Pixel 8a falls behind Pixel 8 and Galaxy S24 in PhoneArena Camera Score, but beats mid-range arch-rival

Pixel 8a falls behind Pixel 8 and Galaxy S24 in PhoneArena Camera Score, but beats mid-range arch-rival

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The Google Pixel 8a is the latest and arguably one of the best budget phones in the market.

And for years, the Pixel name has also been associated with an outstanding camera. But if you follow the series, you know that the camera hardware on the Pixel 8a has not changed much and improvements are happening at a very slow pace. So is the Pixel 8a still the best camera on a $500 phone, or have other companies outcompeted it?

The phone has just gone through our extensive PhoneArena Camera Score testing protocol, and here is what we have learned about it.

*Learn more about our PhoneArena Camera Score testing protocol here.

With a total score of around 133 points, the Pixel 8a is a marginal improvement over the previous generation Pixel 7a.
Compared to rivals in the same price tier, it beats the Galaxy A55 5G in camera quality, but loses to the new contender in the space, the OnePlus 12R, as per our measurements.
And if you were curious about how the Pixel 8a compares to flagships, well, the gap is even bigger when you compare it to the Pixel 8 and the Galaxy S24, so it’s not quite as good. But what are the compromises you deal with?

Main Camera

The Pixel 8a is equipped with a 64MP main shooter with f/1.9 aperture and a 26mm lens. It uses a 1/1.73″ type sensor, so quite a bit smaller compared to a typical 1/1.3″ sensor used on premium phones.

With quad pixel binning, you get a 16MP default photo, which provides a good amount of detail.

Interestingly, the OnePlus 12R has the Pixel 8a beat for main camera quality. It has fewer issues with oversharpening, which contributes to more natural looking photographs.

The Pixel 8a also lacks a hi-res mode, so despite having a 64MP sensor on board, there is no way to capture a 64MP photo, while other devices can easily capture full-resolution pictures.

Zoom Quality

Just like most phones in the $500 price segment, you do NOT get a dedicated telephoto lens on the Pixel 8a, so you need to rely on digital zoom. You have a 2X zoom preset in the camera app and the maximum zoom level is 8X.

Zoom quality is still a strong point for the Pixel compared to peers like the OnePlus 12R and Galaxy A55, which have more issues with oversharpening and capture less detail.

Portrait Mode on the Pixel 8a still lacks a proper preview of the background blur in the viewfinder and you get a 1.7X and 2X presets for portraits. The difference between these focal lengths is tiny and it makes absolutely no sense to have these preset values. Thankfully, you can zoom in up to 3X which gives you a more zoomed in portrait, but since it’s all digital zoom the quality is quite bad.

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Ultra-wide Camera

The Pixel 8a comes with a 13MP ultra-wide camera with an f/2.2 aperture, and the focal length barely qualifies as ultra-wide at 20mm. This appears to be the exact same camera as on last year’s Pixel 7a, at least when it comes to hardware, and unsurprisingly the score is almost exactly the same with only slight variations in exposure and colors.

There are some issues with corner sharpness as well.

This appears to be a weak spot for the Pixel 8a, as the Galaxy A55 5G and OnePlus 12R have fewer of these issues and have support for macro shooting, which the Pixel lacks. 

Front Camera

While it underperforms slightly when it comes to the ultra-wide camera, the Pixel 8a does very good with selfies, scoring on par with the more premium Pixel 8 and outclassing the $500 crowd.

Its main advantage over its peers is the higher amount of detail that you get with selfie shots.

The selfie camera hardware, however, has not changed much, and it seems to be the same 13MP shooter as on the Pixel 7a, in case you were wondering.

Main Camera – Video

Video quality captured with the Pixel 8a looks great with a good amount of detail and pleasing colors.

The maximum resolution is 4K and you cah choose between 4K30 and 4K60, which is great, but there are some limitations to the 4K60 footage specifically, as once you start recording with the main camera, you cannot switch to the ultra-wide.

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Apart from that, video quality looks good and you have well-performing video stabilization on board.

Zoom Quality – Video

You can only zoom up to 5X in 4K video on the Pixel 8a, which is less than on premium phones.

But honestly, for a phone with no dedicated telephoto camera that is enough. The Pixel does well for what it is, but at the longer zoom range detail falls apart quickly.

Ultra-wide Camera – Video

Footage with the ultra-wide camera looks a bit grainier compared to the main shooter, but you still have good exposure and pleasing colors, so if you have enough light, the footage is definitely usable.

Front Camera – Video

Finally, we are impressed with selfie videos captured on the Pixel as it is able to render skin tones very well and you get a good amount of detail.

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