Google Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 7a: The biggest upgrades

The Pixel 8a and Pixel 7a side by side
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Google's known for making some of the best budget phones in the business. Which is perhaps why you want to know which phone out of the Google Pixel 8a and Pixel 7a is the better purchase.

The brand new Pixel 8a adds more premium touches to Google's budget phone series while keeping its pricing steady, including a brighter display, a new chip and lots of software upgrades. However, the 8a and the Pixel 7a have a lot in common, perhaps meaning you should save your money and buy last year’s budget Pixel instead.

We've tested both phones across several areas to find where Google has and hasn't made upgrades. So let us guide you through the comparisons, and hopefully help you understand which phone is the better pick for you overall.

Google Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 7a: Specs

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Pixel 8a Pixel 7a
Starting price £499/$499 £449/$499
Display 6.1-inch Actua OLED (2400 x 1080) 6.1-inch OLED (2400 x 1080)
Refresh rate 120Hz/60Hz 90Hz/60Hz
Rear cameras 64MP main (f/1.89), 13MP (f/2.2) 64MP main (f/1.89), 13MP (f/2.2)
Front camera 13MP (f/2.2) 13MP (f/2.2)
Chipset Tensor G3 Tensor G2
Storage 128GB, 256GB 128GB
Battery 4,492 mAh 4,385 mAh
Charging 18W wired, Qi wireless 18W wired, Qi wireless
Size 6.0 x 2.9 x 0.4 inches 6 x 2.8 x 0.4 inches
Weight 6.8 ounces 6.8 ounces
Dust/water resistance IP67 IP67
Colors Aloe, Bay, Obsidian, Porcelain Charcoal, Sea, Snow, Coral (Google Store exclusive)

Google Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 7a: Price and availability

The Pixel 8a has been on sale officially since May 14. It'll cost $499/£499 to buy, the same price in the U.S. as the Pixel 7a at launch, but more expensive in the U.K.'s case. Alternatively, you could also pay $559/£559 for the 256GB edition, an option that previous Pixel a-series phones haven't offered.

The Pixel 7a launched in May 2023, and remains available today for a slightly discounted £449 at the Google Store (there's no U.S. discount right now). It'll likely start to see some more significant discounts elsewhere, but it's nice to see Google keeping it around as an officially-endorsed option.

Google Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 7a: Design and display

Both the new and old Pixel a-series models have the same 6.1-inch display size and FHD resolution, but dig a little deeper and you'll find some upgrades to the new model. The Pixel 8a has been fitted with the same Actua display tech seen on the Pixel 8, and has also got a smoother 120Hz max refresh rate instead of 90Hz, although again with a 60Hz minimum.

Google Pixel 8a in hand.

The Pixel 8a. (Image credit: Future)

In testing, the 8a appeared to be less color accurate than the Pixel 7a, and covered less of the sRGB and DCI-P3 color gamuts. But it is quite a bit brighter, as the Actua Display was described to be. 

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Pixel 8aPixel 7a
Delta-E color accuracy (lower is better)0.240.05
Peak brightness (nits)13781024

The brightness difference is easily visible when holding the two phones side by side.

The Pixel 8a and Pixel 7a's displays at max brightness

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Looking beyond the screen, the Pixel 8a looks distinct from the Pixel 7a by featuring more rounded corners like the Pixel 8 series, and has swapped to a matte-textured back panel instead of the old glossy one, hopefully meaning fewer fingerprints spoiling the look of your phone. But the basic shape, centered front camera cut-out and rear camera bar show these two devices are very much related.

Google Pixel 8a in hand.

The Pixel 8a. (Image credit: Future)

Both phones offer identical durability specs. Google's sticking with a Gorilla Glass 3 display and IP67 dust/water resistance, which are reasonable for a phone of this price even while there's room for improvement.

Pixel 7a held in hand

The Pixel 7a. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The last thing to cover in this section is the color options. The Pixel 8a's being offered in Aloe green, Bay blue, Obsidian black and Porcelain white. There's a fair bit of similarity with the Sea blue, Charcoal black and Snow white offered on the Pixel 7a, although some users will be sad that the Coral orange Pixel 7a isn't getting a sequel.

Google Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 7a: Cameras

The old and new Pixel a phones share the same cameras, those being 64MP main and 13MP ultrawide units at the back and a 13MP one on the front.

Starting with a main camera shot of a canal boat, the Pixel 8a offers slightly richer colors, though there's no difference in detail, as we'd expect from the two phones using the same sensor.

Moving to an ultrawide image of Paddington Station, we see the same color difference. The Pixel 8a also offers improved sharpness when you zoom in on elements like the metal frame of the station's roof.

Neither of these phones have telephoto cameras, but both feature digital zoom up to 8x. At 2x, which thanks to the high-res main lens is lossless zoom, we again see only slight color differences between the two phones.

At 8x, the Pixel 7a has actually produced my preferred of the two images. It’s managed to pick up the lettering on this sign more clearly than the Pixel 8a

Lastly, this portrait-mode selfie comparison shows once more how the Pixel 8a seems to favor color saturation over brightness compared to the Pixel 7a. I'd say the Pixel 8a's coloring of me and my blue shirt are a little artificial-looking, but it has managed to keep the images' highlights in check as a result.

Google has equipped the Pixel 8a with its Real Tone coloring for video, which we've not seen on any previous Pixel. Real Tone is Google's system for ensuring all skin colors are represented accurately in images, so adding it to video recording is the next logical step. No doubt this will be available as a software update for other flagship Pixels down the line, but it's rather unclear if it will come to the Pixel 7a.

On a similar note, the Pixel 8a debuts an upgraded version of Guided Frame for all its cameras. This is a Pixel-specific accessibility tool to help people with visual impairments frame up their shots, and which has up to now been focused on selfies. Now however, this will be available to use on the rear cameras too, and is capable of detecting people, pets and food and help you to aim the camera accordingly.

Google Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 7a: Performance

Inside the Pixel 8a is the Tensor G3, the expected chip upgrade from the Pixel 7a's Tensor G2. While the Tensor G3 is thought to be downtuned from the version seen in the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, it should still be more powerful and more efficient than its predecessor.

Pixel 7a outside on ground

The Pixel 7a. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Pixel 8a's seen a small leap in power thanks to the new chipset, which is most noticeable in the CPU multi-core score and the GPU test.

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Pixel 8aPixel 7a
Geekbench 6 score (single-core / multicore)1581 / 40931401 / 3368
3D Mark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited (score / fps)2375 / 14.21828 / 10.9
Adobe Premiere Rush time to transcode (mins:secs)0:560:56

The two Pixels in this comparison use the same 8GB RAM capacity, and both come with 128GB of by default. But there's now a 256GB option on offer with the Pixel 8a, good news for users who tend to quickly fill up their phones with apps and photos. 

Google Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 7a: Battery and charging

Google hasn't made any charging upgrades when moving from the Pixel 7a to the Pixel 8a. Both of these phones feature 18W wired charging and Qi wireless charging support; neither of which are particularly quick but will do the job of powering your phone up adequately.

In our charging test, the Pixel 8a filled from 0 to 16% in 15 minutes, and to 33% in half an hour. The Pixel 7a managed 21% and 43%, which makes sense since it's got a smaller battery.

The battery in the Pixel 8a has a 4,492 mAh capacity, up from 4,385 mAh in the Pixel 7a. Hopefully that means a longer battery life in the 8a, but we won't know until we get the phone into the lab.

As for actual battery life, the Pixel 7a managed to last 10 hours and 5 minutes on our battery when set to 60Hz mode. The Pixel 8a surpasses that with an 11 hours and 21 minutes result, also at 60Hz. Both phones would likely last less time with their full refresh rates active, although it's much more pleasant to use these phones at 90Hz or 120Hz when possible.

Google Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 7a: Software and special features

While it started life on Android 13, the Pixel 7a now runs Android 14 as the Pixel 8 does out of the box. This gives them access to many of the same features such as Best Take, Magic Editor and Magic Eraser photo manipulation, Audio Magic Eraser for videos, the Call Assist package of features to defeat spammers and stay on hold for you, and Live Translate for easy cross-language communication.

Google Pixel 8a in hand.

The Pixel 8a. (Image credit: Future)

The Pixel 8a is getting more on top though. It's gaining the Google Circle to Search ability first seen on the Pixel 8 series and the Samsung Galaxy S24, which will make querying  things you find on your social media feed or in your photos much easier.

For AI fans, Google has promised that the Pixel 8a will be compatible with Gemini Nano after a future Feature Drop update. This is unusual for a phone of this price, and could be a great gateway device for trying on-device AI as a result.

Pixel 7a held in hand

The Pixel 7a. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Plus these features are only the beginning, as Google has promised seven years of full software updates for the Pixel 8a like the Pixel 8 series, two years longer than the Pixel 7a was guaranteed at launch. This is also unprecedented for a phone of this price, and will make it even better value the longer you hold onto it without upgrading.

Google Pixel 8a vs. Pixel 7a: Outlook

The Pixel 8a and Pixel 7a side by side

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Without question, the Pixel 8a is the better of these two phones. But the Pixel 7a isn't too far behind for a phone that's a year older.

The Pixel 8a is better than the Pixel 7a when it comes to performance, display brightness and smoothness, software support and battery life, plus photography by a nose. But the Pixel 7a charges up faster, is cheaper, and offers nearly identical specs across the board. With the new discount, some users may find the Pixel 7a more appealing right now, though we believe the Pixel 8a is the better long-term pick if your budget can afford it.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.