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Google Pixel 8a rumors: Expected release date and what we want to see
Update, November 15, 2023 (04:24 PM ET): We’ve updated our Google Pixel 8a hub with some leaked metal dummy units.
The first time Google launched an A series phone was in 2019 with the Pixel 3a and 3a XL. At the time, those were some of the best Android phones you could get for the price. Since then, Google’s released a new A series Pixel every year. One would then expect that it’s a guarantee we’ll see a Google Pixel 8a in 2024, right? Well, things might not be that simple.
In this post, we will round up all the credible rumors we’ve seen so far related to the Pixel 8a, which includes information about it possibly not happening. We’ll close out the rumor roundup with a wishlist of items we hope to see on the phone if it does make it to market.
Pixel 8a: At a glance
- When might it come out? If the Pixel 8a actually happens, it is likely to launch sometime around May of 2024, during Google I/O.
- What new features could it have? It’s still too early to know for sure, but a Tensor G3 and 8GB of RAM are likely, at least.
- How much will it cost? The Pixel 8a price tag will likely be $499, just like its predecessor.
Will there be a Google Pixel 8a?
With most rumor hubs we create at Android Authority, the answer to this question is almost always, “Yes, we guarantee it.” However, things aren’t so certain with the Google Pixel 8a.
At the end of 2022, we spoke with an anonymous source with deep internal knowledge about Google’s smartphone plans. This source told us that Google’s plans for the Pixel 8a are in flux. The company has given it a codename — “akita,” which continues Google’s animal-themed naming scheme for Pixels — but is not committed to actually releasing it.
There is a possibility that the Pixel 8a could be shelved as Google re-evaluates its plans for budget-minded Pixels.
Instead, Google might move to a biennial schedule for Pixel A devices, meaning a launch every two years. This would make A series phones more aligned with Apple’s iPhone SE program. Apple’s most recent SE is the iPhone SE (2022); before that, we had the iPhone SE (2020). Ostensibly, the iPhone SE 4 could launch in 2024 if Apple keeps this up. However, multiple analysts say Apple might not get around to this until 2025 or possibly even later.
With the Google Pixel 7a launching in 2023, it could — theoretically — be 2025 before we see another A series phone. By then, it wouldn’t be a Pixel 8a but a Pixel 9a. Google could also rebrand the series by removing the number for the sake of simplicity. Of course, there have been a few hints recently suggesting the Pixel 8a may be in the works after all. Not only have leaked benchmarks hit (though those can be faked), there have also been a few alleged images of the device floating around.
What is the most likely Google Pixel 8a release date?
- Pixel 3a and 3a XL: May 7, 2019
- Pixel 4a and 4a 5G: August 3, 2020
- Pixel 5a: August 17, 2021
- Pixel 6a: May 11, 2022
- Pixel 7a: May 10, 2023
The list above makes it clear that Google’s preferred launch window for A series Pixels is in May at its annual I/O developers conference. However, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, Google did launch some A series phones later in the year. Going forward, though, we assume the Pixel 8a — if it launches at all — would land in May at Google I/O 2024, just over half a year after the Pixel 8 series proper dropped.
Google’s smartphone division is notoriously leaky. The chances are high that if the Pixel 8a is launching in 2024, we’ll know about it early, possibly even by the end of 2023.
What specs and features could the Google Pixel 8a have?
Everything we say below is, for now, based on what Google has done previously and early leaks. However, since it’s possible the Pixel 8a might not launch at all, much of this speculation could be incorrect.
Judging from the Pixel 7a and the Pixel 6a, the Pixel 8a should look very similar to the Pixel 8. Its design is almost note-for-note identical to the Pixel 7, although smaller overall.
Historically, the Pixel A series has followed the same overall design language as the flagship Pixel family. That seems to be case for the Pixel 8a as well, as recently leaked images suggest it will take a few design cues from the 7a and Pixel 8, essentially mashing them together. This includes iPhone-like corners, an aluminum camera bar, and a blue shade that’s somewhat similar to the Pixel 7a’s Artic Blue colorway. Obviously, we can expect other colors as well, but it’s too early to say what those might be.
Another leak gave us renders of the Pixel 8a in the Rose colorway of the Pixel 8. Not only do the images appear to support that the device will be slimmer and smaller, but also the leaked dimensions say the same at 152.1 x 72.6 x 8.9mm. By comparison, the Pixel 7a’s dimensions are 152.4 x 72.9 x 9.0mm. The leak also says the display comes in at 6.1 inches.
In some ways, the design looks even more rounded than the Pixel 8. Still, it’s definitely rocking a similar design language. Keep in mind this is an early leak for a phone that won’t surface until later in 2024, so it’s hard to verify the accuracy of this leak.
Finally, we have what appear to be metal dummy units for the Pixel 8a. These are usually created to allow case manufacturers to know the precise dimensions of an unreleased phone:
Overall, these design leaks all point to a phone that looks a lot like the Google Pixel 8, so that’s probably what we should expect.
By the very nature of A series phones, the Pixel 8a could not have an equal camera system to the Pixel 8. As such, we would expect either the same camera system we find on the Pixel 7a or a slight upgrade of that. For the record, the Pixel 7a’s camera included a 64MP primary, a 12MP ultrawide, and a 13MP selfie.
Do note that the software powering the camera on all Pixels is the same. Therefore, the Pixel 8a should be able to do everything the Pixel 8 can unless the included hardware prohibits it.
Specs and features
The Pixel 8a will certainly come with Android 14 out of the box, just like the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. Google has changed its upgrade commitment for its flagship Pixels this year, bringing seven years of upgrades and security patches to the table. However, considering the Pixel 8a will be the cheapest of the three devices, you could expect three Android upgrades and five years of security patches to be the promise.
Since Google first launched its Tensor SoC in 2021, all A series phones have had the Tensor chip their corresponding mainline entry carried. Theoretically, this would mean the Pixel 8a would have the Tensor G3.
We are reasonably assured that RAM and storage options won’t change this year with the Pixel 8. That would mean the same options for the Pixel 8a we saw with the Pixel 7a, which was 8GB of RAM and a minimum of 128GB of storage. A recent Geekbench benchmark leak further backs this up, though these are very easy to fake, so this should be taken with a grain of salt.
With the Pixel 7a, Google brought slow wireless charging support to the A series for the first time. It also brought a 90Hz display refresh rate. Seeing as it would be silly to introduce these features in one generation and then remove them in the next, we can be reasonably assured both will be included with the Google Pixel 8a.
What could the Google Pixel 8a price be?
- 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 list above shows that there has never been an A series Pixel over the $500 mark. If it does actually launch, we’d expect the Pixel 8a to land at the same price as the Pixel 7a, which is $499.
The mainline Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are more expensive this year, at $699 and $999, respectively. Meanwhile, the $599 entry price for the Pixel 7 is an outright steal for what you get. Even with the inflated prices this year, we don’t think Google would go any higher than $499 for the Pixel 8a. That’s a reasonable price for what you’re likely to get.
Should you wait for the Google Pixel 8a?
We don’t even know if Google is going to release a Pixel 8a in 2023. Therefore, if you’re looking for a budget phone, we highly suggest not waiting around.
The most obvious alternative to the Pixel 8a would be the Pixel 7a ($477 at Amazon). It features pretty much everything you need from a modern Android phone, including wireless charging and a display with a high refresh rate. However, the camera, display, and overall build quality will be inferior to the Pixel 7 ($545 at Amazon). Considering the Pixel 7 is not much more expensive than the Pixel 7a and goes on sale frequently, that’s also worth a look.
If you’re not ready to wait and want the best Pixel you can get, buying a Pixel 8 ($699 at Amazon) or the Pixel 8 Pro ($999 at Amazon) will provide that new car experience you’re craving, albeit at a much higher price. The Pixel 8 itself is a viable option over the Pixel 7a, if you’re willing to spend a little more. Additionally, the launch of the Pixel 8 series means you can find the Pixel 7 (or even a Pixel 7 Pro) for cheap.
If you want something not from Google, our go-to budget phone recommendation is the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G ($449.99 at Samsung). It has comparable specs to the Pixel 7a, a longer software update commitment, and Samsung’s robust One UI software features. The newly launched Galaxy S23 FE ($599.99 at Amazon) brings most of the flagship features, sans some of the trimmings, for slightly more. You might also be tempted to wait until January for the Galaxy S24 series to see what Samsung brings to its 2024 flagship lineup.
Google Pixel 8a: What we want to see
Making a wishlist of features for something like the Google Pixel 8a is tricky. On the one hand, you want the phone to be tangibly better than the previous generation. But, on the other hand, you can’t make the phone too good, or it just becomes a Pixel 8. Regardless, here are three things we hope to see with the Pixel 8a if it becomes a reality.
Borrow the Pixel 7’s cameras
The Pixel 7a has a decent camera system. The 64MP primary shooter, in particular, is pretty good. However, the Pixel 7’s system is still better both on the back and front. Since the Pixel 8 got an upgraded primary sensor, wouldn’t it be cool if the Pixel 8a just took the Pixel 7’s camera system? That way, the Pixel 8a would still be a weaker system than you get with the mainline Pixel 8 but also better than the Pixel 7a. It would be disappointing if Google just transferred the cameras from the Pixel 7a to the Pixel 8a. Hopefully, that won’t happen.
We’ve complained a lot about how much slower wired charging is on Pixel phones compared to the competition. We’d love to see the Pixel 8a (and Pixels in general) have faster wired charging. This is especially true for the Pro models. In a perfect world, the Pro-level Pixels should charge no slower than 45W with a cable. At that speed, the Pixel 8a could charge at something like 30W and still allow superiority for the Pro models. For reference, the ultra-cheap OnePlus Nord N30 charges at a whopping 50W (and includes a charger in the box), so we’re not asking for much here.
Likewise, it’s great that the Pixel 7a got wireless charging, but the 7.5W speed of that charge is pretty dismal. We’d love to see at least 10W or even 15W wireless charging on the Google Pixel 8a.
Granted, any changes to the Pixel 8a’s charging speeds would necessitate Google changing the speeds of all new Pixels. We realize this is unlikely, but Google also can’t be the company with the slowest charging speeds in the industry. Once Apple adopts faster speeds for iPhones, that’s what it will be. In other words, it needs to speed things up eventually, so why not do so with the Pixel 8a?
A longer update commitment
If Google does move away from annual launches for A-series Pixels, then it would need to extend its update commitment. Remember that A-series Pixels usually launch in the first half of the year, so they land with the previous year’s Android version. In other words, if the Pixel 8a launches in 2024, it will have Android 14. If a new A-series Pixel doesn’t launch until 2026, that would mean the Pixel 8a would be nearly aged out of Android upgrades by the time that new phone comes around, since it would get Android 15 in 2024, Android 16 in 2025, and then be due for Android 17 later in 2026. That doesn’t seem right to us, so Google should offer at least four Android upgrades for its more affordable Pixels — which, consequently, would match Samsung’s existing commitment. It could also completely break the industry by offering its seven-year Pixel 8 series commitment to the Pixel 8a, too.