8 things the Pixel 8a can learn from the Nothing Phone 2a

Comparing the Google Pixel 7a to the Nothing Phone 2a
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

For years, Google's Pixel A-series has offered an incredible value that's offered unmatchable camera quality, offered more updates than other phones in its class, and often outperformed everything at the sub-$500 price range because of its Google Tensor processor.

But then the Nothing Phone 2a came around. At $350, it's $150 less than the Pixel 7a (and likely the Pixel 8a), all while offering flagship design, a better display than anything in its price range, and battery life and charging speed that'll make anyone happy.

With the Pixel 8a's likely release just on the horizon — most likely to be announced at Google I/O 2024 on May 14 — there are a few things Google could do to keep Nothing from seriously eating into its hard-earned Pixel A-series market share. Doubtless, it'll be the best budget phone in its price range when it releases so long as Google keeps up with the Joneses, but here are some things the Pixel 8a can take away from the Nothing Phone 2a.


Unboxing the Charcoal Google Pixel 7a

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

The Google Pixel 8a is expected to debut at the same $499 price as the Pixel 7a. That's a $50 price hike over previous Pixel A-series generations but the 7a improved the overall experience by including a better display, better fingerprint sensor, wireless charging, and even a camera upgrade.

While all of those things were important, it's more important that Google doesn't increase the price yet again this year to ensure it stays under the magic $500 price tag.

The obvious problem is that the Nothing Phone 2a is $150 cheaper than that, and it's likely going to be difficult to say that the Pixel 8a will be worth so much more than Nothing's first budget-focused phone.


Comparing the Google Pixel 7a to the Nothing Phone 2a

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Google's Pixel design has been nothing short of incredible for the past few years, and it would be a shame to see Google ruin that now. The latest Pixel 9 leaks look pretty darn ugly, but thankfully, Pixel 8a leaks make it look a lot more like the Pixel 8.

While Nothing's Glyph Interface and associated transparent design are great, the camera island on the back of the Phone 2a doesn't look particularly attractive. On the bright side, it's immediately identifiable as a Nothing Phone because of these unique design aspects.

Similarly, Google's iconic camera bar design is immediately recognizable even with a case on the phone. It's a brilliant design that looks fantastic, and we'd hate to see Google do anything too different. At the least, don't make it look like the Phone 2a's weird camera hump.


Comparing the Google Pixel 7a to the Nothing Phone 2a

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Last year, Google upgraded the Pixel 7a with a 90Hz display — an important jump over the sluggish 60Hz on the Pixel 6a. However, the Nothing Phone 2a upped the ante in several important ways, starting with a bright 120Hz OLED display. It can hit 1,300 nits of brightness — 300 more than the Pixel 7a — and the 120Hz display can move between 30Hz and 120Hz depending on the content. The Pixel 7a can only swap between 60 and 90Hz.

The Pixel 8a could improve on this by matching most of these specs, including the brightness level, which we've seen ramp up significantly in recent years.

Beyond that, the Nothing Phone 2a display does something far better than any Pixel display, including the high-end ones: it doesn't flicker at a slow rate. PWM-sensitive users like myself have a hard time using Pixel phones because they traditionally flicker at a 240Hz rate. The Pixel 7a uses a 360Hz rate, but that's still not high enough for sensitive users.

Meanwhile, the Nothing Phone 2a's display doesn't flicker at all above 50% brightness, while it switches to PWM dimming at 1920Hz below 50% brightness. Google needs to ramp up its PWM rate to match what's quickly becoming an industry norm, helping both sensitive users and preventing users from becoming sensitive by staring at a slowly flickering display.

Battery life

The transparent back of the grey Nothing Phone 2a

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

If the Pixel 6a and Pixel 7a have any specific weakness, it's battery life. The Tensor G2 inside the Pixel 7a was more battery efficient than the Tensor G1 inside the Pixel 6a, and as we saw from the Pixel 8, the Tensor G3 that should be inside the Pixel 8a is even more battery efficient.

However, Tensor's battery efficiency pales in comparison to the MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro inside the Nothing Phone 2a, which positively sips battery all day long. We regularly got two days of battery life out of a single charge on the Nothing Phone 2a.

While we're not hopeful that we'll see the same kind of battery life out of the Pixel 8a, any sort of improvement over the Pixel 6a and 7a's battery life would be a welcome improvement.

Charging speed

The back of the Nothing Phone 2a with the glyph lights illuminated

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Google added wireless charging on the Pixel 7a — a first for a Pixel A-series phone — but it's relatively useless at just 5W charging speed. It's understandable that Google has to cut corners somewhere to keep the phone under $500, but it's almost worse when an important feature gets added only to have it not work very well.

If the Pixel 8a includes wireless charging, it needs to be at least 10W. The Pixel 8 series supports 15W wireless charging, so this will feel like a reasonable price concession while still offering something useful. The Nothing Phone 2a doesn't support wireless charging at all, which could give Google a notable advantage over Nothing's budget phone.

However, Google Pixel phones have never supported 45W fast charging like the Nothing Phone 2a, and I find that far more valuable than any wireless charging method. Faster overall charging would help solve the battery life issue in the above section, making topping up halfway through a day no big deal. The current 18W charging speed of the Pixel A-series just isn't enough.

Sustained performance

Comparing the Nothing Phone 2a with the Nothing Phone 1 and Google Pixel 7a in benchmarks

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

The Google Pixel 6a and 7a offer the best peak performance of any phone in its class, but Tensor has a bad reputation for overheating and slowing down a lot when running anything that requires fast processing. As you can see from the grey chart above, the Pixel 7a loses a substantial amount of performance in no time flat.

Meanwhile, the MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro in the Nothing Phone 2a does a much, much better job of keeping performance high even after 30 minutes or longer of heavy processing. If you're a mobile gamer, this metric is particularly important for you.

Google could improve this with better thermal management in the Pixel 8a and it would help the phone feel faster if it could keep its high-performance capabilities intact for more than just a few minutes, at the most.

Camera quality and features

Comparing the Google Pixel 7a to the Nothing Phone 2a

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

To this day, no phone under $500 takes pictures as well as the Pixel 7a. The competition, including the Nothing Phone 2a, simply doesn't stand a chance. We have little doubts that the Pixel 8a will differ from this at all — rumors and leaks suggest Google isn't changing anything meaningful about the camera hardware — but Google could stand to improve some parts of the camera software.

Nothing offers a proper manual mode on its phone, despite lacking some other features Google's camera offers, and it makes the Nothing Phone 2a's capabilities seem greater despite the opposite being true. If Google could bring over the excellent manual camera mode from the Pixel 8 Pro, it would be a massive advantage over other companies in this segment.

Software updates

The Google Pixel 7a's vibrant, bright display showcasing the home screen with the default coral feathers wallpaper

Aside from the camera, one of the best reasons to get a Pixel is the support from Google. Google has long offered many years of software updates more than other Android phone manufacturers, and the Pixel 8 series pushed this further than ever with seven years of guaranteed major software updates.

Plus, with the Pixel 8 getting Gemini Nano, it seems like there's never been a better reason to get a Pixel phone with its excellent support. But Google's updates haven't been particularly reliable recently, and that's the real elephant in the room.

The Nothing Phone 2a is only scheduled to get three major OS updates and four years of security updates, but Nothing has already delivered three updates for the phone since launch and has, historically, been excellent about quality updates. Google could certainly learn a thing or two from Nothing in this regard, and that could certainly start with a brand-new phone.

It's coming soon

A leaked render of the Pixel 8a from the front and back.

(Image credit: SmartPrix)

While there's been no official announcement, we're extremely certain that the Google Pixel 8a will be announced at Google I/O 2024 on May 14. Our Pixel 8a rumor roundup covers everything that's been leaked or rumored so far, and the details are quite juicy.

All in all, it looks like Google is going to deliver another winner this year, but some of that success hinges on Google adapting to changes throughout the rest of the industry. The Nothing Phone 2a is an excellent example of how to deliver a good budget phone without much compromise, and Google's more mid-range price should offer up even better specs with longer software support.

Nicholas Sutrich
Senior Content Producer — Smartphones & VR
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu