An necessary distinction within the everlasting iPhone versus Android debate is that the iPhone is a selected model of cellphone with its personal working system, iOS, whereas Android is simply an working system that runs on all kinds of various cellphone manufacturers and fashions. That stated, Google, the driving power behind Android, does make its personal telephones and reserves sure Android options for these units. Now greater than ever, Google appears to be making an attempt to set the usual for Android units with its newest technology of Pixel smartphones. The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro stand as the corporate’s most premium cellphone choices thus far and even bear Google’s first semi-custom cellular SoC.

Google has already given us a sneak peak on the upcoming Pixel 7 sequence, and we’re wanting ahead to seeing how the corporate improves upon its present technology of smartphones. However, earlier than Google launches its subsequent technology telephones together with Android 13, the corporate has yet one more lesson to show Android cellphone makers, and that’s how one can make a mid-range price range cellphone that packs nice worth for the worth.

While the Google Pixel 6a goes on sale at present, we’ve had our arms on a evaluate unit for a pair weeks and have been working it via its paces. We’re right here to report on how nicely the 6a manages to ship the goodness discovered within the 6 and 6 Pro, however at a extra reasonably priced worth. Making a very good price range smartphone is the artwork of constructing compromises, and we’ll should see whether or not Google has managed to grasp that artwork.

Google Pixel 6a Features And Specs

Google Tensor (Octa-Core CPU, Mali-G78 MP20 GPU, Titan M2 safety chip)
Display 6.1″ FHD+ (1080×2400, 429ppi) OLED, up to 60Hz
128GB UFS 3.1
Rear-Facing Cameras
12.2MP f/1.7 OIS main & 12MP f/2.2 OIS ultra-wide-angle
Front-Facing Cameras
8MP f/2.0 wide-angle, 1080p video at 30 fps
Video Recording
Up to 4K @ 60fps, 1080p slo-mo up to 240fps
4410 mAh, up to 18W charging
Under-display fingerprint sensor
Android 12
6.0 x 2.8 x 0.35″ (152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9 mm)
6.3 oz (178 grams)
Dust/Water Resistance
IP67 mud & water resistance
802.11ax Wi-Fi 6E, Sub-6GHz & mmWave 5G, Bluetooth 5.2
Chalk, Charcoal, Sage
Starting at $449 Find It @ Amazon

Starting on the entrance of the machine, we discover an OLED show that’s each smaller and slower than the screens discovered within the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. The Pixel 6a’s show is 6.1 inches corner-to-corner and refreshes dynamically at a price as much as 60Hz. For comparability, the big 6.7” show within the Pixel 6 Pro has a most refresh price of 120Hz, and the considerably smaller show within the Pixel 6 measures 6.4” and refreshes as much as 90Hz. The Pro show has a decision of 1440×3120 with a pixel density of 512ppi. Meanwhile, the Pixel 6 and 6a share the identical 1080×2400 display screen decision, giving the 6a a better pixel density of 429ppi over the 6’s 411ppi.

While the Pixel 6a’s show will not be the quickest, topping out at 60Hz, it’s nonetheless a really good OLED panel. By default, the display screen is ready to show colours which might be considerably extra vivid than these of the extra pure sRGB shade house, however, even with the colour setting on pure, the colours are fairly vibrant. The show additionally has broad viewing angles, with shade shift kicking in solely at excessive angles and with nearly no dimming. We respect the flat show of the Pixel 6a on this respect over the 6 Pro’s curved display screen. While the 6 Pro has fairly good palm rejection, the perimeters of the show exhibit shade shift and dimming with little or no motion.

The Pixel 6a additionally obtained an upgraded under-display fingerprint sensor. We complained in regards to the one within the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro being considerably sluggish, so we’re completely happy to report that the fingerprint sensor within the 6a is sort of quick. However, like all under-display fingerprint sensors, the sensor can typically fail to work in direct daylight, requiring the consumer to shade the portion of the display screen above the fingerprint reader.

The show of the Pixel 6a is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3, which isn’t as crack and scratch-resistant because the Gorilla Glass Victus discovered on the entrance of the Pixel 6 and each the back and front of the 6 Pro. The Pixel 6a’s body is manufactured from a textured metallic alloy, just like the body of the Pixel 6. However, the again of the 6a is manufactured from a composite that feels considerably like glass, giving it a premium really feel, however isn’t as slippery because the glass backs of the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro.

Even although the Pixel 6a’s chassis is manufactured from decrease value supplies than its dearer siblings, it nonetheless appears like a premium machine within the hand. We respect that the Pixel 6a, between its textured body and composite again, is considerably grippier than the 6 Pro, which feels so slick that we fear about it slipping out of our arms. We additionally respect that the white composite doesn’t show fingerprints like black glass.

What Powers The Google Pixel 6a?

Inside the 6a’s chassis sits Google’s first technology Tensor SoC, which brings collectively eight CPU cores, ARM’s Mali-G78 MP20 GPU, and Google’s personal Titan M2 safety chip. The eight cores are evenly divided into huge cores and little cores, with the large cores being additional sub-divided. The core configuration is as follows: two 2.8GHz ARM Cortex-X1 cores, two 2.25GHz ARM Cortex-A76 cores, and 4 1.8GHz ARM Cortex-A55 cores. We’ll should see how this mix performs within the Pixel 6a, although we don’t anticipate many surprises, having seen how Google’s Tensor SoC performs within the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. Benchmarks typically show peak Tensor efficiency as touchdown beneath Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and MediaTek’s Dimensity 9000, however above each chip maker’s prior technology choices.

Google has paired Tensor with 6GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 128GB of UFS 3.1 storage within the Pixel 6a. For comparability, the Pixel 6 comes with 8GB of RAM and as much as 265GB of storage, whereas the 6 Pro packs 12GB of RAM and as much as 512GB of storage. None of the Pixel 6 units have a microSD card slot, so customers can’t develop storage capability, which is considerably unlucky within the case of the Pixel 6a, where patrons can’t pay extra for extra storage. Since the Pixel 6a has much less reminiscence than the higher-end Pixel units, you may anticipate its multi-tasking means to be inferior. The Pixel 6a’s 4410 mAh battery can be smaller than the 4614 mAh and 5003 mAh batteries within the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, respectively. However, the smaller battery doesn’t quantity to worse battery life, however somewhat the alternative, thanks partly to the 60Hz show.

Besides the cellphone itself, the field features a USB-C to USB-C energy cable, in addition to a USB Type A to USB-C converter, however no charging brick. Our evaluate unit additionally got here with Google’s personal case for the cellphone, although patrons should buy the case individually. It’s a bit on the thicker aspect, however isn’t cumbersome like an OtterBox. It matches the Pixel 6a snugly and protrudes previous the perimeters of the display screen and digital camera bump to guard them from scratching or cracking.

Pixel 6a Cameras And Camera Performance

Pixel 6a (left) vs. Pixel 6 Pro (right)

The Pixel 6a retains the distinctive visor-like digital camera bump of the Pixel 6 sequence, although it doesn’t protrude outward from the cellphone almost as dramatically because it does on the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. While we predict the digital camera arrays in each these telephones are improbable, their digital camera bumps kind cabinets that gather mud and grit over time, so we just like the slimmer profile of the price range cellphone.

As you may see within the picture above, the Pixel 6a has simply two digital camera sensors, because it lacks the telephoto shooter discovered within the Pixel 6 Pro. All three Pixel 6 units share the identical 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide angle digital camera with optical picture stabilization (OIS), however the Pixel 6a’s major shooter differs from the 50MP f/1.85 major shooter in each the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. The 6a bears a smaller 12.2MP f/1.7 major digital camera that fortunately nonetheless has OIS. A hole-punch cutout within the show makes room for an 8MP f/2.0 selfie digital camera, which the Pixel 6a shares with the Pixel 6. This selfie shooter has an 84 diploma discipline of view, which isn’t fairly as broad because the 94 diploma discipline of view of the 11.1MP f/2.2 selfie digital camera within the 6 Pro, however remains to be ample.
Google Pixel 6a essential digital camera

Despite having a smaller major sensor than the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, the Pixel 6a nonetheless outputs very good photographs with quite a lot of element (you may click on on any of the pattern photographs to view a higher-res model). The shade profile is sort of equivalent to that of the dearer units, which, as we’ve famous earlier than, is on the extra muted aspect. Some smartphone digital camera programs produce extra vivid photographs that may have a delightful visible pop, however may also find yourself wanting over-saturated. That stated, the extra muted Pixel shade profile isn’t all the time the important thing to extra true-to-life photographs.

Particularly in outside, sunny settings, the Pixel 6a can pull a little bit of shade out of vibrant shades. The blue window body and doorways within the picture above don’t look fairly as teal as they do in actual life or within the comparability shot we took with a OnePlus 7T working the GCam mod. Nonetheless, the Pixel 6a nonetheless handles the distinction between the colourful blue and the shadowed areas nicely, demonstrating pretty excessive dynamic vary.

Google Pixel 6a ultra-wide

Unsurprisingly, provided that we’ve examined it earlier than, the ultra-wide digital camera additionally produces good images with plenty of particulars. Pictures taken with this sensor and lens combo even have little or no lens distortion, which isn’t all the time the case with ultra-wide cellphone cameras. Google could also be performing some post-processing right here to take away distortion.
Google Pixel 6a selfie digital camera (Portrait mode on the best)

If you’re an avid selfie-taker, the Pixel 6a ought to fit your wants nicely. We’re happy each with the standard of the images we took with the front-facing digital camera and the quite a few choices supplied within the digital camera app’s settings for fine-tuning photographs after you’re taking them. The digital camera app has a devoted Portrait mode, however you can too edit any picture to use and alter the Portrait impact. The software program does a reasonably good job detecting edges, so it may possibly blur the background, nevertheless it doesn’t do that job completely.
Google Pixel 6a essential digital camera (Portrait mode)

You can take Portrait mode images with the rear-facing cameras as nicely, and the above picture demonstrates a case where the software program does a very good job separating the foreground and the background, in addition to a case where it doesn’t fairly understand how finest to isolate the 2. Portrait mode does a greater job with easier geometric shapes and conditions where the background is farther away from the topic. That second limitation isn’t such an enormous deal, as Portrait mode can look very unnatural when utilized to settings where a bigger digital camera with a large depth of discipline wouldn’t naturally blur the background as a result of closeness of the topic and background.
Google Pixel 6a essential digital camera (Magic Eraser)

Beyond Portrait mode, Google’s digital camera app has another methods up its sleeve. Here you may see Google’s Magic Eraser function at work. This function was launched with the Pixel 6 lineup and allows customers to carry out some photoshop magic whereas doing the precise enhancing for them. In some instances, the app will recommend distractions that customers would possibly need to take away from their images, however customers may also draw circles round objects that they need eliminated.

Magic Eraser undoubtedly nonetheless wants some enchancment, however in sure instances it may possibly do a very good job at eradicating objects with out making the edit apparent. It struggles filling within the house occupied by objects chosen for removing when the background is extra advanced. We took the Pixel 6a to a automobile meet, considering it to be the right setting to check out Magic Eraser, till we found that the function is essentially clueless in relation to reconstructing sections of automobiles obscured by folks. At current, Magic Eraser is an sometimes helpful function that in any other case features as an fascinating, however typically creepy, celebration trick. The instance above is a bit trippy; as long as you don’t pixel peep, Magic Eraser seems to have flawlessly eliminated the visitors cone, whereas forsaking the cone’s reflection within the puddle..

Google Pixel 6a essential digital camera (Night Sight)

A digital camera software program function that’s a lot farther alongside in its growth is Google’s Night Sight, which lets customers shoot in very low-light settings and nonetheless come away with photographs which might be very removed from grainy messes. The image above was taken in a darkish room lit dimly by gentle coming in via the doorway, but the Pixel 6a managed to provide a reasonably vibrant picture with correct shade and element. There is sort of a little bit of noise, in the event you look intently, nevertheless it’s nonetheless fairly unbelievable what Google’s Night Sight can do nowadays.

Google Pixel 6a major digital camera zoomed vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro telephoto lens

The solely actual weak point of the digital camera system within the Pixel 6a is in its means to take zoom shots. While the Pixel 6 doesn’t have a telephoto lens both, its 50MP major sensor captures way more knowledge than the 12.2MP sensor within the 6a and might absorb extra gentle. The Pixel 6 Pro has the identical major sensor because the non-Pro, and doesn’t all the time punch in to its telephoto lens till greater zoom elements. Since each telephones make use of 4-to-1 pixel binning to provide 12.5MP photographs with the 50MP sensor, they will produce some fairly crisp zoom shots with out counting on a telephoto lens.

The Pixel 6a, alternatively, typically tries to compensate for its smaller major sensor and lack of a telephoto lens by making use of pretty heavy post-processing to sharpen photographs taken with the first sensor. The cellphone and the digital camera app really do a reasonably good job of manufacturing zoomed photographs that look, on first inspection, like they might have been produced by a bigger sensor or a zoom lens. When you examine these photographs to photos taken with the Pixel 6 Pro, you’ll begin to discover that the Pixel 6a zoom shots embody extra noise and lack some element.

Google Pixel 6a major digital camera zoomed vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro telephoto lens (cropped)

Even so, the Pixel 6a can produce some 2x zoom photographs that look fairly sharp, significantly on the machine’s show. However, if you pixel peep you’ll discover the adverse results of the heavy post-processing. As you may see within the picture above, the Pixel 6a shot has some ringing artifacts across the edges of the letters, whereas the letters within the Pixel 6 Pro shot have clear edges. Fortunately, whereas the artifacts within the Pixel 6a shot are ugly upon shut inspection, they aren’t noticeable except you zoom in on the picture, as we’ve executed right here.
Google Pixel 6a major digital camera vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro major sensor

When not zoomed in, the Pixel 6a holds its personal towards the 6 Pro, producing very related photographs, regardless of its smaller sensor. We’d be hard-pressed to let you know which of the 2 shots within the picture above got here from which cellphone.
Google Pixel 6a major digital camera zoomed vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro telephoto lens (cropped)

However, once we punch in to 7x zoom, it turns into instantly obvious which shot was taken with the Pixel 6 Pro’s telephoto lens. The element within the telephoto shot is fairly unbelievable, and much more extremely, we took a shot of that constructing with the telephoto lens at 20x zoom, and the ensuing picture was nonetheless fairly sharp and detailed. If you’re hoping to take some lengthy distance shots, neither the Pixel 6 nor the 6a can stand as much as the 6 Pro. That stated, many smartphone patrons aren’t in search of or aren’t keen to pay for a flagship cellphone with a top-notch telephoto lens and ought to be lots pleased with the digital camera system within the Pixel 6a.