Google Pixel 8a Review: Possibly The Best Midrange Phone Yet

Google Pixel 8a: Voice, Data And Benchmark Performance

As with all modern smartphones, the Pixel 8a supports a wide range of 5G frequencies across the sub-6GHz spectrum. The unlocked version should work with any US carrier, but Verizon has a separate SKU that also supports mmWave. Google's antenna performance is not usually best in class, and it would not be surprising if the Pixel 8a is isn't quite as reliable as some of Samsung's flagship devices.

Google Pixel 8a Voice And Data

We've been testing the unlocked phone on T-Mobile, and wireless performance has been solid. Speeds are about where we would expect for Tmo's mid-band 5G "ultra capacity" network. The phone pulls several hundred megabits down, but with a much lower number upstream.

Pixel 8a cellular speed

Voice calls on this phone are substantially better than on non-Pixel devices. For one, you have all the Call Assist features to filter spam and help you navigate labyrinthian phone trees. The 8a also has Clear Calling, which uses AI to minimize background noise.

Google Pixel 8a Performance

The Pixel 8a runs on Google's latest Tensor G3 Arm processor, which is the same chip you'd find in the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro. It has nine CPU cores, including a 3GHz Cortex X3 at the helm. The GPU is an ARM reference design known as the Immortalis-G715s MC10. There were some hints earlier that this phone might have an underclocked version of the G3, but in our testing, the Pixel 8a runs at least as well as the more expensive Pixel phones. That means solid general performance, but it's still a step down from the latest Snapdragon parts.

Graphics are a bit further behind, which might put a damper on your attempts to play the most visually impressive mobile games. We've played heavier titles like Diablo Immortal and Call of Duty Mobile without much trouble. You probably want to back off the graphical settings a bit, but simpler games like Vampire Survivors run without any issue.

Google Pixel 8a Geekbench Results

Geekbench is a cross-platform benchmark that simulates real-world processing workloads in image processing and particle physics calculation scenarios. We tested all of the smartphones featured here with Geekbench's single and multi-core workloads.

geekbench6 pixel 8a performance

Recently, the Geekbench test has been upgraded to version 6, which has new ways of testing multi-core configurations and uses higher-resolution diagnostic assets. The Pixel 8a manages scores almost exactly in line with the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro. The score is also close to Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 phones. The Gen 2 is a bit faster, and the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 phones jump out ahead.

Google Pixel 8a PCMark For Android Results

UL's PCMark for Android is an excellent suite of tests if you want to benchmark a wide range of tasks on a handset -- things like image and video editing, as well as lighter-duty, everyday workloads such as email and web browsing. When you see the test running live, it's clear the scripted application tests are carefully selected and tuned to make use of the mobile platform in a very controlled way.

pcmark pixel 8a performance
Again, the Pixel 8a scores around the same as other current-gen Google phones. It falls behind recent Snapdragon-based devices, but the margins aren't as dramatic as they are in Geekbench. The Pixel 8a has good speed when handling these kinds of everyday smartphone tasks.

Google Pixel 8a AnTuTu 8 Benchmarks

AnTuTu’s benchmark returns a number of metrics ranked with somewhat nebulous scores, rather than frame rates or time to complete. Here, we're running the latest version of AnTuTu across multiple Android devices. AnTuTu offers four top level performance results which are all included here: CPU, RAM, 3D, UX (or User Experience), along with a total score.

antutu pixel 8a performance

This is the only benchmark where the Pixel 8a struggles to keep up with its more expensive brethren. However, it does best a few phones with Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Gen 2 chips, and this comes despite the Pixel's relatively weak graphics scores.

Google Pixel 8a Graphics And Gaming Benchmarks Results

Now, let's take a look at how the Pixel 8a stacks up in GFXBench, which has been one of the standard mobile graphics/gaming performance benchmarks for years. To ensure that display refresh (v-sync) and resolution aren't limiting factors, we're comparing off-screen test results here. GFXBench tests OpenGL ES graphics workloads and we're specifically testing OpenGL ES 2.0 and 3.0, as well as Vulkan in the latest iterations.

trex pixel 8a performance

manhattan pixel 8a performance

aztec ruins pixel 8a performance

In all three of these tests, the Pixel 8a comes out just ahead of the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro, but not enough that it's going to make a real difference in gaming. Almost all the Snapdragon phones we've tested over the past few years score higher than the Pixels. However, performance for Google's phones has been improving year-over-year.

Google Pixel 8a 3DMark Slingshot Tests

UL's 3DMark Sling Shot is one of several modules in the 3DMark mobile suite. Unlike previous gen 3DMark mobile tests, Sling Shot is a much more advanced OpenGL ES 3.1 and Metal API-based benchmark that employs more advanced rendering techniques, like volumetric lighting, particle illumination, multiple render targets, instanced rendering, uniform buffers, and transform feedback. We're running this test in off-screen mode once again to remove display resolution differences from the equation. This allows us to compare cross-platform results more reliably.

slingshot pixel 8a performance

The Pixel's Slingshot scores are solid, beating devices like the Galaxy S22 Ultra and OnePlus 10 Pro, so the Pixel 8a can compete with the fastest phones from a few generations ago. Maybe that's not objectively great performance, but it's good enough for most mobile games.

Google Pixel 8a Wild Life Benchmark Tests

3DMark's Wild Life benchmark is newer and more demanding than Slingshot, and it allows powerful devices to shine.

wildlife pixel 8a performance

Again, the Pixel 8a falls around the middle of the pack in the more complex Wild Life benchmark. It comes out just ahead of the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro, but these devices are running behind all Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and later phones by a fair margin of 10-15%.

The Wild Life stress test runs the above benchmark 20 times, tracking how a device slows down as it heats up. Most phones lose some speed as they approach their thermal limit, but the severity of the slowdown varies dramatically from one phone to the next.
3DMark stress
The Pixel 8a bleeds off just over 20% of its speed over the course of the test. That's a fairly good showing—some Samsung phones shed 30-40% when heating up; it's 35% in the case of the S24 Ultra. So, this could equalize performance in some games after you've been playing long enough for your phone to get warm.

Tags:  Reviews, Google, pixel 8a

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