The Google Pixel 8a figures to be the first of several phones Google releases this year, and it arrives at an interesting time for midrange devices.
Some of the best phones released recently have been lower-cost phones that still pack in some premium features. That includes the current Pixel 7a, which wowed us with its terrific cameras, fast-refreshing display and sub-$500 price.
But other phone makers are coming out with fully-featured cheap phones as well. Samsung’s Galaxy A series has gotten better year after year, and by the time the Pixel 8a arrives, the rumored Galaxy A55 may already have shipped in an effort to steal Google’s thunder. And those phones already face a formidable new rival in the OnePlus 12R, which hits retail shelves in February. That phone delivers premium power and battery life while matching the Pixel 7a’s $499 price.
So how does Google responded to this stepped-up competition? Some early Pixel 8a rumors give us a clue, and we’re expecting more details to surface between now and the phone’s possible launch date.
Here’s what we know so far about the Google Pixel 8a and what we’re hoping to see from the new version of Google’s lower-cost smartphone.
Google Pixel 8a release date rumors
Nobody knows when the Pixel 8a might get announced, and Google’s certainly not saying anything. But we could have a better idea in a month or so.
Three of the five Pixel A series phones Google’s released have been shown off first at the company’s annual Google I/O conference. The only two exceptions were in 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic canceled Google I/O, and 2021 when supply shortages moved the Pixel 5a launch to August. For that reason, it’s a safe bet that the Pixel 8a appears at Google I/O 2024.
So that raises another question of timing — when is Google I/O going to take place. For the past three years, the event has happened in May, and unless we hear differently, we’d look for history to repeat itself in 2024. Google typically announces the specific date of I/O in early March — once that happens, we’ll have better clarity on a possible launch window for the Pixel 8a.
Whether Google makes the phone available immediately after I/O or sets a ship date for a few weeks later, we’d anticipate the Pixel 8a arriving no later than early summer.
Google Pixel 8a price
If a Pixel 8a release date is up in the air, we know even less about the price. No credible pricing rumors have surfaced to date, and we wouldn’t expect any until we get closer to the launch date for the phone, whenever that may be.
The Pixel 7a costs $499 for its lone model. That was a price hike of $50 from the Pixel 6a’s price. The cost of making phones has been on the rise, and that’s translated to higher prices across the board with recent handset releases, but we’d be very surprised if Google were to raise prices again on its budget phone.
For one thing, the company is going to want to maintain some pricing gap between the Pixel 8a and the $699 Pixel 8. For another, the price of devices like the OnePlus 12R puts pressure on Google to keep the cost of its phones down. Holding the Pixel 8a at $500 or less addresses both of those concerns.
Google Pixel 8a design and display
The Pixel A series phones tend to reflect the designs Google introduced with the Pixel flagship that came out the previous fall. That trend is likely to continue, with the Pixel 8a following the Pixel 8’s lead. Expect a horizontal camera bar spanning the length of the phone’s back panel with rounded corners and a contoured design.
Indeed, the first leaked renders of the Pixel 8a suggest a very familiar design for the upcoming phone. The biggest departure from the Pixel 8 looks to be a slightly larger bezel on the bottom of the display, but that’s typical of Pixel A series devices.
Information accompanying that leaked render suggest a modest change in dimensions, with the Pixel 8a rumored to measure 152.1 x 72.6 x 8.9mm. That would be slightly smaller than the 152.4 x 72.9 x 9.0mm-Pixel 7a.
Should those dimensions prove accurate, you’d expect that the Pixel 8a would once again feature a 6.1-inch OLED panel, just like its predecessor. That’s a little bit smaller than the Pixel 8’s 6.2-inch screen. We’d also expect the Pixel 8a to offer a 90Hz refresh rate like the Pixel 7a to offer a distinction from the 120Hz displays Google features on its flagship phones.
Our best look at the Pixel 8a’s potential design thus far comes from a photo that was posted to X (aka Twitter) last fall prior to the Pixel 8’s launch. Everything you’d expect to see — the camera bar, the punch-hole cutout for the front camera in the phone’s display, and so forth — are quite visible in that image.
Google Pixel 8a specs
Besides the look of the phone, the other Pixel 8a change that’s easy to forecast is what system-on-chip will power the device. Since Google switched to its own Tensor silicon with the Pixel 6, the subsequent A series model has come with that same chipset. In the case of the Pixel 8a, that would be the Tensor G3 introduced last fall.
Leaked Pixel 8a benchmarks suggest that the phone is using an under-clocked version of the Tensor G3. The Geekbench numbers for the Pixel 8a trailed not only the Pixel 8 but also the Pixel 7 as well. We’d caution against reading too much into that, though, as phone makers tinker with how to best optimize silicon prior to rolling out their phones In others, the version of the G3 that produced those underwhelming numbers may not be the one that ships in the finalized phone.
That said, the Tensor processor hasn’t really focused on performance to date. Instead, Google’s thrust has been the silicon’s Tensor engine and the AI-powered features it can support. Look for Pixel 8 capabilities like the Magic Editor and advanced Call Screen capabilities to find their way to the Pixel 8a.
Google Pixel 8a cameras
Cameras are one of the key parts of any Google phone, which is why it’s curious that we’ve heard so very little about the cameras on the Pixel 8a. That would seem to suggest that Google’s not planning many changes from the 64MP main camera and 13MP ultrawide lens featured on the Pixel 7a. Considering that Google just switched to the 64MP sensor with the Pixel 7a release, it wouldn’t be unusual for the company to not usher in many changes with the Pixel 8a.
That said, the Pixel 8 did benefit from more advanced image processing to improve colors and details in the photos it captured, and Google could introduce a similar upgrade to the 8a. The Pixel 8’s ultrawide lens also gained a macro close-up mode with its ultrawide camera, which is another feature that could find its way to the Pixel 8a.
Google Pixel 8a software
Since Android 15 isn’t likely to come out until the fall, we’d look for the Pixel 8a to debut with Android 14.
The software question we’re wondering about is what kind of support Google plans to offer for the Pixel 8s. With the 7a, Google promises three years of software updates, plus an additional two years of security support. However, the Pixel 8 introduced much broader support, with Google offering software and security updates for seven years to cover last fall’s flagships.
We’re intrigued to see if that extended support will include the Pixel 8a, as that phone will feature the same Tensor chipset as the rest of the Pixel 8 lineup or whether Google reserves extended seven-year support for its more expensive flagship handsets.
Google Pixel 8a: What we want to see
At the start of the new year, we drafted a wish list of Pixel 8a improvements we wanted to see. We won’t repeat that here, but the arrival of the OnePlus 12R makes battery life improvements more necessary than ever for Google’s budget phone.
The Pixel 7a managed to match the battery life performance of the average smartphone in our custom battery test, which is certainly an improvement over its predecessors. But the OnePlus 12R has blown away the competition, producing the second best result in our best phone battery life rankings. It would be too much to ask the Pixel 8a to replicate that, but some continued progress in lasting longer on a charge would be welcome.
The Pixel 7a’s display was bright enough compared to other midrange phones, but phone makers continue to up the ante on just how bright they can make their screens. Again, the OnePlus 12R sets a high bar here, adapting a panel with a peak brightness of 4,100 nits. We didn’t get anywhere close to that number when testing the phone, but it’s still a brighter display than the Pixel 7a’s panel. We hope the Pixel 8a takes up the challenge.
As for any other changes, we’re waiting to hear more about potential plans for the Pixel 8a. And now that we’re getting closer to the usual late spring/early summer launch date for past Pixel A series phones, we expect the pace of rumors to pick up considerably.