If you’re looking for an affordable smartphone, around $500 / £500 (or less), but want one with the best camera possible, then the Google Pixel 8A, and Samsung Galaxy A55 are certainly two options to consider. The Google Pixel 8A is a compact smartphone jam-packed with AI features, whilst the Samsung Galaxy A55 is a larger phone, jam-packed with cameras.

Both phones offer an ultra-wide-angle camera, and wide-angle camera on the rear, with the Samsung Galaxy A55 offering an additional 5MP macro camera – if you want to see how this camera performs, head over to the full Samsung Galaxy A55 review. They also offer similar, but different, selfie cameras, both capable of 4K video recording.

If you look at the prices, they are similar in price, with the Pixel 8A for sale at $499 / £499 (RRP), but often on offer for $449 / £449. The A55 has an RRP of £439, but is often on offer for less than £300, which makes this a much cheaper option if it’s available in your region on sale. Unfortunately the Samsung Galaxy A55 isn’t available in the US, whereas the Pixel 8A is.

Google Pixel 8A (left) vs Samsung Galaxy A55 (right). Photo JW/AP

Have a look at the comparison table below, to see what the main differences are:

Google Pixel 8ASamsung Galaxy A55
64MP f/1.9 main camera, OIS (16MP output)50MP f/1.8 main camera, OIS (12MP output)
13MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, FF12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, FF
13MP f/2.2 selfie camera, FF32MP f/2.4 selfie camera, FF
5MP f/2.4 macro, fixed focus (FF)
4K 60/30fps video4K 30fps video
6.1inch OLED screen, 120Hz, 2000nits brightness6.6inch AMOLED, 120Hz, 1000nits brightness
4492mAh battery (wireless charging)5000mAh battery
8GB RAM, 128/256GB storage6-12GB RAM, 128/256GB storage
7 years of updates4 years of OS updates, 5 years of security

The main cameras on both phones feature auto-focus and optical image stabilisation (OIS), and outside of these cameras, all the rest are fixed focus.

If you’re most interested in macro photography, and think the Samsung’s 5MP macro camera is a good option, I wouldn’t give too much weight to this, as it’s only usable at a specific distance from the subject, and you can often get better results using the main camera.

Google Pixel 8A (left) vs Samsung Galaxy A55. Photo JW/AP

There’s also a relatively big difference in screen size, and brightness, with the Google Pixel 8A offering a smaller screen, but a noticeably brighter display. If you’re regularly shooting outdoors, then the brighter screen will be of benefit, as long as you don’t mind the smaller view. So how do the cameras compare? Read on to find out…

Image quality compared

I took photos with both camera phones in a variety of situations, with the aim of comparing the image side by side. These are the results. You’ll find the Google Pixel 8A on the left every time, and the Samsung Galaxy A55 on the right.

Ultra-wide-angle camera, Google Pixel 8a, photo JWSamsung Galaxy A55 - Ultra-wide. JW
Google Pixel 8A ultra-wide left, Samsung Galaxy A55 ultra-wide, right.

The Pixel 8A has a 13MP ultra-wide-angle camera vs the 12MP ultra-wide-angle camera on the A55. This difference in resolution is so minimal as to not really matter. What actually matters is the lens quality, exposure, levels of detail captured, and colour reproduction.

Both phones perform well, with the 8A giving warmer colours, and a slightly cleaner image when looking at the fine detail, as well as a slightly better exposure, as well as much better results in the shadows (see the escalator on the right). However, the Samsung also gives a good result, and a brighter image overall.

Wide-angle camera, Google Pixel 8a, photo JWSamsung Galaxy A55 - Wide. JW
Left: Google Pixel 8A, right: Samsung Galaxy A55

Apart from the framing differing in these photos, which is my own fault, these two images are packed with detail. The Google Pixel 8A benefits from a 64MP sensor that uses pixel binning, to give 16MP images. Again, this isn’t a massive difference in terms of image size, compared to the 12MP output from the A55, but it is enough that we do start seeing a bit more detail in the image. Both perform well, but the Google Pixel takes the edge in terms of detail, colour, and general exposure.

2x zoom, Google Pixel 8a, photo JWSamsung Galaxy A55 - 2x. JW
Left: Google Pixel 8A, right: Samsung Galaxy A55, 2x zoom

The 2x zoom option on the Google Pixel 8A has captured slightly more detail than the A55, and a combination of a higher resolution sensor, with Google’s clever image processing results in a better image. Whilst it’s rare that you actually get as much detail as a real telephoto camera, the 2x digital zoom option works well.

In all of these photos, in bright sunny conditions, the Google Pixel 8A has delivered warmer photos, with better exposure, and slightly better detail, but otherwise, the Samsung has given brighter images, that also look good.

However, let’s carry on looking at some more images.

Close up photo using the main camera. Photo JWSamsung Galaxy A55 - Close up. JW
Left: Google Pixel 8A, right: Samsung Galaxy A55, close-up with main camera

In this close-up photo, using the main camera on both phones, the Samsung has given a warmer image, with stronger colour saturation, and an overall more pleasing image.

Northern lights captured with the Google Pixel 8A. Photo JWSamsung Galaxy A55 - Night mode, Northern Lights. JW
Left: Google Pixel 8A, right: Samsung Galaxy A55

In low light, we see a big difference. The Google Pixel 8A has a smaller sensor, and slower aperture (f/1.9 vs f/1.8), and despite the usually very impressive Night mode on the Google Pixel 8A, the 8A has really struggled. The Samsung Galaxy A55 has managed to capture a more colourful photo, as well as a photo that’s in focus, compared to the blurry photo on the Google.

Main camera, cows. Photo JWSamsung Galaxy A55 - Cow. JW
Left: Google Pixel 8A, right: Samsung Galaxy A55

On this dull cloudy day, the Samsung has given a brighter image with more saturated colours, and a more pleasing image overall.

Left: Google Pixel 8A selfie with portrait mode (and extra blur added), Right: Samsung Galaxy A55 selfie with portrait blur.

When using the selfie-camera, we’re seeing a huge difference in the colour and skin tones, with the Google Pixel 8A giving me much pinker tones, whereas the Samsung is giving warmer, yellower tones. The backgrounds of both photos are interesting, with the Samsung capturing the green walls more accurately, compared to the duller grey tones on the Google. In reality, my skin tone is probably somewhere in the middle of this, but definitely much more towards the Samsung’s colours. The Pixel 8A photo also looks much sharper, but when has sharpness ever been flattering in portraits?

Which is best for photographers?

Overall, you can get great photos from both phones, but which you choose will depend on which photos you prefer the look of.

Beyond just looking at the photos, there’s also the camera features on offer, with the Samsung Galaxy A55 offering full manual controls, whereas the Google Pixel 8A doesn’t feature manual controls, but does offer raw images.

Instead the Pixel 8A offers a range of useful AI photo features, that can be fun, as well as useful. Here is just a highlight of some of the AI photography and video features you’ll find on the Pixel 8A:

  • Long exposure photography (for water, light trails etc)
  • Night sight photography includes an Astrophotography mode
  • Best Take – select the best faces in a photo
  • Magic eraser (removes objects from photos)
  • Magic editor – move/remove/change objects, skies etc
  • Audio Magic Eraser – for adjusting video audio

If these sound appealing to you, then the Google Pixel 8A is the clear choice.

But not everyone wants AI, and if you’re not too concerned, and would rather be able to choose different scene modes, then the Samsung Galaxy A55 has the widest range of easy to access photo and video modes. Here’s the quick list of the A55 modes:

  • Photo modes: Fun, Portrait, Photo, Pro, Night, Food, Panorama, Macro, Single take (photo/video).
  • Video modes: Video, Pro video, Super slow-motion, Slow motion, Hyperlapse, Dual rec

You also have the option of shooting at 50MP if you want to, using the main camera. The Pixel 8A doesn’t let you shoot at the 64MP resolution of the main camera.

Pixel 8A vs Samsung A55 – In conclusion:

For those looking for AI features, as well as slightly more detailed photos, the Google Pixel 8A comes out on top. However, if you want more colourful photos, and better results in low-light, then the Samsung Galaxy A55 does a better job, in some circumstances.

There’s also the fact that the Pixel 8A is smaller, and there is no budget Google Pixel phone with a large screen, unless you go for a previous model, such as the Google Pixel 7 Pro.

Google Pixel 8A (left) vs Samsung Galaxy A55 (right). Photo JW/AP

If the price of the phone is going to be one of the main deciding factors, and for a lot of people this will be the case. There will be far more people with £300 to spend on a phone, than £450, that’s just a fact of life. And for the people with £300 to spend on a phone, the Samsung Galaxy A55 is the clear choice, as long as you can find it on offer in your area. It’s also capable of taking some great photos, and beating the Pixel 8A in a number of areas. If you want manual controls, for example, then only the A55 offers it.

Which one will you choose? Let us know what you’re looking for in a camera phone. Personally, I’d be happy with either phone, as they both offer a great experience, and some lovely looking photos.

For more options have a look at the best budget camera phones.

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