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CheckMag | The Google Pixel A series needs to continue to exist

The Pixel 8a is the latest in the Pixel A series and the first model with 256 GB of storage. (Image source: Google)
The Pixel 8a is the latest in the Pixel A series and the first model with 256 GB of storage. (Image source: Google)
It has been five years since the first Pixel A series smartphones debuted, and despite unfounded rumors about its discontinuation, the importance of the Pixel A series’ existence can’t be overemphasized.
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The Pixel 3a was the first Pixel A series smartphone released by Google. Launched in 2019 alongside a larger model dubbed the Pixel 3a XL, both phones were sold as more affordable options to Google’s premium Pixel smartphones, which was a replacement for the now-defunct Nexus phone. It has been five years since then, and the latest in the Pixel A series lineup is the Pixel 8a (curr. $499 on Amazon). However, it is rumored that it might be the last. While Google is known for pulling the plug on products regardless of whether they are doing great or not, I believe it isn’t wise to discontinue the Pixel A series as this would negatively impact individuals who depend on the series' affordability and quality.

The Pixel 8a starts at $499 for the 128 GB version and goes up to $549 for the 256 GB version. That starting price is significantly higher than the $399 launch price of the Pixel 3a and even the Pixel 4a which sold for $349 at launch. Sure, Google can justify the price increase with inflation and an overall improvement of the series. Over the years, the Pixel A series has gotten an improvement in build quality with additions such as IP67 dust and water resistance. It also has a high refresh rate display, improved cameras, a flagship processor, and software support that bests the competition.

The Pixel 8 costs $200 more than the Pixel 8a. (Image source: Google)
The Pixel 8 costs $200 more than the Pixel 8a. (Image source: Google)

Despite the higher price tag of the Pixel 8a, it is still $200 cheaper than the base configuration of the Pixel 8 (curr. $699 on Amazon) which closely matches it in specs and features. Thus, if Google discontinues the Pixel A series, it would lose a fair share of customers, especially in key markets, who want a premium phone on a budget. Of course, there are a handful of rivals in the same category from brands such as Motorola, Nothing, OnePlus, Samsung, and Xiaomi. Some of these rivals boast a lower price tag, nifty software features, a bigger battery capacity, and significantly faster charging. However, none of these devices have a combination of great build, flagship-grade cameras, bloat-free software with long-term support, and a high-end processor.

I don’t expect Google to keep the Pixel A series in production because of my sentiments. However, there are a few suggestions to help it improve sales. First, the Pixel A series needs to be cheaper than it currently sells for. A $400 starting price would take it back to its original roots of being an affordable phone, and to achieve this lower price tag, Google would have to shave off some features.

For starters, it has to ditch wireless charging which I believe is optional at this price point. It can also switch from an annual release to a biennial release like Apple does with the iPhone SE. This way, the resources that should be put towards a new Pixel A series phone each year can be used for another product. Lastly, if it does switch to a biennial release timetable, it can launch it alongside its more expensive siblings in October but with the chipset used in the previous generation. This way, there is a significant difference between the Pixel A smartphone and the non-Pro premium model.

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Habeeb Onawole, 2024-05-21 (Update: 2024-05-21)