Google Pixel 8a

We're pretty much expecting greatness from the A-Series now, and Google delivers - again.

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Whereas Google's Pixel A series once gave you the excellent camera and access to Google's fairly clean version of Android, but with plenty of compromises too, this is now a thing of the past and has been for a long time. As other mid-range smartphones now offer virtually every essential feature, the A-series doesn't really have any kinks left to stop me from recommending it to anyone.

Last year we gave it a gigantic 10, as Google removed all doubt with a decisive roundhouse kick, and also put their own Pixel 8 series to the sword. It looks like they're going to do the same here. The Pixel 8a really has everything you need, really everything, and unless you're absolutely in love with periscope lenses, 144Hz refresh rate or other niche features, this is everything you need and more.

Google Pixel 8a
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However, let's start by addressing something, and that's the whole concept of a 'cheap' smartphone. It starts at £499, and considering what else you can get for that money, there's no landmark pricing here, quite the opposite. It's around £100 more than the rather fantastic Redmi Note 13 Pro, and £100 more than many competitive Motorola models. But the point is, you'd be hard-pressed to find such a fully-fledged Android experience for less.

The design is more rounded and is among the most comfortable phones to hold. The front is Gorilla Glass 3, the frame is aluminium and although the back is plastic, it doesn't feel like it. It's IP67 certified, has a relatively large 4492mAh battery that can be charged wired or wirelessly, and utilises stereo speakers and WI-FI 6E. There's a lightning-fast fingerprint reader under the glass and all the essential sensors. All the basics are covered here, and combined with a build quality that really sings this time, it looks like an expensive flagship in the hand.

The display is an OLED panel that peaks at 2000 NITS at 120Hz. It's 6.1' (iPhone and Pixel size) at a resolution of 1080x2400, resulting in 430ppi, which is more than respectable. The improved brightness is really noticeable and again there is nothing, nothing to alert the user that this is not a flagship, that has been compromised.

Inside we find last year's Google Tensor G3 SoC, a 4nm chip that may not be able to keep up with an A16 Bionic or the latest Snapdragon, but Google has now shaved the worst knots off their processes and presents a pretty efficient chip with acceptable battery life and performance. For the aforementioned base price, you also get 128GB UFS 3.1 space and 8GB LPDDR5x RAM - both specs are great, and there's little doubt that the phone will stay snappy.

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Google Pixel 8a

The Pixel software remains playful, personalised, responsive and better optimised here, and while there's nothing wrong with One UI as such, or some of the other software skins out there, there's just something about Google's approach here that really works. Plus, they give you seven years of OS upgrades.

The camera consists of a 64 megapixel f/1.9 26mm wide with optical stabilisation and a 13 megapixel 120 degree ultra-wide. Again, it's not so much about hardware, but you get access to all the technologies and post-processing Google offers in their more expensive flagships. Magic Editor, Best Take, Magic Eraser, Photo Unblur, Real Tone - yes there are a lot of buzzwords, but behind them are useful features that make a crucial difference to the individual user, and they're all here, even if you paid less.

No, there isn't the same shock factor as last year, but that doesn't mean Google hasn't got it right here, and the A-line has become a regular, scheduled victory for Google, delivering one of their best smartphones to date.

09 Gamereactor UK
9 / 10
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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