Amazing, affordable, great – whatever the “a” is Pixel 6a stands for, chances are Google’s latest phone will grab the attention of anyone with an affinity for the company’s products. It’s plenty powerful, reasonably priced, and while we’re yet to review it, the recipe for success is there, at least on paper.
Pixel 6a vs Pixel 6 in a nutshell:
- Pixel 6a has a smaller screen (6.1 vs 6.4 inches)
- Pixel 6a has a 60Hz display; Pixel 6 is smoother at 90Hz
- Pixel 6a has 6GB of RAM vs 8GB for Pixel 6
- Pixel 6a has a 12.2MP main camera versus 50MP on the Pixel 6
- No wireless charging on the Pixel 6a
- Pixel 6a arrives on July 28; Pixel 6 is available starting today
- Pixel 6a costs $449, $150 less
Design and display
No surprise, the Pixel 6a follows the same design language that Google introduced with the Pixel 6 series. The two phones look almost identical, with their signature rear camera strip extending from left to right. However, size is one factor that sets them apart. The Pixel 6a is the smaller phone, with a 6.1-inch screen versus the Pixel 6’s 6.4-inch. It also looks like the Pixel 6a has a “3D thermoformed composite” back, which is a nice touch. word is for plastic. The Pixel 6 comes with a Gorilla Glass 6 back.
Another corner Google had to cut is the omission of a high refresh rate screen – it’s a 60Hz affair on the Pixel 6a. Not a deal breaker if you ask us, but it’s a difference in smoothness you might notice when spoiled by displays like the Pixel 6’s 90Hz panel.
Performance and software
Tensor is the name of Google’s custom SoC, which made its debut on the Pixel 6 series last year. It’s the chip that also powers the Pixel 6a, which is great news – such powerful chips aren’t common in phones at this price. According to benchmarks, the Google Tensor isn’t as powerful as the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon chips, but it’s optimized for AI and machine learning tasks like speech recognition.
In terms of performance, though, the chipset is where the similarities between the Pixel 6a and the regular Pixel 6 end. When it comes to memory, the 6a has 6GB of RAM while the Pixel 6 has 8GB in comparison. This shouldn’t impact day-to-day tasks that much, but the more affordable model should expect slightly slower loading times and faster background apps. Another difference is that the Pixel 6a only comes in one storage option, 128GB to be exact, while you can get the Pixel 6 in a 256GB version.
The camera system is usually one of the areas where companies are the first to start cutting back when making a more affordable model for their range. The same is true when it comes to the Pixel 6a, which comes with the same main camera found on the Pixel 5a and even older models.
Battery life and charging
The Pixel 6a only comes with a slightly smaller battery than the Pixel 6-4410mAh versus 4614mAh. A more clear win for the more expensive option can be seen when looking at the charging speeds for both devices, showing that the 6a supports up to 18W charging, while the Pixel 6 can go up to 30W.
For now, the information we have on paper from the official Pixel 6a announcement gives a very clear idea of what to expect if we get a chance to compare it to the Pixel 6.
For example, the main camera probably wouldn’t perform as well as the more expensive model, but the rest should deliver similar results. In terms of performance, having 6GB instead of 8GB of memory might make some difference in day-to-day use of the device, but it shouldn’t be too obvious.
Holding the 6a shouldn’t feel all that different compared to the Pixel 6 either, except for the slightly smaller screen, body and bezel on the back. That said, we can’t wait to see if the slightly smaller form factor eventually translates into a different real-world feel.