Google Pixel 8a vs. Samsung Galaxy A35: Which budget phone will win?

Google Pixel 8a vs. Samsung Galaxy A35
(Image credit: Android Authority / Future)

A Google Pixel 8a vs. Samsung Galaxy A35 showdown figures to decide which device will be the best midrange phone of the year. And if it's anything like last year's Pixel 7a vs. Galaxy A54 confrontation, it should be a hard-fought contest. (Google's phone won that one, but only by a little bit.)

We already have some idea of what Samsung is bringing to the table, as we've gone hands-on with the Galaxy A35. The Galaxy A35 impressed us with a brilliant display and a plethora of camera features; we'll still need to test it more thoroughly prior to give it our rating, but Samsung's latest midrange model seems to have once again packed a lot of value into an affordable handset.

The Pixel 8a requires a little more guesswork, as Google has yet to officially announce the phone. But enough rumors have emerged about Google's plans to give us a pretty good idea about what to expect — and how this phone might compare to the Galaxy A35. Here's our look at how a Google Pixel 8a vs. Samsung Galaxy A35 comparison might shake out once the Pixel arrives on the scene.

Google Pixel 8a vs. Samsung Galaxy A35: Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Google Pixel 8a (rumored)Samsung Galaxy A35
Starting price$549$399
Display6.1-inch OLED, 120Hz6.6-inch OLED, 120Hz
CPUTensor G3Exynos 1380
Storage128GB, 256GB128GB, 256GB
Rear cameras64MP main; 13MP ultrawide50MP main, 8MP ultrawide, 5MP macro
Front cameras13MP13MP
Battery size4,500 mAh5,000 mAh
Wired charging speed27W25W
Wireless charging?YesNo
ColorsObsidian, Porcelain, Bay, MintAwesome Navy, Awesome Lilac

Google Pixel 8a vs. Samsung Galaxy A35: Price and availability

The Galaxy A35 clearly wants to challenge the Pixel 8a on price. Samsung's phone costs $399 — $50 less than the Galaxy A54 it replaces and $100 less than the current Pixel 7a. The Galaxy A35 is on sale now.

You'll have to wait a little bit for the Pixel 8a, though not much longer if rumors of an announcement during Google I/O 2024 prove accurate. Google's annual developer conference gets underway May 14, and past I/O gatherings have seen the launch of other Pixel A series phones (including the Pixel 7a last year).

If we have a pretty good idea about when the Pixel 8a is going to show up, we're less sure about how much the phone will cost. One rumor predicts a price hike over the Pixel 7a based on leaked European pricing. While prices in one region don't necessarily indicate what a phone might cost elsewhere, there seems to be a growing consensus that the Pixel 8a will cost $549, or $50 more than last year's model. If true, that will be quite a sizable gap with Galaxy A35 pricing.

Google Pixel 8a vs. Samsung Galaxy A35: Design and display

Google Pixel 8a leaked render from @OnLeaks

(Image credit: OnLeaks/SmartPrix)

Both the Pixel 8a and Galaxy A35 are likely to take their design cues from the respective flagship phones of Google and Samsung. In the Pixel 8a's case, that means the look of the Pixel 8 with a horizontal camera bar stretching across the back of the phone. We already can see how the Galaxy A35 mimics the Galaxy S24, with a row of vertically stacked cameras descending down the back of the device.

Up front, the Galaxy A35 offers a 6.6-inch AMOLED panel that has a 120Hz refresh rate. That's likely to be bigger than the Pixel 8a's display, as we're expecting a 6.1-inch screen similar to what the Pixel 7a offered. However, a rumor tips the Pixel 8a to match the Galaxy A35's 120Hz refresh rate, after the Pixel 7a featured a 90Hz display.

Samsung Galaxy A35 hands on

(Image credit: Future)

In terms of colors, several leaks have us convinced that the Pixel 8a will be available in white, black, blue and green options, matching the Pixel 8 Pro's color scheme. If true, that would be two more colors than the Galaxy A35 offers. Samsung's phone is available in navy and liliac, with the latter color proving to be particularly eye-catching with its shimmering glass.

Google Pixel 8a vs. Samsung Galaxy A35: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy A35 hands on

(Image credit: Future)

The big Google Pixel 8a vs. Samsung Galaxy A35 camera showdown will happen once we get a chance to take out both phones and see how their photo output compares. In terms of specs, though, it doesn't seem like we're getting a lot of changes to the hardware on either phone.

The Galaxy A35 features a 50MP main camera, matching what the Galaxy A54 offered. The ultrawide camera uses an 8MP sensor, a step back from the 12MP sensor on the Galaxy A54. As before, there's a dedicated macro lens to round out the camera arrays.

We're also expecting the Pixel 8a to adopt the camera setup of its predecessor. That means a 64MP main camera joined by a 13MP ultrawide lens.

Camera performance ultimately helped the Pixel 7a edge out the Galaxy A54 in comparisons last year, so if the camera setups are truly the same, that should give the Pixel 8a an edge this year. How the two phones process photos will play a part, too, but you'd favor the Pixel 8a to make the better showing here.

Google Pixel 8a vs. Samsung Galaxy A35: Performance

google tensor g3 chipset on blue background

(Image credit: Google)

If camera comparisons sound like a potential repeat of last year's face-off, performance testing could also feel very familiar. That's because Samsung turned to the Exynos 1380 as the system-on-chip for the Galaxy A35 — the same chipset found in the Galaxy A54. That's significant because the Pixel 7a's Tensor G2 chip outpaced the Exynos 1380, and Google's Tensor chips are not exactly known for their performance muscle.

Even more encouraging for Pixel fans is that the Pixel 8a is all but certain to get new silicon, with Google likely to use the Tensor G3 chipset it introduced with the Pixel 8. That should propel the Pixel 8a to performance wins over the Galaxy A35 and its older silicon, and that's before we consider the AI-powered features Google's likely to introduce thanks to the Tensor G3. (More on those in the software section of this article.)

Google Pixel 8a vs. Samsung Galaxy A35: Battery life and charging

Samsung Galaxy A35 hands on

(Image credit: Future)

Battery life has not been a strong point for recent Pixel phones, though the Pixel 7a did manage to match the average for smartphones we've put through our battery test. (We have fully charged phones surf the web until they run out of power, timing the results.) Rumors tip the Pixel 8a to have a 4,500 mAh battery, which is a slight increase from the 4,300 mAh cell that powered the Pixel 7a.

The Pixel 8a will need all that help it can get to outlast the Galaxy A35, which has a 5,000 mAh battery. So did the Galaxy A54, and that phone outlasted the Pixel 7a by 1.5 hours when both phones' refresh rates were set to 60Hz.

The Galaxy A35 has 25W wired charging, which compares to 18W for the Pixel 7a. Early rumors suggest a boost to charging speed for the Pixel 8a, which should also support wireless charging — something missing from the Galaxy A35.

Google Pixel 8a vs. Samsung Galaxy A35: Software and special features

Google Pixel 8 shown held in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As noted, the Tensor G3 processor likely to power the Pixel 8a means the AI-centric features found on the Pixel 8 phones will also be supported here. That means a more realistic-sounding assistant on the Pixel's call screening features, generative editing tools for photos and more.

One of our early criticisms about the Galaxy A35 is that it lacks the Galaxy AI features Samsung has been pushing out to more expensive models, including phones that it had previously released like last year's Galaxy S23 flagships. It's another potential area where the Pixel 8a might have a leg up on Samsung's midrange phone.

The Galaxy A35 features Android 14, and we expect the Pixel 8a will, too. Samsung guarantees four major OS upgrades for the A35 plus another year of software support. We're waiting to see if the Pixel 8a adopts the Pixel 7a's update policy — three years of software support, and five years of security updates — or it follows the Pixel 8's lead and extends support to seven years. 

Google Pixel 8a vs. Samsung Galaxy A35: Outlook

We've been impressed with what we've seen so far from the Galaxy A35, though we need to do more testing to see how its cameras, processor and battery perform. Those will be key factors in any Pixel 8a vs. Galaxy A35 showdown, especially given the advantages the Pixel 8a figures to have on paper in terms of performance and AI features. Stay tuned to see how this face-off pans out once the Pixel 8a arrives.

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Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.