Google Pixel 8a is the best value Pixel phone ever released — here’s why

Google Pixel 8a in hand.
(Image credit: Future)

The Google Pixel 8a is here, offering another installment in the company’s low-cost A Series devices. As always the Pixel 8a is the least expensive entry into the Pixel lineup, offering a range of premium features but at a much lower price. Features like the AI-powered Magic Editor and Best Take, a brighter display with 120Hz refresh rate, a new 256GB storage option, a larger battery and more have all found their way to the Pixel 8a.

Crucially the Pixel 8a has the same $499 starting price as the Pixel 7a. Which means, like other A-series Pixels, it is incredibly good value for money. 

What you may not realize, though, is that the Pixel 8a might be the best value Pixel phone Google has ever released — and may even be the best value Google phone since the $349 Nexus 5 came out in 2013. It’s all down to one single upgrade.

Software support is king

Last year Google blew us away by announcing the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro would get seven years of software updates — a pledge only beaten by Fairphone 5’s 8-10 years of support. The promise was that both Pixel flagships would get seven years of security and Android updates, which Samsung subsequently matched for the Galaxy S24 series.  

Now Google is offering the same level of software support for the Google Pixel 8a. This means that Google will keep updates pumping into the phone until May 2031. That includes security updates to the devices safe, and full Android updates up to and including Android 21. Sadly Android 22 may arrive a little too late for this particular phone.

Compared to the Pixel 7a, this is a very big update. Last year’s A Series Pixel is only guaranteed Android updates for 3 years and security updates for 5. That means the phone will lose most of its software support in May 2026, at which point Google will offer the absolute bare minimum to keep that device secure. But that's only for 2 more years — come May 2028, the phone will be technically obsolete.

While there’s nothing stopping you from keeping a Pixel 7a for longer than that, it means you’re missing out on all the latest advancements in the Android world. (Not to mention the fact that loss of security updates put you and your phone at risk.) 

For the Pixel 8a, that stops being as big a problem, since you’re getting full support for the full seven years. While certain Android features will be out of reach due to hardware limitations, you’re still going to enjoy the bulk of what Android has to offer throughout that time. And it doesn’t matter what exploits or security risks pop up, because Google has to fix them for you.

Assuming you’re willing to use your phone until it loses software support, the $499 price tag means you’re effectively paying $71.28 a year for the Pixel 8a — or $5.94 a month. A Pixel 7a would cost you $99.80 a year or $8.31 a month, assuming you kept it for five years, or $166 a year ($13.86) a month if you ditched it after three years when Android support ran out. 

Even if you don’t use your Pixel 8a for the full seven years, the fact that it still has official software support from Google means it could have a little extra value for trade-in or to sell on the used phone market. Because the Pixel 8a has a longer lifespan, whoever buys it can enjoy those additional years of software support.

Of course that hinges on the Pixel 8a actually lasting for the full length of its lifecycle.

Spare parts support will seal the deal 

Following the launch of the Pixel 8 series, Google confirmed that the 7 years of support didn’t just apply to software updates. It also applied to the availability of spare parts, which are available thanks to Google’s partnership with iFixit

This means that, should a Pixel 8 break 6.5 years down the line, it can still be repaired pretty easily. Whether you get a repair from Google, a third-party repair store or even attempt it yourself, there shouldn’t be anything preventing you from getting the parts you need to fix the issue. 

It doesn’t matter whether the damage was due to an accidental fall, deliberate malice or some of the parts aren’t working as well as they should — which can happen a lot with batteries. You can head online and get what you need to keep the phone running for a little while longer.

While it hasn’t been confirmed yet, we’ve assumed that Google will be offering the same level of parts support for the Pixel 8a. If this is the case, it means the phone won’t just have longer software support, it’ll physically be able to last longer since any damage or breakdowns can be fixed for the duration of its official lifespan. 

Parts and repair are going to cost money, because Google’s not quite so generous as to offer a seven-year warranty. Howeve,r with readily available parts, the cost of that repair should be considerably less than the cost of a brand new phone. That means you’ll be able to keep that device running for far longer than would otherwise be possible.

And considering how phone prices have been rising the past few years, a midrange phone may cost considerably more than $500 by 2031. So you’ll want to keep that phone running for as long as humanly possible.

Bottom line 

We’ve only had a limited amount of time with the Google Pixel 8a at this point, so we still need to put it through more extensive testing to come to a final conclusion about the phone's strengths and weaknesses. However we’re still pretty impressed with what we’ve seen so far, especially with some of the best hardware upgrades the phone has to offer. And that's all without actually raising the price for U.S. buyers. 

But it’s not just about the hardware upgrades this year. While the Fairphone 5 may still have the Pixel 8a beat for mid-range longevity, that’s hardly the industry norm. By pledging to support the Pixel 8a for seven years, Google is continuing to push the idea of long term phone support into the mainstream. And on a phone that’s considerably more affordable than your average Pixel flagship to boot.

The fact is, upgrading your phone regularly is a costly endeavor — especially since prices tend to be on the rise. Being able to keep your phone for longer is going to save you money in the long run, and extra support means there’s one less thing pressuring you to upgrade unnecessarily. The fact it’s on a phone that’s slightly cheaper from the get-go is icing on that proverbial cake.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.