When I reviewed the Google Pixel 6 Pro almost a year ago, I was blown away by just how good hardware and software came together to create one of the best phones that I’ve ever used. Google has now followed it up with the cheaper Pixel 6a that retains many of the same features as a much more affordable price point.
Whilst the Google Pixel 6 Pro has a 6.7″ 120Hz Quad HD+ display and the 6 a 6.4″ Full HD 90Hz display, the Pixel 6a has a smaller 6.1 full HD/60HZ display that honestly is more than fine for the average consumer. It has a very similar pixel density and HDR support, but obviously without that 90/120Hz support, you should expect that scrolling will probably feel just as smooth as the phone that you’re upgrading from.
It also has the same great features such as high brightness mode as well as an always-on display, which means you won’t miss anything important with now playing and at a glance visible as soon as you touch the phone. Unlike the 6 Pro, the 6a has a completely flat screen which a lot of people actually prefer.
The design of all three phones is similar with the 6a coming in Black/White/Green and coming in at a slightly smaller size than the 6 due to its smaller display. The display of the 6a takes up majority of the screen with the same hole punch front camera design and the other cameras sit on a bar that sticks out on the back of the display. Whilst the back of the 6/6 Pro was glass, the back of the of the 6a is composite, which is no doubt a cost saver, but not a massive deal to most. Whilst the 6 Pro had a curved design, the 6a follows the 6 with a flat front screen.
Obviously, just like the 6 and 6 Pro there’s no facial recognition on the camera, but you still have the same under display finger print sensor which I really like. It’s extremely accurate and I never had any issues with the phone unlocking.
When it comes to battery life, the 6a actually fares better than the 6 and 6 Pro with 72 hours of battery life in extreme battery saver life (48 hours on the 6/6Pro). This is likely due to its smaller display and likely due to the lower refresh rate of the screen. There is no fast charing here though and also no wireless charging or battery share which is featured on both the 6/6 Pro. The wireless charging in particular would have been nice to see as it’s become so common with devices now.
I absolutely loved both the cameras and the camera features on the 6 Pro and whilst taking photos on the 6a is still a great experience, this is where things start to differ quite dramatically (more-so when compared to the 6 Pro). The 6a has dual cameras, a 12.2 mega pixel main camera and a 12 mega pixel ultrawide camera. This is quite a big difference to the Pixel 6 which also has dual cameras, but one is a 50 mega pixel main camera and a 12 mega pixel ultra wide camera. Obviously, the 6 Pro blows both out of the water with three cameras (the third being a 48 mega pixel telephoto lense with 4x optical zoom and 20x digital zoom).
Thankfully, many of the same features such as Magic Eraser, Real Tone, Night Sight, Face Unblur, Cinematic Pan and Portrait Mode are all here and still really easy to use and all produce really good results for the casual photo taker. The only one missing is Motion Blur, which to be honest, is the one I probably used least when using the 6 Pro.
When it comes to the front camera, the 6a has the same as the 6 which is an 8 mega pixel camera which honestly produces really nice results, particularly when in good sun light.
The Pixel 6a uses the same Google Tensor chip that was found in the 6 and 6 Pro with the only other differences being ram and storage. The 6a comes with 6GB of ram which is a drop from 8GB/12GB (6/6Pro), but honestly you won’t notice a major difference doing most everyday tasks. The 6a is also locked at 128GB storage whilst the 6 and 6 Pro provided more options, so that might be a dealbreaker, although with Google’s great Cloud functionality, hopefully less so than other phones.
Google pushed security in a big way when the 6 and 6 Pro launched and it’s still the same case here. The Privacy Dashboard will tell you which apps have been using key device functionality such as location, camera and microphone in the last 24 hours whilst the Security Hub will tell you of any password breaches and the like. A new Personal Safety feature lets you tell Google to check in with you after a set amount of time (such as walking late at night) and will call emergency services if you don’t respond to the alert. For those that are not wanting their mics and cameras to be live at all times, Google has added tiles to the quick settings so that you can quickly enable or disable too.
All-in-all, I’m still a massive fan of this phone for $749 (can currently be had for $640 from Amazon) which is $250+ cheaper than the 6 and a whopping $550+ cheaper than the 6 Pro. I can see it being a massive upgrade from most other Android phones both in terms of hardware and software. The only thing that could lower its value proposition is the drop in price of the 6 and 6 Pro when the 7 and 7 Pro release, but as of right now, you can’t really go wrong as phone that is great for all users at a great price point.
The Google Pixel 6a is a really great budget phone incorporating many of the same elements of the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro at a much cheaper price point.
Compact design with a sizeable screen
Great for taking photos
Battery life is impressive
Wireless charging should be included
60hz is jarring if you've had a higher refresh rate