Google Pixel 8a Smartphone Review

I recently had the opportunity to review the Google Pixel 8a smartphone, a device that promises to deliver flagship-level performance at a more affordable price point. Every year, I try to examine one of these mid-range phones to see how they measure up, and this year, Google has produced a phone that feels remarkably similar to its higher-end counterparts. You can see my full review here.

The Pixel 8a is priced at $499 for the 128GB model and $559 for the 256GB version. It features the Google Tensor G3 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 6.1-inch OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The display supports HDR and can reach a maximum brightness of 2,000 nits, making it bright and clear in various lighting conditions. The phone is equipped with a fingerprint sensor under the display and facial recognition for secure access.

These specifications line up almost identically to the more expensive Pixel 8 that came out last year. They did not dial back the performance of the processor vs. their more expensive models.

The only area where Google has made some compromises with the 8a is in the build build quality. Unlike the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro, which feature glass backs, the Pixel 8a has a plastic back. However, it still supports wireless charging, albeit at a slower rate than its more expensive siblings. The front of the phone is protected by Gorilla Glass 3, and it has an aluminum band around the edges, giving it a sturdy feel despite its lower price.

The phone is weatherproof with an IP67 rating, meaning it can handle dust and brief immersions in water. The battery life is comparable to other smartphones in this price range, and in my testing, it lasted a full day even in areas with poor cell coverage.

In terms of connectivity, the Pixel 8a includes a USB-C port for charging and data transfer, but it lacks a headphone jack and SD card slot. Users will need to rely on Bluetooth or USB-C headphones for audio and Google’s cloud storage for additional space.

The camera system on the Pixel 8a is impressive. It has a 64-megapixel main camera with a 26mm wide-angle lens and a 13-megapixel ultra-wide lens. The main camera performs well in various lighting conditions, providing detailed and vibrant images. The ultra-wide lens is useful for capturing more of a scene, although it struggles in low light due to its smaller aperture.

Video capabilities are strong, with the main camera supporting 4K recording at 60 frames per second. The ultra-wide lens can only manage 30 frames per second at 4K, but overall, the video quality is good, with effective stabilization for smooth footage.

One of the standout features of the Pixel 8a is its AI-driven photo editing tools. Users can use the “best take” feature to combine the best facial expressions from multiple shots into one image. There’s also an AI-powered eraser tool that can remove unwanted objects from photos and fill in the background seamlessly, though the results can sometimes be less than perfect.

In gaming, the Pixel 8a performs well, handling games like Roblox and emulators like the Dolphin Gamecube emulator without issues. Benchmarks show that its performance is on par with the more expensive Pixel 8 Pro, making it a capable device for both casual and more demanding users. Just note that Google’s Tensor 3 chip lags behind the processors found in Apple’s phones—all of the Pixel 8 phones perform about the same as the iPhone 12, which came out in 2020.

Google promises seven years of software support for the Pixel 8a until 2031. The support expiration clock starts ticking in 2024, so users purchasing the phone a few years from now will have the same expiration date.

Overall, the Google Pixel 8a offers a compelling package for those looking for a high-performance smartphone without breaking the bank. Its combination of a high-refresh-rate display, strong camera system, and robust performance makes it a standout in the mid-range market. While it may not have the premium build quality of more expensive phones, it delivers excellent value and is a great option for budget-conscious consumers.

Disclosure: Google provided the phone to the channel free of charge. No other compensation was received nor did they did not review or approve this review before it was uploaded.

Google Pixel Fold Review: I’m Sold on Foldable Phones.. If Only They Didn’t Cost So Much!

I recently had the opportunity to review the new Google Pixel Fold smartphone, and I must say, it’s an intriguing piece of technology. This is the first foldable device I’ve tested and I really like what Google has put together here. The downside is that it costs a ridiculous $1799. See my full review here and you can find the phone for sale at Best Buy here (compensated affiliate link).

The Pixel Fold is powered by Google’s tensor G2 processor, the same chip that can be found in their more traditional phones like the entry-level Pixel 7A. It boasts 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. There is no SD card slot for storage expansion unfortunately.

The displays are impressive. The front display is a 5.8-inch OLED, while the inside reveals a 7.6-inch OLED. Both displays offer a 120 hertz refresh rate, ensuring a smooth user experience.

One thing that stood out to me was the phone’s compactness. I am a “small phone” guy and prefer a more compact device that’s easily pocketable to a larger one. The Fold fits comfortably in my pocket, and when unfolded, it offers a larger display, which is great for browsing and multitasking. It’s close in size to an iPad mini or other 8 inch tablet. Unfortunately, there’s a visible crease down the middle of the screen, which some might find distracting. I noticed it, and while many say you get used to it, I found it constantly catching my eye.

The Pixel Fold’s dual-display design offers a unique opportunity for app developers to enhance the user experience. Some apps have been optimized to recognize the device’s foldable nature and adjust their interface accordingly. For instance, the YouTube app adjusts the video playback area when the phone is partially folded, nudging the content to fit perfectly above the fold, essentially turning the bottom half into a stand. Similarly, productivity apps like Google Docs and Photos can run side by side, allowing users to drag and drop content between them.

However, not all apps have been optimized for this dual-display setup, and some might require manual adjustments to fully utilize the available screen real estate.Like other Android tablets and phones, most apps can run split screen even if they’re not optimized for larger screens.

The camera system is versatile. The back of the phone houses three cameras: an ultra-wide, a telephoto, and a standard 48-megapixel lens. The photos I took were sharp, detailed, and the colors were vibrant. There are two front facing cameras, one for when the phone is folded and another when unfolded. The folded selfie cam is the better of the two. Google also has a neat mode that turns the rear camera system into a selfie cam.

Gaming on the Pixel Fold was fun. From Android games to retro gaming, the experience was smooth. The larger screen real estate made gameplay more immersive. However, when compared to devices like the iPhone, the Pixel Fold’s gaming performance could be better.

In conclusion, the Pixel Fold is a promising device. Its foldable design offers a unique user experience, and while there are some areas of improvement, it’s a solid first-generation attempt by Google. The price might be a deterrent for some, but if you’re looking for innovation and a fresh take on smartphones, the Pixel Fold is worth considering.

I hope the industry finds some ways to bring the price point on these foldables down to make the technology more accessible. Smartphones have become quite stale these last few years so anything new and exciting would be a welcome boost to the industry.

Disclosure: Google provided the phone free of charge for my review. However they did not review or approve the content before it was uploaded nor did they offer any additional compensation.