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Google Pixel 8a review: Android’s new mid-range champion

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Google Pixel 8a review: Android's new mid-range champion

GRAMGoogle’s latest A-series mid-range Pixel phone takes it up a notch, offering almost all the features of its high-end phones at a more affordable price, including the latest AI and camera tricks.

The Pixel 8a starts at £499 (€549/$499/A$849). It may be £50 more than last year’s 7a, but the new model improves almost everything and drops the price of the Pixel 8 by £200.

Google has revamped the phone’s design, giving it a more rounded shape, especially at the corners, making it more pleasant to hold without a case. It’s still unmistakably a Pixel, with a big aluminum camera bar on the back, and it looks great in one of its boldest colors.

The 6.1-inch display has been upgraded from last year to match the more expensive Pixel 8, and is significantly brighter, with up to 120Hz for smooth scrolling. It is a clear and colorful screen of a good size.

The frame is aluminum with a matte plastic back that resists fingerprints and looks much cleaner as a result. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The 8a has Google’s latest top-tier Tensor G3 chip. It’s not the fastest processor on the block, but it’s significantly more capable than many lower-tier chips. The phone felt snappy at all times. The various features of Google’s software work and the games work well.

Battery life is okay, but a little behind the best. The Pixel would last up to about 35 hours between charges and the screen would be actively used for just over five hours. Those who spend all day on 5G using maps or similar power-hungry tools may need to recharge before bed.


  • Screen: 6.1-inch 120Hz FHD+ OLED (430ppi)

  • Processor: Google Tensor G3

  • RAM: 8GB

  • Storage: 128 or 256 GB

  • OS: Android 14

  • Camera: 64MP + 13MP ultra wide angle, 13MP for selfies

  • Connectivity: 5G, Sim and eSim, Wi-Fi 6E, NFC, Bluetooth 5.3 and GNSS

  • Waterproof: IP67 (1m for 30 minutes)

  • Dimensions: 152.1 x 72.7 x 8.9mm

  • Weight: 188g

Android 14 with all the AI

The 8a has a fingerprint scanner and 2D facial recognition to unlock the phone, corresponding to the Pixel 8. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Pixel 8a comes with Android 14 and almost all the major AI features that Google has added to its high-end phones. That includes the excellent Circle to search feature that debuted earlier this year, live translation and transcription, call detection and anti-spam features, plus access to Google’s Gemini Tools Chatbot – although the latter has not yet arrived in the UK.

One of the biggest updates to Pixels this year is extended software support for at least seven years since launch, which now includes the Pixel 8a. That length of support is very welcome and unheard of in the mid-range market below £500.


The Google Camera app has enough tools and settings to help you take the right photo without being overwhelming. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Pixel 8a has essentially the same class-leading camera system as last year’s 7a.

The 64-megapixel main camera is the star of the show, capturing great photos in a variety of lighting conditions, while the 13MP ultra-wide camera is one of the best, especially at this price. It doesn’t have a macro mode or a telephoto camera, but it gets decent results with up to 3-4x digital zoom. Google’s camera system handles difficult scenes better than its rivals, such as high-contrast lighting or fast-moving objects, making it a great point-and-shoot camera.

Most of Google’s great AI photography tools are also available. These include an astrophotography mode, blur tools, the magic eraser, and the magic editing tools. The most popular is the Pixel 8 Pro’s “Best Shot” feature, which helps you photograph groups of people where everyone looks their best, combining faces from multiple images into one “best” photo. Parents in particular will find it very useful.


The 18W wired charging reaches 60% in 45 minutes and completes an hour later, which is quite slow, but the phone also has Qi wireless charging. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Google doesn’t provide an expected life for the battery, but it should last more than 500 full charge cycles with at least 80% of its original capacity. The phone is repairable. by google and third party stores with original spare parts available directly by iFixit.

The Pixel 8a is made from recycled aluminum, plastic and tin, which makes up at least 24% of the phone’s weight. The company publishes a environmental impact report for the phone and will recycle old devices free.


The Pixel 8a costs £499 (€549/$499/849 Australian dollars) with 128GB of storage or £559 (€609/$559/A$949) with 256GB.

For comparison, the Pixel 8 costs £699the Pixel 8 Pro costs £999the Fairphone 5 costs £649the Nothing Phone 2 costs £499 and the iPhone SE costs £429.


The Pixel 8a offers almost everything good about Google’s top-tier phones, but at an incredible price.

The quality camera system, high-end chip, large screen and attractive design already place it at the top of the mid-range. But it’s seven years of software support and access to Google’s latest and most advanced AI tools that put it in a class of its own.

Some cuts have been made to achieve the cheapest price. The back of the phone is plastic, not glass, and the screen has larger bezels. The phone’s water resistance, scratch resistance, and battery life are not the best. The lack of built-in spatial audio for headphones is also a bit bad. But these slight knocks are easy to overlook due to cost savings.

The Pixel 8a is by far the best mid-range phone available. You’d have to spend almost twice as much to get a better Android phone than this one.

Advantages: seven years of software updates, class-leading camera, great display, top-notch chip, solid battery life, recycled materials, impressive generative AI features, undercut the price of high-end phones.

Cons: no extended optical zoom for the camera, raw performance and battery below the best, only IP67 water resistance, plastic back, no built-in spatial audio, older Gorilla Glass 3.

The camera bar, matte back, and aluminum sides make the Pixel 8a look like a premium phone. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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