Flagship AI and a 120Hz OLED screen for $499

The new Pixel A series phone is usually announced at Google I/O. Unfortunately, this means that the affordable phone is sometimes buried among all the other news during the company’s annual developer conference. So for 2024, Google has kicked things up a notch to give the new Pixel 8a extra attention. After checking it out in person, I can see why. It embodies everything I love about regular Pixel 8 but at a lower price of $499.

You will immediately notice a very familiar design. Compared to the standard Pixel 8, which has a 6.2-inch display, the 8a has a slightly smaller 6.1-inch OLED display with noticeably larger bezels. But other than that, the Pixel 8 and 8a are pretty much the same size. Google says the material surrounding the screen should be durable enough because it’s made of Gorilla Glass, although it didn’t specify the exact type (like Gorilla Glass 6, Victus, or something else).

Some other changes include a higher 120Hz refresh rate (up from 90Hz on the previous model), a more streamlined camera bar, and a new matte finish on the plastic back that Google claims mimics the texture of cashmere. I don’t think I could go that far now, but it felt surprisingly luxurious. The 8a still offers decent water resistance thanks to its IP67 rating, though it’s slightly worse than the IP68 certification on the regular Pixel 8. Its battery is also slightly smaller at 4,492 mAh (instead of 4,575 mAh). However, Google says the new model should last longer than the previous model thanks to some power efficiency improvements.

As for the new features, the most important addition is that in addition to the base model with 128 GB of storage, Google offers a version with 256 GB. This is a first for any Pixel A series. And following in the footsteps of last year’s flagships, the Pixel 8a also gets 7 years of software and security updates, which is a big jump from the three years of Android patches and five years of security on last year’s 7a. Finally, the Pixel 8a gets a partially refreshed color selection, similar to the mint version of the Pixel 8 from earlier this year, but brighter and more saturated, including purple, porcelain, obsidian, and an all-new aloe shade. I have to say this is definitely the best look of the bunch even though I’ve played around with it a bit.

The Pixel 8a will be available in four colors: Bay, Obsidian, Porcelain and Aloe. The Pixel 8a will be available in four colors: Bay, Obsidian, Porcelain and Aloe.

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Engadget

One thing that hasn’t changed is the Pixel 8a’s photography hardware. It uses the same 64-megapixel and 13-megapixel sensors for its main and ultra-wide cameras. However, it’s hard to be too mad about the Pixel 7a as it offers the best image quality of any phone in its price range. And since this thing is powered by a Tensor G3 chip, it has all the AI ​​features Google introduced in the regular Pixel 8 last fall, including Best Take, Audio Magic Eraser, Circle to Search, Live Translation, and more. supports Additionally, Google gives everyone access to the Magic Editor within Google Photos later this monthfree users are limited to 10 savings per month, while there is no limit for people with Pixel 8s and now 8a.

However, the flagship Pixels have a few features that you don’t get on the 8a. The biggest drawback is the lack of pro camera controls, so you can adjust shutter speed, ISO, white balance, etc. You cannot manually adjust photo settings such as Google also hasn’t upgraded the 8a’s Qi wireless charging speed, meaning you’re limited to just 7.5 watts instead of 18 watts. Finally, while the phone offers digital zoom, it doesn’t have a dedicated telephoto lens like the Pixel 8 Pro.

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