Forget the Pixel 7a — the Pixel 8a is now the cheap phone to beat

Google Pixel 7a
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Pixel 7a was one of the best phones to come out in the past year, and was certainly a favorite of mine. It's got terrific cameras and the same AI-powered features found on the rest of the Pixel 7 lineup, making it a great value if you're looking for a capable phone for less than the cost of your typical flagship.

And at the moment, I'd beg you not to buy a Pixel 7a.

That may seem self-evident to some of you. After all, the Pixel 8a is now available, and it's got an even newer system-on-chip running the show. That means more AI features than you'll find on the Pixel 7a, and our Pixel 8a review found that the new phone lasts much longer on a charge. Of course, you're going to want to turn to the Pixel 8a over the Pixel 7a.

But that's not what I mean. When phone makers release a new device, they sometimes keep around the older models but at a reduced price. Think of last fall's iPhone 15 launch, when the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus and iPhone 13 all stuck around in Apple's lineup, but at $100 discounts. Google did the same thing last year when the Pixel 7a arrived, knocking down the Pixel 6a's price.

For the Pixel 8a, Google has done the first part — the Pixel 7a is still available from the Google Store — but forgot to do the second. As of this writing, the Pixel 7a is still listed at $499, the same price as the 128GB Pixel 8a.

The Pixel 7a's unchanged price becomes even more glaring when you consider the number of Pixel 8a deals out there that further lower the cost of the newer model. At Best Buy, you can currently get the Pixel 8a for $399 if you activate the phone at purchase. Even if you don't sign up with a carrier, Best Buy will give you a $100 gift card when you buy a Pixel 8a, and you can get up to $499 in credit when you trade-in a device.

Buy a Pixel 7a, and you've got ... a year-old phone and a $499 hole in your wallet.

Pixel 8a: was $499 now $399 @ Best Buy

Pixel 8a: was $499 now $399 @ Best Buy
You can save $100 with activation when you buy a Pixel 8a, but even if you buy the phone unlocked, you'll get a $100 gift card from the retailer. Best Buy also offers you credit for a trade-in — up to $499 depending on which phone.

Perhaps this changes. Maybe the Pixel 7a price will drop after Pixel 8a preorders end so that Google doesn't wind up cutting into the sales of its new phone by discounting the old one too quickly. It would be an understandble decision, if a still puzzling one.

That's because the Pixel 7a didn't suddenly become a bad phone just because the Pixel 8a arrived with some better features. The Pixel 7a remains a great camera phone, and the AI features are unique, especially for a midrange model. It would still be a good value — if its price reflected the fact that it's not the new kid on the block any more.

Ultimately, it may not matter to Google's smartphone fortunes. My colleague John Velasco calls the Pixel 8a the phone he'd buy with his own money, which is as strong an endorsement as any that Google once again has built the best cheap phone on the market. But having a cheaper Pixel 7a in the lineup would certainly have given Google an even better one-two punch.

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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.