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Google Pixel 8a review

We’ve put the Google Pixel 8a to the test in this review, finding a fantastic mid-ranger that only disappoints in the battery department.

Custom image for Google Pixel 8a review showing the back of the phone

Our Verdict

The Pixel 8a is a great mid-ranger, with some useful AI features, a fantastic 120Hz refresh rate display, and a lovely matte design. However, its battery life and charging speeds keep it out of the top tier of mid-range devices, even if wireless charging is thrown in as an added bonus.

Reasons to buy
  • Useful AI features
  • Gorgeous design
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • Reliable performance
Reasons to avoid
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Slow charging
  • Chunky bezels

It’s become something of a tradition for Google to annually release a mid-range equivalent of its flagship series in early Summer, and this year is no different, with the arrival of the Google Pixel 8a. We’ve consistently been impressed with the ‘a’ series over the years, mainly due to the value each phone offers in the $500 price range and some capable cameras, and the latest addition is no different.

The Pixel 8a is a nifty little thing, packed with AI magic, powerful performance thanks to Google’s latest Tensor G3 chipset, and a crisp 120Hz refresh rate OLED display. With the device launching in May 2024, we thought we’d get our hands on one to put it through its paces, in case you’re thinking about picking one up. So, how does this new offering from Google compare to the best mid-range phones on the market? Let’s find out.

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Custom image for Google Pixel 8a review showing the phone leaning against a vase

Price and availability

You can get the Google Pixel 8a for around $499.99 / £449.99 for the 128GB storage model or $599.99 / £549.99 for the 256GB version. It’s available from Google Pixel directly or from independent retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, and others. In terms of colorways, the Pixel 8a comes in either Obsidian, Aloe, Bay, or Porcelain. For this review, we’ve been using the Obsidian version.


Battery 4,492 mAh
Display 6.1-inch 120Hz OLED (1080 x 2400 pixels)
Chipset Tensor G3
Storage 128GB / 256GB
Front camera 13MP
Back cameras 64 MP wide and 13 MP ultrawide
Weight 188g
Dimensions 152.1 x 72.7 x 8.9 mm
Colors Obsidian, Aloe, Bay, Porcelain

Features and software

The Google Pixel 8a comes with Android 14 pre-installed, and as you’d imagine for Google software on a device from the same brand, it’s as clean a UI experience as you’re going to get, competing with Samsung’s ONE UI Android skin and Apple’s iOS in terms of usability and lack of bloatware. Bloatware, for those who don’t know, is all those unnecessary apps you sometimes get with a phone, like knock-off puzzle games and the Booking.com app. To my delight, there’s none of that here.

With the reveal of the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro last year, Google introduced a bunch of exciting AI features, and the Pixel 8a has all of them. Circle to Search is a fun tool if you love going down an online rabbit hole like I do. Just find a picture, hold down the gesture control handle at the bottom of the screen, and you can circle a subject in any image to find out more information on it. I’m not a big fan of Google’s wider AI push – after all, it’s coming for my job – but this little AI trick is annoyingly useful, and I have to admit I’ve become accustomed to using it in a pretty short time.

Custom image for Google Pixel 8a review showing the circle to search function in action

Outside of Circle to Search, you’ve also got other useful everyday AI features like Live Translate, which works seamlessly with Gemini, and Call Assist. There are also Google’s AI-powered picture editing tools like Best Take, which I first thought was a little ghoulish and dystopian but was in all actuality pretty practical for taking group photos, and Magic Editor.

Unlike AI tools such as text prompt image generation, the best thing about all these features is that they each have their own purpose and fulfill that purpose. They don’t feel like tacky add-ons, there’s a real utility there, which, in my opinion, is much better than being able to turn your grandma into an animated superhero in a corny generated picture.

As you get with most phones these days, the Google Pixel 8a offers fingerprint and facial recognition to unlock your phone. I have to say, both work faultlessly and while I’ve spent longer than I’d like to admit angling my face at my iPhone or Honor Magic6 Pro, it doesn’t matter what angle I give this thing, it unlocks.

Custom image for Google Pixel 8a review showing the side profile of the phone

Before moving on, it’s worth mentioning that if you pick up a Pixel 8a, you’re getting seven years of both software and security updates, just like you would with the 8 or 8 Pro. Though it’s unlikely that you’re going to use the phone until 2031, it’s nice to have the option. Only Samsung rivals Google for the number of years it promises to provide software updates for, but unlike the Korean brand, it doesn’t seem like there’s any looming threat of having to pay for the on-board AI features with Google. That’s a pretty big win in my book.


Let me be clear from the off, there’s something about the design of the Google Pixel 8a I just love. It feels extra compact, even though it’s essentially the same size as my iPhone 13, the matte finish is a fantastic alternative in a world of brash and shiny smartphones, and the rounded corners and edges make for a comfortable feel factor. The last few flagship devices I’ve tried out have been a bit big even for my gargantuan sasquatch hands, so it’s nice to have something that fits neatly in the palm.

Custom image for Google Pixel 8a review showing the phone's home screen

I’m not usually a big proponent of plastic phones, but if done well – like, surprise, the Pixel 8a – then they can be just as well built as a phone using any other material. One of the benefits of the plastic design of the 8a is that it’s very easy to clean, with just a quick wipe from a bit of fabric removing any smudges or pocket debris. It’s also pretty lightweight at just 188g, which combined with the comfortable form factor makes for a device that doesn’t weigh your hand down or elicit any carpal tunnel-esque pain after a mobile gaming session.

Before moving on, I have to talk about the Pixel 8a’s IP rating. I’m a pretty clumsy guy, so I’m also a sucker for reliable dust and waterproofing, which is what this phone has thanks to its IP68-rated build. While this is essentially the industry standard at this point, not all devices are quite so durable, and it’s something this mid-ranger has over alternatives like the OnePlus 12R and the new Honor 200 Pro.


The Pixel 8a’s display is one of its biggest selling points. It has a 6.1-inch OLED screen, which is nice enough in itself, but it also boasts a 120Hz refresh rate, something you often only see in flagship devices. You might not notice it at first, but if you go to settings and pop on the Smooth Display option – which more than lives up to its name – or if you just play some casual mobile games at the highest settings, then the Pixel 8a’s screen truly comes to life, offering a fluid experience unrivaled at this price point.

Custom image for Google Pixel 8a review showing a Google Discover page

While the display is pristine, it’s worth pointing out that the 8a has some of the chunkiest bezels I’ve seen in a while. I don’t mind a significant bezel, but if you’re the sort that wants the maximum amount of screen space, you’re not getting it here.

With a peak brightness of 2,000 nits, you shouldn’t have any issues using the phone even in glaring sunlight. We’re going through a rare sunny patch in the UK at the time of writing, and I’ve had no problems using my phone for a bit of Honkai Star Rail in the garden or scrolling through my Spotify playlist on a little walk. It’s not as bright as some other mid-rangers, but honestly, you don’t really need that many nits 99% of the time, especially if you’re as keen on avoiding leaving the house as I am.


The Pixel 8a comes with a pair of cameras on the back, a 64 MP wide and 13 MP ultrawide, with a 13 MP selfie camera on the front. The results of shots you take with any of these lenses, as we’ve come to expect from Google Pixel devices, are pretty fantastic. Like the recently released Honor 200 Pro, the two back cameras on the Pixel 8a do a better job than other phones I’ve used with three. As the old adage goes, it’s very much quality, not quantity.

Custom image for Google Pixel 8a review with an example camera quality shot of Floyd, the reviewer's dog

As you can see from the example image above, the Pixel 8a’s main camera offers some stunning results. I’m particularly impressed with the level of definition. You can make out my dog’s salt-and-pepper face, it accurately captures the depth of his brown eyes, and his fur coat doesn’t lose any of its shine through the camera lens. I’ve taken a lot of pictures of my lovely fluffy lad on a lot of mid-range phones, but the selection I got with the Pixel 8a might be my favorite of the lot, with only the Honor 200 Pro delighting me more in 2024.

Wide location shots are similarly splendid on the Pixel 8a, just like the one of my little landscape down below. This phone seems to have a particular knack for capturing accurate colors. It’s rare that I get so much definition from afar when using this scenic view as an example, so I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. I’m not really much of a photographer, but it’s also worth mentioning that there’s a long exposure option on the camera. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pertinent examples, as I don’t know what I’m doing with it, but if you do, it’s there to try out.

Custom image for Google Pixel 8a review with an example wide show taken on the phone

While the Pixel 8a’s cameras are great for a phone at this price point, they’re still not quite as sharp as you might get with a Pixel 8 Pro or similar flagship. For a start, even with Night Sight, low-light images are a little lacking in definition. It’s also not the best at super close-up images, which isn’t a surprise given that there’s no macro camera, but if you like capturing the finer details you might need to shell out a little more for an 8 Pro. Fortunately, in almost every other regard, the cameras are more than capable enough for taking snaps for your social media or doing a little amateur smartphone photography.


Considering it’s a mid-ranger, the Pixel 8a is quite the performance powerhouse. While its Tensor G3 chipset doesn’t blow anyone away in its flagship phones, in something more affordable, it beats out competition from the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE and the Nothing Phone 2a. For everyday use, this means you’re guaranteed a lag-free experience whether you’re recording video, streaming content, or running multiple apps at the same time.

In gaming terms, there’s not much you can throw at this phone that it finds a problem with. Honkai Star Rail is my go-to game for testing, and while it’s not quite powerful enough to run settings at their highest, you get a solid 60FPS experience with little to no lag on medium settings. For a mid-range phone, that’s about right, and it’s the same experience in titles like Diablo Immortal or Marvel Snap. However, the 120Hz refresh rate goes a long way to make the gaming experience as good, if not better, than any other device in the same price bracket, perhaps excluding the OnePlus 12R, which is a bit of a gaming marvel.

Custom image for Google Pixel 8a review showing Honkai Star Rail on screen

Finally, let’s talk a little about heat dissipation. The Pixel 8a is kind of peculiar in this regard. It doesn’t take much for the thing to get a little toasty, but even running pretty demanding games, it never becomes more than that. If you pop a case on it, it’s less noticeable, but considering it never gets properly hot, it’s not really a major concern.


The battery performance of the Pixel 8a is very much a mixed bag. In simple terms, its battery life is decent, while its charging speed is not. That’s the long and short of it, but we’ll get into further details about each aspect.

When testing the Pixel 8a, I managed to get a day out of it with sporadic use, a bit of messaging and emails here and there, but not quite the full day if you throw a solid hour or two of mobile gaming into the mix. The battery life is a bit better than that of the 7a, which isn’t surprising considering it has a bigger battery, but it’s not as impressive as the OnePlus 12R or the original Pixel 8. It’s no big deal if you don’t mind sticking your phone on charge before bed, but if you’re often out and about without a reliable portable charger, it’s worth considering.

Custom image for Google Pixel 8a review showing Marvel Snap on screen

It takes more than 90 minutes to charge the Pixel 8a from full to flat, which in this day and age just isn’t up to scratch. The fact that it’s still just 18W charging has a lot to do with this lethargic juicing speed, falling well behind other mid-rangers like the OnePlus 12R and Honor 200 Pro. I’m so used to getting at least a 50% charge from half an hour plugged in that it felt weird waiting around during testing for the thing to finally boost up to the halfway point from flat. It’s probably the phone’s biggest failure, and the one thing so far that has me second-guessing recommending it.

You also get 7.5W wireless charging which while not rapid gets the job done in a couple of hours from flat if you find yourself without a wired charger. Yes, this is a nice bonus, but in all honesty, I’d take quicker wired charging over the ability to juice wirelessly in a heartbeat. Cables aren’t dead yet.

Should you buy the Google Pixel 8a?

If you’re looking for an affordable phone with silky smooth performance, a vivid display, and a host of fun and useful AI features, we can’t help but recommend the Pixel 8a. In fact, we’d go one further and say that if you were to buy any Pixel phone right now, it should be the Pixel 8a. It’s cheaper than the most recent flagships, better performance-wise than the 7a, and more sturdy than the Pixel fold. It’s just a great phone, even if the brand responsible may usurp itself within months with the Pixel 9 and 9 Pro.

Still, there are a couple of caveats. Most notable is charging speeds. If you’re looking for a rapid-charging phone, this, unfortunately, isn’t it. Battery life is less disappointing, but we have seen much better with other mid-rangers. It’s also slightly divisive in terms of design. Some aren’t keen on big bezels, some aren’t into matte finishes, and if you fall into either of those camps, you might not be as big a fan of the Pixel 8a as I am.


If our Google Pixel 8a hasn’t sold you on the new mid-ranger, check out our suggestions for alternatives below.

OnePlus 12R

The OnePlus 12R is an alternative that offers what the Google Pixel 8a doesn’t – an impressive battery life and rapid charging. If that’s the main sticking point from our Pixel 8a review, this is another mid-range option to consider. It’s not quite as aesthetically pleasing as the Pixel, and there’s no wireless charging, but if you’re all about charging quickly and retaining battery life, we’d recommend checking this one out. See our OnePlus 12R review for more details.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

While we’re expecting the S24 FE in the next few months, the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE still holds up in 2024, with fantastic performance for gaming, a compact design, and a solid set of cameras for the price. You also get access to a whole host of Galaxy AI features with the S23 FE, though we’ve heard rumors that Samsung might be looking to charge you for using these tools in the future.