Google Pixel 8a vs. OnePlus 12R: Which $500 telephone must you purchase?

Google Pixel 8a versus OnePlus 12R.
Google Pixel 8a (left) and OnePlus 12R Google and OnePlus

The Google Pixel 8a is in unimaginable and intriguing telephone for its worth. It runs a lot of the identical {hardware} as the marginally dearer Pixel 8 and gives the same expertise with onboard AI options. It can also be the one $500 telephone to get seven years of software program updates.

But for a similar worth, you possibly can additionally purchase the OnePlus 12R for a extra promising processor, considerably sooner charging speeds, and a extra interesting design. That all combines to make it among the best telephones you should purchase for a similar $500 asking worth.

Both share traits with dearer choices from their respective manufacturers and provides the sense of utilizing a flagship even if you spend cautiously. If you need a good Android telephone underneath $500, listed below are the variations between the Pixel 8a and the OnePlus 12R that will help you decode the extra becoming possibility for you.

Google Pixel 8a vs. OnePlus 12R: specs

Google Pixel 8a OnePlus 12R
Size 152.1 × 72.7 × 8.9mm (5.99 x 2.86 x 0.35 inches) 163.3 x 75.3 x 8.8mm (6.43 x 2.96 x 0.35 inches)
Weight 188 grams (6.8 ounces) 207 grams (7.30 ounces)
  • 6.1 inches OLED, Full HD+
  • 120Hz refresh charge
  • HDR10+
  • 2,000 nits peak brightness
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • 6.82 inches LTPO 4.0 AMOLED, 1264 x 2780 pixels
  • 120Hz
  • HDR10+, Dolby Vision
  • 1,600 nits brightness, 4,500 nits peak brightness
  • Gorilla Glass Victus 2
Operating system Android 14 with Pixel Experience UI OxygenOS 14 based mostly on Android 14
RAM & Storage
  • 8GB + 128GB UFS 3.1
  • 8GB + 128GB
  • 8GB + 128GB (UFS 3.1)
  • 16GB + 256GB
Processor Google Tensor G3 (low-power variant) Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
  • Dual rear cameras:
    • 64MP main, f/1.89 aperture, 1/1.73-inch sensor dimension, OIS
    • 13MP ultrawide, f/2.2, 120° subject of view
  • 13MP selfie digital camera, f/2.2, 1.12-micron pixel width, fastened focus
  • Triple rear cameras:
    • 50MP main, f/1.8 aperture, 1/1.56-inch sensor dimension, OIS
    • 8MP ultrawide, f/2.2, 112° subject of view
    • 2MP macro, fastened focus at 4cm (~1.6″)
  • 16MP selfie digital camera, f/2.4, 1.0-micron fastened focus
  • Rear: Up to 4K@60fps or 1080p slow-mo @240fps; OIS at 1080 solely
  • Front: Up to 4K@30fps or 1080p@30fps
  • Rear: Up to 4K@60fps or 1080p slow-mo @240fps; OIS at 1080 solely
  • Front: Up to 1080p@30fps or 720p@30fps
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • 5G
  • Wi-Fi 6E, triple-band
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • 5G
  • Wi-Fi 7, dual-band
Ports USB-C (USB 2.0) USB-C (USB 2.0)
Water resistance IP67 IP64
Battery & charging 4,492mAh with 18W wired charging and seven.5W wi-fi charging 5,500mAh with 100W SuperVOOC wired quick charging
Colors Aloe inexperienced, Bay blue, Obsidian black, and Porcelain white Iron Gray, Cool Blue, Electric Violet (particular version)
Price Starting at $499 Starting at $499

Google Pixel 8a vs. OnePlus 12R: design

Someone holding the green Aloe Google Pixel 8a.
Google Pixel 8a Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The Google Pixel 8a and the OnePlus 12R are each impressed by their mightier siblings — the Google Pixel 8 and the OnePlus 12, respectively — when it comes to design. Similarities run so deep that you could’t immediately differentiate them from the dearer fashions with out wanting intently.

While having solely delicate variations from the costly fashions by both firm, the Pixel 8a and OnePlus 12R range vastly. The Pixel 8a dons a simplistic look with a flat show on the entrance and a horizontal dual-camera digital camera setup on the again. Google makes use of a plastic-reinforced composite materials again panel with a recycled aluminum mid-frame and plank to seat the cameras and flash.

All surfaces on the Pixel 8a, together with the again panel and the aluminum bits, have a matted end. The telephone is available in the identical three colours because the Pixel 8, together with a Bay blue, Obsidian black, and Porcelain white, together with one other unique Aloe inexperienced end. The aluminum components function the identical colours however are muted.

The Pixel 8a doesn’t have a big footprint; the 6.1-inch show warrants a dimension much like the Pixel 8, Galaxy S24, or the iPhone 15/15 Pro telephones. This, together with the restricted use of glass, interprets to a weight of lower than 7 ounces. Like the Pixel 7a, the 8a has an IP67 score for mud and water resistance. That means it might stand up to being submerged in water for a brief period, though that’s not advisable.

OnePlus 12R in hand with OnePlus 12 in the background.
OnePlus 12R Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

By comparability, the OnePlus 12R will get arguably extra inspiring colours and a premium design. It seems like a reproduction of the OnePlus 12 (in a great way) and options curved edges alongside the again and the entrance panels, each of that are made from glass. It will get the same round digital camera module — albeit with sensors inferior to the OnePlus 12 — that blends into the body on the aspect. Like the Pixel 8a, the OnePlus 12R makes use of aluminum for the mid-frame and the outside of the digital camera housing, however the firm doesn’t explicitly point out its origins in recycled bits.

The OnePlus 12R will get a frosted end on the again, whereas the mid-frame and the digital camera bay are primarily composed of shinier, extra reflective surfaces. It will get two colours primarily — grey and blue — however there’s additionally the special edition Genshin Impact variant with an Electric Violet again with components impressed by the sport.

OnePlus 12R Genshin Impact Edition.
OnePlus 12R Genshin Impact model Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The OnePlus 12R is way larger and bulkier than the Pixel 8a owing to its bigger show and glass again. It additionally contains a three-way alert slider to alter the telephone’s sound profiles. Lastly, the OnePlus 12R is beneath the Pixel 8a when it comes to water resistance. Its IP64 score solely ensures safety towards mild showers or drizzle, not towards being doused in water.

Apart from its benefit when it comes to water resistance, the Pixel 8a feels much less engaging in comparison with the OnePlus 12R in design, making the latter our winner.

Winner: OnePlus 12R

Google Pixel 8a vs. OnePlus 12R: show

The Google Pixel 8a's screen.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Pixel 8a sees a major enchancment in show over the Pixel 7a. For starters, that is the primary A-series Pixel with a 120Hz refresh charge, which has in any other case turn out to be commonplace on even $300 telephones. The 120Hz refresh charge appears like an enchancment over the Pixel 7a however isn’t as efficient at saving battery in comparison with the Pixel 8 or 8 Pro, which provide dynamic refresh charge switching.

The 6.1-inch show has a Full HD+ decision and makes use of an OLED panel with bigger bezels than we’re used to seeing on most midrange telephones today. The show doesn’t pose any issue in readability underneath the solar, however there have been some points with viewing at slanted angles.

The Pixel 8a’s show additionally will get a lift when it comes to brightness, reaching as much as 1,400 nits within the high-brightness mode (triggered manually or underneath robust ambient mild). It additionally boasts a 2,000-nit peak brightness (per pixel) whereas viewing HDR-enabled content material on the telephone. Google doesn’t specify the supported HDR codecs, however we suspect help for at the least the open HDR10, if not HDR10+, which the Pixel 8 and Galaxy S24 help.

There’s an optical fingerprint scanner embedded within the show. Further, when it comes to sturdiness, the Pixel 8a will get minimal scratch resistance with Gorilla Glass 3, which is a number of years outdated. Besides missing in sturdiness, the Gorilla Glass 3 additionally does unsatisfactorily in relation to avoiding reflection underneath daylight or different vibrant sources.

Unlocked OnePlus 12R kept in a blue artisanal bowl filled with mandarin oranges on a table.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Despite the enhancements on the Pixel 8a, the OnePlus 12R overshadows it in most respects. Firstly, it has a bigger 6.82-inch show with a 1.5K (1264 by 2780 pixels) decision. The bigger dimension, nevertheless, means each telephones have comparable pixel density and, ergo, sharpness.

Like the OnePlus 12, the 12R additionally options curved edges alongside the show. Backed by the most recent LTPO 4.0 know-how, the show can refresh at variable charges between 10 and 120Hz, relying on the content material seen. Besides lowering jitters or tearing on the display, this helps preserve battery.

Another facet the place the OnePlus 12R outweighs the Pixel 8a is brightness. Built with a know-how much like the show on the extra premium OnePlus 12, the OnePlus 12R’s show will get as vibrant as 1,600 nits in high-brightness mode and reaches an unimaginable 4,500 nits within the peak brightness mode. This is very helpful whereas watching content material with codecs corresponding to HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, each of that are supported by the OnePlus 12R.

The OnePlus 12R’s show has Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on high, which gives larger sturdiness and scratch resistance than the Pixel 8a.

With increased power, extra vivid visuals, a dynamic refresh charge, and better brightness, the OnePlus 12R’s show feels just like the stronger contender.

Winner: OnePlus 12R

Google Pixel 8a vs. OnePlus 12R: efficiency

A person playing a game on the Google Pixel 8a.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Both the Pixel 8a and the OnePlus 12R run off chipsets from final 12 months. The Pixel 8a depends on the Google Tensor G3 chipset that drives the Pixel 8 telephones. While it’s convincingly a flagship chipset on the floor, Google seems to make cutbacks in efficiency.

While there aren’t any potential slowdowns, the telephone reveals the identical tendency to get heat after a brief span. It can get uncomfortably scorching when you enterprise out, and moreover making the telephone troublesome to carry, it’s going to additionally degrade efficiency in each potential sense.

In addition, the 8GB RAM, together with the us3.1 storage, could be one other limiting issue for the telephone’s efficiency.

Despite these challenges, Google is bestowing the Pixel 8a with a barrage of AI options much like these of its extra highly effective siblings. This contains Google’s Gemini Nano AI mannequin, which runs on the machine, together with options corresponding to Circle to Search, Call Assist, and Live Translate. Even if you don’t use extensively depend on these options, customization choices corresponding to AI-generated wallpapers will most likely enchantment to you.

Call of Duty: Mobile running on a OnePlus 12R.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

In distinction, the OnePlus 12R runs a extra dependable and broadly used Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip. It is complemented by as much as 16GB of RAM, however the identical slower UFS 3.1 may bottleneck it from reaching the very best speeds.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is a trusty chip and nonetheless holds good for demanding duties and video games, even a 12 months and a half after its launch. With particular gaming-related optimizations in software program, you may push it to the bounds simply with out anticipating a warmth buildup contained in the physique.

While the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 additionally gives on-device AI talents, neither OnePlus nor Qualcomm have taken concrete steps to make them broadly obtainable throughout all units. You can nonetheless get the Circle to Search performance through the use of Google Assistant or Gemini to go looking the contents of a display, however the different options stay unique (at the least of their full capability) to the Pixel telephones.

In conclusion, the good options work higher on the Pixel 8a, whereas gaming is prone to be superior on the OnePlus 12R. This is why we name this a tie.

Winner: Tie

Google Pixel 8a vs. OnePlus 12R: battery and charging

The Google Pixel 8a's charging port.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Pixel 8a’s battery will get a notable improve over the Pixel 7a and now measures 4,492mAh — a tad bit smaller than the Pixel 8. The compact display and the shortage of demanding {hardware} already translate to good battery backup on Pixel telephones, and the 8a simply delivers a day’s backup, as long as you don’t play a whole lot of video games, watch a whole lot of movies, or shoot a whole lot of movies with it.

When it involves charging, nevertheless, it nonetheless helps a dismally sluggish charging pace of simply 18 watts. That means you’ll doubtless resort to charging your telephone at evening and conserving it tethered at a desk through the desk. If you select the latter, Google has fortunately included wi-fi charging as much as 7.5W on the telephone. But if you want for a fast sprint of cost in just some minutes, that will not be potential with the Pixel 8a. During our evaluate, the Pixel 8a took over 90 minutes to cost absolutely, which might lengthen additional in case you are utilizing the telephone whereas charging it.

The battery settings page on a OnePlus 12R.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The OnePlus 12R, however, excels in relation to battery and charging options. The 5,500mAh battery is similar dimension because the OnePlus 12 and is sweet sufficient for a day’s in depth utilization. Sure, the bigger and extra vibrant show is prone to leech out juice sooner, however the sooner charging is right here to avoid wasting the day, too.

OnePlus is among the many earlier pioneers in relation to quick charging, utilizing know-how borrowed from its mum or dad firm, Oppo, and the 12R continues to reap the advantages. It comes with 80W quick charging within the U.S. and Canada (100W outdoors North America), which might cost the telephone absolutely in about half-hour.

If you don’t have half-hour to spare, a couple of minutes are sufficient to replenish about half of the battery, which ought to simply final for a day of fixed utilization. These attributes make the OnePlus 12R a transparent winner on this regard.

Winner: OnePlus 12R

Google Pixel 8a vs. OnePlus 12R: cameras

The Google Pixel 8a's camera module.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Cameras have all the time been a powerful swimsuit for the Pixel telephone (therefore, the title), and even the inexpensive A-series telephones don’t fall considerably behind. With the Pixel 8a, Google goals to recreate among the magic, particularly with its computational pictures abilities.

The Pixel 8a primarily makes use of the identical dual-camera setup because the Google Pixel 7a. Although the {hardware} (with a 64-megapixel principal digital camera and a 13MP ultrawide digital camera) isn’t spectacular — particularly in comparison with the Pixel 8 or 8 Pro — Google extensively improves photographs with its machine-learning prowess. It captures detailed photographs with good colours which can be constant throughout each cameras. It struggles a bit with zooming in, particularly since there isn’t a telephoto digital camera, however the photographs are in any other case spectacular.

Portraits have an immaculately sensible (however truly software-generated) background depth or bokeh that replicates DLSR-level high quality. We count on related outcomes from the Pixel 8a, too. Meanwhile, the entrance digital camera lacks autofocus however might be able to seize some compelling selfies.

When it involves movies, the telephone can file 4K video at as much as 60 frames per second utilizing the rear digital camera or 4K at 30 fps with the entrance digital camera. The principal sensor on the again additionally will get optical picture stabilization, however the video high quality is capped at 1080p whereas utilizing the function. The Pixel 8a also can seize slow-motion movies at as much as 240 fps utilizing the rear digital camera.

In addition, the Pixel 8a additionally comes with a few of its dearer siblings’ software program options for higher digital camera outcomes. It helps a variety of options, together with Best Take, Top Shot, Motion Auto Focus, and Frequent Faces for higher pictures, together with modifying instruments corresponding to Magic Eraser, Magic Editor, and Face Unblur.

For higher movies, the Pixel 8a additionally gives 4K timelapse, cinematic panning and focus lock, and help for the high-efficiency video format HEVC. You also can filter out undesirable background noise utilizing Audio Magic Eraser. However, there isn’t a HDR video recording as on the Pixel 8 (and even older Pixel 7 sequence) telephones. Google additionally omitted the Pro mode that’s in any other case seen on the dearer telephones.

In addition, AI options corresponding to Magic Eraser assist you to considerably alter the temper of the picture and add a dreamy (generally surreal) pop to the pictures. Having these options on a $500 is certainly a bonus.

A closeup look at the rear cameras on the OnePlus 12R.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Despite its advances in different features, the OnePlus 12R might fall flat when it comes to cameras. It contains a 50MP main sensor, which, though bodily bigger than the Pixel 8a’s 64MP sensor, will lack the identical AI-enhanced photographs. During our evaluate, the OnePlus 12R’s cameras have been a hit-and-miss, particularly when capturing transferring objects or animals. The colours might generally appear unnatural, even with out the Hasselblad enhancements from the OnePlus 12.

The OnePlus 12R’s ultrawide digital camera will seize some commendable photographs, however provided that there may be enough lighting. Meanwhile, the third fastened focus macro digital camera is so ineffective that OnePlus is even ashamed of together with it within the Camera app’s principal menu. The 16MP selfie digital camera is ample, however anticipating spectacular selfies may end in disappointment.

For movies, the OnePlus 12R can seize related high quality (with OIS) utilizing the rear cameras, however selfie movies are restricted to 1080p at 30 fps. More importantly, there aren’t any non-gimmicky AI enhancements to make the outcomes come out. You do, nevertheless, get a handbook mode on the OnePlus 12R when you desire to fiddle with shutter pace or mild settings.

Overall, the Pixel 8a’s longer listing of options and higher software-based refinements propel it to the end line as the higher digital camera telephone.

Winner: Google Pixel 8a

Google Pixel 8a vs. OnePlus 12R: software program and updates

Google Pixel 8a weather app.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Last 12 months, Google raised the bar for software program updates on Android telephones by promising seven years of help with the Pixel 8 units. This 12 months, the Pixel 8a is constant that promise, which implies it’s going to outlast the Pixel 8 when it comes to software program updates.

The timing of the launch means the Pixel 8a doesn’t run Android 15 straight away, however seven updates following Android 14 are equally spectacular. How nicely the {hardware} holds through the years will truly decide the telephone’s capacity to run future variations of Android with out efficiency degradation, however the promise alone feels reassuring for anybody who will not be seeking to exchange their telephone anytime quickly.

OxygenOS quick settings panel on a OnePlus 12R kept on the edge of wooden bench.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Meanwhile, the OnePlus 12R additionally comes with Android 14, with a customized OxygenOS pores and skin on high. You will get loads extra options than what Google gives, together with help for twin cases of social media and chat apps, extra putting animations, higher multitasking performance with cut up display and floating home windows, and many others.

However, it doesn’t match the Pixel 8a when it comes to longevity. OnePlus guarantees solely three Android model updates and 4 years of safety updates — that’s lower than half of what the Pixel comes with.

Furthermore, the Pixel 8a will get entry to Google’s finest options sooner than the OnePlus. With AI changing into a cornerstone in good handheld units, any new AI options in Android will first be piloted on the Pixel after which delivered to the OnePlus a number of months later. For these causes, the Pixel 8a is healthier when it comes to software program help.

Winner: Google Pixel 8a

Google Pixel 8a vs. OnePlus 12R: worth and availability

Someone holding the OnePlus 12R, showing the back of the phone.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Pixel 8a is on the market for normal sale now on Google’s on-line retailer and different on-line retailers. The 8GB RAM with 128GB storage variant is priced at $499, whereas the 8GB with 256GB mannequin is on the market for $559. Google additionally gives as much as 24 months of credit at no additional value when you activate the telephone with Google Fi.

The OnePlus 12R is on the market throughout main on-line and offline retailers. The 8GB RAM with 128GB storage mannequin prices $500 within the U.S., whereas the 16GB with 256 GB mannequin prices $600. The Genshin Impact particular version is priced at $650, nevertheless it’s a restricted version mannequin and will not be simply obtainable.

Google Pixel 8a vs. OnePlus 12R: verdict

The Google Pixel 8a on a table.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Google Pixel 8a brings lots of the “premium AI” options all the way down to a barely extra inexpensive pricing. The $500 price ticket could be particularly thrilling for these with a tough cap on the funds. It can also be the one mid-range Android telephone to supply on-device AI options and 7 years of software program help. To high that, the digital camera options could also be among the finest you discover on a $500 telephone.

On the opposite hand, the OnePlus 12R is a performance-oriented telephone with a superb show and superfast charging. Thanks to OnePlus’ beneficiant use of glass, it seems and feels extra premium, however it might lag behind when it comes to software program help and AI performance. The digital camera on the OnePlus 12R can also really feel much less thrilling than the Pixel 8a.

The OnePlus 12R lying on a table.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

You might, nevertheless, go for the 16GB RAM possibility and get extra muscle for video games and different difficult duties. But, its shorter software program help might not enchantment to everybody. Nevertheless, it appears like an fanatics’ telephone, whereas the Pixel 8a has a extra sensible and gentler enchantment.

While neither is definitely a awful telephone (and the selection for the higher one will depend on your necessities), the Pixel 8a is positioned too near the Pixel 8, which could be purchased for simply an additional $50 throughout sure gross sales. This extra funding brings a greater show, a extra premium design, sooner charging speeds, and considerably higher cameras. By pricing the Pixel 8a so dangerously shut, it leaves it at the risk of being cannibalized by its own elder sibling.

But when you want an easier telephone and wish to guess lower than $500 on it, each the OnePlus 12R and the Pixel 8a are glorious choices, every with their very own strengths and weaknesses, and neither is much less spectacular than the opposite.

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