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

If you're looking for a budget Pixel should you wait for the Pixel 8a, or spend a little more and get the Pixel 8 now?

Published onMarch 1, 2024

The Google Pixel 8 was officially announced in late 2023 bringing quite a few improvements with it. The Pixel 8 includes a new Tensor G3 processor, faster wired charging, a slightly improved camera, and the most impressive software update policy in the mobile world. Of course, it’s also a bit more expensive than previous Pixels. Should you get the new Pixel 8 or wait for the next budget Pixel? Let’s dive into everything we know about the Google Pixel 8 vs Pixel 8a to see if it’s worth spending the extra money.

Pixel 8 vs Pixel 8a: Performance and specs

The Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8a are expected to share a lot of the same DNA, but there are certainly some differences. Please keep in mind that everything we know about the Google Pixel 8a is based on rumors and speculation.

The Google Pixel 8 brings a new SoC and a few other upgrades

google pixel 8 front homescreen 2
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

The Google Pixel 8 shares many similarities with its predecessor, but the new Tensor G3 represents a significant leap forward. This new processor boasts next-gen ARM CPU cores, a more potent GPU, and a cutting-edge TPU. Arguably, the most noteworthy among these SoC upgrades is the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), which enables specialized machine learning capabilities. This chip is responsible for some of the best Pixel features, such as on-device speech-to-text translation, Magic Eraser, Audio Magic Eraser, and advanced video and photo processing.

Turning our attention to the rest of the specs, the Pixel 8 features a 6.2-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2,400 x 1,080 pixels and a variable refresh rate ranging from 60 to 120Hz. In terms of RAM and storage, you can expect 8GB of RAM and a choice between 128GB and 256GB of storage.

Software support can also have a major impact on performance, as timely security patches and bug fixes can make all the difference. To that end, the Pixel 8 has the most impressive software update policy in the mobile world. You get seven years of OS updates, security patches, and feature drops.

The Google Pixel 8a should have a lot of the same features, but at a lower cost

Google Pixel 8a render

There’s a lot we don’t know about the rumored Pixel 8a, but we can expect it to feature the Tensor G3. You’ll find the same modern ARM cores, a next-gen TPU, and an improved GPU. Essentially, it will be the same chip as the Pixel 8, but with one possible caveat.

The Tensor G2 in the Pixel 7a was a slightly modified “IPOP” variant. While it had the same internal components, the external casing was cheaply produced and more prone to overheating. Given that the Tensor chip already has known overheating issues, this could be a disappointment. The Pixel 7a is also more likely to throttle faster under heavy loads compared to the Pixel 7 or 7 Pro. It’s very possible that Google could opt to use IPO casing on the Pixel 8a’s Tensor SoC as well.

The Pixel 8a will likely be powered by the Tensor G3.

As for other specifications, you can probably expect the same 8GB of RAM but with only one storage option at 128GB. Leaked renders also suggest the Pixel 8a will also retain the same footprint, so it’s reasonable to expect a 6.1-inch display.

While we can’t speak definitively about the Pixel 8a’s software update policy, we wouldn’t be surprised if it mirrors the same commitment as its larger counterparts.

Pixel 8 vs Pixel 8a: Size comparison and design

The Pixel 8 is a smaller phone than the Pixel 7, measuring 150.5 x 70.8mm with a thickness of 8.9mm. It adheres to the same design language that we’ve come to expect from the Pixel series, aside from a few tiny tweaks. It features Google’s metallic camera bar on the back, which divides the glass rear panel. Additionally, it retains the same centered punch hole on the front of the display.

Typically, Pixel A designs do not deviate significantly from Google’s main flagships. If the rumors prove accurate, this remains largely true for the Pixel 8a as well. The most noticeable difference appears to be the much more rounded corners compared to the Pixel 8. Regarding its size, reports suggest that the Pixel 8a is expected to have dimensions of 152.1 x 72.6mm with a thickness of 8.9mm. This would make it slightly larger than the Pixel 8 but identical in size to its predecessor.

Pixel 8 vs Pixel 8a: Camera

google pixel 8 rear hazel 1
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

While the Pixel has consistently featured one of the best smartphone cameras, its excellence is primarily attributed to its Tensor SoC’s image and photo processing capabilities. This isn’t to say that hardware improvements aren’t made; they are just relatively incremental.

The new Pixel 8 has an improved 50MP sensor with a slightly wider aperture of ƒ/1.68 on the Pixel 8 versus ƒ/1.9 on the Pixel 7. Additionally, it has a 12MP ultrawide lens with a wider field of view, increasing from 114 degrees on the Pixel 7 to 125.8 degrees on the Pixel 8. It also includes a new 10.5MP front camera, although it’s not expected to offer a drastically different selfie experience. The primary focus of the new sensor is its Class 3 biometrics, which means that Face Unlock now possesses the same security classification as fingerprint scans.

There have been very few Pixel 8a camera rumors yet. Still, we can make an educated guess on what to expect. While the Pixel 5a and 6a had the same primary sensor, the ultrawide camera did see some changes. Google tends to keep its main sensors for at least two generations, so it’s very likely the Pixel 8a will have a 64MP main camera with a ƒ/1.9 aperture, 1.2μm pixel depth, and a 1/1.31-inch sensor size. It’s less clear if we’ll see any changes to the ultrawide lens, though it’s certainly a possibility. We’ll be sure to update this post as we learn more.

Pixel 8 vs Pixel 8a: Battery life and charging

google pixel 8 rear rose on top of obsidian
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

The Pixel 8 has a 4,575mAh battery, which is about 5% larger than the Pixel 7. Even more significant, the Pixel 8 has upgraded its wired charging to 27W, a notable jump from the Pixel’s previous 20W charging speeds. The wireless charging standard remains about the same, with 12W wireless charging from generic chargers and 18W with the Pixel Stand. There’s also reverse wireless charging for powering up accessories like true wireless earbuds.

We don’t have any specific Pixel 8a battery details just yet, but it’s possible it will be a bit larger than the 7a. Over the last few years, it has slowly increased battery sizes. Google’s Pixel 6a featured a 4,410mAh battery. while the Pixel 7a had a slightly larger 4,385mAh battery. Interestingly, this was a bit larger than the Pixel 7’s 4,355mAh capacity. By this logic, it’s possible we could see a battery size of around 4,500-4,600mAh. However, that’s really just a guess.

As for charging speeds? It’s hard to say if Google will make any improvements here. The Pixel 6a and 7a both had wired speeds of 18W, though the latter added 7.5W wireless charging to the mix. At the very least, you can expect it to charge no slower than this.

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

Google Pixel 8a render 2

If you’re looking for a new phone, you’ll be waiting a while for the Pixel 8a. First, there are reports Google may end up shelving the Pixel 8a, opting to wait until 2025 to release a new budget Pixel. The good news is there are more and more leaks appearing that suggest the Pixel 8a is still happening. If it all goes according to Google’s usual plan, the Pixel 8a launch date would likely be during Google I/O in May of 2024. That means it could easily be seven months away.

Pixel 8 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

We won’t officially know the Pixel 8a price tag for quite a while, but it’s easy enough to speculate. Looking back at its history, the A series has never cost over $500. In fact, it hovered around $449 for two years until the Pixel 7a introduced a $50 price cut. If the Pixel 8a launches next year, it will likely stick to the same $499 price tag as the Pixel 7a.

The Google Pixel 8 became available for pre-order on October 4 and will start shipping on October 12. You can find it at a variety of different major retailers. This is actually the most expensive Pixel in years, starting at $699. The Pixel 8 Pro is even higher, starting at $999. If you are on a strict budget, you’ll need to shell out at least $200 more for the Pixel 8.

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

google pixel 8 in case
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

If you absolutely need a new phone right now? If you’re on a tight budget, the Google Pixel 7a ($477 at Amazon) could be an excellent choice. An even better move would be to pick up the Pixel 7 ($594.99 at Amazon), which can be found on sale right now for under $500. Although the Pixel 8a may bring the Pixel 8’s impressive seven-year update policy and the newer Tensor G3 SoC, the Pixel 7 is very likely a better phone in nearly every other way.

Don’t mind spending a bit more? The Google Pixel 8 is a great phone and will be better than the Pixel 8a in every way, it’s just more expensive. If you don’t mind looking outside of Google’s Pixel series, you could also consider picking up the Galaxy S23 ($799 at Amazon) or you could save even more by going with the Galaxy S23 FE ($599.99 at Amazon).

Google Pixel 8
Google Pixel 8
AA Recommended
Google Pixel 8
Bright display • Upgraded face-unlock • Improved camera
MSRP: $699.00
A bright display from Google's 2023 flagship phone
The Google Pixel 8 introduces the new Actua display, a 6.2-inch panel that's 42% brighter than the Pixel 7. Backed by the fully updated Tensor G3 chipset, and a new 50MP camera, this promises to be one of the more exciting Pixel phones.
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