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Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Google’s mid-range mobile returns in Pixel 8a

Love the idea of a new Google phone, but prefer it to be smaller and more cost effective? Google’s Pixel 8a is on the way, aimed at dealing with both of those.

It’s not quite the middle of the year, and that means it’s time for a brand new Pixel for folks in the mid-range.

In what has become a bit of a regular thing for Google, May serves as a regular time on the calendar where we can expect new mid-range mobiles from Google, several months after the launch of the company’s flagships.

Over the past few years, these mid-year events have conveniently seen mid-range mobiles, starting with the Pixel 3a back in 2019, the Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a with 5G a year later, and then skipping the 5a afterwards (at least in Australia), following it up with the Pixel 6a in 2022 and the Pixel 7a last year.

There’s a bit of a theme here: Google releases a model based on its high-end generation for mid-range prices several months after the release of those premium models. Given we saw the Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 8 back in October, we’re definitely on track for a Pixel 8a.

And here we are, with exactly that, as Google follows the template of what worked last time, adding a few new features for the Pixel 8a.

It’s a follow-up to last year’s excellent Pixel 7a, and the template is pretty clear. You’ll get wireless charging and water resistance just like in that last model, but encased in a new design similar to what the Pixel 8 looks like, except with a smaller screen.

The difference is so small, you might not realise it, with the Pixel 8 offering a 6.2 inch OLED Actua display, and the Pixel 8a delivering a 6.1 inch OLED Actua display, both of which offer refresh rates up to 120Hz for fast animations.

Google notes that this new screen is 40 percent brighter than what we saw on the Pixel 7a, and the phone will also come with some of the AI features we’ve seen roll out to other phones, including the Circle to Search function.

Inside, the chips and specs are close, too, with the Google-made Tensor G3 chip, 8GB RAM, and either 128GB or 256GB storage. So far, it seems very much like the Pixel 8a could easily usurp the Pixel 8 if it wanted to.

You’ll also get the seven years of updates on the 8a, as well as facial and fingerprint security, though WiFi maxes out at 802.11ax WiFi 6E on the Pixel 8a, compared with WiFi 7 on the Pixel 8. Minor difference there.

There are bigger differences in the camera, but they mightn’t matter. In the Pixel 8a, there’s a 64 megapixel F1.89 wide camera alongside a 13 megapixel F2.2 ultra wide, compared to the Pixel 8’s 50 megapixel F1.68 wide and 12 megapixel F2.2 ultra wide. As usual, Google has applied its tweaks to the whole thing, providing portraits and accurate skin tones in photos, too.

On aperture alone, the Pixel 8 has a slight edge, but the newer mid-range mobile has it beat on price. In Australia, the Pixel 8a will start from $849 for a 128GB phone, while the Pixel 8 is three hundred higher form $1199. With that sort of price difference, we’re not sure many will care about the differences.

As to when you’ll be able to find the Pixel 8a, expect it online and on store shelves from May 14, available in three colours.

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