Google Pixel 6a review
The Google Pixel 6a is about as small an Android phone as you can get right now, despite the fact that phones aren’t as small as they once were. One of its best features, along with its great performance, camera, and reasonable pricing, is this. The Pixel 6a is the less expensive variant of Google’s upcoming Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro smartphones. The 6a retains some of the more expensive features of previous devices while eliminating others to bring the price down to a very agreeable $449/£399/€459. The Pixel 6a is one of the greatest phones you can get for the money, and it’s the Pixel that the majority of people should purchase instead of the Pixel 6 or 6 Pro, despite certain compromises and the existence of alternative mid-range phones with higher features.
Design & Build
The Pixel 6a, which looks like someone clicked and dragged the top corner of it down in Photoshop and somewhat downsized the entire thing, is your only option if you don’t like the design of the original Pixel 6. The 6a isn’t the tiniest phone available if that’s what you’re looking for. It is taller than the 138.4mm iPhone SE 2022 and the 131.5mm iPhone 13, which is at 152.2mm (exactly). The 6a is still a sizable phone, but it isn’t as sizable as the majority of other slab phones on the market, especially the enormous Pixel 6 Pro. Even though the corners of its angular and boxy form are rounded, I still can’t use one hand to reach the top of the screen with my thumb (I do have quite small hands, but still).
My black review model is essentially ordinary aside from that camera ‘bar’ design on the rear, which is similar to the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. The screen is flat rather than curved. It is a relief that it protrudes far less than its larger brethren. On the 6a, however, the two camera sensors are placed in a tiny pill-shaped blob that is concealed by the fact that it is similarly black, with a circular flash on the right. The lenses are dispersed throughout the length of the bar on the other Pixel 6 versions. The two-tone designs come in three distinct colors, with the little strip above the camera being a different color from the bigger section below. I looked at the charcoal shade, which has a darker bottom and a lighter top.
The durability of the 6a’s rear panel, which is composed of composite plastic rather than tough glass, is a significant drawback. In less than a week, my charcoal unit acquired a huge number of scratches. Even though I’m quite careful with my phones, after two weeks the device already appeared more battered than the phones I’ve used for over a year. The white (chalk) color would be better at concealing scratches than the green (sage, according to Google). Additionally, since charcoal does not effectively conceal fingerprints and smudges, white would.
I didn’t receive a case, so I used the phone without one when traveling and in London. Google claims that the display is made of Gorilla Glass 3 and is scratch-free, but the back is a bit of a mess. A small complaint about a very well-built phone that feels more expensive than it is and comes with IP67 dust and water protection is that it scratches easily.
Screen and speakers
With a 6.1-inch AMOLED display, this phone falls into the category of “small” phones, albeit it is not as small as older models were. Sadly, the refresh rate on that panel is only 60Hz. Other phones in this price range, like the £399 Nothing Phone (1) with 120Hz and the £369 OnePlus Nord 2T with 90Hz, feature greater refresh rates that make content scroll more fluidly. Google could have easily extended to this, but it’s likely that it wants to upsell customers on the 90Hz feature of the Pixel 6 instead.
Thankfully, the 6a’s display is superb and has exceptional brightness; only the harshest direct sunlight makes it difficult to see anything. At first, I thought the screen had a greater refresh rate, but I soon forgot it had a 60Hz refresh rate. It is a very good panel that is far superior to the 720p display on the $429/£419/€529 iPhone SE 2022 in terms of clarity and color reproduction. A selfie camera with a cutout is located in the center of the flat panel’s black bezel, which extends slightly further down the chin than up. The stereo speakers are enough for playing audio at a respectable level of clarity, whether listening to podcasts in the kitchen or doing video calls.
Life of the battery & charging
Although the Pixel 6a’s battery life is superb, its charging speed is only 18W at most. The reason I say maximum is because the only thing included in the box is a USB-C to C cable; you’ll need to purchase a charging brick with a USB-C output or use another charger (wireless charging is not available). The maximum charging speed for the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro is 30W, but they also come without chargers. The 6a charges from 0 to 22% in 15 minutes, 42 percent in 30 minutes, and 100% in an hour and a half.
The OnePlus Nord 2T is less expensive than the Pixel 6a but ships with an 80W charger that charges to 100% in 30 minutes, making Google appear skimpy in terms of both speed and supplied peripherals. I used a variety of chargers to juice the 6a, and I discovered that it regularly charges fairly hot. I’m not sure if this is because some chargers have an output of more than 18W, but when a phone is shipped without a charger and without instructions about what kind of cable or brick to use in the box or in the phone’s software, this is what the majority of people will encounter when they grab the nearest (or cheapest) charger.
Videos & Cameras
Although Google provided the Tensor chip from its premium smartphones to the Pixel 6a, the same can not be said for the camera. Since the 50Mp sensor on the Pixel 6 is so good, it’s actually the first time an A-series Pixel won’t receive the same main sensor as the matching ordinary Pixels. The Sony IMX363 12.2Mp f/1.7 sensor in the 6a has optical image stabilization instead. From the Pixel 3 to the Pixel 5 era, Google employed the same sensor.
Personally, I would have preferred the more recent 50MP lens and a slower processor, but Google has modified its strategy. The good news is that the main camera on the 6a is still astoundingly amazing. It just can’t capture details nearly as well as the Pixel 6 or 6 Pro, but Google’s software post-processing is so powerful that differences are hardly discernible. The ultrawide 12MP f/2.2 Sony IMX386 lens is the same one used in the more expensive 6 models, which is even better news.
Still, photographs are excellent and can easily compete with those from phones costing three to four times as much. In comparison to my wife’s iPhone 13 and a number of other comparable photos I took while on vacation, I found that I constantly favored Pixel’s daytime photos. Whereas the iPhone has recently leaned more toward natural shades, often to an unsatisfactory degree, they include the contrasty processing for which Pixels are renowned. The iPhone performed significantly better than the Pixel in low light, handling challenging sunset situations better and reproducing details better. Even though the Pixel’s Night Sight for taking images in complete darkness is still effective, it is now several generations behind the iPhone, especially on the 6a with the older primary sensor.
But the iPhone 13 is significantly more expensive than the Pixel 6a. It’s that fantastic; I would happily use the 6a as my only camera every day. It’s a really powerful configuration for a mid-range smartphone when you add in the extremely capable ultrawide that doesn’t fish-eye scenes like cheaper phones do (miles better than the iPhone SE 2022). Since there is no zoom lens, you must rely on the main sensor’s digital zoom, which is typical for mid-range phones. Although Google’s Super Res Zoom tool can zoom in up to 7x, results appear fairly blotchy and grainy upon closer scrutiny, as all digital zoom tends to be. However, the 2x zoom is reliable and suitable for social media images.
Price and Availability
In the US, UK, and Europe, Google is accepting pre-orders for the $449, £399, or €459 Pixel 6a. Before the phone goes on sale to the general public on July 28, pre-orders come with a complimentary pair of Pixel Buds A-series headphones, valued at $99/£99/€99. Additionally, Best Buy and Amazon in the US are currently selling it unlocked. In the UK, the same Pixel Buds bargain is offered by Amazon, Carphone Warehouse, Mobiles.co.uk, EE, Vodafone, and John Lewis. The 6a is more expensive than the $349/£349/€349 Pixel 4a from 2020 but costs the same as the $449 Pixel 5a from 2021, which was only sold in the US and Japan.
The Pixel 6a is an excellent mid-range phone with a flagship-level chipset, a truly great main camera, 5G, the most recent version of Android, five years of security support, and a more pocket-friendly design, all for a slightly higher price than previous A-series Pixels. The hot phone’s slow charging rates, the easily scratched rear plastic, and the 60Hz display’s inferiority to similarly priced phones are drawbacks. However, because it is a Pixel, it boasts a superior Android experience, a camera with a premium hardware feel, and software polish that you won’t get on other brands in this price bracket.
- Android 12
- 6.1in 60Hz gOLED display
- Google Tensor chip
- 6GB RAM
- 128GB storage
- Rear cameras:
- 12Mp IMX363 main lens with OIS
- 12Mp IMX386 ultrawide lens
- 8Mp IMX355 selfie camera
- 4400mAh battery
- 18W wired charging
- Stereo speakers
- Wi-Fi 6
- Bluetooth 5.2
- Gorilla Glass 3 display
- 71.8 x 152.16 x 8.85mm