news · 03/06/2024 0

Google Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 8


Google has the habit of dropping an ‘a’ model some time later than the regular flagship duo and such is the case now with the Pixel 8a. Sure, if you already have the Pixel 8, you don’t need to be contemplating much around this time, but if you’re in the market for a new Pixel, things get more complicated. So we figured we’d put together a summary of how the 8a is similar to its more esteemed stablemate and how the two differ, possibly helping you decide for yourself.

Table of Contents:

For starters, you can compare the complete specs sheets or directly continue with our editor’s assessment in the following text.

Size comparison

You’d be forgiven if you thought that the Pixel 8a is the more compact device of the two – after all, its display has a 0.1-inch smaller diagonal. In fact, however, the oversized black bezel around its panel makes it the larger device – the 1.6mm of extra height are negligible, but almost 2mm of extra width are easier to feel. It’s still a reasonably compact smartphone, one of the more compact handsets you can get in 2024, but the Pixel 8 proper will still save you a few cubic mm of pocket space. The two weigh essentially the same, so that’s not a consideration.

Google Pixel 8a
Google
Pixel 8a

188 g

152.1 x 72.7 x 8.9 mm
(5.99 x 2.86 x 0.35 in)

Google Pixel 8
Google
Pixel 8

187 g

150.5 x 70.8 x 8.9 mm
(5.93 x 2.79 x 0.35 in)

From the rear, the two phones look very much alike, but the resemblance is skin deep. The Pixel 8 has a Gorilla Glass Victus panel, while the 8a’s back is plastic. The 8a is finished to a frosted effect, a lot like the Pixel 8 Pro, while the Pixel 8 is glossy.

On the front, the 8 gets another sheet of Victus, while the 8a is using Gorilla Glass 3, which isn’t exactly cutting edge when it comes to shatter resistance, though it should be plenty good enough against scratches.

The frame is made of aluminum on both handsets, and it’s finished to a satin sheen – no difference there.


Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8

Both phones are rated for dust and water resistance, and both should be able to survive a dunk in a (clean) puddle. That said, the puddle can be deeper for the Pixel 8 – it’s got an IP68 rating (30mins, 1.5m), while the Pixel 8a gets an IP67 badge (30mins, 1.0m). Again, we are splitting hairs here.

Display comparison

Google Pixel 8a
Google
Pixel 8a

6.1″

OLED
120Hz
1080×2400
pixels
430
ppi

Google Pixel 8
Google
Pixel 8

6.2″

OLED
120Hz
1080×2400
pixels
428
ppi

The two displays are in many ways similar, though the one on the 8a is marginally smaller as we already pointed out, with a 6.1″ diagonal, compared to the 8’s 6.2″ panel. Both have a 1080p resolution and a 120Hz maximum refresh rate with rudimentary adaptive behavior that lets them downswitch to 60Hz when idling. HDR10 and HDR10+ is supported on both, but not Dolby Vision. So not a whole lot to differentiate them so far unless you count the bezels. The black strip around the Pixel 8’s display is notably slimmer adding for a more modern look.

The Pixel 8 has somewhat of an advantage in maximum brightness when operating the slider manually – you can go as high as 1001nits on it, though the 755nits we measured on the 8a aren’t half bad either. In adaptive brightness mode, both get a boost to roughly the same level – the 8a even has a small advantage (1508nits vs. 1446nits).

Battery life

The Pixel 8a is powered by a marginally smaller battery than the Pixel 8 (4,492mAh vs. 4,575mAh) and it has an ever so slightly smaller display to light up (6.1″ vs. 6.2″). With the same chipset inside both phones, it’s no surprise then that both the 8a and the 8 return similar numbers in our endurance testing. So it won’t be the battery life that will help you choose between the two.

Charging speed

Pixels have never led the way in charging speed tests, and that applies to the Pixel 8 as well, but the ‘a’ series are particularly bad at it. The Pixel 8a maxes out at 18W next to the 27W capability of the Pixel 8, and in practice the 8a will be a lot slower than the 8 in both the early stages of the process as well as the race to 100%.

Google Pixel 8a
Google
Pixel 8a
4492 mAh

18W

15min
18%
30min
33%
Full
129min

Google Pixel 8
Google
Pixel 8
4575 mAh

27W

15min
30%
30min
56%
Full
76min

Both phones support wireless charging, but the 8a is rated for up to 7.5W while the 8 has 18W listed in its spec sheet. That said, the Pixel 8’s maximum rating is only achievable with the proprietary Pixel Stand (2nd gen), while generic Qi pads bring the number down to 12W. Plus, are you really in a hurry when you’re charging wirelessly? The point is that the difference in wireless charging speed isn’t quite as important as the fact that the Pixel 8a has the feature in the first place.

However, the 8a doesn’t support reverse wireless charging, so if you have any use for that, the 8 is the way to go.

Speaker test

Both Pixels take the same approach to speakers, with one bottom firing unit and another one up top that also serves earpiece duty. The 8a earned a ‘Good’ mark for loudness in our testing, while the 8 placed in the ‘Very Good’ category, but the difference is in fact minimal. The Pixel 8a’s sound quality is pretty great already, but the 8 does take that a notch up with its richer treble.

Performance

Both the Pixel 8a and the Pixel 8 run on Google’s Tensor G3 chip, and come with 8GB of LPDDR4X memory and either 128GB or 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. If you want 12GB of RAM or more storage, you’ll need to look to the Pixel 8 Pro.

The Pixel 8a ships with the latest Android 14 out of the box. As with other recent Pixel launches, the Pixel 8a is claimed to get 7 years of software updates from the day of its release. Again, both devices should be on a level playing field in this respect as well.

Google Pixel 8a
Google
Pixel 8a

Google Tensor G3
4 nm
8GB/128GB
base config

Google Pixel 8
Google
Pixel 8

Google Tensor G3
4 nm
8GB/128GB
base config

Benchmark performance

The Tensor G3’s prime core is an excellent performer, but the overall multi-core CPU performance is mid-range level. The GPU is also upper-tier mid-range, which is not bad at all, just not up to the standard of the current Snapdragons. All of that applies equally to both phones though, so it won’t be the performance that will settle this bout.

Google Pixel 8a
Google
Pixel 8a

AnTuTu 10
1,193,520
Geekbench 6
4,384
3D Mark
8,478

Google Pixel 8
Google
Pixel 8

AnTuTu 10
1,158,631
Geekbench 6
4,404
3D Mark
8,638

Camera comparison

One of the key differences between the two phones is in the camera department, where the Pixel 8a is denied a few niceties. The 8a’s camera hardware is entirely different, in fact – all three modules have been carried over from the 7a, while the 8 has superior bits, technically speaking.

Perhaps most annoyingly, the ‘a’ model doesn’t have AF on its ultrawide camera, which means no ‘macro’ mode closeups. There’s no laser for aiding AF on the main camera either – the Pixel 8 does have that.

When it comes to the numbers, the Pixel 8a’s main camera has a smaller sensor (1/1.73″ vs. 1/1.31″) though it’s a higher-res one (64MP vs. 50MP) – so you’ll be getting 16MP shots from the 8a vs. 12.5MP ones from the 8.

The Pixel 8a’s ultrawide camera may be 13MP, but it outputs 16MP photos to match the main camera’s resolution, while the Pixel 8 sticks to 12.5MP.

The disparity continues on the front, where the 8a has a 13MP selfie camera and the Pixel 8’s is 10.5MP. Only the 8 Pro has AF for selfies, so the 8a and 8 are equally disadvantaged in that respect.

Feature-wise, however, the Pixel 8a has all the lastest camera features Google has to offer, so you don’t get any differentiation there.

Image quality

Those of you with a keen eye for detail will notice that the photos and videos on this page have been taken at different times on the two phones – we no longer have our Pixel 8 for side-by-side comparisons. Then again, we don’t expect major differences in terms of global parameters – Google tends to be like Apple in that it tries to deliver essentially the same look across all models, so cross-season comparisons are still acceptable, we reckon.

Both phones capture great images in broad daylight with their main cameras – we’re talking dependable white balance and lively colors, high contrast and good dynamic range, no noise to speak of. Still, in our experience, the Pixel 8’s photos are that extra bit sharper on a pixel level.

Pixel 8a daylight photo samples, main camera, 1x - f/1.9, ISO 49, 1/3086s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a daylight photo samples, main camera, 1x - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/3226s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a daylight photo samples, main camera, 1x - f/1.9, ISO 52, 1/3953s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a daylight photo samples, main camera, 1x - f/1.9, ISO 52, 1/2959s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review

Pixel 8a daylight photo samples, main camera, 1x

Pixel 8 daylight photo samples, main camera, 1x - f/1.7, ISO 18, 1/1825s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8 daylight photo samples, main camera, 1x - f/1.7, ISO 19, 1/1890s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8 daylight photo samples, main camera, 1x - f/1.7, ISO 21, 1/1912s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8 daylight photo samples, main camera, 1x - f/1.7, ISO 19, 1/2237s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review

Pixel 8 daylight photo samples, main camera, 1x

That impression gets solidified at 2x zoom level, where the 8 has a slight edge as well.

Pixel 8a daylight photo samples, main camera, 2x - f/1.9, ISO 52, 1/1988s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a daylight photo samples, main camera, 2x - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/3401s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a daylight photo samples, main camera, 2x - f/1.9, ISO 55, 1/4425s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a daylight photo samples, main camera, 2x - f/1.9, ISO 47, 1/3279s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review

Pixel 8a daylight photo samples, main camera, 2x

Pixel 8 daylight photo samples, main camera, 2x - f/1.7, ISO 19, 1/1748s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8 daylight photo samples, main camera, 2x - f/1.7, ISO 19, 1/2370s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8 daylight photo samples, main camera, 2x - f/1.7, ISO 23, 1/2222s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8 daylight photo samples, main camera, 2x - f/1.7, ISO 27, 1/2825s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review

Pixel 8 daylight photo samples, main camera, 2x

The ultrawides perform quite similarly from a detail perspective when you examine their results on a pixel level. The 8a’s processing is looking a little nicer to our eyes though.

Pixel 8a daylight photo samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 48, 1/3559s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a daylight photo samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/3559s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a daylight photo samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 52, 1/3205s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a daylight photo samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 49, 1/3012s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review

Pixel 8a daylight photo samples, ultrawide camera

Pixel 8 daylight photo samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 42, 1/2660s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8 daylight photo samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 43, 1/2611s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8 daylight photo samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 46, 1/2874s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8 daylight photo samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 44, 1/2817s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review

Pixel 8 daylight photo samples, ultrawide camera

In the dark, we’re actually seeing a minor advantage in sharpness and detail for the Pixel 8a in the main camera images here or there. It could be us rooting for the underdog that’s influencing our judgment, but in any case, you won’t be sacrificing low-light image quality on the main camera of the 8a, compared to the 8.

Pixel 8a low-light photo samples, main camera, 1x - f/1.9, ISO 338, 1/25s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a low-light photo samples, main camera, 1x - f/1.9, ISO 397, 1/25s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a low-light photo samples, main camera, 1x - f/1.9, ISO 196, 1/25s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a low-light photo samples, main camera, 1x - f/1.9, ISO 163, 1/25s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review

Pixel 8a low-light photo samples, main camera, 1x

Pixel 8  low-light photo samples, main camera, 1x - f/1.7, ISO 549, 1/50s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8  low-light photo samples, main camera, 1x - f/1.7, ISO 605, 1/25s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8  low-light photo samples, main camera, 1x - f/1.7, ISO 210, 1/26s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8  low-light photo samples, main camera, 1x - f/1.7, ISO 120, 1/25s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review

Pixel 8 low-light photo samples, main camera, 1x

At 2x zoom level, there’s similarly nothing to be gained by getting the more expensive of the two Pixels – the 8a is generally as good as the 8.

Pixel 8a low-light photo samples, main camera, 2x - f/1.9, ISO 222, 1/25s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a low-light photo samples, main camera, 2x - f/1.9, ISO 404, 1/25s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a low-light photo samples, main camera, 2x - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a low-light photo samples, main camera, 2x - f/1.9, ISO 158, 1/25s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review

Pixel 8a low-light photo samples, main camera, 2x

Pixel 8 low-light photo samples, main camera, 2x - f/1.7, ISO 197, 1/33s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8 low-light photo samples, main camera, 2x - f/1.7, ISO 265, 1/25s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8 low-light photo samples, main camera, 2x - f/1.7, ISO 260, 1/25s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8 low-light photo samples, main camera, 2x - f/1.7, ISO 121, 1/33s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review

Pixel 8 low-light photo samples, main camera, 2x

When it comes to the ultrawides, we’d actually say with a bit more confidence that the Pixel 8a does better than the 8 in the dark – not dramatically better, but still better.

Pixel 8a low-light photo samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 370, 1/25s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a low-light photo samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 886, 1/25s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a low-light photo samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 489, 1/25s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a low-light photo samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 343, 1/25s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review

Pixel 8a low-light photo samples, ultrawide camera

Pixel 8 low-light photo samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 432, 1/25s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8 low-light photo samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 1053, 1/25s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8 low-light photo samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 553, 1/24s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8 low-light photo samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 398, 1/25s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review

Pixel 8 low-light photo samples, ultrawide camera

As for selfies, while the Pixel 8a does those admirably, we’d still say that the Pixel 8 has a bit of an edge in sharpness.

Selfie samples: Pixel 8a - f/2.2, ISO 43, 1/502s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Selfie samples: Pixel 8 - f/2.2, ISO 52, 1/256s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Selfie samples: Pixel 8a - f/2.2, ISO 49, 1/25s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Selfie samples: Pixel 8 - f/2.2, ISO 57, 1/15s - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review

Selfie samples: Pixel 8a • Pixel 8

Video quality

Video quality is essentially the same between the two phones when comparing footage from the main cameras, be it at their native zoom levels, or at 2x. In the battle of the ultrawides, on the other hand, we’d still give the nod to the Pixel 8a.

Pixel 8a daylight video samples: 0.5x - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a daylight video samples: 1x - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a daylight video samples: 2x - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review

Pixel 8a daylight video samples: 0.5x • 1x • 2x

Pixel 8 daylight video samples: 0.5x - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8 daylight video samples: 1x - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8 daylight video samples: 2x - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review

Pixel 8 daylight video samples: 0.5x • 1x • 2x

In the dark, neither ultrawide produces particularly likable videos, but the clips from the Pixel 8 are a notch softer. Conversely, main camera footage from the 8 is looking marginally sharper.

Pixel 8a low-light video samples: 0.5x - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8a low-light video samples: 1x - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review

Pixel 8a low-light video samples: 0.5x • 1x

Pixel 8 low-light video samples: 0.5x - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review
Pixel 8 low-light video samples: 1x - Google Pixel 8a vs. Google Pixel 8 review

Pixel 8 low-light video samples: 0.5x • 1x

Verdict

The Pixel 8a’s launch price may place it too close to the current going rates for a ‘real’ Pixel 8, but just as the 8 gets discounted every now and then, so too will the 8a – shopping around and waiting for next week’s sales usually helps. We do think the 8a will assume the position of a meaningfully cheaper option in the roster in due time. It makes sense for it to be the go-to answer for the folk who are just after the latest Pixel – it delivers all the Pixel stuff (camera and software, essentially), without making a fuss about it.

Of course, the Pixel 8 will have an edge in a few areas and offer an extra feature here or there. Charging speed on the 8a is going to be a dealbreaker for some people (a lot of people?), and the 8 does notably better there, plus it can charge other devices off its back unlike the 8a. The Pixel 8 does have a nicer build, and while IP68>IP67 and Victus>GG3, it’s probably the slimmer bezels on the eight that will score it more points against the oddly chunky 8a. The 8’s camera superiority is somewhat questionable in general use, though it does offer better selfies and rear camera portraits, plus its ultrawide’s AF capability makes it more versatile. It has to be said that the 8a pulls its own weight admirably when it comes to camera performance.

    Google Pixel 8a

    Get the Google Pixel 8a for:

  • Its assumed lower price (not yet but some time down the road)
  • Slightly better ultrawide camera results (unless you like closeups)

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    Google Pixel 8

    Get the Google Pixel 8 for:

  • Competitively priced for a Pixel.
  • Laser AF on the back, AF on the ultrawide too
  • Faster charging
  • Reverse wireless charging
  • Superior build with GG Victus on both sides, slimmer bezels

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