Google Pixel 8a vs 6a: The Perfect Time to Upgrade


The Pixel 8a is certainly one of the more interesting smartphones that Google has launched in recent times – while its current retail price has caused a bit of commotion and comparison with the flagship Pixel 8, there’s little doubt that the Pixel 8a offers some of the best upgrades that we’ve seen on Google’s A-series phones.

READ: The Official Google Case for the Pixel 8a is Actually Nice

Of course that doesn’t mean that you should upgrade to the Pixel 8a right away, especially for folks who own recent fairly recent Pixel series phones. However, users on an older device such as the Pixel 6a might be thinking of upgrading, in which case the Pixel 8a is an ideal choice. What exactly does it offer over the Pixel 6a though? Let’s take a look.

A Better Display

One of the biggest improvements you’ll see going from the Pixel 6a to the 8a is the screen quality. While the Pixel 8a’s screen is similar to the 6a being that it comes at 6.1 inches with considerably thick bezels, Google has upgraded the 8a’s display in the areas where it matters more.

For one, the Pixel 8a comes with a brighter screen at up to 2,000 nits of peak brightness, which is around the same level as you’d find on the Pixel 8 and iPhone 15 – this means that you won’t have any trouble viewing your display outdoors under direct sunlight, a common limitation seen on earlier Pixel A-series devices. It’s also a lot smoother now thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate onboard, which provides more visually-pleasing experience versus the lower 60Hz display on the Pixel 6a.

Improved Performance

Another key strength of the Pixel 8a over its predecessor is with performance. This is made possible thanks to the newer Tensor G3 chip inside the 8a, which is backed by 8GB of RAM. In terms of benchmarks, it easily outperforms the first-generation Tensor chip inside the Pixel 6a when it comes to overall performance, gaming, and battery efficiency.

Additionally, the Pixel 6a comes with slightly less RAM at 6GB. While this doesn’t make the 6a a terribly sluggish phone to use, I have noticed less stuttering and app restarts while using the Pixel 8a, which does make for a generally more seamless experience for day-to-day usage, compared to that of the older model.

Camera Quality

Pixel phones are generally known for their exceptional camera performance, which is true even for budget phones like the Pixel 6a – this is due to Google’s impressive implementation of computational photography, allowing the Pixel 6a to capture great-looking images in general.

However, the Pixel 6a does fall short in some aspects. For example, it uses a much older 12MP sensor for its main camera, versus the newer high-resolution 64MP sensor on the Pixel 8a. While megapixels aren’t everything, a higher resolution sensor does allow the Pixel 8a to capture more detail in photos, resulting in better-quality images, at least compared to the 6a. The Pixel 8a also allows for better selfie video quality, as its 13MP front camera supports 4K video capture, versus the 1080p limit on the Pixel 6a’s 8MP front camera.

Biometric Upgrades

One seemingly minor upgrade – but in actuality adds a ton of usefulness – to the Pixel 8a is inclusion of secure face unlock, something that’s missing on the 6a. While most Android phones nowadays come with face unlock options, the Pixel 8 series is among the very few that allows face unlock to be used with banking apps and transactions, as most other devices will still require you to manually use the fingerprint unlock to make secure transactions on your phone.

While most Android phones nowadays come with face unlock options, the Pixel 8 series is among the very few that allows face unlock to be used with banking apps and transactions…

Speaking of fingerprint unlock, the Pixel 8a unfortunately still lacks ultrasonic hardware for its fingerprint scanner, although it seems to have improved from the spotty performance of the scanner inside the Pixel 6a’s display, both in terms of accuracy and response time. While it pales in comparison to what you get on brands like Samsung, it is a much-welcome upgrade nonetheless.

Software Support

If you’ve held onto the Pixel 6a for this long, then congratulations – Google usually offers a decent amount of years of software support for its smartphones, but it should be noted that the Pixel 6a is somewhat on its last legs. Users can expect OS upgrades until July 2025, meaning that the phone’s last major software update will be Android 15 later this Fall, as Google typically launches its latest Android version every October.

If you’re not keen on getting the latest Android version on your phone though, Google will still provide security patches for the Pixel 6a until 2027. This means that you’ll have no problem using the Pixel 6a until then, although if you really must have the latest version of Android with you at all times, you should know that the Pixel 8a is scheduled to receive up to seven years of both Android version and security updates.

Should you Upgrade?

Given all the new hardware features of the Pixel 8a, it’s certainly a great option for Pixel fans who are coming from a much older phone and are looking for a worthwhile upgrade, or for newcomers who want to try out what Google has to offer with its midrange smartphone line.

With that being said though, the Pixel 8a does not exist in a vacuum – folks who want a cheaper smartphone from the get-go could also go for the Pixel 7a which likewise comes with some new upgrades over the Pixel 6a, or add a bit more and get the Pixel 8 instead, which usually goes on sale for not much more than the Pixel 8a and lacks the compromises of the latter.

More on the Pixel 8a:

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Mike Viray
A writer and content creator with a love for tech and music, Mike is also an avid gamer as well. He and his wife are big fans of Mario Kart.

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