The Pixel 6a is a smartphone equivalent of Diet Coke, in that it tastes very similar, but removes some of the sweet ingredients to help ensure it reaches the right price.
We’re sure that for many of you, the Pixel 6a looks like a more attractive package than the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. Here are five major reasons we think you’ll want to make this your next device.
Video – 5 reasons the Pixel 6a could be your ideal smartphone
Subscribe to 9to5Google on YouTube for more videos
Clean Android as Google intended
There are some affordable smartphones that deliver the clean, bloat-free Android that Google intended. The Pixel 6a is the only option in North America, except for the Pixel 5a. It’s a feature-rich full Android 12 build with all the trimmings and even a few occasional exclusives like camouflage for Google Photos.
You can also install the latest Android 13 beta build, which only a few smaller devices can do. There’s zero bloat, plus you’ll get timely updates for the next five years. Within that time period, Google has promised three full OS upgrades to Android 15, with two more years of security patches on top. The value proposition is almost unmatched by any OEM except Samsung. One UI isn’t for everyone, and major updates are often slow to rollout, making the Pixel 6a a great option for those who want the best mobile software experience.
Since the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro have basically become supersized smartphones, the shaved dimensions of the 6a will provide a welcome respite for many fans and potential buyers. Let’s put some restraint on those expectations; The Pixel 6a isn’t quite the pint size.
At 6.1 inches, it’s still bigger than the Pixel 4a and Pixel 5, but it’s certainly more manageable than the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Put a case on and you’ll notice a clear size difference with the smaller camera bar, and overall better reachability considering that the display bezels are thinner on all sides. As smartphones grow year on year, the Pixel 6a may provide a more comfortable footprint for you.
Google’s Best In-Display Scanner (Despite Some Problems)
There have been a few talk about in-display fingerprint scanner stories where some reviewers have devices that can be unlocked with any unregistered digit. In our own testing with multiple devices, we haven’t been able to replicate this. This doesn’t seem to be a widespread issue, but one to be aware of.
One potential dealbreaker, at least in our testing, is the Pixel 6a having the most reliable in-display scanner in Google’s 6-series smartphone lineup. The improved scanner also unlocks slightly faster than the Pixel 6 or 6 Pro. Some people have had major problems with the in-display scanner technology on those two devices, but that’s not a problem here.
Tensor Processing Power
After years of pushing low- to mid-range processors for the Pixel A-series, the flagship Tensor chip has been slapped inside the Pixel 6a, and it’s just below many of the best Android phones of the past 18 months. keeps. With nothing off limits, including gaming and video and photo editing, Google’s first chip may not outright top the performance charts, but it’s not far behind.
The on-board language processing is instant with the best in the transcription and translation business. There are also many post-processing camera effects that require the advanced AI muscle brought by Tensor. Motion Mode, Magic Eraser, Face Unblur, and more are all possible with even faster processing of all your images thanks to the return of the pixel neural core.
$449 isn’t cheap by any means, but the package here is great for the price. In context, there is unlikely to be a single sub-$500 smartphone in the United States that will receive the first day update as long as the Pixel 6a.
Factor in trade-in rates and the ability to strike deals with carriers and the Pixel 6a is truly an affordable phone with not many of the compromises we find with cheap Android phones. What’s more, unlike the Pixel 5a, the Pixel 6a is available in more regions at relative regional prices. Those markets are more competitive, but the 6a is still an attractive buy with free goodies like the Pixel Buds A-series.
Bonus: IP Rating
Water resistance isn’t the same, but coming with an IP rating is a big bonus for an affordable smartphone like the Pixel 6a. The IP67 rating essentially means that your phone is protected from being submerged in 1 meter or 3.3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. You certainly shouldn’t think about taking the Pixel 6a swimming, but plunging into the water shouldn’t be the end of the device. Just avoid salt or sea water as it can cause damage. Rain, puddles and fresh water are all safe.
it’s not all roses
The Pixel 6a is a great budget smartphone, but it isn’t perfect. A big bone of contention for tech enthusiasts, in particular, is the use of 60Hz displays. However, in the context of the Pixel 6 lineup, it makes more sense. You have the entry-level Pixel 6a with a 60Hz panel, the base Pixel 6 with a 90Hz panel, and then the top-of-the-line Pixel 6 Pro with a 120Hz refresh rate. There’s enough division to make each price point more attractive in terms of features and functions.
It’s easy to point a finger at the camera setup on the Pixel 6a, especially considering the massive upgrades over the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro late last year. The 50-megapixel ISOCELL GN1 sensor is a big step up over the Sony IMX363 – there’s no real way to. However, the now four-year-old 12.2-megapixel main sensor is still capable, and with a lot of Google’s secret sauce post-processing, it’ll be a reliable companion in almost all scenarios.
The 3.5mm headphone port has also been dropped, which has been a staple of the Pixel A-series since 2019. You’ll need to pick up a pair of recent Bluetooth earbuds like the Pixel Buds Pro, Pixel Buds A-series. Or go out and get a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone adapter to continue using any wired headphones you have.
Are you looking to get the latest affordable phone from Google? Or have you already caught one? Tell us why you chose Pixel 6a as your next smartphone in the comments section below.
FTC: We use income generating auto affiliate links. More.
Check out 9to5Google on YouTube for more news: