Last-minute Pixel 8a rumors have me excited about Google’s upcoming phone

A screenshot of an Instagram story showing two Pixel 8a handets
(Image credit: GSM_Islam / Instagram)

Last year's Google Pixel 7a was one of the best phones to come out in 2023 — it was certainly my favorite phone of the past year. And thanks to a pair of recent rumors, the upcoming Pixel 8a has a pretty good shot at living up to that high standard.

There's a lot to like about Google's Pixel A Series phones, led by the excellent cameras that can produce shots every bit as impressive as far more expensive flagship phones. In a similar vein, Google's switch to its own Tensor chips have allowed recent A Series devices to support the same AI features found on Pixel flagships.

These two strengths — excellent cameras, impressive AI capabilities — fall under one common banner: value for money. Opt for a lower-cost Pixel A device, and you will have to make some sacrifices, but not so many that you're getting a compromised experience. The Pixel 7a delivered on that promise better than any of its predecessors.

For a moment during the Pixel 8a rumor cycle, it sounded like Google's follow-up device might have a hard time making the same claim. But recent leaks about the Pixel 8a's price and level of support have eased my concerns about what we're going to see once Google takes the wraps off its new phone.

Google Pixel 8a price: No changes here, please

Four colors of Google Pixel 8a.

(Image credit: Android Headlines)

Let's start off with the potential price of the Pixel 8a — a pretty critical piece of data given the Pixel 7a's status as one of the best cheap phones under $500. For a while, it sounded like the Pixel 8a might not meet that standard, for the simple reason that its price was expected to increase above that $500 threshold.

Specifically, German publication WinFuture posted rumored Pixel 8a prices back in March that suggested European prices for Google's phone would go up by €60. A less convincing rumor pointed to a price hike in Canada as well.

Different parts of the world have different prices, so an increase in one country doesn't necessarily mean that prices are going up everywhere. Still, after the Pixel 7a went up in price by $50 over the Pixel 6a, you couldn't help but worry that history might repeat itself.

According to On Leaks, whose track record on unreleased phones is also solid, you needn't fret. That leaker has the price of the 128GB Pixel 8a sticking at $499. (A 256G version of the phone would cost $599 according to this rumor.) If accurate, it means that there will be a version of the new Google phone available for less than that psychologically important $500 threshold.

And that's important. In the greater scheme of things, a $50 boost isn't that big of a deal, especially given the rumored additions to the Pixel 8a like a brighter display with a 120Hz refresh rate. But there's something satisfying about paying less than $500 for a phone and still getting a good value in return — that's been a key to past Pixel success, and at least one sign points to it continuing with the Pixel 8a.

Google Pixel 8a support: Seven's the lucky number

Android 15

(Image credit: Future)

Besides price, the other unanswered question about the Pixel 8a involves just how much support Google plans to extend to its new phone. The Pixel 7a features three years of software updates — one of those has already been accounted for with the release of Android 14 and Android 15 will knock out another one — and five years of security support.

That's not bad as far as midrange phones go, but Google's support has gotten a lot more extensive since the Pixel 7a came out. Last fall's Pixel 8 releases can count on seven full years of support, both in terms of software updates and security patches.

Could the Pixel 8a follow suit, especially since it's going to feature the same Tensor G3 chipset found on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro? Or does Google plan to use software support as a dividing feature between its flagship and midrange models?

We have an answer — sort of. Android Headlines found a leaked Google ad that specifically calls out seven years of security updates for the Pixel 8a, seemingly confirming that the new phone will get the same level of attention as the latest Google flagships.

But fans of semantics will zero in on the fact that the ad specifically cites "security updates." That could also include Android software updates, but it could just as easily mean that software support is an entirely different matter.

Obviously, I hope that the seven years mentioned in the leaked ad apply to software and security updates. But even if it's just software alone, that still means you'll be able to hold on to your Pixel device longer than before. You might miss out on some new Android features, but you'll continue to have a phone that's secure long after you've paid it off. That's an attractive proposition for midrange phone fans.

Google Pixel 8a outlook

We're in line to get answers to our Pixel 8a pricing and support questions sooner rather than later. Google I/O 2024 takes place in less than two weeks, and that developer event is typically where Google shows off new hardware like its Pixel A Series phones. We're guessing that this year's I/O will be no different.

So when Google executives do take the stage to talk about their latest Pixel models, there will be plenty to pay attention to, from the AI-powered features to the camera capabilities. But its price and security support that will go a long way toward determine just how big a value the Pixel 8a figures to be.

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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.