Google Pixel 8a vs Pixel 7a: Biggest expected upgrades

 Google Pixel 7a.
Google Pixel 7a.

If past form is anything to go by, the Google Pixel 8a isn’t too far off. Google has announced that its annual I/O developer conference will kick off on May 14, and three of the five Pixel A handsets to date have emerged at past events.

It’s very possible that the next budget Pixel handset is less than two months away, then. But how different are we expecting it to be from the Google Pixel 7a — a device that still sits near the top of our best cheap phones list?

These are the key upgrades that we’re expecting.

Google Pixel 8a vs Pixel 7a: A big screen upgrade

Pixel 8a photo from X
Pixel 8a photo from X

One of the things that made the Pixel 7a such a superb budget buy was how close it was to the Pixel 7 in terms of specs. And it seems this year, the gap will close even more with the Pixel 8a set to adopt similar screen tech to the Pixel 8.

That’s according to the reliable Pixel leaker Kamila Wojciechowska, who reported for Android Authority that the screen’s refresh rate will jump from 90Hz on the 7a to 120Hz on the 8a. It will also apparently match the Pixel 8’s peak brightness of 1,400nits (up from 1,000nits on its predecessor).

That’s a pleasant surprise, as the Pixel 7a’s screen was already an upgrade from the 60Hz panel on the Pixel 6a. The result should be buttery smooth animations, and theoretically higher frame rates in games — something that would be more possible with a second promised upgrade…

Google Pixel 8a vs Pixel 7a: Hello Tensor G3

The Pixel 7a used (almost) the same Tensor G2 chipset as the Pixel 7, and the Pixel 8a is set to get a similar upgrade to Tensor G3, according to Wojciechowska. That’s “a much bigger leap for the A series” than last year’s upgrade, she writes.

How big a leap? Well, here are the benchmark scores we recorded on the Pixel 7a and Pixel 8:

As well as the performance boosts, this may help with image processing for the cameras. However don’t expect miracles, as Wojciechowska says that the same 64MP Sony IMX787 is being retained from the 7a.

There should be a slight asterisk next to the likely performance boosts too, as Wojciechowska adds that this version of the chipset is likely to use a cheaper plastic housing, which may make it run slightly hotter. Whether that manifests itself in real-world performance remains to be seen, but it doesn’t seem that likely.

Google Pixel 8a vs Pixel 7a: A possible price hike and wider availability

Google Pixel 8a leaked render from @OnLeaks
Google Pixel 8a leaked render from @OnLeaks

The final detail in Wojciechowska’s report is an interesting one. While the Pixel 7a was available in a fairly limited 21 markets, based on electronic warranty labels, the 8a is set to expand to ten more countries in Northern and Eastern Europe.

But the above improvements look set to have an impact on how much you can expect to pay. Earlier this month, a European pricing leak suggested the Pixel 8a would start at €569 — up from €509 on the 7a and €459 on the 6a. In the US, that translated to a $50 increase last time around, so we could see a $549 starting price this year.

Google Pixel 8a vs Pixel 7a: Outlook

Still, if the other reported specs are confirmed, that price would still represent pretty impressive value. Especially as Pixel phones are guaranteed to get the first taste of new OS versions — something other Android makers can’t match.

If Google can also match the seven years of software updates it pledged for the Pixel 8, this could be the best budget phone of 2024. May’s Google I/O 2024 event is a must-watch.