Google Pixel 8a Review: A Flagship Killer in Disguise?

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The Google Pixel 8a has arrived in India, boasting significant upgrades over its predecessor, the Pixel 7a. But with a price tag that pushes the boundaries of mid-range territory, can it truly be considered a “flagship killer”? This in-depth review dives into the Pixel 8a’s design, display, performance, cameras, software, and battery life, and explores whether it lives up to the hype.

Google Pixel 8a Review
Google Pixel 8a Review

Design and Build: A Familiar Look with a Few Tweaks

Unboxing the Pixel 8a reveals a familiar sight: no charger included. You’ll find the phone itself, a charging cable, a SIM ejector tool, and a USB-A to USB-C adapter. Our Aleo-colored model, exclusive to the Pixel 8a, stands out with its eye-catching finish that’s sure to turn heads. The back panel features a welcome change – a matte finish that resists fingerprints and smudges. Shiny aluminum rails, the signature camera bar, and a subtle Google logo complete the look.

Comfort takes center stage with the Pixel 8a’s curved design that feels great in hand. However, the build quality might raise eyebrows. While the phone boasts an IP67 dust and water resistance rating, Gorilla Glass 3 on the front and a plastic back panel feel less premium compared to competitors. Bezels are also thicker than what’s trending these days.

On the right side, you’ll find the easily accessible power and volume buttons, while the SIM tray sits on the left. Overall, the design prioritizes comfort, offering a familiar Pixel aesthetic with a few practical upgrades.

Display: A Vibrant Canvas with Room for Improvement

The Pixel 8a employs a 6.1-inch FHD+ OLED display with a traditional 20:9 aspect ratio. The screen boasts a variable refresh rate between 60Hz and 120Hz, ensuring smooth visuals and optimizing battery life. HDR support guarantees a vibrant viewing experience, and with a peak brightness of 2,000 nits, the display remains usable even under harsh sunlight. This is a significant upgrade from the Pixel 7a and puts it on par with the standard Pixel 8, minus the thicker bezels.

Performance: Tensor G3 Delivers, But Not Without Limitations

The Pixel 8a packs the punchy Tensor G3 SoC, the same chip powering the Pixel 8 Pro. Benchmarks reveal a Geekbench 6 score of 1571 (single-core) and 3713 (multi-core). While admirable, these numbers fall short of the flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processors. However, the Pixel 8a handles multitasking and gaming with ease. The lower benchmark scores can be attributed to Tensor G3’s focus on AI operations rather than raw power.

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While the Google Gemini AI app hasn’t arrived on the Pixel 8a yet, its imminent arrival promises further performance enhancements. It’s worth noting that the phone does tend to heat up slightly during extended gaming sessions (around 40 minutes), but it never reaches uncomfortable levels. In everyday use, the Pixel 8a delivers smooth and flawless performance.

Cameras: A Dual-Camera Powerhouse with Night Sight Magic

On the back, the Pixel 8a features a dual-camera setup: a 64MP primary sensor with f/1.9 aperture, dual-pixel PDAF, and OIS, accompanied by a 13MP ultrawide sensor with f/2.2 aperture and a 120-degree field of view. The front houses a 13MP selfie camera with an f/2.2 aperture.

Daylight photography shines with the Pixel 8a, capturing shots with exceptional detail, accurate colors, and consistent white balance. Google has mastered the art of balancing saturation and sharpness, ensuring photos pop without looking artificial. While a 2x zoom maintains decent image quality, detail loss becomes noticeable after a 5x zoom.

The ultrawide camera deserves a special mention. It maintains consistent colors with the main sensor and captures detailed shots without suffering from edge distortion. Early impressions suggest this might be the best ultrawide camera in its segment, but further testing is needed.

Night Sight continues to be a Pixel powerhouse. Both the main and ultrawide cameras capture impressive low-light shots, exceeding expectations. The Pixel 8a can record 4K video at 60fps with the main camera, while the selfie and ultrawide cameras are limited to 4K at 30fps. Overall, the camera system delivers exceptional results, rivaling flagship performance in most scenarios.

Battery Life: All-Day Power with Room for Improvement

The Pixel 8a boasts a slightly larger battery than its predecessor, clocking in at 4,492mAh. Under moderate usage, this translates to a full day’s battery life on a single charge. However, power users might find themselves reaching for the charger towards the end of the day. The fast charging capabilities leave a lot to be desired, with the phone supporting only 18W wired charging and a measly 7.5W wireless charging. This falls short compared to competitors and even the Pixel 8 itself.

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Google Pixel 8a: Flagship Killer or Clever Chameleon?

With a price tag that pushes the boundaries of mid-range territory, the Pixel 8a carves out a unique space in the smartphone market. It forgoes raw processing power in favor of exceptional cameras, a clean software experience with unmatched support, and a vibrant display. While the build quality and battery life might raise eyebrows, the Pixel 8a prioritizes user experience with its comfortable design and AI-powered features.

Is it a true flagship killer? The answer depends on your priorities. If you crave bleeding-edge performance, the Pixel 8a might fall short. But for those who value a fantastic camera system, a clean and secure software experience, and a phone that prioritizes everyday usability, the Pixel 8a emerges as a compelling option.

FAQs

Q: Is the Google Pixel 8a waterproof?

A: Yes, the Pixel 8a boasts an IP67 dust and water resistance rating.

Q: How much RAM does the Pixel 8a have?

A: RAM capacity information for the Pixel 8a is not yet officially confirmed, but leaks suggest it will likely come with 8GB of RAM.

Q: Does the Pixel 8a come with a charger?

A: No, similar to other Pixel phones, the Pixel 8a does not come with a charger in the box.

Q: What are the software update guarantees for the Pixel 8a?

A: Google offers an impressive 7 years of software updates and 7 years of security updates for the Pixel 8a.

Q: How much storage space does the Pixel 8a have?

A: Storage capacity options for the Pixel 8a are yet to be officially revealed. However, rumors suggest it will be available in 128GB and 256GB variants.