Google Pixel 7a vs Google Pixel 8a: What’s new?

pixel 7a and 8a phone
Google Pixel 7a vs Google Pixel 8aGoogle/Getty Images

In recent years, Google Pixels have become some of the best phones you can buy. They're stylish, they have fantastic camera systems and they pack innovative AI features that none of the other top Android phones have been able to keep up with.

Back in October 2023, Google released the Pixel 8 and the Pixel 8 Pro. Today they're two of Digital Spy's favourite smartphones. However, even though they are slightly cheaper than competitors like the best Samsung phones, and there have been some pretty good Pixel 8 deals floating around, they're still quite pricey gadgets.

Luckily, Google has just released a third device — the budget Google Pixel 8a. This latest model costs less than £500 but packs a lot of the same features as its flagship siblings.

But if you're trying to save as many pennies as possible, is it worth buying its predecessor instead, the Google Pixel 7a? Now that it's been succeeded by a new handset, there are plenty of Pixel 7a deals offering the previous generation handset for less than £400.

To answer that question, I've tried out both smartphones. Here you'll find all of my thoughts, comparing the Google Pixel 7a and the Google Pixel 8a across their design, display, camera, performance, software and battery life.

Google Pixel 7a vs Google Pixel 8a

pixel 7a vs pixel 8a specs table
Digital Spy/Yasmine Crossland

Google Pixel 7a vs Google Pixel 8a: design and display

When you put the Google Pixel 7a and the Google Pixel 8a side by side, it's quite obvious that they are related, even though there are design differences between them.

Both have the Google logo on the back, the iconic camera bar that stretches across the whole width of the phone, and a 6.1-inch display on the front. One of the drawbacks of both handsets is the thickness of the bezels surrounding the screen.

Shape and build are what sets these two devices apart lookswise — the Google Pixel 7a is sharp and angular whereas the Google Pixel 8a has rounded corners, and the 7a's glossy back has been replaced on the 8a with matte plastic. The camera bar is also ever-so-slightly thicker than it was on the 7a, although it's only noticeable when you have the two phones in front of you like I did. Both are IP67 water and dust-resistant and both screens are protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

a hand holding a white cell phone
Digital Spy/Yasmine Crossland

You can buy them in a few different colours: the 7a comes in sea blue, coral red, charcoal black and snow white, while the 8a comes in aloe green, bay blue, obsidian black and porcelain white.

Both phones have a 6.1-inch display with a 1080 x 2400 pixels resolution, so they look just as crisp and clear as one another. But the Pixel 8a upgrades the 7a's OLED to an Actua OLED which means it'll go much brighter (now up to 2,000 nits peak brightness where it was around 1,000nits before).

To add to that, the latest handset has an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz, the Pixel 7a only went up to 90Hz, making the newer device smoother to scroll and swipe on, so better
for certain activities like mobile gaming.

Google Pixel 7a vs Google Pixel 8a: camera

Pixel 7a fans will be pleased to know that the Google Pixel 8a hasn't changed anything about the camera system and there's no need to when it has the best snapper under £500. Both have a 64MP wide lens, a 13MP ultrawide camera and a 13MP front camera.

Part of what makes Pixel cameras so impressive is the selection of pre and post-capture software to enhance the look of your pictures. The software balances tones, boosts lighting and removes blur without any effort on your part. If you aren't entirely happy with the final image, you can use tools like the Magic Eraser to resize and reposition objects or Best Take to combine a group shot so everyone looks their best.

pixel 7a and 8a phone
Digital Spy/Yasmine Crossland

In Digital Spy's Google Pixel 7a review, we described how easy it is to get consistently good results whatever type of shot you take — whether that's a snapshot, a selfie or an ultrawide photo. Similarly, in the Google Pixel 8a review, I explained how you can get pleasant-looking shots no matter the lighting conditions simply by pointing and shooting.

Google Pixel 7a vs Google Pixel 8a: performance and software

Powering the operation, the Google Pixel 8a has an upgraded Tensor G3 processor under the hood, whereas the Pixel 7a uses the Tensor G2 chipset. Day-to-day that means the latest phone runs slightly faster and will cope a little better with more intense tasks.

In saying that, both put a flagship chipset inside a budget phone, which performs better than the equivalents used in other affordable devices like the Samsung Galaxy A55, so I don't have any major complaints about the performance of either.

The Tensor chip was created to power all of Google's AI features like Live Translate, Circle to Search and Call Screening, and this recent upgrade should make them all run more smoothly than before.

Unsurprisingly there's not much to say about the differences in software. The Pixel 7a ships with Android 13 and the Pixel 8a comes with Android 14, but you can upgrade the former to the latest version of Google's OS when you boot it up for the first time.

The biggest distinction between the two is that the Pixel 7a will only get updates until May 2026 whereas the Pixel 8a will still get new software and feature drops until May 2031. If you intend to keep your next handset for a long time, that will be something to consider.

Aside from that, the two provide all the same software and features, including Google's VPN built-in, Clear Calling to improve the quality of your phonecalls, and Digital Wellbeing features like app timers, the monochrome bedtime mode and Flip to Shh.

graphical user interface
Digital Spy/Yasmine Crossland

Google Pixel 7a vs Google Pixel 8a: battery

The Google Pixel 8a has a 4,492mAh battery, a slight increase on the 4,385mAh cell in the Pixel 7a.

I can confidently say that the Pixel 7a lasts throughout the whole day, but this extra power ensures the Pixel 8a lasts even longer, enduring further into the evening while I scroll social media, fire off messages, stream TikToks and snap photos.

Charging is limited to 18W on both handsets and both support wireless charging.

Google Pixel 7a vs Google Pixel 8a: verdict

Ultimately, the Google Pixel 7a and the Google Pixel 8a aren't that different — the latest device makes small improvements and adjustments rather than reinventing the wheel.

The Pixel 8a has a refreshed design, an improved screen, an upgraded processor, a new 256GB storage option and the battery is bigger. But I think the most significant change is that the Google Pixel 8a promises to last longer than the Google Pixel 7a before becoming outdated, thanks to seven years of software updates (four more than the 7a offered).

At the time of writing, you can still buy the Google Pixel 7a and it is a bit cheaper than the Pixel 8a. However given how much longer lasting it will be, it seems worth spending the extra cash on the latest model.

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