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Is the Pixel 8a's processor as good as the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro?

Google's Tensor G3 at just $500 seems to good to be true. Is it?
By

Published onMay 13, 2024

Among the Pixel 8a’s interesting feature list is the same Google Tensor G3 processor that powers the flagship Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. While not quite as nippy as the most powerful processors on the market, the G3 is an important part of Google’s AI vision and powerful enough for all the day-to-day tasks we’ve thrown at Google’s latest flagships.

However, historically, the A series hasn’t performed quite as well as the flagship series despite using the same chip. Likewise, the slightly more affordable Pixel 8 seems to perform ever so slightly worse than the top-of-the-line Pixel 8 Pro. At least, as far as you can see in benchmarks, there doesn’t feel like a lot between the two in hand.

So, what does this all mean for the Pixel 8a? Are you really getting flagship-tier performance at a mid-range price point? We ran some tests to find out.

Pixel 8a vs Pixel 8 benchmarks

Starting with a look at CPU performance and typical workloads, the Pixel 8a is not quite as good as the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro, but not far off. GeekBench 6’s single-core score is the same as the Pixel 8 but doesn’t quite match the 8 Pro, while multi-core scores are about 5% slower than the regular 8 and 9% slower than the 8 Pro. In both instances, the Pixel 8a provides a notable upgrade over the Pixel 7a’s Tensor G2 processor, scoring 19% faster in multi-core workloads.

Our PCMark result is a little lower than the other Pixels we tested, but not worryingly so. The Pixel 8a scores single-digit percentage points below the 7a and is clearly a fair bit lower than the 8 Pro. However, the result is pretty much in line with the regular Pixel 8, so it should still provide adequate performance across a range of tasks. The lower score compared to the 7a might be due to different battery/performance optimizations for the workloads PCMark runs since Google moved to the G3. We’ll have to spend more time with the device to see if this bears out in day-to-day tasks.

Pixel 8a vs Pixel 8 Wild Life Stress Test
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Turning to graphics, the Tensor G3 inside the Pixel 8a performs as well as in the 8 and 8 Pro, at least for short runs. The Pixel 8a doesn’t keep pace with the Pixel 8 Pro when put under prolonged stress, but it follows a similar throttling trajectory as the regular Pixel 8 and even manages to hold up a fair bit better come the end of the 20-run test.

Again, the newer GPU inside the G3 outpaces the older G2. There’s a 28% performance gain over the Pixel 7a, making the Pixel 8a a far more potent mid-range smartphone for casual and higher-end gamers. Overall, this is a decent showing of the phone’s graphics capabilities, even if Tensor G3 remains well off the pace of the fastest mobile processors at the high end of the market.

A big upgrade on the Pixel 7a

Google Pixel 8a v Pixel 7a
Paul Jones / Android Authority

With 10-20% gains in the CPU department and around 30% gains in graphics and gaming, the Pixel 8a offers a fair bit more performance than its predecessor. The Pixel 7a certainly wasn’t a bad mid-range performer, but the Pixel 8a brings a lot more power to the table for a very reasonable $500. Especially when you consider the phone’s AI features on top of regular performance metrics.

The Pixel 8a delivers virtually identical performance to the Pixel 8 and isn't far off the 8 Pro.

But perhaps best of all, the Tensor G3 implementation inside the Pixel 8a compares very well against the more expensive Pixel 8 series entries. While not quite matching the twice-as-expensive Pixel 8 Pro, performance is comparable to the regular Pixel 8, which is a reliable performer for daily workloads and more. The bottom line is that you needn’t worry about performance with the Pixel 8a; its Tensor G3 delivers.

See price at Amazon
Google Pixel 8a
Google Pixel 8a
Rich OLED display
Tons of Tensor G3-powered features
Pixel-pedigree cameras
See price at Amazon
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Excellent cameras
Fun, exclusive Android 14 customizations
Industry-leading update promise

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