Google Pixel 8a Brings AI and Camera Richness But At A Steep Cost

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Pixel 8a has launched in India with a steep price tag but some notable upgrades this year.

Pixel 8a has launched in India with a steep price tag but some notable upgrades this year.

Google Pixel 8a comes with Tensor G3 chipset, Pixel-grade cameras and support for 7 OS updates. But does that hefty price tag make it value for money?

Google’s new Pixel-a series model got us excited with its features and the hardware upgrades that brought it closer to the premium Pixel series than ever. However, the Pixel a-series model was primed to be an affordable option for people who don’t want to splurge heavily to buy the premium Pixels from Google. The company seems to have changed its tact with the Pixel 8a this year which we are hoping does not become the trend going into the future.

The Pixel 8a remains compact but the hardware upgrades pushes it to a new tier in the Indian market above Rs 50,000 price range where the competition is intense and the demands are much higher. So, does the Pixel 8a live up to these expectations and deliver a product that can become a viable option for the buyers. We tested the new Pixel phone to find these answers.

Compact Size, Premium Looks

Pixel 8a comes in a 6.1-inch form factor which makes it one of the few phones out there that can be categorised in the compact segment. The back body is made of polycarbonate plastic with a frosted finishing which doesn’t look or feel low-quality at all. In fact, compared to the glossy and flimsy glass or shiny metal, we prefer this build quality on phones because of its durability and lack of its attraction towards fingerprints.

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The frame is made of aluminium which brings the premium quotient to the table. The Pixel 8a weighs around 188 grams and is on the thicker side but none of the aspects become an issue with its size.

Display Upgrade But With Bezels

The Pixel 8a features the same 6.1-inch OLED display like its predecessor but the panel now offers a 120Hz refresh rate, and 2000 nits of peak brightness. These changes give the screen a pleasant and bright appeal, however, those big bezels can be an eyesore, especially when you spend over Rs 50,000 on the Pixel 8a.

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We would have liked Google to trim those black lines on the edges but it seems the compromise for a cheaper model has come at this very visible cost. Having the 120Hz refresh rate screen smoothens your experience of using the phone and navigating across the apps with more fluidity. Google is giving you the option to switch between 60Hz and 120Hz rate for the display, where the latter affects the battery life.

In Comes The Tensor Power

Google doesn’t believe in discrimination between its premium and affordable Pixel phones. And even this year, you have the Tensor G3 powering the Pixel 8a but limited to 8GB RAM. Google believes that offering the new Tensor G3 chip ensures that the Pixel 8a users get to experience its suite of AI features via various updates. We have already seen their quality with the Pixel 8 Pro and the Pixel 8 models and now Pixel 8a users get its taste as well. Having said that, the Tensor G3 has also shown its drawbacks, which was also evident with the premium models last year.

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This chip is not the most efficient or powerful in its range. In fact, the benchmark tests of the Pixel 8a puts the Tensor G3 closer to the Snapdragon 7 Gen SoC than the 8 Gen 2 or 3 versions. What does this mean for the Pixel 8a? The phone is reliable for daily tasks like web browsing, handling multiple Chrome tabs and even listening to music with social media apps. But gaming is not the strongest suit for the Pixel 8a and heavy users might want to look at other options available. You are also guaranteed 7 years of OS and security updates like the flagships which is good to see.

Pixel-Quality Cameras Delivered

Google has ensured that its computational photography is consistent across the entire Pixel lineup and we see the same with the Pixel 8a as well. The phone still has a 64MP and 13MP dual rear camera system like the Pixel 7a but the sensors are new and the performance sees the benefit of these changes.

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You get clear, crisp and detailed images in normal conditions while Google lets the AI tech do its magic to deliver quality low-light images as well. It’s not as good as what you get with the Pixel 8 Pro version but still very capable and probably better than most phones in this range.

The Usual Pixel Issues Surface

The Pixel 8a gets a 4492mAh battery unit which is marginally bigger than the Pixel 7a’s unit. But the performance is similar across all the Pixel 8 phones and that is owing to the Tensor G3 chip. The power management issues surface once again, which means the battery life can take a heavy toll. That’s not all, we also noticed the frequent network switches that are not ideal for the battery to pull through for a longer time.

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Power users might have to charge the device twice in a day, which becomes another issue with the 18W supported charging speed and the fact that you need to buy the charger separately. These charging speeds are no longer acceptable, at least for a phone that costs half a lakh, when you have 120W charging available out of the box in this range.

Google’s Misplaced Pixel 8a Purpose In India

That brings us to the final chapter of the review, i.e. price of the Pixel 8a. Google wants you to pay Rs 52,999 for the 8GB + 128GB version, going up to Rs 59,999 for the 256GB model. The Pixel 8a costs the same $500 (Rs 40,000 approx) in the US like the Pixel 7a but the new Pixel 8a price in India sounds very ambitious and bold to say the least.

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After all, for this price, you are spoilt for choices, with the Samsung Galaxy S23, the iQOO 12 or even the Pixel 8 coming into the picture. So, unless there is a big and inevitable price cut on the Pixel 8a, you can do much better in this market. We have already talked about Google’s possible move to end the Pixel a lineup and this year’s launch makes us believe that is going to happen soon.

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