The $499 Google Pixel 8a is official, with 120 Hz display, 7 years of updates

Today is a big event day for Apple, but that doesn’t mean Google is going to fade into the background: It’s announcing the Pixel 8a today. The big news is that the Pixel a series is still $499 despite some upgrades.

What are those upgrades? How about a 120 Hz display on Google’s mid-ranger for the first time? The 6.1-inch, 120 Hz, 2400×1080 display is closer to a flagship than ever, even if it is a smaller phone. You also get flagship-class support with Google’s industry-leading seven years of OS updates, so the phone should be good until 2031, if you can hold out that long. Together, these two upgrades make the Pixel 8a an incredible value.

Major news with last year’s launch of the Pixel 7a was the older Pixel 6a, which got a big price drop down to $349 when the 7a came out. When asked about a potential Pixel 7a price drop, Google says it “will continue to sell the Pixel 7a” but also that it has “no news to announce today on a pricing change.” It did feel like the Pixel 6a’s price drop stole some of the 7a’s thunder last year, so maybe Google is giving that announcement some breathing room. For now, you’ll have to think long and hard at checkout and decide between a $499 Pixel 8a and a $499 Pixel 7a. The base model Pixel 8, at $699 with nearly the same specs, is also a tough sell in the face of the Pixel 8a.

Other upgrades include the Google Tensor G3 SoC, the same (with minor technicalities) flagship-class chip you get in the Pixel 8. That’s a 4 nm chip with one Arm Cortex X3, four Cortex A715 cores, four Cortex A510 cores, and a Mali G715 GPU. The battery is a bit bigger, too, at 4492 mAh compared to 4385 mAh last year. Other specs are in line with the Pixel 7a: 8GB of RAM, 128GB of UFS 3.1 storage, IP67 dust and water resistance, in-screen fingerprint reader, 18 W wired charging, and 5 W wireless charging. The camera loadout is also the same as the Pixel 7a: a 64 MP main camera, 13 MP ultrawide, and a 13 MP front camera.

The design has changed a little from the previous version. The corners are now a lot more rounded compared to the squared-off Pixel 7a. The bezels in renders do look a bit big, but it’s a budget phone. If you’re a fan of colors, Google has green and blue versions alongside the usual black and white.

All of Google’s AI features, like magic erasers, are in the Pixel 8a, of course. One challenge for the future, and those seven years of updates, will be the 8GB of RAM. Google is already calling devices with 8GB of RAM “hardware limited” when it comes to future AI features, so be prepared for that. It’s a budget phone, though, so you have to make some trade-offs. It’s not clear whether any of Google’s future AI features—so far they are niche things like “smart reply”—will actually be worth the extra expense.

Preorders for the phone start today, and it will ship on May 14.

Listing image by Google

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