The Google Pixel 6a is NOT what I believe many of us have come to anticipate.
However, while this Pixel “a” series is the most popular yet, it also pays respect to the company’s previous offerings. Similar to the early days of the Pixel, the Nexus began as a luxury offering, but things didn’t work out and the business shifted methods with the Nexus 4 to create the first flagship killer.
In the same vein, the Pixel 3a was a brilliant decision. Instead of focusing just on one phone, you could select between a flagship and a mid-range model, with the added benefit that superb photography became a Pixel trait on all models. It was rather irresistible at $399, but Google continued to explore. Over the next two years, all Pixels shifted to the middle of the pack, but this year, the formula seems to be to challenge the status quo vigorously.
Even though the Pixel 6a is a successor to every previous “a” variation, it is distinct in that it is neither a midrange nor a flagship smartphone. At a time when the majority of heroes have become villains, this phone is something else.
Let’s try once more to recall the flagship deadly formula. These were all equipped with top-tier processors, powerful specifications, and likely sacrificed camera quality, certifications, and a few other features, but were priced so aggressively that you couldn’t argue. Okay, this is the Pixel 6 with an excellent camera. I continue to believe that this is now the best value for a smartphone, but the Pixel 6a pushes this concept even further.
It closely resembles its more expensive sibling in appearance and feels. It is somewhat smaller, but it is not necessarily a one-handed phone. It shares the same flat aluminum rails, but instead of a glass back, this is an easily deceptive thermoformed plastic composite. Nevertheless, the selection of materials and the size contribute to its pleasant feel in the hand. After months of whining about what a giant the Pixel 6 Pro was, this seems to be the solution for those who still miss the Pixel 5.
Specification of Google Pixel 6a
Once you examine the internals, though, you’ll question whether or not this is a flagship killer, primarily due to price-reducing decisions. Exceptional processor, check Check for adequate RAM, storage, and battery. Check for the latest 5G, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. It’s not until the IP rating that you won’t get the same as others, but it’s here. However, where things come apart is in its lack of wireless charging, which, to be honest, has never been an A series Pixel characteristic. However, if you came here seeking the headphone jack for which the A series was renowned, you’re out of luck. It has vanished.
I’m also aware that it’s becoming commonplace to receive at least a refresh rate improvement at this pricing point, but the iPhone SE has set a rather low standard. The Pixel 6A surpasses it with a more futuristic approach to the bezels and a far superior OLED display. It may not offer anything above 60Hz, but its color reproduction is significantly superior to the vast majority of phones that exceed 60Hz at this price. If anything, I wish the dual-firing speakers relied less on the single bottom-firing module, but as you and I are well aware, even the Pixel 6 Pro has this issue.
I’ve also heard concerns about this phone’s choppy performance, but that’s one of the reasons why I prefer to take my time. It was an issue for about three days, but it seems that the Tensor chip quickly grew to know me. Even when compared to the 120Hz of the Nothing Phone (1), this Pixel 6A launches folders more quickly. Obviously, given Android is owned by Google, this is to be anticipated, but I prefer the implementation of Material You on the cheaper You over the more costly Pro. The smaller screen provides for a denser feel and better one-handed operation, which is complemented by its consistent visual style. Pixel features such as the at-a-glance widget, voice recorder transcriptions, that in-your-face always-on display, rapid Android upgrades, and nearly everything else you get with the standard and Pro variants are present.
Performance of Google Pixel 6a
However, this also implies that you cannot avoid the responsibilities that come with the territory, such as the inability to delete certain of these UI elements. Similarly, this phone’s battery life is neither terrible nor exceptional. Given its lack of a high refresh rate, I believe Tensor consumes less power than even its larger siblings with their additional juice. However, it only takes a couple of hours of inactivity to observe how wasteful the Tensor can be when it is not in use. The good news is that Google has already sorted out all of the connectivity issues we had last year, so the experience with phone calls and data access was quite decent when I tested it on AT&T’s 5G network or while traveling with Google Fi.
The camera of the Google Pixel 6a
Perhaps the most controversial change is the cameras, as these sensors are at least four years old. Yes, I won’t blame you if you’re still using a Pixel 3, but it’s not that simple. Tensor offers a new ISP to power those cameras, and as we all know, a Pixel is a Pixel when it comes to computational photography.
I spent a considerable amount of time exclaiming “wow” at some of the photos, especially because of the amount of detail this phone can capture in challenging situations, even though some of these weren’t entirely optical. It has a portion of the contrast of the Pixel 6 Pro, but not all of it, and yet it’s there when I want it, such as when photographing landscapes, regardless of the lens length I choose. This phone does exceptionally well in close-ups, and because it is so good at focusing, it can do so even when the breeze is making flowers struggle. Colors have an additional sense of personality that you would have to purchase an iPhone Pro for. And while there is no telephoto lens on board, even the crop is handled so nicely that it is difficult to tell that physics did not play a role.
The same holds for night photography, in which this phone captures an insane amount of detail and handles colors and light effects. The Ultra-wide occasionally suffered, but not always, whereas I had no issues regarding the primary. Unfortunately, the Pixel 6a lacks many of the long exposure features that the Pixel 6 Pro offers, but Astrophotography is present, and you’ll be startled to see that despite costing almost half as much, the Pixel 6a takes the same length of time to take a picture as the Pixel 6 Pro.
Selfies are fine, but not my favorite since I believe skin tones are oversaturated, and even though portraiture was much the same, I believe separation was primarily hit-or-miss, and this applies to the primary cameras as well.
In video capture, the Pro Pixel differs from the standard Pixel. Even if speech-enhancing capabilities are present, I feel that this phone captures a lot more grain than the Pro model and that the codec has a lot of trouble with moiré in some instances. It’s not horrible, but it’s certainly not my fave. If you switch to selfie video, you’ll notice that it gets considerably worse, even if you’re stuck at 1080p. Grain is quite pronounced, dynamic range is nearly nonexistent, and stability can be a bit off, even though the main handled these aspects largely effectively. You will adore the images, but this is not the phone for TikToks, Instagram Reels, or important family films.
In conclusion, I believe you now comprehend why I needed to include this video in this lineup, and why this phone is not necessarily that. Yes, that is the Pixel 6a, but Google changed the formula with the Pixel 4a by introducing a 5G variant. With the 5a, the manufacturer replaced the cheap metal feel with a more aggressive price.
The point is that, yes, this is Google’s most affordable Pixel, but it also represents a further shift in approach. Yes, it’s similar to an iPhone SE since it has a flagship chip, but if we’re being honest, it’s not because Apple is continuing with a six-year-old design and not maximizing the chip’s photography capabilities. In contrast, the Pixel 6a is nearly as good as the Pixel 6, which we consider to be a flagship killer while allowing you to pay less for the majority of these capabilities.
Therefore, it is not a true flagship. It is not truly a mid-range product. The Google Pixel 6a is another option I believe you should examine. This should be your phone if you don’t care about a high refresh rate, wireless charging, a glass back, and a few other features. It’s a Pixel, but more affordable. Another audacious step from the same firm whose 6-series phones already made all other smartphones appear inferior.