Google Pixel 8a review: Best midrange Android phone gets flagship AI.

The A-series Pixels' formula is simple: combine high-quality cameras with a bright display in a tried-and-true design for a low price. The Pixel 8a now has the same sophisticated AI functionality as Google's top phones thanks to a Tensor G3 CPU. All of this at $499 makes it the top midrange Android phone on the market and one of the best values on offer.

Design and display. The Pixel 8a is essentially identical to the Pixel 8 except for a new aloe color, which is my favorite. However, side-by-side comparisons reveal a few small changes. The Pixel 8's screen size is affected by increased bezels. Unlike its more expensive sister, the Pixel 8a has a 6.1-inch display. However, you still get a bright OLED panel with deep blacks and rich colors and a 120Hz refresh rate, up from 90Hz on last year's Pixel 7a.

For $499, the Pixel 8a has a 120Hz OLED screen, great cameras, and great battery life thanks to Google's Tensor G3 engine.

  1. The phone's aluminum frame feels terrific, and the metal camera bar on the rear is a millimeter or two thinner, making it sleeker. Google replaced the Pixel 8's rear glass with plastic. New matte finish mimics cashmere texture, so it does not feel cheap. While its IP67 dust and water resistant certification is lower than the Pixel 8, it can withstand 1 meter dunks for 30 minutes. Not bad.

  2. Google's Tensor chips lack the raw performance of Apple or Qualcomm silicon, which is a major drawback. I am less concerned with the G3 powering a $499 phone. The Pixel 8a is fast in normal use and gaming. Marvel Snap and TMNT: Shredder's Revenge ran smoothly. Only in intensive shooters like Call of Duty: Mobile did I experience lag.

  3. The Tensor G3 unlocks on-device AI tools including Audio Magic Eraser, Best Take, and the Magic Editor, which you may use unlimitedly instead of Google Photos' 10-picture limit.

  4. The Pixel 8a has the same 64MP primary and 13MP ultra-wide sensors as the P7a. But that is OK because Google's cheap phones are powerful. Instead of testing the Pixel 8a against a similar-priced competitor, I challenged it against the Samsung 24 Ultra. Even then, it mostly kept up.

  5. In bright light, the Pixel 8a recorded more accurate colors and great details than Samsung's warmer tones and oversaturated hues.

  6. This was especially true while shooting a single yellow rose. The S24 Ultra turned the flower's middle orange and contrasty, which looks wonderful in a vacuum but not in real life. Nighttime shots from the S24 Ultra's large 200MP primary sensor were crisper and better exposed. Its superb Night Sight option kept the Pixel 8a close behind, amazing for a phone that costs $800 less.

  7. The Pixel 8a just has a 13MP selfie camera, but Google's AI can improve your photos. Best Take lets you take multiple group photographs and exchange reactions. Easy to use, it helps you construct a composite with everyone happy, a win-win.

  8. The Magic Editor is a fun and powerful tool to remove distractions or reposition subjects. It may not be used daily, but it can save a shot you might have discarded. Even without AI or how it works, Google is using machine learning to add value.


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