Samsung and Google are BFFs but Galaxy S23 FE is the only Pixel 8a killer right now!

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Although in our full comparison of the Google Pixel 8a and Samsung Galaxy S23 FE (which I recommend checking out) we say that “an extra $130 gets you better camera system and faster charging”, the truth is that, right now, Samsung’s affordable flagship phone from 2023 can be found for virtually the same price as a brand new Pixel 8a that starts at $500.Having been released in October of last year, the Galaxy S23 FE was undoubtedly overpriced when it came out, and that’s not just because it started at $600, but because it shares a lot of hardware with an even older Samsung flagship – the Galaxy S22.

However, and as I predicted back in October, the Galaxy S23 FE is now a great deal. In fact, yes… Probably better than the Pixel 8a.

When the S23 FE was announced, I compared it to the Pixel 8 (which turns out is very similar to the Pixe 8a), and I said that “Samsung’s confusing flagship wins… but not today”. Damn, I’m good at this!

Don’t be fooled! The Pixel 8a might be one of the best $500 phones ever, but it’s not the best $500 phone you can buy right now…

Let’s get straight to why I think most people will be happier with a Galaxy S23 FE instead of a Pixel 8a.

First, let’s give the Pixel 8a the flowers it deserves by saying that Google’s mid-ranger will give you 7 years of OS updates (if Google keeps its promise), whereas the Galaxy S23 FE has “only” 3/4 remaining OS and security updates to get. However, this is plenty for the vast majority of people who keep their phones for 3-4 years.

Then, aside from the noticeably brighter display of the Pixel 8a, I believe most people will find the Galaxy S23 FE to be the better value phone, which seems to beat/match the Pixel in pretty much every other aspect.

This is what makes the Galaxy S23 FE the more premium and more practical phone compared to the Pixel 8a

If you ask me, these are the biggest strengths of the Galaxy S23 FE compared to the Pixel 8a. I’m focusing on practical features you’d be taking advantage of pretty much every day:

  • Samsung’s phone has a 3x zoom camera, which will give you usable photos up to 10x
  • The Galaxy comes with a noticeably larger display with slightly thinner borders
  • The S23 FE charges noticeably faster, and it gives you Reverse wireless charging

The less meaningful, or less practical advantages of the Galaxy S23 FE over the Pixel 8a are:

  • The more premium build quality – the S23 FE has a glass back and a Gorilla Glass 5 front, whereas the Pixel 8a has a plastic back and Gorilla Glass 3 on the front
  • The more comprehensive IP water/dust resistance rating – IP68 vs IP67
  • The faster wireless charging – 15W vs 7.5W (still, both are pretty slow)

The Pixel 8a will be the best smartphone deal when it gets a bit cheaper – should you wait a few months before buying one?

In the end, somewhat surprisingly, there is one phone that makes the Pixel 8a look like a bad deal right now, and that’s Samsung’s (once overpriced) Galaxy S23 FE.

Sure, the Pixel 8a gives you a lot for $500, but these display borders are straight up from 2018. They also make the (already) small 6.1-inch screen look even smaller.

The charging situation on the Pixel 8a is the slowest in the price segment by some margin, and while I love the fact that the plastic back won’t break like glass, you can definitely tell you’re holding a plastic phone when using the Pixel 8a.

In the end, the Pixel 8a is a great deal in the US and Europe where the competition from Chinese “flagship-killers” is relatively quiet, but (if you shop around) it’s really not the best $500 phone money can buy.

However! The major BUT here is that (just like the Galaxy S23 FE), the Pixel 8a will soon start dropping price/value. And this could very well, eventually, make it the best deal around – say at $400. Ironically, the Pixel 8a finds itself in an identical position to that of the Galaxy S23 FE when it first came out.

That being said, if you know you want the Pixel 8a (which is still a great phone I can easily recommend!), another way to get it for less is to trade in your old phone, or shop around on places like eBay.

But right now, the Galaxy S23 FE might be the only globally-available phone that makes the Pixel 8a look kiiinda bad. If you don’t count the discounted vanilla Pixel 8. LOL.


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