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The 10 most important things to know about the Google Pixel 8a

Promo image for the Google Pixel 8a, showing renders of the phone in all four colors.

Google has just announced the next Pixel A-series device — the new Google Pixel 8a. The A-series is the more budget-friendly Pixel option, and it comes out halfway in the cycle to the next mainline Pixel device.

This year, the Pixel 8a offers some big upgrades over its predecessor, the Google Pixel 7a. It’s also more similarly matched with the standard Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, both of which came out in October 2023.

So, what’s the big deal with the Pixel 8a this year? Here are the most important things you need to know about the new Google Pixel 8a.

It has a new design (and new colors)

A render of the Bay blue Google Pixel 8a.

The Pixel 8a has some changes to its design when compared with the Pixel 7a. It follows closely in the footsteps of the Pixel 8 series, which has more rounded corners on the device that go nicely with the rounded frame.

Previous Pixel A-series devices also had glossy backs, but the Pixel 8a changes that. While it is still a plastic back, it now features a matte finish, so it is less prone to fingerprints and smudges. It has a satin aluminum frame, and the camera bar on the back is also made with the same aluminum material as the frame.

There are also some new colors for the Pixel 8a. These include the stunning new Aloe green and Bay blue colors, in addition to the standard Obsidian black and Porcelain white. I personally think the Aloe looks stunning, as it’s a nice, saturated green color that I thought the Mint Green of the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro would be.

There’s an IP67 rating

Pixel 8A in green with internals exposed.

Like its predecessor, the Pixel 8a also has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. That means that it is dust-tight (no dust should be able to get inside the chassis), and it can survive being submerged in water up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. But this does not mean it’s waterproof!

The IP67 rating is just below the IP68 rating for the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, both of which can be submerged up to 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes. While the Pixel 8a is a step below the main Pixel 8 line, it’s still pretty good, all things considered.

You get a new 120Hz display

A render of the Google Pixel 8a with its scree turned on. It's against a light-blue background.
Digital Trends

For the first time on a Pixel A-series device, the Pixel 8a will have a display with a 120Hz refresh rate. This is a big deal, as last year’s Pixel 7a only had a 90Hz refresh rate, which was already an upgrade from the 60Hz panel on the Pixel 6a before it.

With a 120Hz refresh rate, you’ll be able to enjoy much smoother scrolling, animations, and overall better responsiveness. The jittery scrolling experiences you might have seen with 60Hz or 90Hz displays will be gone, and the difference is noticeable, especially when you have them side-by-side. Google also added a lot of extra brightness, with the Pixel 8a supporting up to 2,000 nits of peak brightness (up from the 1,000-nit maximum of the Pixel 7a).

Other aspects of the display remain the same as the Pixel 7a. This includes the 6.1-inch display size with a 1080-by-2400-pixel resolution and 430 ppi density, Corning Gorilla Glass 3, and always-on display. Still, having a 120Hz refresh rate — and some extra brightness — is a big upgrade.

Google’s Tensor G3 chip

Render of Google's Tensor G3 processor.

For its Pixel phone lineup, Google uses an in-house Tensor G-Series chip. So far, there have been three generations of the Tensor chip, and the first two had rampant with overheating and poor power efficiency, among other issues.

Thankfully, the Pixel 8a uses the new Tensor G3 chip instead of the G2 that was in the Pixel 7a. In our use of the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, the Tensor G3 had much better processing power and did not overheat like the previous iterations. So, when you get the Pixel 8a, it will also have the newer G3 processor for better performance and power efficiency. You shouldn’t have to worry about overheating, either. It’s not the most performant mobile chip on the market, but as far as Google’s Tensor chips are concerned, it’s a very nice upgrade.

Longer battery life than the Pixel 7a

A photo of someone holding the Google Pixel 8a.

The Google Pixel 7a has a 4,385mAh battery. It’s not the best, but it’s generally enough to last all day with average use. The Pixel 8a will take things a step above.

Inside the Pixel 8a is a 4,492mAh battery, which is almost 100mAh more than the Pixel 7a. Combined with the improved power efficiency of the Tensor G3 chip that we mentioned above, the Pixel 8a is certain to have better battery life than the Pixel 7a that it’s replacing. Plus, since the G3 does not overheat as much as the previous chips, this will help extend battery life, too.

Some of the Pixel 8’s AI features are here

Circle to Search on a Google Pixel 8.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

One of the latest trends in mobile tech is the addition of AI features. Google introduced some AI features on the Pixel 8 lineup, including AI-generated wallpapers, Call Assist, Live Translate, and more.

The Pixel 8a will also be getting these AI features, along with some more that were later introduced. With the Pixel 8a, you’ll have the incredibly convenient Circle to Search feature, the Gemini assistant instead of Google Assistant, Best Take and Magic Editor for photo tools, and more.

Google promises seven years of updates

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

When you buy a smartphone these days, you expect it to last a while before you need to upgrade. Though Apple has typically been the leader in device longevity, its competitors, including Google, are beating it these days.

Google has promised seven years of Android OS and security updates for its latest Pixel devices, including the Pixel 8a. It ships with Android 14, so it will last through Android 21. And with Google’s Pixel devices, you also get new features added in the monthly Feature Drops, which should help keep the Pixel 8a feeling new for the next several years to come.

Finally, there’s a 256GB storage option

A render of the Google Pixel 8a next to an official Google case.

Typically, mid-range, budget-friendly phones don’t give you a lot of storage options compared to flagship devices. The Pixel 7a only came with 128GB of storage, with no higher capacity. This was also the case for the Pixel 6a, Pixel 5a, and Pixel 4a. That changes with the Pixel 8a.

This year, Google is giving users a choice in terms of storage capacity on the Pixel 8a. It starts with 128GB of storage for $499, but you can go up to 256GB of storage for $559. If you plan to have a lot of apps and games and take plenty of photos and videos, then the 256GB option just makes more sense.

It has the same $499 starting price

A render of the Google Pixel 8a in its porcelain color, showing the front and back of the phone.

When you look at the specs, the Pixel 8a is a pretty significant upgrade from last year’s Pixel 7a. I mean, you get a 120Hz refresh rate display, a powerful and much more efficient chip, longer battery life, and even more storage.

But the best part? The price is staying the same at $499 for the base 128GB model. Last year’s Pixel 7a was a bit of an odd choice at that price point, considering that it was more of an iterative upgrade from the Pixel 6a, and the Pixel 7 was not that out of reach and had much better specs.

It’s a bit surprising that Google is keeping the same $499 starting price, because it makes the Pixel 8a a terrific value. And it’s one of the only phones right now that has the Gemini Nano AI model in it for less than $500.

Preorders are open now

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

If you are interested in picking up a Pixel 8a this year, especially those delectable Aloe or Bay versions, then you can place your preorder right now directly from the Google Store or your carrier. It officially launches on May 14.

For those who have placed their order, don’t forget to pick up a Google Pixel 8a case and screen protector for maximum protection.

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Christine Romero-Chan
Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade. She graduated from California…
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