Google Pixel 8a preview: everything we know so far

Is value the first thing that comes to mind when deciding if an upcoming phone deserves a spot in your pocket? Then you’re going to want to know all about the upcoming Pixel 8a. Google’s next wallet-friendly phone looks set to bring features and performance from the mainline Pixel range into more affordable territory, and should rank among the best phone cameras for the money.

With the current Pixel 7a now half-way through its expected sales run, the rumour mill has started cranking on what to expect from its replacement. Could Google take a year off in 2024? Will the Tensor G3 make an appearance? Could we see a reveal at the annual I/O event? We’ve got all the details.

Google Pixel 8a expected release date

Google Pixel 7a review in hand frontGoogle Pixel 7a review in hand front

First up, will there actually be a Pixel 8a? Early rumours suggested Google was considering a move to biennial releases, meaning a wait until 2025 for a Pixel 7a successor. That would put it more in line with Apple’s iPhone SE model, which sees an update roughly every two years – although analysts predict there won’t actually be a new entry next year, with Apple instead waiting until 2025.

If Google did wait an extra year, we’d expect any new phone to be called the Pixel 9a instead, aligning it with that year’s mainstream Pixel phones. Assuming it kept the numerical naming scheme at all.

More recent signs suggest the Pixel 8a is indeed happening, with benchmark results appearing online and leaked images of prototype devices doing the rounds. Assuming this is accurate, we’re circling May 2024 in our diaries for the official reveal date – a look back at previous A-series phones shows why:

  • Pixel 7a – revealed 10th May 2023
  • Pixel 6a – revealed 11th May 2022
  • Pixel 5a – revealed 17th August 2021 (US and Japan only)
  • Pixel 4a, 4a 5G – revealed 3rd August 2020 (pandemic year)
  • Pixel 3a, 3a XL – revealed 7th May 2019

Ignoring a COVID-related release date shuffle in 2020, and the follow-up phone that saw a very limited worldwide release, Google has favoured May for its A series device reveals. That aligns with the firm’s I/O conference, which has almost always been held during that month. The Pixel 8a would make most sense to debut at I/O 2024.

As for pricing? The Pixel 7a set you back $499/£449 at launch, which was a jump from the Pixel 6a’s $449/£399 starting price. There’s every chance the Pixel 8a could climb higher again – the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro did, after all – but equally we’d hope Google manages to avoid multiple price hikes on the trot.

Google Pixel 8a hardware & design rumours

Google Pixel 7a review rear camerasGoogle Pixel 7a review rear cameras

According to Android Authority, the Pixel 8a is known internally at Google as “akita”, in line with the firm’s penchant for animal-themed codenames. Assuming Google does actually launch the phone next year, we can expect a design evolution that borrows from both the outgoing Pixel 7a and current Pixel 8 generations.

That means more rounded corners, a more prominently curved camera bar (possibly made from aluminium) and a few new colour options. The Artic Blue shade last seen on the Pixel 7a seems like a good candidate to return.

A 6.1in screen is expected, matching the Pixel 7a. Hopefully it’ll have a 90Hz refresh rate, like last year – but a 120Hz panel would be even sweeter. Overall dimensions might shift a bit, on account of the curvier corners, but it’s expected to be just as pocket-friendly as the current model.

The latest leaks have been on the software side. Kamila Wojciechowska and Smartprix have revealed what are apparently the default Pixel 8a wallpapers, which are credited to American photographer Andrew Zuckerman – the person who was behind the full-fat Pixel 8’s wallpapers. They suggest we’ll be seeing three handset colour options at launch: emerald, sky and licorice.

The rear cameras are an unknown right now, but it’s likely Google will keep a little wiggle room between the Pixel 8a and the pricier Pixel 8. Looking back at the Pixel 7a, that phone had a 64MP primary snapper and 12MP ultrawide; the Pixel 8 has a 50MP/12MP setup – but more pixels doesn’t mean a better sensor. We’re expecting a very similar setup to the Pixel 7a. Google has also started to separate its Pixel phones on the software front, with the flagship Pixel 8 Pro getting manual shooting modes for the first time. Might the firm hold more back from the A-series line-up? That remains to be seen.

Timing will dictate whether the Pixel 8a arrives with a Tensor G3 processor or not. If it lands in the first half of 2024 you can bet it will, bringing AI cleverness and respectable performance to the more affordable end of the smartphone spectrum. 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM seem likely candidates for a mid-range handset, and you can bet it’ll be running Android 14 out of the box. We’d expect to see wireless charging, too, after it appeared on the Pixel 7a.

Google Pixel 8a feature wish list

Google Pixel 7a review lock screenGoogle Pixel 7a review lock screen

We raved about the Pixel 7a’s performance, camera ability and general value for money in our five-star review – but still found a few areas that left room for improvement. These are the sore spots we’re hoping Google will tackle for the sequel.

Cleverer cameras

One of the big reasons to pick up a Pixel 8 Pro this year was its AI-assisted camera and image editing tech. Best Take, Magic Editor and Video Boost all promised to help us take better photos and videos – or at least edit our snaps to make it look like we did. We’re hoping that tech will dilute down to the Pixel 8a, and Google won’t see fit to restrict it to the pricier, “full-fat” Pixel phones.

A superior screen

We get it, Google has to differentiate the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8a somewhere – but does it really have to be the display? Rival brands have been squeezing 120Hz refresh rate panels into their affordable phones for years, making the Pixel 7a’s 90Hz panel feel behind the times – even if it was a welcome step up from the Pixel 6a’s 60Hz screen. A 120Hz option would seal the deal. The Pixel 8 generation also introduced much brighter “Actua” panel tech, which we’d like to see make a return here.

Faster USB-C charging

Google remains sluggish when it comes to charging speeds. Even the premium Pixel 8 Pro is left in the dust by rival flagships from Chinese brands such as Oppo and Xiaomi. We’d love to see the Pixel 8a pick up the pace, even just a bit. We’d also sell a kidney for Qi2 wireless charging to make the grade, bringing MagSafe-style magnetic accessory support to the Pixel range for the first time. We know Google is working on bringing the tech to its phones – but expect it’ll wait until the Pixel 9 series and debut it on the more premium models first.

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