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Should you buy the Pixel 7a or wait for the Pixel 8a?

Do you need to wait to get the most value-for-money Pixel experience in 2024?
By

Published onMarch 26, 2024

The Pixel A-series has been offering some of the best value-for-money phones in recent times, packing flagship features into a sub-$500 price tag. The Pixel 7a continued this tradition, boasting some of the most impressive specs ever seen on a Pixel A-series phone. But if all the rumors about the Pixel 8a turn out to be true, we could get a phone that further blurs the lines between A-series and Pixel flagships.

It’s natural to feel conflicted about snatching up the already brilliant Pixel 7a or holding out for the potential powerhouse that is the Pixel 8a. We don’t have all the answers yet, but based on everything we know so far, here’s what you need to consider before making a decision.

Pixel 7a vs Pixel 8a: Performance and specs

google pixel 8 vs pixel 7a rear hero
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Let’s start with some of the things we are almost sure of about the Pixel 8a. Pixel A-series devices traditionally sport the current-gen Pixel flagship processor, and leaks suggest the Pixel 8a will follow suit. This means it’ll likely pack Google’s latest Tensor G3 chip, the same powerhouse found in the Pixel 8 family, compared to the Pixel 7a’s previous-gen Tensor G2.

However, a small caveat exists. The Pixel 7a’s Tensor G2 wasn’t quite the same as the Pixel 7’s. It utilized an “IPOP” variant of the chip with a different casing that reportedly made it more prone to overheating, leading to faster throttling under heavy workloads. Google might use a similar casing for the Pixel 8a’s Tensor G3, resulting in a similar performance gap compared to the flagship Pixel 8, but it’s not guaranteed.

The Tensor G3 boasts several improvements over the G2.

Regardless, the Tensor G3 boasts several improvements over the G2 with a newer Mali-G715 GPU for better graphics processing, an updated Samsung Modem, and support for AV1 encoding at up to 4K/60fps. The upgraded TPU and DSP should also give the Pixel 8a a slight edge in terms of data computation and image processing tasks compared to the Pixel 7a.

Speaking of performance, the Pixel 7 family and the Pixel Fold, all powered by Tensor G2 chips, faced some overheating issues. This hasn’t been the case with the Pixel 8 family this year. Therefore, we can expect the Pixel 8a to perform better in terms of heat dissipation and battery efficiency compared to the 7a.

The Pixel 7a comes in a single 8GB/128GB storage variant, which should also be the base configuration for the Pixel 8a. However, leaks suggest the Pixel 8a might also offer a 256GB storage option, giving users a long-term advantage since neither phone supports expandable storage.

The Pixel 8a should get one additional OS upgrade

On the software front, the Pixel 7a launched with Android 13 and has since been updated to Android 14, the same version the Pixel 8a is likely to debut with. Both phones will be eligible for the upcoming Android 15 update.

As for long-term software support, the Pixel 7a offers five years of Pixel updates, which includes three years of Android version upgrades (up to Android 16) and five years of security patches. We expect the Pixel 8a to follow the same software support strategy, but its software support window will extend to Android 17, giving it an extra year of the latest features and security updates.

Pixel 7a vs Pixel 8a: Design and display

 

Following Google’s established pattern of the A-series retaining the design of its flagship siblings, the 8a is likely to mirror the design changes introduced with the Pixel 8 series. Multiple leaked renders also showcase the Pixel 8a’s more rounded aesthetic compared to the Pixel 7a. Except for the display’s rounded corners, the Pixel 8a and 7a share the signature Pixel look with a metal camera bar at the back, housing the camera sensors.

Leaks suggest the Pixel 8a will measure 152.1 x 72.6 x 8.9mm, which is very close to the Pixel 7a’s 152 x 72.9 x 9mm dimensions. We can expect the weight and overall ergonomics of the Pixel 8a to be nearly identical to those of the Pixel 7a, too. The Pixel 7a came with an IP67 rating and stereo speakers, which the Pixel 8a should likely retain as well.

The Pixel 8a’s display is going to be a big upgrade

google pixel 7a tips material you
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The display is where the Pixel 8a is rumored to take a significant leap. While the resolution and size (likely 6.1-inch FHD+) are expected to remain unchanged, the Pixel 8a’s display is said to boast a 120Hz refresh rate compared to the Pixel 7a’s 90Hz. This will be accompanied by a bump in peak HDR brightness to 1,400 nits, matching the specs of the flagship Pixel 8.

The difference between 90Hz and 120Hz refresh rates might be subtle for some.

However, it’s important to consider how these upgrades translate to real-world use. The Pixel 7a’s OLED display already delivers vibrant colors and sufficient brightness for most daily tasks. The difference between 90Hz and 120Hz refresh rates might also be subtle for some users. Where the Pixel 8a’s display might hold a clear advantage is in outdoor visibility, thanks to its rumored higher peak brightness.

Finally, a feature introduced with the Pixel 8 series that might trickle down to the 8a is DisplayPort output support. This feature allows you to connect your phone to an external display for a desktop-like experience. While initially unavailable, Google recently enabled limited functionality in the Android 14 QPR3 beta. Leaks suggest the Pixel 8a might inherit this capability as well.

Pixel 7a vs Pixel 8a: Cameras

google pixel 7a 4
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Cameras have consistently been a hallmark of the Pixel A-series, earning them a reputation for capturing some of the best photos in their price range.

Last year, the Pixel 7a finally ditched the aging 12MP Sony IMX363 primary sensor in favor of a 64MP Sony IMX787 sensor. The Pixel 8 series stepped things up with a higher-quality 50MP primary camera, but this upgrade likely won’t trickle down to the Pixel 8a. Camera hardware remains one of the key differentiators between the A-series and the standard Pixel line. It’s highly likely Google will stick with the same 64MP Sony IMX787 primary sensor found in the Pixel 7a for the 8a as well.

The Pixel 8a is also expected to share the same 13MP ultrawide and 13MP front-facing cameras as the Pixel 7a. Although the hardware might remain unchanged, the Pixel 8a’s Tensor G3 processor could potentially deliver some processing improvements that translate to marginally better photos. However, don’t expect a revolutionary leap in camera performance. Moreover, the Pixel 7a’s camera is already highly regarded, so the difference might be negligible for most users.

Pixel 7a vs Pixel 8a: Battery and charging

google pixel 7a vs pixel 7 8
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

The exact battery capacity of the Pixel 8a remains under wraps, but based on the Pixel 8 series sporting slightly larger batteries than the Pixel 7 lineup, we can expect a similar bump for the 8a. The Pixel 7a’s 4,385mAh battery offered a full day of light to moderate use, and the 8a’s battery is likely to fall somewhere in the 4,400-4,500mAh range. Coupled with the power efficiency improvements of the Tensor G3 chip, the Pixel 8a might offer marginally longer battery life than its predecessor.

Fast charging remains an area where the Pixel line trails its competitors. The Pixel 7a offers a basic 18W fast charging solution, and we can expect the Pixel 8a to at least match that speed. The Pixel 8 series did receive a slight upgrade to charging speeds, so there’s a possibility the Pixel 8a might see a bump to 20W. However, this wouldn’t be a significant leap, and both phones would still take well over an hour to fully charge from zero.

Wireless charging was a welcome addition to the Pixel 7a, albeit with a slow 7.5W limitation. The Pixel 8 series offers a more respectable 18W wireless charging. While it would be ideal for the Pixel 8a to at least reach 15W wireless charging speeds, there aren’t any strong indications to suggest that.

How long do I have to wait for the Pixel 8a?

google pixel 8 vs pixel 7a display hero
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

If Google sticks to its usual release schedule, the Pixel 8a is expected to launch during Google I/O in May 2024. That means the wait isn’t too long for those interested in the upcoming Pixel phone. There’s also good news on the availability front. Leaks suggest that Google might be planning a wider release for the Pixel 8a compared to the Pixel 7a. The 7a was only available in 21 countries, whereas the 8a might launch in over 10 new territories, making it accessible to a broader audience.

Pixel 7a vs Pixel 8a: Will there be a price difference?

  • Pixel 3a and 3a XL: $399 and $479
  • Pixel 4a and 4a 5G: $349 and $499
  • Pixel 5a: $449
  • Pixel 6a: $449
  • Pixel 7a: $499

The Pixel 7a marked a $50 jump from its predecessor, but the significant upgrades like the high refresh rate display and wireless charging arguably justified it. While the Pixel 8a’s rumored upgrades might not be as groundbreaking, leaks suggest another price hike is on the horizon.

Couple that with the $100 price gap between the Pixel 7a and Pixel 7 launch prices, and the Pixel 8a could potentially jump to $599 to maintain the $100 gap with Pixel 8. However, this positioning might stray too far from the “affordable” Pixel identity. A more realistic starting price for the Pixel 8a is likely to be around $549. There’s a slim chance Google might surprise us with a $499 launch price, but that would likely necessitate a price cut for the Pixel 7a to $449 or even $399.

The Pixel 7a, which launched in May 2023 at $499, is available from Google’s website and retailers like Amazon and Best Buy. In recent times, we have already seen it go on discounts for under $400.

Should you buy the Pixel 7a or wait for the Pixel 8a?

google pixel 8 vs pixel 7a cameras
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

If you’re setting your sights on a new Pixel phone, you’re likely drawn to Pixel’s excellent cameras, clean software experience, and unique Pixel features. The Pixel 7a delivers on all these counts, and the upcoming Pixel 8a isn’t expected to bring significant upgrades in most of these areas. Rumors also suggest the 8a might cost $50-100 more than the 7a, not to mention the Pixel 7a has already been discounted multiple times and will most likely get a price cut when the 8a arrives.

With this in mind, we don’t think that people who already own the Pixel 7a will need to upgrade to the upcoming model. However, if you’re rocking an older Pixel model or are a first-time Pixel buyer, waiting a few months for the Pixel 8a could be worth it. The phone promises a smoother 120Hz display with improved brightness, a more powerful processor, and some incremental improvements to battery life and camera performance. But be prepared for a potential price jump that could push the 8a into the $500-550 range.

At that price point, it also becomes worth exploring the Pixel 8 ($499 at Amazon), which has been spotted on sale for similar prices. The Pixel 8 offers a proper flagship Pixel camera experience, longer software support, and access to potential flagship-exclusive Pixel features.

But for those on a tight budget, the Pixel 7a remains a fantastic phone with all the Pixel goodness you need. You really can’t go wrong with it. However, if you do decide to get the Pixel 7a, it may still make sense to wait until the Pixel 8a is launched, as you could possibly get a better deal on the phone at that point.

Google Pixel 7aGoogle Pixel 7a
AA Editors Choice
Google Pixel 7a
The best sub-$500 camera phone • Solid performance and plenty of RAM • Improved 90Hz display
MSRP: $499.00
The essential Pixel experience
The Pixel 7a delivers more premium features than ever for under $500, such as wireless charging support, a 90Hz refresh rate display, and a 64MP camera.