Google Pixel 6a review: Budget smartphone design, cameras, battery life

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Over the past week, I’ve been testing Google’s latest budget smartphone, the Pixel 6a. And while the “affordable” phone costs $749, it shares many features with Google’s high-end $999 Pixel 6 smartphone.

Unboxing and design

The phone comes in three cool colors including ‘Sage’ which is a light green, ‘Chalk’ which is white with a gray accent and ‘Charcoal’ which is mostly a dark grey. I got my hands on Sage, which has to be my favorite.

There was a similar colorway on the Google Pixel 6 called Seafoam and it looks just as good on this budget phone. In fact, the device seems to have taken a shrinking ray from the Google Pixel 6. It’s identical at a glance, with the same FHD+ OLED display and in-screen fingerprint reader, with only a visible difference in its size.

The Pixel 6a has a 6.1-inch screen compared to the Pixel 6’s 6.4-inch screen. And even though the Pixel 6 has a more premium glass back casing, the Google Pixel 6a is indistinguishable even if it is only made of plastic.

In terms of looks, you definitely get the illusion of owning a premium phone at a more affordable price.

Unfortunately, you get the same contents in the box that have become standard with high-end phones, meaning 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 its fast-charging USB-C adapter separately at checkout.

Cameras

The Google Pixel 6a has a strip on the back of the phone that houses the cameras and protrudes from the device. I sort of dig this design because it means the phone is balanced when placed camera side up on a table, whereas some phones wobble due to balancing on cameras that are positioned to one side.

There are two rear cameras including a 12.2 MP wide camera and a 12 MP ultra wide camera. And while these can’t quite compete with many phones in this price bracket, Google’s built-in camera technology enables high-quality photos with balanced, bright, true-to-life colors.

Even though these lenses are somewhat outdated, traditionally the Pixel’s camera hardware in tandem with its software has always delivered great results and the same goes for the 6a. The night mode is particularly impressive and the camera performs well in all conditions.

On the front, you also get a reasonable selfie camera. It’s only 8 megapixels, but believe it or not, it’s the same front camera as the premium Pixel 6.

Technical specifications

There are a few notable sacrifices you’ll make with this more budget-friendly phone and that’s a 60Hz refresh rate. If you don’t know what that means then honestly you probably won’t notice the difference.

On the other hand, if you’ve encountered a higher refresh rate on a phone such as 90Hz on the Pixel 6, you’ll notice that the phone doesn’t scroll as “smoothly”.

Also, there’s only 6GB of RAM in the phone, so technically it has a bit less processing power, but that’s not really noticeable with Google’s new Tensor chip.

It’s the same chip not only in the Pixel 6, but in the Pixel 6 Pro. It enables the phone to perform awesome new features such as live translation, which allows you to chat in 11 languages ​​in real time. Moreover, the phone is launched with Android 12, the latest operating system.

Battery life

You can’t share your battery with other people with this phone, but you can keep the battery for more than 24 hours, or at least that’s what Google quotes.

The phone has an adaptive battery that can learn how you use your device and turn off less used apps in the background to save battery.

I found that over time my battery could last around 20 hours if I didn’t spend too much time watching video content.

And if you’re in a hurry, you can also use “Extreme Battery Saver” to boost battery life (but only to keep it alive for that last phone call or Uber to get you home).

Should I buy it?

It’s a great phone, but I miss the headphone jack that’s already been seen on the Google Pixel 5a 5G.

Some new software features set the Pixel 6a apart from its predecessor, including the Tensor processor. However, I’m a big fan of the sturdy and thin plastic design of the previous Pixel 5a, which I think still holds up very well.

Overall, this is a sleek little 5G Pixel 6 clone, which does a great job of giving you the latest and greatest Pixel 6 performance and style on a budget. So if you want to stand out from the crowd while saving some cash, then the $749 Pixel 6a is where it’s at.

Elly Awesome is an Australian tech and lifestyle vlogger | @elyawesometech | Youtube

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