The Pixel 6a is back to reclaim its position as Google’s budget phone king. This Google Pixel 6a review is proof that it’s the best phone under $500. Furthermore, there’s no reason to spend over $500 this year.
The Pixel 6a is Google’s fourth-generation A-series phone and features its first-generation in-house processor, the Google Tensor. The first genuinely affordable phone from Google. Which features both the Tensor itself and the unique design from the larger, more expensive Pixel 6 line. While it makes some concessions to get to the $450 price point. Google’s efforts should be applauded for creating a great, affordable phone. The Pixel A-series phone was a no-brainer for a few years.
It was always the best Android phone in its midrange class. With the Pixel 6A, things are a bit different. Google is shifting its priorities for its Pixel phones, and competitors like Samsung have closed the gap. The 6A still has the best performance and camera quality at its price. But it’s not quite the shoo-in that it once was.
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The Google Pixel 6a arrives a couple of months after its Google I/O preview facing no small task. It has to re-establish Google’s place as the best cheap phone to buy. Particularly for those who prize top-notch cameras above all else. It doesn’t figure to be an easy battle. Since the Google Pixel 5a launched last summer, both Apple & Samsung have come out with Pixel rivals of their own. The iPhone SE (2022) in Apple’s case and the Samsung Galaxy A53. On the lower end of the spectrum. OnePlus’ Nord phones are nipping at Google’s heels with their shallow price tags and not-bad-for-the-price feature sets.
Before starting our Google Pixel 6a review. Let us tell you that this isn’t the first time Google has made a great affordable phone. Thus far, just about every Pixel A-series phone has been well worth the money. But none of them have been exciting phones in the way the Pixel 6a is. It’s neither too big nor too small and not too expensive. But also not so cheap that it has to cut out essential features or components. It’s just right in almost all the right ways.
The 6A offers most of what the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro do for a lower cost of $449. You don’t get wireless charging, a glass back panel, or a faster screen refresh rate. But you do get the same core features as the flagship models. In previous years, that meant the same class-leading camera as the pricier models but usually a less robust processor. That’s not the case this year; instead, you get Google’s custom-built processor, Tensor.
Over the past few years, flagship-grade phones have become less relevant for the average person. While it’s fun to follow the cutting-edge escapades of a device like the new Samsung or iPhone — and, indeed, that phone has sold by the bucket load since its launch — reasonably-priced phones have become a far more important market. That’s why Google needed to get the Pixel 6a right. And that’s what Google did.
The Pixel 6a comes to this battle armed with the same Tensor chipset that powers Google’s flagship phones, giving it a potential edge over would-be Android rivals to its cheap phone crown. And there’s always Google’s undeniable strength with mobile photography, which has helped past Pixel A Series phones stand out as the best camera phones for bargain hunters.
Google Pixel 6a Price And Availability:
In this Google Pixel 6a Review review, our Pixel 6a is running Android 12 with the April 5, 2022 security patch. Google Pixel 6a pre-orders have begun, with the phone available for $449. That’s the same price Samsung charges for its midrange Galaxy A53 and $20 more than the iPhone SE (2020). The Google Pixel 6a is available to purchase in 13 countries from July 28, 2022. Google is shipping the phone in three colors — Sage, Chalk, and Charcoal — all of which feature a dual-tone color scheme like the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. You can buy a Pixel 6a in the following countries at the following price:
- United States: $449
- Canada: CA$599
- United Kingdom: £399
- Australia: AU$749
- France: €459
- Germany: €459
- India: ₹43,999
- Ireland: €459
- Italy: €459
- Spain: €459
- Japan: ¥53,900
- Singapore: S$749
- Taiwan: NT$13,990
You’ll find the phone, a USB cable, a USB A-to-C transfer dongle, a SIM ejector tool, and a few pamphlets in the box as we did in our Google Pixel 6a review unit. It is the smallest box Google has ever shipped a phone in and feels hardly bigger than the phone itself. They are further sticking to the idea that companies are trying to be more eco-friendly than ever by using less packing material and keeping chargers out of boxes.
Google Pixel 6a pre-orders have begun, with the phone available for $449. That’s the same price Samsung charges for its midrange Galaxy A53 and $20 more than the iPhone SE (2020). Google’s phone goes on sale on July 28.
The Pixel 6a will be available through Google Fi, Google’s in-house wireless carrier. That was the only wireless carrier that offered last year’s Pixel 5a. Still, the new phone should be available at more places in the U.S. Carrier availability will include AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, as well as other services like Visible and the mobile offerings from Comcast and Charter.
|Category||Google Pixel 6a specs|
|Storage||128GB UFS 3.1|
|Display||6.1-inch AMOLED, 2400×1080 resolution (429 ppi), 60Hz, HDR10+, Gorilla Glass 3|
|Rear Camera 1||12MP, ƒ/1.7, 1.4μm pixel size, OIS, 4K video @ 30/60FPS, 240FPS super slow-mo video|
|Rear Camera 2||12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.25μm pixel size, 114-degree FoV, OIS, 4K video @ 30/60FPS|
|Front Camera||8MP, ƒ/2.0, 1.12μm pixel size, 85-degree FoV, 1080p video @ 30FPS|
|Battery||4,410mAh, 18W wired charging|
|Dimensions||152.2mm x 71.8mm x 8.9mm|
|Water and dust resistance||IP67|
|Security||Titan M2 Security Chip, In-screen fingerprint sensor|
|Colors||Sage, Chalk, Charcoal|
|OS||Android 12 with Pixel features|
|Update guarantee||Five years of Pixel updates|
At least the Pixel 6a will have wider availability than its predecessor, which was only released in the U.S. and Japan. The Pixel 6a returns to those countries, but you’ll also get it in the U.K., Canada, Germany, Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, Australia, Singapore, and Taiwan right now. The phone will hit India later this year.
Google Pixel 6a Design:
If you’re familiar with the new look Google unveiled with its Pixel 6 phones, then the Pixel 6a holds no surprise for you. The back features the same two-tone design with a horizontal camera bar separating the brighter top portion from the more expansive muted color. In the case of the Pixel 6a, you get to choose from Chalk, Charcoal, and Sage. (The latter color was our Google Pixel 6a review unit.)
For the past few years, Google’s Pixel A-series has primarily been a boring-looking phone. That all changes with the Pixel 6a, which is based heavily on the Pixel 6’s design language. I say heavily because, while it’s similar, it isn’t identical to the Pixel 6 or the Pixel 6 Pro.
Flip over the Pixel 6a, and you will find a slightly smaller version of the regular Pixel 6, right down to the thin bezel surrounding its display and the punch-hole cutout for the selfie cam in the center top of the screen. At 6 x 2.8 x 0.35 inches, the Pixel 6a is a little more compact than its 6.2 x 2.9 x 0.4-inch bigger sibling, though not nearly as small as the 5.5 x 2.7 x 0.29-inch iPhone SE (2022).
The front of the Pixel 6a uses Corning Gorilla Glass 3 versus the more durable Gorilla Glass Victus on Google’s flagship phone. At least the Pixel 6a sports IP67 water and dust resistance, a nice feature to find in a sub-$500 phone.
The Pixel 6 design is not universally loved, though I think it’s a distinctive look in a world of nearly identical smartphones. So I’m pleased that the Pixel 6a offers some visual continuity. As with the regular Pixel 6, I find the sleep button and the volume toggle too close together, so few times I hit one when I mean to use the other. I miss the colored power button from Pixel models of yesteryear, though.
Starting with the similarities in this Google Pixel 6a review, you’ll find the same matte black frame around the edge, the same as the Pixel 6. Of the two main trains of thought behind phone design on Google’s Pixel 6 series, the Pixel 6 look is by far my favorite. In almost every way, this phone feels like a shrunken Pixel 6, which is a good thing. The most significant difference is the camera bar on the back. Yes, it still stretches the device’s width like on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, but it doesn’t protrude nearly as much as either of those phones. The phone is flat on the back when you slap a case on it.
Otherwise, even naked, this design is far superior to phones that stick the camera humps on one corner of the phone. Aside from a visual aesthetic standpoint, that’s mainly because the phone doesn’t wobble at all when placed on a table. That’s been one of the biggest annoyances of some people regarding phone design over the past few years. It’s even got those impressive Google haptics built in, which feel much better to use with every tap or swipe than any other Android phone on the market.
Google Pixel 6a Display:
I appreciate that Google continues to use OLED panels for its lower-cost Pixel A phones when makers of comparably priced handsets often turn to LCD. (Someone drafts a memo to Apple about the iPhone SE screen.) OLEDs offer deeper blacks and better contrast, which comes through when watching a video or playing games on the Pixel 6a’s 6.1-inch display.
Watching Turning Red stream on Disney Plus, the titular panda’s orangish-red fur displayed vibrantly across the Pixel 6a’s screen. More impressively, all those textures that make a Pixar movie stand out are rendered in fine detail on the phone’s screen, from the lush fur to a green nighted cap worn by one of Meilin’s gal pals. The top and bottom speakers also produce clear audio, though you can silence those speakers while holding the Pixel 6a horizontally to play a game.
It’s as much a step down in size from the Pixel 6 as the Pixel 6 is to the Pixel 6 Pro. Come to think of it, putting them side-by-side even looks a bit like the daddy bear, mama bear, and baby bear.
Of the three models, the Pixel 6a appears (to my eyes) to have the most accurate white balance. By comparison, white backgrounds on the Pixel 6 have a slight hint of green to them—the Pixel 6 Pro sports a slightly warmer display with an edge of pink to its whites.
The Pixel 6A is the smallest of the three 6 series phones, but maybe the best way to describe it is that it’s the least big. Next to the Pixel 6 Pro with its 6.7-inch screen and the 6.4-inch Pixel 6, the Pixel 6A feels downright petite. I contest that its 6.1-inch screen is the best compromise between a small (read: reasonably sized) phone and the gigantic phones everyone else wants, but that’s just my own personal hill to die on.
The screen on the 6A is a 1080p OLED panel with a standard 60Hz refresh rate, a step down from the 6’s 90Hz screen. After using a 120Hz screen for a while, I immediately noticed the difference going back to 60Hz. I’d never see it without the faster refresh rate to compare it to, but motion looks jerkier, giving the phone a less polished feel. Still, LCD panels are pretty standard in the $500 and below class, so the richer contrast of an OLED is welcome here. It’s not comfortable to use outside in direct sunlight, but it gets bright enough to be usable.
None of these devices will break records for having the brightest displays on a smartphone, but they aren’t particularly dim, either. I had no problems seeing content on the phone during the day — or even in direct sunlight, for that matter — and the flat edges on the display meant there was no odd reflection or refraction to play into the mix, either.
However, the in-display fingerprint sensor is not nearly as good as I had hoped. Now, compared to the Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro, this sensor is largely improved. I only had it fail on me a few times throughout each day’s use on the Pixel 6a, while it fails more often than not for me on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. That doesn’t mean it’s a good fingerprint sensor experience, though.
In its color-boosting adaptive mode, the Pixel 6a captures 131% of the sRGB color spectrum, compared to 115% for the iPhone SE. (Change the display setting on the Pixel 6a to the more muted natural, and the sRGB rating drops to a more iPhone-like 111%.) That said, Samsung’s Galaxy A53 offers a more colorful display, with a 204% rating in Vivid mode and 123% in natural.
Colors are far more accurate on the Pixel 6a’s display, where the Delta-E rating varies between 0.25 (adaptive) and 0.2 (natural), which is better than Galaxy A53’s 0.3-plus rating. (The closer to zero, the more accurate the colors.) The iPhone SE clocks in at 0.21%.
Google Pixel 6a Review: Cameras
By saving $150 over the Pixel 6, you’d probably think the camera is the first significant downgrade you’ll encounter. If you read nothing else in this Google Pixel 6a review, know this: The Pixel 6a’s camera is every bit as good as the Pixel 6’s camera. Yes, that includes the front-facing camera, as well.
The Pixel 6A’s 12-megapixel f/1.7 primary camera is borrowed from the Pixel 5A, with a couple of Tensor-enabled benefits. The 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera is the same as the one on the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, and it’s good but unremarkable. The 6a uses a 12MP sensor, compared to 16MP on the Pixel 5a. However, the sensor itself is larger this time, so the Pixel 6a will likely let in more light when you turn to its ultrawide angle lens. The primary shooter still uses a 12.2MP sensor.
Some might be disappointed by the camera specs on the Pixel 6a, considering how Google beefed up the hardware on the Pixel 6 lineup. That phone uses a 50MP sensor for its primary camera, and the similarly priced Galaxy A53 turns to a 64MP shooter.
However, the Pixel A series story has always been more about photo processing software and computational photography, and it’s these areas that continue to drive the Pixel 6a’s camera capabilities. As a result, even with the modest camera specs, the Pixel 6a not only holds its own against rival camera phones during our Google Pixel 6a review but produces images that could challenge those from much more expensive devices.
Only in rare situations does the Pixel 6’s considerably newer sensor produce better photos, and even then, you need to nitpick to see any kind of difference. That’s pretty astounding given how much difference we saw in quality when the Pixel 6 debuted. Still, it can likely be attributed to one significant change that Google made with the entire Pixel 6 series: the Google Tensor processor.
While previous Google phones utilized a Qualcomm processor and a Google co-processor, Google ensured its image processing capabilities on Tensor were above and beyond what any other Android phone could offer. If Pixel phones were known for one thing alone over the years, it was their camera quality.
Whether you were taking pictures of your food, your kids, your pets, or your amazing evening out, Pixel phones were the one series of phones you could consistently rely on to give you a good photo. Not just a better photo than other phones. An actual good one. You might save money by choosing a Pixel 6a over a Pixel 6, but that cost saving isn’t going to cost you a good camera. But don’t take my word for it; let the pictures speak for themselves.
Tensor enables a few exciting camera features on the 6A, which are somewhat good. One of the most impressive of these features is called Face Unblur. In low light, cameras must use slower shutter speeds to get a bright enough exposure. If your subject is moving even a little, then getting a sharp photo of them becomes very tricky. Face Unblur uses information from the ultrawide camera to supplement the primary camera’s brighter exposure. Putting it all together with a bit of machine learning magic gives you a final image with the correct brightness and — in theory — a sharp photo of your subject’s face.
Face Unblur happens automatically, and you’ll only know it was in use after the fact. And it works! The results are still soft and noisy if you look closely but without noticeable motion blur. It’s a shame that it doesn’t appear to work with portrait mode.
Another thing that Tensor enables is the ability to use HDR during video recording, even at the highest frame rate and resolution setting: 4K / 60p, in this case. The difference is subtle, though. I shot a backlit video with the Pixel 5A at 4K / 60p and compared it to the 6A with the same settings. The 6A brings back a little more detail in highlights, and it looks a little better than the 5A’s footage, but I’m not sure I’d know the difference without seeing them side by side.
Motion Mode is one Tensor feature available on the 6 and 6 Pro but missing from the 6A. Google spokesperson Rebecca Pineiro says it isn’t enabled because of the 6A’s “hardware differences” from the 6 and 6 Pro. This feature mimics the creative blur effects of prolonged exposure and panning photography techniques — things typically take time, special equipment, and practice to perfect. The 6 and 6 Pro can make a convincing impression of both effects with just one shutter press. It’s fun, and it stinks that the 6A can’t use it.
Still, the 6A presents a sophisticated set of camera features for a mid-range phone, and in terms of raw capabilities, it’s still the best in its class. Tensor adds some interesting new features, but the foundation on which the 6A’s camera is built was already a strong one.
Pixel 6a Camera vs Pixel 6 Camera:
It’s more symbolic than anything that the 6A doesn’t use the new 50-megapixel sensor from the Pixel 6 because. In reality, photos from that new high-res sensor aren’t dramatically better than that of the older camera. Photos from the 6A look like photos from a Pixel camera. Contrasty with a slightly cool white balance and vivid colors that don’t cross into the oversaturated territory. If you like the Pixel photo aesthetic, you’ll like the 6A camera.
For our Google Pixel 6a review. Let’s compare the Pixel 6a to its chief rival. For claiming the best camera phone for less than $500 the iPhone SE. Apple’s budget phone has just one rear camera. But like Google, it can produce some pretty stellar shots thanks to smart software and image processing.
Both phones captured the sunflowers growing in my backyard, with the flower standing in sharp contrast to the Japanese maple tree behind it. I’m particularly impressed that both phones kept the sunflower in focus, as a stiff wind was blowing during my camera testing, and I wondered whether that would create blurs in either shot. As it turns out, I needn’t have worried.
The images are evenly matched here, with both the Pixel 6a and the iPhone SE recreating the patterns on the sunflower petals and keeping the disc florets in the center nicely distinct. The iPhone SE photo is a little more vibrant, but I give the Pixel 6a points for more accurate colors.
Colors are more evenly matched in these squash photos at a local vegetable market. The tones of the wooden racks in the background of the Pixel 6a’s photo look a bit richer than what the iPhone SE produced, but again, the only separation between these two images comes down to personal preference.
I would note that the full shot of the Pixel 6a has a wider viewing area, so you get more details on the margins than you do with the iPhone.
The only area where you’ll see any downgrade is when zooming into a subject. You’ll find that 2-3x zoom is where the only real difference between the Pixel 6 and 6a lies, and, even then, the difference is minute even when zooming way in. If you want better zoom, you’ll have to pay much more for a phone with an optical zoom lens. Here’s a solid example at 1x:
And then again at 2x, where you can notice increased detail on the Pixel 6 image in the treeline:
Lastly, at 7x, the maximum digital zoom for photos. At the least, the Pixel 6a looks more like a proper camera to me, while the Pixel 6 has some precise digital sharpening happening as a result of a higher megapixel sensor:
The wide-angle lenses on the back produce essentially identical results, as well.
Tensor is the show’s star regarding special features, delivering capabilities to the Pixel 6a you’d expect from more premium phones. Magic Eraser moves from the Pixel 6 to the Pixel 6a, allowing you to remove unwanted bystanders and objects from your pictures with a tap, as I did with the two passersby in this selfie.
But Magic Erase picks up a new Camouflage feature with the arrival of the Pixel 6a. Now, it’s not just about removing distracting objects but changing their color to blend in more with the background. So the focus remains on the photo’s subject.
Erasing people so efficiently and effectively from a photo was one of my favorite Pixel 6 features. I’m less sold on Camouflage, which depends heavily on finding the right scene and the suitable object to obscure. I tried it with a parked car that had poked its nose into the frame of the above photo. But I don’t think that’s the most effective use of Camouflage. Perhaps I’ll eventually come across a photo that benefits from this particular set of skills.
The Tensor-powered features don’t stop with a new and slightly improved Magic Eraser. Translation features let you point your camera at text to translate it on the fly, and an Interpreter mode lets you carry on conversations with another person, as the assistant on your Pixel 6a serves as the middleman, translating what each of you says. Translated transcription works on supported languages on the Recorder app as well. And some voice commands don’t even require an “OK, Google” as your phone’s wake word.
Pixel 6a Software and Performance:
If you’ve used a Pixel phone recently, you’ll know exactly what to expect here. Things like Magic Eraser, instant voice typing with Google Assistant, Direct My Call, Hold for Me, and Live Translate are all the major features that Google debuted with the Pixel 6. The only one that didn’t make it is the Motion Photos mode in the camera.
Nothing else is different about this experience, and that’s something to celebrate. After all, if you’re paying half the price of a Pixel 6 Pro, you would expect to be missing some big hardware and software features, right? In this case, it’s just the hardware that has seen any sort of major change with the price drop.
The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro launched with Android 12, and it wasn’t the best experience for early adopters since the first versions of the software were buggy. With Android 13 around the corner, Google seems to have figured out its Android 12 issues, at least on the Pixel 6A. I haven’t encountered any noticeable bugs or disruptive quirks using the phone as my daily driver for the past couple of weeks. I made calls, listened to Spotify on Bluetooth earbuds, took pictures and video, and navigated town without a problem. And it is, of course, stock Android, meaning there are no duplicate apps or unwanted features to clutter up the UI.
Of course, Google’s Material You theme is baked into every Pixel and offers automatic color changing for supported apps and the entire system UI based on the wallpaper you choose on the home screen. The upcoming Android 13 update will also add even more color choices to the existing palette. This drives home the idea that Google’s Pixel phones look and feel more like your phone than just another Android device.
The 6A will get five years of security updates, the same as the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. Google wouldn’t confirm how many OS platform upgrades the 6A will get. But the 6 and 6 Pro are promised three. Samsung offers a very strong update policy for the A53. Promising four OS upgrades and the same five years of security patches. It’s worth noting that the Pixel should get monthly updates from Google throughout its lifespan. But Samsung tends to put its phones on a less frequent update schedule as they get older. Just two security updates a year for the oldest supported devices.
Google has started making its chipsets to power its mobile devices. It’s the Pixel 6a’s turn to make the same move to Tensor that the Pixel 6 & Pixel 6 Pro did. The goal behind Google’s silicon is to specifically include cores dedicated to compute-intensive AI tasks. In other words, the kind of on-device translation and dictation features. Which makes the Pixel experience stand out from other Android phones.
With the focus on AI and machine learning, blazing performance isn’t necessarily at the top of Tensor’s to-do list. Our testing found that the Pixel 6a out-muscled the Android phones in its price range. Such as the Exynos 1280-powered Galaxy A53.
The Pixel 6A is a flagship phone with some nicer features stripped back. That’s one approach to building a midrange phone. The other approach is to invest a little more in those nice-to-have features. Like a fast refreshing screen, but to include a cheaper processor and sacrifice a bit on performance. That’s the route that Samsung took with the Galaxy A53.
In our Google Pixel 6a review, the 6a posted vastly better Geekbench 5 numbers than the Galaxy A53. 1,057 vs. 745 in the single-core test and 2,918 vs. 1,888 mismatches in multicore testing. Regarding graphic testing, the Pixel 6a’s 41 frames per second result on the 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited benchmark outpaced the Galaxy A53’s 13 fps result. The most telling result came from our real-world testing, in which we used Adobe Premiere Rush to transcode a video. The Pixel 6a completed the task in 49 seconds, while the Galaxy A53 needed a little less than 2 minutes.
The road that Google took makes sense to me, at least. The Pixel 6 series phones make a bold statement, from their unusual design to the custom chipset. They’re phones for people who want phones that do cool stuff. The Galaxy A53 is a little different. It’s for someone who wants the biggest and best display. They can get for their money and doesn’t mind giving up some processing power. I know which category I fall into, and you probably know where you stand, too.
Unfortunately, Google isn’t the only company to take the silicon powering its flagship phones. Furthermore putting it inside a lower-cost device. That’s a page out of Apple’s playbook with the iPhone SE. Whereas the 2022 model runs on the same A15 Bionic chipset that powers the iPhone 13 lineup. Since that’s the fastest mobile chipset we’ve tested so far. You can imagine how a Pixel 6a vs. iPhone SE showdown turned out.
The iPhone SE’s 4,482 multicore results on Geekbench and 50-fps score on Wild Life Unlimited beat the Pixel 6a. Apple’s phone also transcoded the video in 27 seconds, besting the Pixel 6a’s time by 22 seconds in our test. To be fair, to the Pixel 6a and its Tensor chip. Many phones have a hard time keeping up with the A15 Bionic inside Apple’s iPhones. And as we’ll get to later, performance is only part of the story with Tensor.
During the Google Pixel 6a review. I didn’t notice many differences in performance between the Pixel 6a and the Pixel 6. When switching between apps or even playing demanding games like PUBG Mobile. If I have one complaint about Pixel 6a’s performance. It’s that on-screen buttons near the corners of the phone didn’t feel as responsive as other screen areas. Often requiring very precise touches. It’s not a huge issue, but it is a noticeable one.
Pixel 6a Battery Life and Charging:
Most phones in this price range might be lucky to have a Snapdragon 778G+ like the Nothing phone 1 has. The reality, however, is that most phones end up with a Snapdragon 695. Or something lower spec than that in this price range. In a nutshell, the Google Tensor SoC is at least 25% faster than anything else in this price range. And more commonly, is 40-50% faster than most phones in this price range.
What does that mean for the real world? Let’s get the bad out of the way first: Battery life suffers compared to previous Pixel A-series phones. According to lab-test results from our parent company. The Pixel 6a’s battery dies 2-3 hours quicker than previous Pixel A-series phones in the battery stress test. Here’s the raw data so you can directly compare.
Looking at this graph, you would assume this means the Pixel 6a has bad battery life, but that’s not true. This means it doesn’t have the 2-day battery life that the Pixel 5a. So readily commanded. But it will certainly last you through a full day of use without a problem.
Battery life has proven to be quite a puzzler with the Pixel 6a. Google promises up to 24 hours of regular usage from the phone. With an Extreme Battery Saver Mode increasing that to 72 hours by turning off features and pausing many apps. That’s despite the fact that the Pixel 6a battery is actually smaller than it was on the Pixel 5a. 4,410 mAh vs. 4,680 mAh on the Pixel 5a.
Whether it’s the smaller battery, the demands of the Tensor chip, or some other factor. The Pixel 6a fell flat on our battery test during the Google Pixel 6a review. In which phones surf the web continuously until they run out of power. The Pixel 6a lasted an average of 6 hours and 29 minutes. Which is more than 3 hours behind the Pixel 5a’s result on that same test. Even worse, the Pixel 6a trailed the iPhone SE (2022). And we consider the 9-hour, 5-minute time that Apple’s phone produced to be below average for a smartphone.
Still, in everyday use, you should be able to make it from sun-up to sun-down. Without having to charge your phone. Just make sure to charge the phone overnight if you want your Pixel 6a to last the next day.
Speaking of charging, the Pixel 6a supports charging speeds of up to 18W. Though you’ll have to buy your adapter separately. Using a 15W charger I had handy. I was able to get a drained Pixel 6a to 20% after 30 minutes of charging. Surely, an 18W charger would charge the Pixel 6 up a little bit more. But probably not enough to top the 46% we saw with the Galaxy A53 and its 25W charging.
Now, with that in mind, Pixels are notoriously picky about the type of charger that you can use. If you can, make sure you either have a Google Pixel charger or one that can deliver USB-PD 18W (5v/3a).
Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of the phone charging extremely slowly. I plugged it into a Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0 charger one night. And woke up to find that it had only charged 40% overnight because it didn’t like the charger.
Google Pixel 6a review: Verdict
Puzzling battery performance aside. The Pixel 6a is hard to beat if you’re looking for a great phone for under $500. The phone has a compelling look, a bright display, and better performance than its closest Android archrival, the Galaxy A53. It’s once again one of the best camera phones among midrange devices. Capable of competing with phones that are much more expensive. And that Tensor chipset means your budget phone is capable of doing much more than the low-cost competition.
You should buy this if:
- You want the best-performing phone under $500
- You want the best cameras in this price range
- Pixel-specific features appeal to you
You should not buy this if:
- You need two-day battery life
- 60Hz displays bother you
- You need Space Zoom on a camera
The Pixel 6a is largely in a class of its own thanks to the Google Tensor processor inside. Coupled with a superb camera experience that beats everything at this price point (and most beyond). It’s paradigm-changing to use a camera this good on a phone this inexpensive. Google’s bold design from the Pixel 6 is here, and it feels even better in this more compact size. Plus, Google’s Pixel-specific features atop Android 12 really help round out an incredible experience.
While I’m definitely disappointed that the fingerprint sensor isn’t as good as the competition. It’s better than the Pixel 6, and I didn’t find myself getting annoyed with it on a regular basis. There’s no doubt that the 60Hz panel will drive some people crazy, though. While Google could very well improve the fingerprint sensor in a software update. The 60Hz refresh rate of the display is never going to change.
But, for $450, there’s simply no better value on the market. I hope this Google Pixel 6a review helped you a lot. Unless you really need better zoom capabilities on the camera or two-day battery life. We don’t see any reason to recommend another Android phone available. Save the money, and get a Pixel 6a.