Google Pixel 8A review: Packs in a lot of things Pixel 8 offers at a much higher price

The Google Pixel A series of smartphones started as more of a more budget-friendly offering compared to their higher-end brothers, but gradually this price point has been increasing and getting closer to the higher-end offering itself.

The new Pixel 8A starts at Rs. 52,999 for the base model. Is this price tag justified? Let us try and find out:

The Pixel 8A looks and feels a lot like the Pixel 8 in the hand with less protruding camera visor on the back and a polycarbonate back with matte finish that doesn’t catch on to smudges and fingerprints quickly. The 6.1-inch display (20:9 aspect ratio) has the dated Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on top. The device’s right side has the Power/lock key and the volume buttons at the middle part; while the left side has only the SIM card tray in the lower half.

The top locates the secondary mic; and the bottom has one outlet for loudspeakers, USB type C and primary mic. The ear-speaker grille is neatly tucked in along with the front-facing camera in the top-middle part.

The phone isn’t very slim and is a little heavier than what you might expect it to be before picking it up for the first time. It has rounded corners and doesn’t feel slippery at all with no visible issues when it comes to the build quality. I tried and liked its Porcelain colour, while the phone also comes in Aloe, Bay and Obsidian colour options.

The 6.1-inch full HD+ (1980×2400) OLED display supports up to 120Hz refresh rates, and it is honestly the biggest upgrade over the Pixel 7A and that’s not just for the higher refresh rates but also better colour reproduction. It has good viewing angles and has what it takes
to handle higher refresh content. Its HDR output is pretty much on par with the Pixel 8’s, which isn’t too bad. The display is bright enough and usable under direct sunlight, too.

The device sports a very similar dual camera setup – a 64MP (f/1.89) main camera, a 13MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera with added ultra HDR support. The phone can handle daylight and to some extent low light shots arguably better than any smartphone around 50k today.

It gives crips shows for still subjects and features like top shots can help in a moving situation at times.

One thing I noticed is its slight shutter lag when taking shots in low light,
which is what’s otherwise a reliable camera performer. The cameras have not been upgraded on the hardware front, though. The front-facing 13MP (f/2.2) camera takes generally well-calibrated shots with not too much skin sharpening and overexposure.

Powered by Google’s Tensor G3 chipset (up to 2.9GHz octa core processor, Mali-G715 GPU and Titan M2 security coprocessor) it comes with 8GB of LPDDR5X RAM and 128GB UFS 3.1 storage (also comes in 256GB UFS 3.1 for the higher variant). The phone does your day-to-day tasks without any stuttering or lags.

It can handle your video calls, YouTube videos, multiple Chrome tabs and music playing in the background just fine. Regarding gaming, it handles CoD: Mobile smoothly and Genshin Impact quite well too. The only place where I saw some frame drops was when switching to a 2160p HDR video in the YouTube and you initially see a bit of a hiccup but a second later it’s all fine.

It is Google’s own take on Android and it is smooth, responsive and without any third-party apps that you would have to uninstall out of the box. At the same time, it is not quite most feature-rich Android flavour out of the box – things like double tap to lock and wake the phone, quickly checking devices connected to your WiFi hotspot and data connection speeds on the status bar are missing. But what you do get is AI features such as Circle to Search and Best take for the camera. Oh, and 7 years of software updates, which is pretty nice to see.

The phone is equipped with a 4,492mAh battery unit and comes with a USB type C to C cable in the box along with a USB type A to C converter in the box (no charger). It generalled me a little under a day on heavy use and a day on moderate use. One thing, as seen on previous Pixel devices, is it charges rather slowly compared to many smartphones in this price range. Supporting up to 18watts, the phone charges from 1 per cent to full in over 1.5 hours using a compatible power delivery charger.

The dual speakers on the phone have good depth and are loud for your gaming and video playback needs indoors. It sounds quite crisp and the only thing it sometimes struggles with it quick are dialogues in a video.

When it comes to 5G, the Pixel 8a has been a better performer than how the Pixel 8 was at its launch, which is due to the updates Google has released to improve the 5G performance on both devices. Though it is still not quite as good as many other 5G devices even at lower prices, (including the OnePlus 12R), it’s not much more usable for your data needs on the go.

Concluding this review, the Pixel a series of smartphones isn’t quite as a budget option as it used to be. It’s now much closer to the elder brother in terms of pricing and performance. So, if you were looking for a Pixel device, the Pixel 8A might make more sense compared to the Pixel 8 given their Indian pricing.