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First looks: Google Pixel 8a’s camera bar is less egregious than before

By Liu Hongzuo - 14 May 2024

First looks: Google Pixel 8a’s camera bar is less egregious than before

Google Pixel 8a in Porcelain colourway.

Google has finally launched the midrange, value-for-money version of its Pixel 8 series phones just ahead of its Google I/O 2024 conference

If you haven’t heard, Pixel 8a is available in Singapore at just S$799 (128GB), a whole S$300 lower than the sticker price of the regular flagship Pixel 8 (S$1,099 for 128GB). The midrange alternative packs the same chipset and many similar specs, including its Google AI perks for Magic photo editing.

Google Pixel 8a's USB-C port.

In our quick hands-on with the Pixel 8a before Google I/O starts in earnest, we discovered a few things we liked about the midrange, especially how it feels in hand. It’s as if Google did hear some feedback about its flagship handsets and made some tweaks to accommodate these users through the Pixel 8a.

A thinner Camera Bar makes the Google Pixel 8a more appealing, design-wise.

First things first: Google reduced the Camera Bar’s hump to a mere sliver that pokes out of the Pixel 8a’s back. If you remember, the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro’s design was generally unchanged for a few generations, and it also kept a thick camera bar protrusion (our review here, if you need a refresher). We liked how Pixel 8a’s wasn’t as egregious, which meant a lower likelihood of scuffing the phone and the fabric of our pockets.

Google Pixel 8a has the power button above the volume rockers.

Otherwise, the Pixel 8a feels mainly similar to the Pixel 8. It has nearly the same dimensions as its flagship friend, which also means it fits nicely into one hand (although you’ll still need both hands to use it well). The rear is still extremely smooth, so you’ll probably need a case if you don’t want it slipping out of your grip in the middle of photo-taking.

Even without triggering its peak brightness, Pixel 8a holds up very well under direct midday sunlight.

The display is even more competent under indoor lighting conditions.

As you can see, the 6.1-inch Actua Display still holds up decently under direct midday sunlight in San Francisco, and that’s without adaptive brightness kicking in for its 2,000-nits peak brightness yet. The bezels are skinny, giving it the illusion of a high-end device too. 

We tried out the main camera of the Pixel 8a. Imaging samples below.

We also took the opportunity to take a few photos, and we’re generally pleased with the Pixel 8a’s output. It could use a little more smarts when handling drastic contrast, but its colour reproduction and detail retention are just amazing.

Main camera.

Main camera.

Main camera.

Main camera.

For reference, we only shot on its 64MP primary camera (0.8μm pixel width, f/1.89, 80° FOV, 1/1.73-inch sensor) at 1x zoom.

Main camera, before using Magic Editor.

After using Magic Editor to erase objects. Can you tell what is missing?

We’ve also tried out a handful of Google AI’s Magic photo-editing tools via the Google Photos app, and it seems all the tools from its flagship days are still intact.

We're still in the midst of giving our full review efforts for the Pixel 8a.

Our team is still testing the phone thoroughly, so be sure to check out our review when it's ready. 

Google Pixel 8a in Porcelain.

In the meantime, Google Pixel 8a is available in 128GB and 256GB configurations, priced at S$799 and S$899, respectively. There are three colours to choose from: Obsidian, Porcelain (our hands-on unit), and Bay. Official retail begins on 14 May 2024.

You can buy it online from Google Store, Amazon SG, Challenger, Courts, Singtel, Lazada, Shopee, and SprintCass (Airport). For a full list of launch promotions, check out our Google Pixel 8a pricing article here.

READ MORE: The best Google Pixel 8a, Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro cases in Singapore: Spigen, dbrand & more

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