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Google Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 7a: Do you really need to upgrade?

Google Pixel 8a vs Pixel 7a.
The Google Pixel 8a (left) and Google Pixel 7a Bryan M. Wolfe / Digital Trends

The new Google Pixel 8a has entered the market to compete in the budget smartphone category. It has officially replaced the Google Pixel 7a, which was launched in 2023. Although the two phones’ appearances are quite similar, the newer model boasts several improvements under the hood, making it considerably superior.

To make an informed decision, it’s important to understand the differences between the Google Pixel 8a and the Pixel 7a. So, let’s take a closer look at these differences and determine which phone will suit your needs best.

Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 7a: specs

Google Pixel 8a Google Pixel 7a
Size 152.1 x 72.7 x 8.9 depth mm (6.0 x 2.9 x 0.4 inches) 152 x 72.9 x 9 mm (5.98 x 2.87 x 0.35 inches)
Weight 188 g (6.8 ounces) 193.5 grams (6.84 ounces)
Screen size 6.1 inch OLED 6.1-inch OLED
Screen resolution 2400 x 1080 pixels (430 pixels per inch), 120Hz. 2,000 nits peak brightness 2400 x 1080 pixels (429 pixels per inch), 90Hz, 1,000 nits peak brightness
Operating system and updates Android 14 w/seven years of OS, security, and Feature Drop updates Android 13 w/three years of OS updates, five years of security and Feature Drop updates
Storage 128GB or 256GB 128GB
MicroSD card slot No No
Processor Google Tensor G3/Titan M2 security coprocessor Google Tensor G2/Titan M2 security coprocessor
Camera Dual lens 64MP wide, 13MP ultrawide rear, 13MP front Dual lens 64MP wide, 13MP ultrawide rear, 13MP front
Video Up to 4K at 60 frames per second (fps) Up to 4K at 60 frames per second (fps)
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.3 Bluetooth 5.3
Fingerprint sensor Yes, in-display Yes, in-display
Water resistance IP67 IP67
Battery 4,492mAh

18W wired charging

Wireless charging (Qi-certified)


18W wired charging

Wireless charging (Qi-certified)

Colors Obsidian, Porcelain, Bay, Aloe

Charcoal, Snow, Sea, Coral

Price From $499 $499

Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 7a: design, display, and durability

Someone taking a phone call on the aloe Google Pixel 8a.
Google Pixel 8a Google

The Pixel 8a’s design is somewhat similar to its predecessor, the Pixel 7a, although there are a few notable differences.

The Pixel 8a brings some significant upgrades to the display. Both phones offer a 6.1-inch OLED panel with a  2400 x 1080 resolution. However, the Pixel 8a takes it a step further with a 120Hz refresh rate and up to 2,000 nits of peak brightness, compared to the 90Hz refresh rate and 1,000 nits peak brightness of the Pixel 7a. These enhancements promise a smoother and brighter viewing experience, and they should be quite noticeable in daily use.

The Google Pixel 7a face down on a table.
Google Pixel 7a Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

From a durability standpoint, the Pixel 8a has a matte composite back and matte aluminum frame, which is a similar build to the Pixel 7a. Both phones also share the same level of protection with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 cover glass and IP67 dust and water resistance, ensuring a long-lasting device. You will notice that the Pixel 8a has a more rounded body, though, while the Pixel 7a appears more squared.

Finally, where the older phone launched in Charcoal, Snow, Sea, and Coral, the newer one is available in Obsidian, Porcelain, Bay, and Aloe.

Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 7a: performance, battery life, and charging

Render of Google's Tensor G3 processor.

The Pixel 8a has seen a performance boost compared to the previous version. It has an upgraded Google Tensor G3 chip with Google’s Titan M2 security coprocessor. For context, the Google Tensor G3 chip is also featured in the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.

The new chip offers a 22% increase in CPU speeds and supports 25% higher memory bandwidth compared to the Tensor G2 chip in the Pixel 7a. It has nine cores compared to the older model’s eight cores. These advancements aim to enhance multitasking capabilities and improve the handling of resource applications. Google also asserts that the Tensor G3 chip houses a 10x more intricate machine learning model than that found on the Tensor G2 chip, which should improve AI-driven functionalities like Google Assistant and image recognition. The Tensor G3 chip is built on Samsung’s 4 nanometer fabrication processor; its predecessor was developed on Samsung’s 5nm process.

In addition to benchmarks, our own testing has also proven the Tensor G3 to be a better overall chip compared to the G2. It runs cooler, is more stable, and is a bit more power-efficient. It won’t dethrone the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 any time soon, but compared to the Tensor G2, the Tensor G3 is a very solid upgrade.

Pixel 7a display.
Google Pixel 7a Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

There have also been a few battery changes between the Pixel 7a and Pixel 8a models. The Pixel 8a has a slightly larger battery (4,492mAh compared to 4,385mAh), which is expected to result in a 15% improvement in battery life compared to the Pixel 7a. Both models promise a minimum of 24 hours of battery life with regular use, and with Google’s Extreme Battery Saver, the battery life can be extended up to 72 hours.

The charging capabilities of both phones have remained unchanged. This means they still support up to 18-watt wired charging and up to 7.5W Qi wireless charging. The wired charging feature allows for faster charging times, while the wireless charging feature provides convenience for those who prefer a cable-free charging experience. Overall, these charging capabilities ensure that users can keep their devices powered up and ready to use, no matter where they are.

Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 7a: cameras

A photo of someone holding the Google Pixel 8a.

Google has decided to stick with the same camera setup as the Pixel 7a for the new Pixel 8a. The newer phone features the same 64-megapixel main camera and 13MP ultrawide camera as the Pixel 7a, plus the same 13MP front camera for selfies and video calls. While some users may have hoped for an upgrade in the camera department, it didn’t happen this time.

However, the camera software has changed. The Pixel 8a now includes features previously available only on the rest of the Pixel 8 series, such as Best Take and Magic Editor. The Best Take feature allows you to take multiple photos quickly and then pick the best one from among them. The Magic Editor feature is another notable addition that lets you edit your pictures with various filters and effects.

The older Pixel 7a doesn’t have these features. Nonetheless, the Pixel 7a includes some relatively new camera features found on other Pixel phones, including the Pixel 8a, like Magic Eraser and Photo Unblur. The Magic Eraser feature can remove unwanted objects from your photos, while the Photo Unblur feature helps make blurry images clearer.

Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 7a: software and support

Android 15 logo on a Google Pixel 8.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Pixel 7a was released with Android 13, and it offers three years of OS upgrades and five years of security and Feature Drop updates.

On the other hand, the Pixel 8a ships with Android 14 and provides seven years of software support across the board. This is a remarkable improvement compared to its predecessor, and it gives the Pixel 8a the same level of software support as the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.

Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 7a: price and availability

A render of the Bay blue Google Pixel 8a.

The Pixel 8a is now available with two storage options — 128GB and 256GB — priced at $499 and $559, respectively. Previously, the Pixel 7a was only available with 128GB storage, priced at $499. You can expect the Pixel 7a to be available at a discounted price in the upcoming months.

Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 7a: is it worth upgrading?

Pixel 8A in green with internals exposed.

If you’re already rocking a Google Pixel 7a, should you rush out and upgrade to the Pixel 8a? If your Pixel 7a is still serving you well and not causing any issues, go ahead and keep using it for another year or two — and enjoy it!

But if it’s starting to act up — and you have the money to spare — the Google Pixel 8a is a tempting upgrade. The enhanced stability and efficiency of the Tensor G3 chip should be fairly substantial, so if you’re experiencing a lot of bugs with your Pixel 7a, the Pixel 8a could be the answer to your problems. Plus, with the smoother refresh rate, brighter screen, extra AI features, and many more years of software updates, you’re getting a much nicer overall smartphone.

What if you don’t have either phone? It’s still too early to determine the extent to which the price of the Pixel 7a may drop after the launch of the Pixel 8a. The drop, if significant, could be enough to sway those on a tight budget to select the Pixel 7a over the Pixel 8a.

However, for most folks, the Pixel 8a is a better option. It offers an improved chipset and display, a bigger battery, a slightly more durable design, and more software support. It also comes in fresh colors that are sure to turn some heads. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the newer phone is the better overall choice, but Google really delivered on the upgrades this year — making the Pixel 8a one of 2024’s most appealing budget handsets.

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Bryan M. Wolfe
Bryan M. Wolfe has over a decade of experience as a technology writer. He writes about mobile.
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