Google Pixel 8a hands-on review

GSMArena Team, 16 May 2024.


Let's address the elephant in the room first — those giant bezels. The earlier A-series phones had nominally sized bezels that weren't out of the ordinary for the phones of the time. However, things have changed considerably since then, and not only do we have phones with thin bezels on the sides, but companies like Nothing have shown you can even have uniformly thin bezels on all sides of the display even on affordable devices.

In comparison, the bezels on the Pixel 8a feel like a blast from the past. We made a note of the thick bezels on last year's Pixel 7a but looking at the Pixel 8a, it almost felt like the new phone had thicker bezels so we put the two phones side by side, and although it's hard to see or even measure, the Pixel 8a does have ever so slightly thicker bezels than the Pixel 7a.

Pixel 8a hands-on review

On our black review unit, the bezels blend with the black frame making them seem even thicker than they are. Looking at the display when it's lit, it's as if there is a frame permanently around all your content that makes the screen look smaller than it is. What's worse is that despite having about 4mm thick bezels on the side and the top, the bottom bezel is still thicker.

One could only imagine what the reason for this is. Cost could be it, but we have seen significantly thinner, not to mention, uniform bezels on cheaper phones. The only reason that makes the most logical sense is that this is a deliberate design decision to make the A-series model look visually cheaper to differentiate it from the more expensive Pixel 8, which otherwise looks nearly identical.

Pixel 8a hands-on review

These sorts of decisions make sense in a universe where only Pixel phones exist but in reality, you can easily find a phone that costs half as much with a more premium-looking design, which doesn't do Google's latest "budget" device any favors.

The rest of the design is very similar to the other Pixel 8 models. Gone are the previous generations' squared-off edges and replaced by softer corners that also fit the palm better. The frame is made out of aluminum but unlike on the more expensive models, the near-seamlessly integrated camera bar is a separate piece made out of plastic. The back of the phone is also plastic instead of glass but as far as plastics go, this one is very nice with a silky smooth texture like the glass on the Pixel 8 Pro.

The Pixel 8a is on the smaller side for a modern smartphone but it isn't as compact and nice to hold as the Pixel 8. Also, while nice to touch, the smooth back does make the phone slippery.

Pixel 8a hands-on review

The Pixel 8a is IP67 dust and water-resistant compared to the IP68 rating of the more expensive Pixel 8 models. It also gets the older Corning Gorilla Glass 3 glass on the front compared to Gorilla Glass Victus on the Pixel 8 and Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on the Pixel 8 Pro. The 8 and the 8 Pro also have what Google calls Edgeless design, where the glass is seamlessly integrated with the aluminum frame with no perceptible edges, something the Pixel 8a lacks.

The overall design, build quality, and in-hand feel of the Pixel 8a are pretty good but the comically thick bezels are distracting and cheapen the overall appearance.


The Pixel 8a has a 6.1-inch OLED display with 2400 x 1080 resolution and up to 120Hz refresh rate. Google calls this Actua display due to its high brightness and claims up to 1400 nits in HDR content and 2000 nits peak. On paper, the display is nearly identical to that on the Pixel 8, with the more expensive model having an ever so slightly larger 6.2-inch panel.

The Pixel 8a display has excellent image quality, with good color accuracy, viewing angles, and response times. The display also gets sufficiently bright while viewing HDR content or outdoors under the sun. Unfortunately, the phone cannot maintain this brightness for more than a couple of minutes in warmer climates so you'll only get the spectacular brightness for a short time. After that, the display remains viewable but not especially bright.

Pixel 8a hands-on review

The upgrade to 120Hz from 90Hz last year was a welcome change although Google still ships the phone set to 60Hz out of the box. Google doesn't offer much flexibility with how the high refresh rate can be used compared to other Android manufacturers, who have started offering per-app refresh rate settings. However, unlike other manufacturers, Google also doesn't limit random apps to 60Hz and the phone usually just runs at 120Hz all the time.

The Pixel 8a also supports high refresh rates in games but none of the games we tried ran higher than 60fps. The phone doesn't seem to support 90Hz — just 60Hz and 120Hz — so titles that can run at 90fps are then forced to run at a maximum of 60fps.

Overall, though, the display performance on the Pixel 8a is very good and what we have come to expect from modern smartphones these days.

Reader comments

  • Kiril
  • 27 May 2024
  • S9j

Sure, it's actualy a much better option considering the price differences and that you can find the Pixel 7 much cheaper, for about 500$ the Pixel 8 is a much better option, especially long-term.

  • optional
  • 27 May 2024
  • 8kx

As per conclusion, vanilla Pixel 7 is also a good option to consider for buying instead of Pixel 8a.

  • Anonymous
  • 27 May 2024
  • Bkf

The form factor feel in your hand is great I have to agree. But the challenges on fixing modem issue on exynos chips is giving us less performance.