Google Pixel 8a: Hands-On Unboxing

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Last week, Google officially announced its Pixel 8a smartphone, which is the more affordable entry option, compared to the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.

The Pixel 8a brings several enhancements over its predecessor, the Pixel 7a, with improvements spanning camera capabilities, display features, and overall performance. Google sent us a Pixel 8a to go hands-on with, so here is our quick review of this latest member of the Pixel family.

Unboxing the Pixel 8a

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Inside the box you get the Pixel 8a itself, along with a USB-A to USB-C adapter, USB-C cable, and SIM tray ejector tool. The Pixel 8a in Bay actually looks pretty decent. It’s a nice blue that gives you the colour of the more expensive Pixel 8 Pro, but for half the price, if that matters to you.

The main camera of the Pixel 8a is a 64MP wide lens with an 80° field of view and an f/1.89 aperture, capable of capturing 4K video at both 30 and 60 fps and featuring Super Res Zoom up to 8x. An ultrawide 13MP camera offers a 120° field of view and an f/2.2 aperture, alongside a front-facing 13MP camera with a 96.5° field of view.

The Pixel 8a features a 6.1-inch scratch-resistant OLED display, which supports a Smooth Display function that can reach up to 120Hz for a fluid visual experience, up from last year’s 90Hz (it’s disabled by default so be sure to enable it in settings).

Powered by the Google Tensor G3 chip and complemented by the Titan M2 security coprocessor, the Pixel 8a promises enhanced performance and security. It comes in a sleeker design with smaller bezels and narrower dimensions compared to the Pixel 7a.

Dare I say the Pixel 8a is giving off iPhone 6 vibes with its rounded corners and antenna bands? The corners are more rounded compared to last year’s sharper corners. The 6.1-inch display looks gorgeous and has a 2400×1080 resolution with a crisp 431 ppi, now with Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The Pixel 8a feels light, but is pretty slippery in the hands though. You will definitely want to buy a case to protect the Pixel 8a from drops (such as this $15 clear case from Spigen).

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Battery life is improved in the Pixel 8a, offering a 4492 mAh capacity with faster wired charging and support for Qi-certified wireless charging. Memory options include 8GB of RAM and storage configurations of 128GB or 256GB. Connectivity upgrades feature Wifi 6E and Bluetooth v5.3. For user authentication, the Pixel 8a supports both fingerprint and face unlock, making it easy and quick to unlock the phone.

Pixel 8a Has Lots of AI Camera Features

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There are a lot of AI features that come with the Pixel 8a when it comes to photo and video quality, borrowing features from its older siblings the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.

The rear camera bar on the Pixel 8a showcasing its dual lenses isn’t obtrusive at all, compared to the ‘camera bumps’ we’re seeing on iPhones. It’s subtle and having a ‘camera bar’ all across the phone means laying down the phone will make it flat (and not rock like iPhones do).

The Best Take feature in Google Photos helps select the optimal image from a series of shots, making sure everyone looks their best by correcting instances where someone might blink or look away. The Audio Magic Eraser leverages Google AI to reduce background noises such as cars, wind, or construction from videos, focusing on the sounds you want to hear.

The Magic Editor is a generative AI-powered photo editing tool that offers intuitive tools and suggestions, revolutionizing photo editing. An updated “Magic Eraser” makes it easier to remove unwanted elements like photobombers or messy backgrounds with options to erase selectively or in bulk.

Additionally, features like Photo Unblur, Super Res Zoom, Night Sight + Astrophotography, and Real Tone on Video continue to be available, maintaining the high standards expected from Pixel devices.

AI Intelligence features on the Pixel include the Gemini generative AI assistant. Gemini is highly personalized, allowing users to communicate via talk, text, or images to streamline task management and focus on personal priorities.

Circle to Search offers the ability to instantly search any visible content on your phone, enhancing user experience across various apps, whether for education, entertainment, or daily activities. This feature allows for seamless searches from any screen or app in a user-friendly manner. You can’t do something like this on the iPhone (yet).

Additional Pixel functionalities include Call Assist, Google Assistant, Assistant Voice Typing, and Live Translate, all designed to enrich the user’s interaction with their device.

Sustainability 

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The Pixel 8a now incorporates a minimum of 24% recycled materials by weight—more than any previous model, says Google.

Its construction utilizes recycled metals, glass, plastics, and tin, positioning it as a frontrunner in eco-friendly production. The device also features completely plastic-free packaging. Its back cover is made from 76% recycled plastic.

Additionally, the Pixel 8a is the first in the A-Series to provide seven years of operating system and security updates, along with feature drops, ensuring it remains secure and technologically current for an extended period.

Family Setup on the Pixel 8a makes it easier than before for families by simplifying the process of setting digital boundaries from the outset for their kids. It’s just too easy for kids to get addicted to their phones nowadays and parental controls are more important than ever.

Central to this setup is the Family Link app, which offers comprehensive parental controls. With Family Link, parents and guardians can tailor their children’s digital interactions, setting appropriate screen time limits, activating content filters, approving purchases, and utilizing real-time location sharing to maintain safety online.

Pixel 8a Accessories 

The Google Pixel accessories include a case priced at $39.99 CAD (save $12 off if you buy it with Pixel 8a from Google), a 30W USB-C charger available for $35 CAD, or $45 USD with a 1M C-to-C cable, and the 2nd generation Pixel Stand for $79 USD.

Pixel 8a Packs a Punch for a Pixel Entry Smartphone

The Pixel 8a comes with 128GB storage and is priced at $679 in Canada ($20 below an iPhone 14; $10 more than a OnePlus 12R) and is more expensive compared to last year’s Pixel 7a. It’s also $270 cheaper than the Pixel 8 and $670 versus the Pixel 8 Pro. At a time when affordability is out of control, the Pixel 8a brings great value with the Tensor G3 chip, a more than capable camera, plus it looks and feels great in the hand. And you will be the first to get Android updates. I think this phone is the perfect size given how big smartphones are getting nowadays.

The Pixel 8a will hit stores on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. If you buy a Pixel 8a today, you can get $140 in Google Store credit. Other authorized resellers at brick and mortar stores might be offering better incentives. The best Pixel 8a deals will likely come around Black Friday and Boxing Day, if you can hold out for that long.

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