Google Pixel 8 vs Pixel 7a: Good things come in small packages

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PIxel 7a vs Pixel 8: What to expect

Intro


While it's technically the latest, the Pixel 7a surely wouldn't be the only Pixel phone released in 2023. Actually, the Pixel 8 series is now official, making the final chapter of 2023 an exciting one for Google in the best way possible. The Pixel 8 is certainly a proper flagship, with a new and improved chipset, better camera and tons of AI software features, brighter new display, and so much more. 

Meanwhile, the fresh and still new Pixel 7a is supposed to be Google's affordable phone for 2023, but its illogical pricing isn't making a strong case for it. Given the mere $100 difference in price with the Pixel 7 flagship, it's hard to justify why anyone would get that one instead of the mostly similar but somewhat more premium Pixel 7. But we digress. 

There are actually rumors that the Pixel 7a could be the last member of the affordable Pixel series, and it would make sense for the Pixel 8 to sort of act as its spiritual successor, so it's quite interesting to see how things will transpire for Google's compact phones going forward.

Get Google Pixel 8 Pro at Amazon and save $250

Google's 2023 Pixel 8 Pro flagship is available at Amazon. At the moment, the 128GB model is available at $250 off, meaning you can save 25% on the most innovative Google Pixel flagship phone to date.

Google Pixel 8 is $150 cheaper at Amazon

The Google Pixel 8 is available at Amazon right now. The smartphone sells at $150 off. All colors are available at the same discount.

Google Pixel 7a (128GB) at Amazon: save 19%

One of the best budget phones is still available for purchase at Amazon. The phone currently sells at 19% off. Offer valid only on the model in Charcoal.

Google's Pixel 7a: save $100 with Activation

The 128GB Pixel 7a is also available as a fully unlocked device at Best Buy without any discounts. Alternatively, tie your phone to a carrier with Best Buy's help and save $100 on the Google phone.

Table of Contents:

Design and Display Quality

Friendly Pixel design


The Pixel 7a is unapologetically Pixel, with a familiar and friendly design language that's mostly in line with the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. Gone is the black strip at the back of the phone, one of the signature device elements of the Pixel 6 series. Instead, the Pixel 7a has a so-called 3D Metal Visor in the same color as the side frame of the phone. As you might expect of an 'affordable' Pixel, the back side of the phone is made of plastic, while the frame of the phone is built from recycled aluminum. 

The big difference, however, is in the size itself. The Pixel 8 boasts a 6.2-inch display, a smidgen larger than the 6.1-inch one on the Pixel 7a, but at the same time, the Pixel 8 is the more compact and lighter phone, so it surely has a way more efficient design.

The Pixel 8, on the other hand, is a fresher take on the Pixel design, with slightly more curved edges and contours. The 3D Visor at the rear is slightly larger, and the device is available in a slew of fresh new colors. 

The Pixel 7a box comes neatly stuffed with a USB Type-C to USB Type-C cable in the box, a USB Type-A to USB Type-C adapter, the usual booklets, and a SIM ejector tool. No charger in the box of this one; this is the new normal.

The Pixel 8 comes with Google's new Actua display, which can hit up to 2,000 nits of peak brightness. That's neat and would surely leave the Pixel 7a in the dust when it comes to overall brightness. The Pixel 8 also allows up to 120Hz of refresh rate, but its display is not an LTPO one like the Pixel 8 Pro, so the user can only manually switch between 60 and 120Hz in the settings. Meanwhile, the Pixel 7a can only only display content at 60 or 90Hz, which isn't as smooth. Aside from that, the Pixel 8 has a much brighter display with noticeably superior outdoors legibility, but besides that, both devices have very decent OLED displays.

In terms of display size and qualities, the Pixel 7a reiterates the Pixel 6a specs for the most part. It comes with a 6.1-inch FHD+ OLED display with relatively thick bezels, a punch-hole display, and a fingerprint scanner embedded into it. Notable is the bump to 90Hz refresh rate, which makes interface navigation noticeably smoother and more rewarding. The phone supports displaying HDR content.

Display Measurements:



The Pixel 7a and the Pixel 8 both come with in-display fingerprint scanners and photo-based face unlocking on board. The fingerprint sensor on the Pixel 7a is fast and snappy, but you have to make good contact with the scanning area. You can also use the faster and more convenient Face Unlock, though it definitely isn't as secure as the fingerprint scanner. 

At the same time, the Pixel 8's face unlock is rated as secure as possible, so you can unlock the phone and use the photo face unlock for authenticating fintech apps. 

Performance and Software

Will the generational leap from Tensor G2 to G3 be noteworthy?


Although it's perceived as "affordable", the Pixel 7a is actually powered by the flagship-grade Tensor G2 chipset, which is the same one that clicks and ticks inside the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. It's fast enough as of today's standards, but it should be stressed once more that Google's line of custom Tensor chips were never about raw performance and high benchmark scores. Instead, it puts artificial intelligence as well as machine-learning at the forefront.

In my personal experience, performance on the Pixel 7a is more than decent. You will have to adjust your expectations accordingly, though, so don't expect any record-breaking fps numbers in 3D games. 
 
With my regular usage, the Pixel 7a is perfectly capable of handling everything I throw at it with ease. The smoother display definitely leaves the impression that the phone is much faster, which definitely helps with its perceived performance. There's just 128GB of storage available on board, so you will most likely have to rely on a cloud-based storage solution at some point. 

Performance Benchmarks:


Geekbench 6
SingleHigher is better
Google Pixel 81630
Google Pixel 7a1437
Geekbench 6
MultiHigher is better
Google Pixel 84302
Google Pixel 7a3461
3DMark Extreme(High)Higher is better
Google Pixel 82417
Google Pixel 7a1631
3DMark
Extreme(Low)Higher is better
Google Pixel 81669
Google Pixel 7a1095

The Pixel 8, on the other hand, comes with the 64 bit-only nona-core Tensor G3 chipset, as well as a faster GPU and a new TPU unit for AI and ML computations. The Pixel 8 comes with 8GB of LPDDR5X RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of native UFS 3.1 storage. 

In terms of software support, the Pixel 7a comes with Android 13 and will get three major software updates as well as five years of security support. This means that you should expect Android 14, Android 15, and Android 16 to grace the latest Pixel phone, and it will receive security patches until 2028. 

Meanwhile, the Pixel 8 will receive the humbling seven years of software updates and major Android versions up to 2030, which is stupendous!

Camera

The Pixel 7a gets new cameras, can we expect the same for the Pixel 8?


The Pixel 7a comes with a 64MP wide-angle camera utilizing the imaging prowess of a brand new camera sensor for the Pixel lineup - the Sony IMX787. At 64MP, it sounds like a very decent bump in resolution, but don't expect the Pixel 7a to output 64MP photos. Google uses quad-binning to combine four pixels into one, outputting 16MP photos. Said four pixels can let in way more light than a single one, thus improving the low-light capabilities of the phone. 

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The ultra wide-angle camera is also a new one. The Pixel 7a comes with the 13MP Sony IMX712 sensor, whereas most previous Pixel phones relied on the 12MP Sony IMX386 previously. 

At the same time, the Pixel 8 comes with a 50MP main camera with improved light sensitivity thanks to the wide f/1.68 aperture on deck. The ultra-wide, however, remains a 12MP one. The selfie camera is a 10.5MP one, but unlike the Pixel 8 Pro, we don't get autofocus.

Main Camera - Daytime Photos



In broad daylight, there's hardly any difference between the camera samples taken between the two phones, or if there's any, it's not something worth noting. Great dynamics and details, as well as that signature Pixel style with enhanced contrast and colors is what you get with either. Interestingly, the Pixel 7a stands its ground to the Pixel 8

Main Camera - Low-light / Night Photos



The low-light performance of the two phones is quite comparable, with the only difference being an ever-so-slightly better dynamics on the Pixel 8. Still, nothing too drastic at all.

Zoom Quality



In terms of zoom, the Pixel 8 has a slight edge, with clearer details visible. 

Portrait Mode



When it comes to portraits, the Pixel 8 disappoints. The background blur is too severe and looks too out of place, while the Pixel 7a has that more natural look that appears more pleasing to the eye. 

Ultra-wide Camera



The camera samples speak for themselves: little to no differences in terms of ultra-wide camera performance, either.

Selfies




Battery Life and Charging



With a 4,385mAh battery on board, the Pixel 7a strikes a very decent balance between battery capacity and overall size: it's quite compact but lasts a punch! As far as Pixels go, that's a fairly decent battery that can potentially last you more than a single day. And if you're not shy about enabling the Extreme Battery Saver mode here and there, the phone might even last you longer. 

When it comes to the Pixel 8, there's a 4,485mAh battery on the inside, but Google doesn't expect drastically better battery life in comparison with the Pixel 7. Around 30 hours and up to 72 hours in Extreme Battery Saver mode is what we expect to get out of the new Pixel. 

PhoneArena Battery Test Results:


Video Streaming(hours)Higher is better
Google Pixel 89h 36 min
Google Pixel 7a9h 7 min
Web Browsing(hours)Higher is better
Google Pixel 815h 39 min
Google Pixel 7a15h 27 min
3D Gaming(hours)Higher is better
Google Pixel 86h 33 min
Google Pixel 7a4h 20 min

The Pixel 7a doesn't come with a charger in the box, and the Pixel will likely not feature the essential wall adapter either. The Pixel 7a supports up to 18W wired charging and debuting on an affordable Pixel 7.5W wireless charging. That's quite slow compared to most flagships supporting up to 15W, but even having wireless charging on the Pixel 7a is sort of a win. The Pixel 8, on the other hands, gets 30W wired charging, wireless charging, and reverse wireless charging. 

In our test, the Pixel 8 charges much faster than the Pixel 7a, which is normal to expect. 

PhoneArena Charging Test Results:


15 MinsHigher is better30 Mins(%)Higher is betterFull Charge(hours)Lower is better
Google Pixel 830%
55%
1h 24 min
Google Pixel 7aNo data
No data
1h 59 min

Specs Comparison




Summary and Final Verdict



Although slightly pricier than its predecessor, the Pixel 7a is a very decent offering, pairing almost flagship specs at a mid-range price. Surely, for $100 more you can get a Pixel 7, but don't be so quick to shoot down the Pixel 7a just yet. It's a sensible phone that focuses on the basics and will easily last you a lot if you give it the chance.

The Pixel 8 seems like excellent value, though if you've already invested in the Pixel 7a, then you probably shouldn't be considering the Pixel 8. Yet, if you're coming from a much older Pixel phone, the getting a Pixel 8 would make a ton of sense: it will be supported for a long, long time. 

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