For the past week, I’ve been testing Google’s latest smartphone, the Pixel 6a. And while the “affordable” phone comes in at $749, it shares a lot of features with Google’s signature Pixel 6 smartphone, which costs $999.
Open the packaging and design
The phone comes in three new colors including “Sage” which is light green, “Chalk” which is white with a gray accent and “Charcoal” which is mostly dark gray. I got my hands on a Sage, which has to be my favourite.
There was a similar color on the Google Pixel 6 called Seafoam and it looks good on this budget phone. In fact, the device looks like it took a shrunken beam to the Google Pixel 6. It’s identical at a glance, with the same FHD+ OLED display and in-display fingerprint reader, with only the obvious difference being its size.
The Pixel 6a has a 6.1-inch screen compared to the 6.4-inch Pixel 6. And although the Pixel 6 has a more premium glass back cover, the Google Pixel 6a is indistinguishable even though it is only made of plastic.
Case wise, you are sure to flaunt the illusion of owning a premium phone at a reasonable price.
Unfortunately, you get the same contents inside the box that have become the norm with premium phones, which means there’s no charging brick in the box. All you get is the phone, a USB-C charging cable, and a USB-A to USB-C adapter. Google sells the USB-C Fast Charging Adapter separately at checkout.
The Google Pixel 6a has a strip on the back of the phone that houses the cameras and protrudes from the device. I kind of dig into this design because it means the phone is balanced when placed camera side down on a table, while some phones do wobble due to the balance on the cameras placed on one side.
There are two rear cameras including a 12.2MP wide-angle camera and a 12MP ultra-wide-angle camera. And while these can’t compete with many phones in this price category, Google’s in-camera technology allows for high-quality photos with well-balanced, bright, and true-to-life colors.
Although these lenses are somewhat outdated, the traditional Pixel camera hardware along with its software has always brought great results and they are the same as for the 6a. Nightmode is particularly impressive and the camera performs well in all conditions.
Up front, you get a reasonable selfie camera, too. It’s only 8MP but believe it or not it’s the same front camera found in the premium Pixel 6.
There are some notable sacrifices that you will be making with this budget phone which is the 60Hz refresh rate. If you don’t know what that means, honestly, you probably won’t even notice the difference.
On the flip side, if you experience a higher refresh rate on a phone like 90Hz on the Pixel 6, you’ll notice that the phone doesn’t scroll “smoothly”.
In addition, the phone has only 6 GB of RAM, so technically it has a little less processing power, but it’s not really noticeable with Google’s new Tensor chip.
This is the same chip, not just the Pixel 6, but the Pixel 6 Pro. It allows the phone to perform cool new features such as live translation, which allows you to chat in 11 languages in real time. In addition, the phone is launched with Android 12, the latest operating system.
You can’t share your battery with others with this phone but you can keep the battery working for more than 24 hours, or at least that’s what Google quotes.
The phone has an adaptive battery that is able to tell how your device is being used and will turn off less frequently used apps in the background to save battery life.
I’ve found that over time, my battery was able to last about 20 hours if I didn’t spend too much time watching video content.
And if you’re in trouble, you can also use “Extreme Battery Saver” to increase battery life (but just to keep it alive on the last phone call or an Uber ride home).
Should you buy it?
This is a great phone, but I’m missing the headphone jack previously seen on the Google Pixel 5a 5G.
There are some new software features that set the Pixel 6a apart from its predecessor, including the Tensor processor. However, I’m a big fan of the previous Pixel 5a’s slim, durable plastic design, which I still think is really good.
Overall, this is a neat little 5G Pixel 6 clone, which does a great job of providing you with the latest, greatest performance and style of the Pixel 6 on a budget. So, if you want to stand out from the crowd but still save some money, the $749 Pixel 6a is where it’s at.
Elly Awesome is an Australian tech and lifestyle vlogger | elliawesometech | Youtube
Originally published as Elly Awesome on a new budget smartphone that looks excellent