Google’s affordable Pixel 8a offers upgraded silicon and access to Gemini for just $499

Google decided to unveil the latest addition to the Pixel line, the Pixel 8a, just a week before its annual developer conference, I/O. This move deviates from the company’s tradition of showcasing updates to its budget line at the event. When asked about the timing, Google stated, “It is its own device and we want to give it its own moment to shine.”

The Pixel 8a will start shipping on the day of the I/O keynote (May 14), with pre-sale starting today. Priced at $499, the device maintains the same starting price as its predecessor. As expected, the updates include the addition of the Tensor G3 chip, providing performance enhancements.

Google has established a solid release cadence, introducing new silicon for flagship devices and then rolling it out to its budget line six months later. While this might blur the line between premium and mid-tier devices, Google is not aiming to compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung in the $1,000+ market segment.

Google Pixel 8a review: The best midrange Android phone gets flagship AI  features

A noteworthy addition is Google’s Gemini, offered as a “developer feature.” This generative AI platform can be set as the default device assistant during setup. Given the mixed performance of such systems, Google has wisely kept it as an opt-in feature for now. However, it raises questions about the potential future role of Gemini in replacing Google Assistant entirely. We may learn more about this at I/O.