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Should you buy the Pixel 7a or get the Pixel 8?
The Google Pixel 7a arrived back in May, and there’s a lot to like about it, but you should still weigh your options before buying it. We’ve already explored the best current Pixel 7a alternatives, but don’t forget about the new Pixel 8. Should you get the Pixel 8 or is the Pixel 7a a better fit for you? Let’s jump right in and take a closer look.
Update (12/26/23): This article was originally published in early May of 2023 as a look at if you should wait for the Pixel 8, which has since launched. We have created a newer guide that takes a closer look at the Pixel 7a vs Pixel 8 now that it has been released.
Pixel 7a vs Pixel 8: Expected differences
The Pixel 8 family will introduce the Tensor G3 and an improved GPU
Recently we learned a lot about the next gen Tensor chip, thanks to our exclusive Tensor G3 leak, via noted tipster Kamila Wojciechowska. As earlier rumors suggested, the Tensor G3 will have a 1+4+4 CPU configuration. This is made up of a 3.05GHz Cortex-X3, four 2.4Ghz A715 cores, and four 2.15GHz A510 cores.
The same report also confirms we’ll be seeing an ARM Mali-G715 GPU. There are not as many details here, but it’s expected to have ten cores and ray-tracing support. We also learned the Tensor will have MTE support for better security, an improved TPU, and AV1 encoding.
We also have reason to believe the Pixel 8 will feature “Advanced Memory Protection.” The first developer preview of Android 14 references something called “Advanced Memory Protection.” This prevents errors when handling memory in native programming languages. The Pixel 7 family can’t handle this feature but the Pixel 8’s hardware definitely can.
The Pixel 8 will see a big upgrade to its camera package
Google’s flagship camera experience hasn’t changed much in the last two generations, but 2023 will finally see Google make some big changes.
Thanks to an exclusive Android Authority leak, we’ve learned the Pixel 8 will jump up to a new Isocell GN2 primary sensor, though the rest of the camera package will remain the same. However, the biggest differences are found in the Pixel 8 Pro.
Just like the Pixel 8, the Pro will feature an Ioscell GN2 with staggered HDR support. What is staggered HDR? Basically, it is a more modern take on HDR photography that takes three separate exposures in quick succession, merging them for a final, higher-quality photo. The end result is richer detail and more vibrant colors than older HDR+ methods like the ones used in the Pixel 7 family.
But that’s not all. The Pro will also get a new ultrawide camera, jumping from the 12MP Sony IMX386 over to a 64MP Sony IMX787. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s the same sensor used as the main camera in the Pixel 7a.
Lastly, the Pixel 8 Pro will get an improved time-of-flight sensor, the 8×8 ToF VL53L8 sensor. This should result in greatly improved autofocus.
The Pixel 8 may have some minor design changes in store
Google’s Pixel family has been through a few different design languages over the years, but its look has stayed pretty uniform since the introduction of the Pixel 6 series. The Pixel 7 was all about refinement both inside and out. It looks like the Pixel 8 family will follow the same direction. In fact, rumors suggest the standard Pixel 8 might have a nearly identical design to the Pixel 7.
If the rumors are accurate, the only major difference will be the size. The Pixel 8 will allegedly have dimensions of 150.5 x 70.8 x 8.9mm, a notable drop from the Pixel 7 at 155.6 x 73.2 x 8.7mm.
It looks like Google may be saving its bigger design improvements for the Pixel 8 Pro. New renders show the Pixel 8 will have a flat display, unlike the Pixel 7 Pro. There are also some subtle changes to the camera bar on the rear and an additional (currently unknown) sensor under the camera flash.
The Pixel 8 will likely continue Google’s strategy of iteration over revolution
We don’t know too much more about the Pixel 8 and how they compare to the Pixel 7a specs just yet. But here are a few other quick highlights:
- Rumors claim the Pixel 8 will have 8GB of RAM, while the Pixel 8 Pro has 12GB.
- A recent Android Authority leak revealed the Pixel8 will have a 6.17-inch 120Hz display with a resolution of 2,400 x 1,080 and 1,400 nits peak HDR brightness. Meanwhile, the Pixel 8 Pro will have a 6.7-inch 120Hz display with a resolution of 2,993 x 1,344 and 1,600 nits peak HDR brightness.
- An APK teardown suggests the Pixel 8 family will have a new video unblur tool, similar to the photo unblur tool in the Pixel 7 series.
Anything else would be speculation, but it seems pretty likely the Pixel 8 will continue Google’s existing strategy: improve the camera, refine the design, and keep pushing machine learning and AI to the next level.
Reasons to consider waiting for the Pixel 8
The Pixel 7a is a mid-ranger, and you can buy it right now for $499, so why would you wait for a flagship phone that’s likely to be at least $100 to $150 more expensive? There are a few reasons, actually.
- The first reason to wait is the potential for discounts. If you don’t absolutely need a new phone now, you’ll be more likely to see discounts on older Pixel phones once the Pixel 8 is official. About a month ago, the Pixel 7 went on sale for an amazingly low $400, only for the price to return to normal less than a week before the Pixel 7a’s debut. We could see a similar price cut (or better?!) on the Pixel 7 shortly before or after the Pixel 8 arrives. The Pixel 7a could also see price cuts around that timeframe.
- The Pixel 8 might be a big upgrade for just $100-$150 more. The Pixel 7a saw a price increase over its predecessor, so it’s possible that we could see the Pixel 8 for as much as $700 to make the gap larger. That said, we don’t know this for certain. The Pixel 8 seems to be a more compact phone than the Pixel 7 and so it could be aiming for a more price-friendly position between the Pixel 7a and Pixel 8 Pro. If the Pixel 8 really is only $100 or so more, you could be looking at a better camera, better SoC, and a few other small improvements without paying much extra.
- The Pixel 8 comes with Android 14 out of the box. The Pixel 7a debuts with Android 13 despite arriving less than a half year before the next Android OS. If you want to experience Android 14 from day one, the Pixel 8 might be worth the wait. It’s also likely to have support for certain flagship Android 14 features that the Pixel 7a won’t be able to take advantage of due to hardware limitations.
Should I get a Pixel 7a or wait for the Pixel 8?
Reasons to buy the Pixel 7a now
The Pixel 7a is a good-looking mid-ranger. It is also very reasonably priced when you consider it has jumped up a bit from its predecessor with small but meaningful additions like wireless charging and a display with a 90Hz refresh rate.
Here are just a few reasons why you should buy the Pixel 7a right now:
- You need a phone now. If you really need a phone now, we absolutely recommend the Pixel 7a as one of the best affordable phones of 2023. And the arrival of the Pixel 8 won’t change that. Waiting six months or so might give you the option of picking up the Pixel 7 or 7a on the cheap, but odds are the Pixel 7a will still be the best mid-range option available.
- You aren’t interested in spending more than $500 on a flagship. The Pixel 8 will be a jump forward, but if $600+ is out of your price range, there’s really no point waiting unless you are hoping for another Pixel 7 sale.