Comparing Google Pixel 8a and OnePlus 12R: Deciding on the Ideal $500 Smartphone.

Comparison between Google Pixel 8a and OnePlus 12R
Google Pixel 8a (left) and OnePlus 12R

Following a year of leaks and anticipation, the Google Pixel 8a is now officially launched. It shares hardware similarities with the slightly pricier Pixel 8 and offers comparable AI features. Additionally, it stands out as the only $500 phone to receive software updates for up to seven years.

At an identical price point, the OnePlus 12R offers a superior processor, significantly faster charging speeds, and a more attractive design. This makes it a strong contender and one of the top choices within the $500 price range.

Both phones reflect qualities found in more expensive models from their respective brands, providing a flagship-like experience for those who are budget-conscious. If you are seeking a quality Android phone under $500, here is a breakdown of the differences between the Pixel 8a and the OnePlus 12R to assist you in selecting the most suitable option.

Comparison of Specifications Between Google Pixel 8a and OnePlus 12R

Google Pixel 8a OnePlus 12R
Dimensions 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 rate
  • HDR10+
  • 2,000 nits peak brightness
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • 6.82 inches LTPO 4.0 AMOLED, 1264 x 2780 pixels
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • 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 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 primary, f/1.89 aperture, 1/1.73-inch sensor size, OIS
    • 13MP ultrawide, f/2.2, 120° field of view
  • 13MP selfie camera, f/2.2, 1.12-micron pixel width, fixed focus
  • Triple rear cameras:
    • 50MP primary, f/1.8 aperture, 1/1.56-inch sensor size, OIS
    • 8MP ultrawide, f/2.2, 112° field of view
    • 2MP macro, fixed focus at 4cm (~1.6″)
  • 16MP selfie camera, f/2.4, 1.0-micron fixed focus
  • Rear: Up to 4K@60fps or 1080p slow-mo @240fps; OIS at 1080 only
  • Front: Up to 4K@30fps or 1080p@30fps
  • Rear: Up to 4K@60fps or 1080p slow-mo @240fps; OIS at 1080 only
  • 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 7.5W wireless charging 5,500mAh with 100W SuperVOOC wired fast charging
Colors Aloe green, Bay blue, Obsidian black, and Porcelain white Iron Gray, Cool Blue, Electric Violet (special edition)
Price Starting at $499 Starting at $499

Google Pixel 8a vs. OnePlus 12R: Design

Someone showcasing the Aloe green Google Pixel 8a.
Google Pixel 8a

The design inspirations for the Google Pixel 8a and the OnePlus 12R are drawn from their higher-end counterparts, the Google Pixel 8 and OnePlus 12. Despite subtle differences, both these phones bear resemblance to their pricier counterparts, requiring a close inspection for differentiation.

The Pixel 8a boasts a simple design with a flat front display and a horizontal dual-camera setup at the rear. Google utilizes a blend of plastic-reinforced composite material for the back panel, recycled aluminum for the mid-frame, and a plank structure to house the cameras and flash.

All surfaces on the Pixel 8a, including the back panel and aluminum components, feature a matte finish. Available in the same color options as the Pixel 8, including Bay blue, Obsidian black, Porcelain white, and an exclusive Aloe green finish, the phone’s aluminum parts are color-coordinated but less vibrant.

The Pixel 8a maintains a compact stature with a 6.1-inch display, similar to the Pixel 8, Galaxy S24, or iPhone 15/15 Pro. This, coupled with limited glass usage, contributes to a weight of under 7 ounces. Like the Pixel 7a, the 8a comes with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, capable of withstanding brief submersion in water, albeit not recommended.

OnePlus 12R in hand with OnePlus 12 in the background.
OnePlus 12R

In contrast, the OnePlus 12R showcases a more premium design approach. Resembling a refined version of the OnePlus 12 (in a positive light), it features curved edges on both the front and rear glass panels. The circular camera module, albeit with sensors inferior to the OnePlus 12, seamlessly integrates into the side frame. OnePlus opts for aluminum construction for the mid-frame and external camera housing, without specifying its origins in recycled materials.

The OnePlus 12R sports a frosted finish on the back while the mid-frame and camera bay exude a more reflective surface. Primarily offered in gray and blue colors, there’s also a unique Genshin Impact variant in Electric Violet, inspired by the popular game, featuring related elements.

OnePlus 12R Genshin Impact Edition.
OnePlus 12R Genshin Impact version

Being larger and heavier than the Pixel 8a due to its larger display and glass construction, the OnePlus 12R also includes a three-way alert slider for adjusting sound profiles. In terms of water resistance, the OnePlus 12R falls short with its IP64 rating, offering protection against light showers but not full immersion.

Despite its advantages in water resistance, the Pixel 8a’s design fares less favorably against the OnePlus 12R, positioning the latter as the superior choice.

Winner: OnePlus 12R

Google Pixel 8a vs. OnePlus 12R: Display

Google Pixel 8a showcasing Gemini Nano

The Pixel 8a introduces a significant display upgrade compared to the Pixel 7a, featuring the first A-series Pixel with a 120Hz refresh rate. This premium feature, now common in even $300 devices, is coupled with a 6.1-inch OLED Full HD+ display. Quality and color accuracy assessments will follow to ascertain how it compares to the OLED screen on the Pixel 8.

The Pixel 8a’s display also elevates brightness levels, reaching 1,400 nits in high-brightness mode and boasting a remarkable 2,000-nit peak brightness during HDR content consumption. While details on supported HDR codecs are not explicitly mentioned, compatibility with at least HDR10 is anticipated, if not HDR10+ like the Pixel 8 and Galaxy S24.

Incorporating an optical fingerprint scanner within the display, the Pixel 8a faces minimal concerns regarding scratch resistance with the dated Gorilla Glass 3.

Unlocked OnePlus 12R in a blue artisanal bowl with mandarin oranges on a table

Conversely, the OnePlus 12R surpasses the Pixel 8a in several aspects, commencing with a larger 6.82-inch display boasting a 1.5K resolution. Despite similar pixel densities due to the larger size, both phones offer sharp visuals. Employing LTPO 4.0 technology, the display supports variable refresh rates between 10 and 120Hz depending on the content.

Another superior aspect of the OnePlus 12R lies in its brightness, delivering up to 1,600 nits in high-brightness mode and a remarkable 4,500 nits peak brightness. Vital for HDR10+ and Dolby Vision content consumption, both formats are supported by the OnePlus 12R. Equipped with Gorilla Glass Victus 2, the display also offers enhanced durability and scratch resistance compared to the Pixel 8a.

Boasting enhanced strength, vivid visuals, dynamic refresh rates, and heightened brightness levels, the OnePlus 12R’s display emerges as the superior choice.

Winner: OnePlus 12R

Google Pixel 8a vs. OnePlus 12R: Performance

An individual displaying the Google Pixel 8a's screen

Both the Pixel 8a and the OnePlus 12R operate on chipsets from the previous year. The Pixel 8a relies on the Google Tensor G3 chipset similar to what powers Pixel 8 devices. While appearing as a flagship-grade chipset, potential performance limitations compared to the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro are currently under review, including how the 8GB RAM and UFS 3.1 storage may impact overall performance.

Despite potential challenges, Google equips the Pixel 8a with an array of AI features akin to its higher-tier relatives. Incorporating Google’s Gemini Nano AI model and features like Circle to Search, Call Assist, and Live Translate enhances the device’s functionality.

Call of Duty: Mobile running on OnePlus 12R

In comparison, the OnePlus 12R operates on the reliable Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, boasting up to 16GB of RAM. While the UFS 3.1 storage might limit peak performance levels, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip remains robust for demanding tasks and gaming, even well after its initial release. With tailored gaming optimizations in software, users can maximize performance without concerns regarding overheating.

Although the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 offers on-device AI capabilities, accessibility varies between OnePlus and Qualcomm, limiting wider availability across devices. Noteworthy features like Circle to Search are still accessible via Google Assistant or Gemini for content search, with other functionalities exclusive or limited on Pixel devices.

Ultimately, smart features are optimized on the Pixel 8a, whereas the OnePlus 12R excels in gaming performance. Therefore, this comparison results in a tie.

Winner: Tie

Google Pixel 8a vs. OnePlus 12R: Battery and Charging

Google Pixel 8a in Aloe

The Pixel 8a upgrades its battery capacity over the Pixel 7a to 4,492mAh, slightly smaller than the Pixel 8. Given the smaller screen and less demanding hardware, solid battery backup can be expected from the Pixel 8a, ensuring a day’s worth of power.

However, charging speeds remain a concern with support limited to a modest 18 watts. Users may find overnight charging necessary or keep the device tethered to a desk for extended periods. Alternatively, wireless charging up to 7.5W offers convenience, albeit not suitable for quick top-ups.

OnePlus 12R battery settings page

Meanwhile, the OnePlus 12R excels in battery and charging attributes. With a 5,500mAh battery identical to the OnePlus 12, users can expect extensive usage throughout the day. Despite the larger vibrant display potentially draining battery quicker, rapid charging technology comes to the rescue.

Benefiting from Oppo-based fast charging technology, the OnePlus 12R offers 80W fast charging in the U.S. and Canada (100W internationally), fully charging the device in approximately 30 minutes. For users short on time, a brief charging session can replenish half the battery, adequate for a day’s usage configuration. These features position the OnePlus 12R as the clear victor in this segment.

Winner: OnePlus 12R

Google Pixel 8a vs. OnePlus 12R: Cameras

Rear camera setup on Google Pixel 8a

Camera prowess has been a standout aspect of Pixel devices, and the trend continues with the Pixel 8a, emphasizing computational photography capabilities. Utilizing a dual-camera setup resembling the Pixel 7a, Google enhances images using machine-learning techniques. Portraits boast realistic background depth, mimicking DSLR-quality bokeh through software enhancements.

Video capture capabilities include up to 4K recording at 60fps via the rear camera and 30fps via the front camera. The primary rear sensor benefits from optical image stabilization, although resolution is capped at 1080p while utilizing this feature. Additional AI-powered photography features and editing tools enrich the user experience, although HDR video recording on par with the Pixel 8 remains absent.

Conversely, the OnePlus 12R may fall short in the camera department. Sporting a 50MP primary sensor larger than the Pixel 8a’s 64MP sensor, image processing lacks the AI-driven finesse found in Google’s offerings. Color reproduction may appear unnatural at times, especially when capturing moving subjects. The ultrawide and macro cameras offer mixed results based on lighting conditions, with the macro lens warranting minimal use.

Video recording quality is similar between the devices, with the OnePlus 12R offering OIS but limited to 1080p at 30fps for selfies. While a manual mode is available for tweaking settings, features and software refinement tilt the scale in favor of the Pixel 8a as the superior camera phone.

Winner: Google Pixel 8a


Valentina Rogers

Valentina is a tech-savvy wordsmith, blending her expertise in digital trends with a talent for crafting compelling stories that resonate with readers of all backgrounds.

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