Google Pixel 8a vs Pixel 8 vs Pixel 8 Pro: Pixelate

The Pixel 8a is still a great phone but as the price gap between the premium Pixel 8 narrows, it's struggling to justify its place. 

Google Pixel 8a
Google Pixel 8a
Starts at
$849
  • pro
    6.1-inch FHD+ OLED display w/ 120Hz refresh rate
  • pro
    64MP + 13MP rear camera, 13MP front camera
  • pro
    IP67 water and dust-resistant
Google Pixel 8
Google Pixel 8
Starts at
$1,199
  • pro
    6.2-inch FHD+ OLED display w/ 120Hz refresh rate
  • pro
    50MP + 12MP rear camera, 10.5MP front camera
  • pro
    IP68 water and dust-resistant
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Starts at
$1,699
  • pro
    6.7-inch QHD LTPO OLED w/ 120Hz refresh rate
  • pro
    50MP + 48MP + 48MP rear camera, 10.5MP front camera
  • pro
    IP68 water and dust-resistant
Brodie Fogg
May 14, 2024
Icon Time To Read6 min read

The Google Pixel 8a has been officially revealed. Over the past few years, the decision between the biennial Pixel a series and the flagship Pixel or Pixel Pro has been an easy one. Typically you'd get most of the bells and whistles of last year's premium at a more attractive price, but the Pixel 8a so closely resembles its premium counterpart that the price has started to creep closer too. That leaves the Pixel 8a in a tricky spot and makes it a tougher sell, especially when the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are regularly sold at an attractive discount. 

So should you grab the latest Pixel 8a, despite the price bump, or find a solid deal on last year's Pixel 8 or Pixel 8 Pro? Let's stack the handsets up side-by-side. 

Pixel 8a (Blue) and Pixel 8 Pro (Green)

Price: Google Pixel 8a vs Pixel 8 vs Pixel 8 Pro

$849 vs $1,199

The most meaningful difference between the flagship Pixel phones and the Pixel a series is, of course, the price. If you're on the Pixel a cycle, it's because you don't mind holding out for a year to get most of the same features for a much cheaper price. But this year might have the more frugal smartphone users among us scratching their heads. 

The Pixel 7a cost $749 at launch, the same price as the Pixel 6a before it; a comfortably "midrange" price at that. Not quite as affordable as the Pixel 4a, which retailed at $599 back in 2020, but still in the right ballpark for the specs offered. This year Google is charging $849 for its entry-level 128GB Pixel 8a and up to $949 for the 256GB model, which is honestly nobody's idea of "midrange" even as premium smartphones increase in price. 

Here's how the Google Pixel 8a compares in price to other Pixels. 

Model
Storage
Launch price
Google Pixel 8a128GB
$849
Google Pixel 8a256GB
$949
Google Pixel 8128GB
$1199
Google Pixel 8256GB
$1299
Google Pixel 8 Pro128GB
$1699
Google Pixel 8 Pro256GB
$1799
Google Pixel 8 Pro512GB
$1999

The closest alternatives you will find in the Android space are Samsung's Galaxy A55 and A35, which are both cheaper at $699 and $549, respectively. Otherwise if you're open to a newcomer in the Android midrange, you could consider the Nothing Phone. The budget-minded Nothing Phone (2a) costs around $650 via Amazon Australia while the more primo Nothing Phone (2) is currently discounted to $845 on Amazon.

If you're tempted to hop the fence over to Apple's side of the field, your only real option is the 2022 iPhone SE which costs around $790 for the 128GB model at Amazon and $969 for the 256GB model. While still great smartphones in their own right, at nearly two years old, they're on their way out. 

With all that said, it's best to keep an eye on the outright deals. You're not going to save much by pre-ordering the Google Pixel 8a prior to release, but the following retailers will be competing on price in the months to follow:

Store
Price
More info

Plans: Google Pixel 8a vs Pixel 8 vs Pixel 8 Pro

The Google Pixel 8a is available for pre-order now through Telstra and Optus and there's no word on whether it will be available through Vodafone here in Australia. 

Both premium Pixel phones, the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, are available through Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. You can find more information in our breakdown of Pixel 8a, Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro plans, but in the meantime, here are the cheapest 36-month plans for each Pixel 8 handset. 

Cheapest Google Pixel 8a plans (36-month)

Cheapest Google Pixel 8 plans (36-month)

Cheapest Google Pixel 8 Pro plans (36-month)

Camera: Pixel 8a vs Pixel 8 vs Pixel 8 Pro

Google Pixel 8a camera

Besides pricing, the Pixel 8a's camera is the one area where you can expect to miss out on a few minor features when compared to the Pixel 8 (and a few more compared to the Pixel 8 Pro.) Sure it's got all the same AI camera features of both flagship Pixel 8 phones, but the hardware isn't quite the same. 

Comparing the phones side-by-side, the technical differences might seem like much of a muchness, as do most of the photos to the naked eye. But there are still a few key differences about what each phone's cameras can and can't do. 

Let's start with the Google Pixel 8a. On paper, the dual-lens 64MP (main lens) + 13MP (ultrawide lens) isn't much different from the Pixel 8 (50MP + 12MP,) but still significantly inferior to the Pixel 8 Pro's triple-lens array (50MP wide + 48MP ultrawide + 48MP telephoto.) 

But as most readers would know at this stage, sheer megapixel count doesn't tell the whole story.  So let's focus on the sacrifices the Pixel 8a makes. 

Firstly, there's no LDAF sensor (laser detect auto-focus sensor.) This technology gives the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro's cameras an impressively fast auto-focus when taking quick snaps. Likewise, the Pixel 8a doesn't have the 2x optical zoom or the Macro Focus features that are available on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. 

Here's a quick side-by-side breakdown of the key camera spec differences between the Pixel 8a, Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. 

Camera specs
Pixel 8a
Pixel 8
Pixel 8 Pro
Rear camera (wide)64MP Quad PD, f/1.9 aperture50MP Octa PD, f/1.9\7 aperture50MP Octa PD, f/1.9\7 aperture
Laser Auto-focusNoYesYes
Rear camera (ultrawide)13MP, f/2.2 aperture, 120° field of view12MP w/ auto-focus, f/2.2 aperture, 126° field of view48MP Quad PD w/ auto-focus, f/1.95 aperture, 125.5° field of view
Rear camera (telephoto)NoNo48MP Quad PD, f/2.8 aperture, 21.8° field of view
Optical zoomNo2x optical-quality zoom5x optical zoom
Digital zoom8x8x30x
Front camera13MP, f/2.2 aperture10.5MP Dual DP, f/2.2 aperture10.5MP Dual DP, f/2.2 aperture w/ auto-focus
Pro controls and High-res photosNoNoYes
Video boostNoNoYes
Night sight videoNoNoYes
Macro FocusNoYesYes

Battery: Pixel 8a vs Pixel 8 vs Pixel 8 Pro

Similar battery with fewer bells and whistles.

The Google Pixel 8a is packing a decent 4,492mAh battery. Thanks to the slightly smaller 6.1-inch display, that is about equivalent to the Pixel 8's 4,575mAh battery and the 8 Pro's bigger 5,050mAh battery. All three devices promise around 24 hours of usage and in our early tests, the Pixel 8a has managed that and then some. 

What you won't get is fancier battery and charging features, like the faster 18W and 23W wireless charging available with the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, respectively. The Pixel 8a also doesn't support Battery Share, Google's reverse wireless charging feature that lets you power other devices, like earbuds or the Pixel Watch, using the stored battery life in the handset. 

Design and durability: Pixel 8a vs Pixel 8 vs Pixel 8 Pro

Google Pixel 8a Bay header
Pictured: Google Pixel 8a in Bay Blue

The Pixel 8a's display boasts a few neat surprises, and also a couple of downgrades. For a first in the Pixel a series, you won't need to sacrifice a higher refresh rate if you're saving money with the Pixel 8a. The 6.1-inch OLED Actua display of the Pixel 8a offers a variable refresh rate, between 60 and 120Hz. The Pixel 8 Pro can dip even lower, all the way down to 1Hz if the situation calls for it, but more important is the fact that Pixel 8a users will experience the same buttery smooth animations and user experience as Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro users. 

It's also just as bright as the Pixel 8 with up to 2, 000 nits peak brightness and offers an Always-On Display. 

Where Google has saved money on the Pixel 8a comes down to the build and durability. While it won't make much of a difference, the Pixel 8a is rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, while the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are rated IP68. On paper, that simply means they can be submerged in deeper water without compromising the device's internals. 

The Google Pixel 8a isn't quite as durable as its counterparts in most regards. For example, the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 that's used on the display isn't as strong as the Gorilla Glass Victus and Victus 2 featured in the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, respectively. 

And as is usually the case with these midrange alternatives, the Pixel 8a also ditches the glass back panel of the premium smartphones for a cheaper plastic material, though the difference there probably won't be noticeable to the untrained eye.

Pixel 8a colours compared

The other major design difference between each handset is the colours they're available in (and more accurately, which colours are available in Australia.)  

The one Pixel 8a colour we're not getting in Australia is Aloe (green) so our options locally are Bay (blue,) Porcelain (white,) and Obsidian (black.)

Here's what other colours are available for the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. 

Colour
Pixel 8a
Pixel 8
Pixel 8 Pro
Obsidian
pro
pro
pro
Bay Blue
pro
con
pro
Porcelain
pro
con
pro
Hazel
con
pro
con
Rose
con
pro
con
Mint
con
con
pro
Google Pixel 8a Obsidian header
Pictured: Google Pixel 8a in Obsidian

Power and performance: Google Pixel 8a vs Pixel 8 vs Pixel 8 Pro

Google G3 Tensor

One incredibly refreshing aspect of the Pixel a series is that, as of the Pixel 7a generation, the midrange alternative gets all the grunt afforded to the flagship phones. This year, that means the Google Pixel 8a has the same Google Tensor G3 chipset for comparable performance and shared AI assistance with photography and editing. It also has the same security system, including Google's Titan M2 chip and onboard VPN. 

It's a slightly different story when it comes to storage and memory. For starters, the 12GB RAM is exclusive to the Pixel 8 Pro, whereas the Pixel 8a and Pixel 8 sport 8GB of RAM. 

Lastly there are the storage options. This year, the Pixel 8a shares the same configuration options as the Pixel 8, with 128GB and 256GB storage models. The 512GB model is still exclusive to the Pixel 8 Pro. 

Specs: Pixel 8a vs Pixel 8 vs Pixel 8 Pro

Looking for the technical specs? Check out the table below for a comprehensive side-by-side comparison of the Google Pixel 8a, Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.
Model
Pixel 8a
Pixel 8
Pixel 8 Pro
Display size6.1 inches6.2 inches6.7 inches
Display typeFHD+ OLED, HDRFHD+, HDR10+QHD+ LTPO OLED, HDR10+
Refresh rateUp to 120hzUp to 120hzUp to 120Hz
Build materialsGorilla Glass 3 screen, aluminium frame, plastic backGorilla Glass Victus front and back, aluminium frameGorilla Glass Victus 2 front and back, aluminium frame
IP rating (dust and water resistance)IP67IP68IP68
Storage128GB or 256GB128GB or 256GB"128GB, 256GB or 512GB"
RAM8GB8GB12GB
ChipsetGoogle Tensor G3Google Tensor G3Google Tensor G3
Rear cameraWide: 64MP Quad PD, f/1.9 aperture
Ultrawide: 13MP, f/2.2 aperture, 120° field of view
Wide: 50MP Octa PD, f/1.9\7 aperture
Ultrawide: 12MP w/ auto-focus, f/2.2 aperture, 126° field of view
Wide: 50MP Octa PD, f/1.9\7 aperture
Ultrawide: 48MP Quad PD w/ auto-focus, f/1.95 aperture, 125.5° field of view
Telephoto: 48MP Quad PD, f/2.8 aperture, 21.8° field of view
Front camera13MP, f/2.2 aperture10.5MP Dual DP, f/2.2 aperture10.5MP Dual DP, f/2.2 aperture w/ auto-focus
Battery and charging4,492mAh, 18W wired charging, 7.5W wireless charging4,575mAh, 18W fast wireless charging, Reverse wireless charging5,050mAh, 23W fast wireless charging, Reverse wireless charging
ColoursBay, Porcelain, ObsidianRose, Hazel, ObsidianMint, Bay, Obsidian, Porcelain
PriceFrom $849"From $1,199"From $1,699

Conclusion: Which is the better pick?

The wallet-friendly Pixel 8a, the baseline Pixel 8 or the premium Pixel 8 Pro?
Google Pixel 8a

The Google Pixel 8a's price creep might make it less appealing to those who fell for its predecessors' budget-friendly cost but it's still a powerhouse smartphone at a decent price. Those looking to save further might want to start broadening their search to include other affordable Android smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy A35 and A55 or the Nothing Phone (2). 

But as Ferg points out in his review of the Google Pixel 8a, Google's biggest competitor for price might just be itself, as you can regularly find both the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro at an attractive discount, further blurring the budget divide between the Google a series and its premium flagship phones. 

Brodie Fogg
Written by
Brodie Fogg
Brodie Fogg is the Australian editorial lead at Reviews.org. He has covered consumer tech, telecommunications, video games, streaming and entertainment for over five years at websites like WhistleOut and Finder and can be found sharing streaming recommendations at 7NEWS every month.

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