less raw performance. 

Now, how do we know that? Well, a device code-named “Akita” that’s most certainly the Pixel 8a has been making the rounds on GeekBench, revealing slightly less impressive computing power in comparison with the Pixel 8a. Our tests of the latter treated us to 1630 points in the single-core test and 4320 points in the multi-core test, while the Pixel 8a leak hints it might be able to achieve 1218 points in the single-core and 3175 points in the multi-core tests.

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RAM and storage-wide, the Pixel 8a could come with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of native storage. Meanwhile, the Pixel 8 is also available with 8GB of RAM and comes in 128GB and 256GB storage variations. 

Camera

The Pixel 8a will probably match the Pixel 8 

Hardware-wise, we expect few differences between the Pixel 8a and the Pixel 8.

Rumors and logical sense suggest we should expect a 64MP wide and a 13MP ultra-wide cameras to make the rounds on the Pixel 8a. These cameras will most certainly employ the same camera sensors that debuted on the Pixel 7a: Sony IMX787 for the main camera and an IMX712 for the ultra-wide. Up front, we are likely seeing a 13MP selfie camera once again. 

Meanwhile, the Pixel 8 comes along with a 50MP wide and a 12MP ultra-wide camera, as well as a 10.5MP selfie snapper. While the difference may seem in favor of the Pixel 8a, hardware is just part of the whole picture. In fact, with Pixels, the majority of camera improvements usually stem from software enhancement, image-processing upgrades, and lots of AI/ML goodies, so hardware doesn’t play such a major part here. 

In any case, we expect that the Pixel 8a to deliver excellent image quality, but the Pixel 8 should have a slightly upper hand in terms of overall scene dynamics and low-light performance. 

Audio Quality and Haptics

The Pixel 8a will likely employ the same stereo-speaker setup as its predecessor, which delivered very decent sound, albeit slightly lacking in the lower frequencies. 

The audio quality of Pixel 8 is crystal clear and adequate for listening to any speech-related material. The overall sound profile does seem to lack a bit when it comes to richness and depth, so you probably won’t be able to replace a portable speaker with this phone.

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Haptics-wise, the Pixel 8a could deliver the same experience as its predecessor. Not particularly strong, but not mushy either, the Pixel 7a has decent haptics. Meanwhile, the Pixel 8 definitely has that extra level of strength and accuracy that makes its haptic feedback nicer to interact with. We doubt it would be surpassed by the upcoming budget Pixel. 

Battery Life and Charging

Potential massive bump for the Pixel 8a
According to a leak, the Pixel 8acould come with a massive 4,942mAh battery, a serious bump over the Pixel 7a‘s 4,385mAh battery. This could potentially make the Pixel 8a a battery champ, at least as far as Pixels come and go! Here’s to hoping. 

Meanwhile, the Pixel 8 boasts a 4,575mAh battery, which helps the phone achieve better than the average battery endurance.

Charging-wise, the Pixel 8a hopefully improves on the Pixel 7a‘s 18W wired and 7.5W wireless charging, which are slow and take a long time to fully charge the device. The Pixel 8 is faster in this regard, as it charges at up to 27W via cable and up to 18W wirelessly. 

Specs Comparison

Summary

The Pixel 8a is shaping up to be another successful chapter in Google’s renowned book of Pixel phones. 

With possible major improvements in key areas like battery size and display, the device could very well fix most of our issues with the Pixel 7a and emerge as another oft-recommended phone in the mid-range sector.

Meanwhile, the Pixel 8 is a compact flagship phone that looks pretty familiar at first sight, but has that extra of premium-ness that makes all the difference. A better camera, potentially faster charging speeds, more refined design, and better performance will make it worth a few couple of hundred dollars more. Speaking of price, we expect the Pixel 8a to start at $499, like its predecessor, but there’s always the possibility for Google to jack up the prices. Or, albeit way less likely, we could see a price reduction. Unlikely, but still possible. 



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