Shopping for a more affordable alternative to Google’s flagship Pixel 6? The good news: The search giant has uncovered exactly that. Announced at Google’s annual I/O event, the Pixel 6a is a lower-priced version of its top-spec smartphone. But how is the Pixel 6a different from the full-fat Pixel 6?
At first glance, there isn’t much to differentiate the two Google smartphones. But delve into their respective specifications and you will discover some key differences between the two devices.
Don’t have time to dig? don’t care. We have completed the paperwork and highlighted all the important details in the guide below. Read on until the end and you’ll know where the Pixel 6 and 6a diverge – and which one is the better buy for your needs and budget.
Google Pixel 6a vs Pixel 6: Price and Release Date
The Google Pixel 6 is available for purchase now. The 128GB variant will set you back £599/$599, The larger 256GB version isn’t available in the UK, but can be picked up for $699 in America.
Google Pixel 6a is set to be released this summer. Google hasn’t confirmed exact dates for availability, but has revealed that the only 128GB version will cost £399/$449,
Google Pixel 6a vs Pixel 6: Technical Specifications
|google pixel 6||google pixel 6a|
|Show||6.4in OLED 1080×2400, 90Hz||6.1in OLED 1080×2400, 60Hz|
|previous cameras||50MP (wide), 12MP (ultra-wide)||12.2MP (wide), 12MP (ultra-wide)|
|Processor||google tensor||google tensor|
|Dimensions||158.6×74.8×8.9 mm||152.2×71.8×8.7 mm|
Google Pixel 6a vs Pixel 6: Design and Display
Take a quick look at the images of the Pixel 6a and you would be forgiven for thinking this is the Pixel 6. All the styling is hallmarks: a frame-filling display, hole-punch selfie camera, back-spanning camera bump, aluminum frame and two-tone rear panel.
But speak a little more loudly and you’ll see some major differences. Prominent among them are the dimensions: the Pixel 6a measures 152.2×71.8×8.7mm, making it 6.4mm shorter and 3mm narrower than the Pixel 6. It’s also 0.2mm thin, but it won’t be noticeable in everyday use.
Why Shrinkage? Because Pixel 6a has a smaller display than Pixel 6. Measuring 6.1in diagonally (as opposed to 6.4in on the Pixel 6), the panel is a pinky-width more tiny. The change makes the Pixel 6a a slightly more pocketable mobile – although it’s still a long way off from small phone status.
But it’s not just performance real estate that has fallen short. The Pixel 6a offers a noticeably lower maximum refresh rate of 60Hz, compared to the Pixel 6’s smooth 90Hz. While this should yield efficiency in terms of power for the Pixel 6a, it means visuals will look meaningfully sleeker on the Pixel 6.
As for construction, while the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6a both adopt the same two-tone approach, the latter matches in sage, chalk and charcoal color ways, while the former ships in two contrasting schemes as well as Stormy Black. Physically, the Pixel 6 is wrapped in Gorilla Glass 6, while the Pixel 6a works with Gorilla Glass 3. It’s technically less durable, though it’ll still be sturdy enough for many people—and most users are likely to stick to either device. In any case anyway.
Google Pixel 6a vs. Pixel 6: Cameras
Google finally made the jump from 12MP camera hardware with the Pixel 6, fitting the handset with a 50MP wide sensor that offers an 82-degree field of view and an f/1.85 aperture. In daylight conditions, this is a setup that can reliably capture detailed, dynamic results with accurate colors.
Expect similar specs from the more affordable Pixel 6? Bad news: That 50MP main sensor is gone, in favor of a 12.2MP wide number. How it stacks up in real-world conditions will be the whole point for us review,
Google has always been good at squeezing the best out of its camera hardware by using software tricks. Like the Pixel 6, the 6a benefits from Real Tone, Magic Eraser, Face Unblur, and Night Sight photography smarts – but it seems realistic to expect the Pixel 6’s extra megapixels will make it win the snapping battle with ease.
Both the 12MP ultra-wide and 8MP selfie cameras on the Pixel 6 are identical to the Pixel 6a. Considering that Google’s more affordable smartphone can use them to the same effect as the Pixel 6, that should translate into fairly solid everyday shooting. Both can also record 4K footage at 60fps.
Google Pixel 6a vs Pixel 6: Performance and Battery
In the performance stakes, the Pixel 6a loses out to the Pixel 6 on just one metric: RAM. The cheaper handset has 6GB, compared to the 8GB found inside the Pixel 6. In standard use, this shouldn’t make a huge difference for most users, unless you really push your Pixel with demanding mobile games or image editing tasks.
The great news is that both smartphones come equipped with Google’s tailor-made Tensor chip, which powers the Pixel 6a via Android 12 and AI functions a lot – just as it does for the Pixel 6. For all other compromises, this means the Pixel 6a benefits from flagship performance chops — and Google believes it makes machine-learning on the Pixel 6a 5x faster than on the 5a.
When it comes to longevity, the Pixel 6 puts it on paper with a capacity of 4614mAh, while the Pixel 6a comes with a smaller 4306mAh cell. Again, the difference between the two is likely to be minor in everyday situations, especially considering the smaller display found on the Pixel 6a.
In fact, the lower refresh rate could see the Pixel 6a outdo the Pixel 6 in some situations. That’s borne out by Google’s estimated figures: It assumes both devices are good for over 24 hours on a single charge, but rates the Pixel 6a up to 72 hours in Extreme Battery Saver mode — a setting that produces less 48 pixels.
When it comes time to refuel, the Pixel 6 fills up fast, with 21W wireless charging speeds from the Pixel Stand and 30W when plugged in. The Pixel 6a tops out at 18W and doesn’t support fast wireless charging.
Google Pixel 6a vs Pixel 6: Features and Software
In the software stakes, there is little to choose between the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6a. As you’d expect, both ship with Android 12 installed as standard, and both will receive updates to Android 13 later this year — as well as five years of security updates.
Both smartphones also use Google’s Titan M2 security chip, to enhance privacy protection and safeguards against malicious software, as well as an under-display fingerprint sensor.
For connectivity, both the smartphones have a USB-C port, plus Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2 and 5G support. And unlike the Pixel 5a, the Pixel 6a follows the Pixel 6 by removing the headphone port.
In terms of storage, the Pixel 6a keeps it simple with only one 128GB option. In some regions, the Pixel 6 may be specified with 128GB or 256GB, although only the smaller version is available in the UK.
Early Verdict: Which Pixel 6 Is Better?
If you’re after the full Pixel smartphone experience, there’s no question which Google handset you should choose: the Pixel 6. Although both devices share a processor, the Pixel 6 has a bigger screen with more RAM, more megapixels, and higher refresh rates.
The real question is whether the Pixel 6a is worth considering as a low-fat alternative to the Pixel 6. It certainly does its best to be as attractive as the ‘lite’ version, employing the same design language, software interface and powerful Tensor processor. The Pixel 6, coming in on the cheap.
It does this by making somewhat specific sacrifices. Most of these won’t make a huge difference for the majority of users. Google’s Tensor chip will still be fast, even with 2GB of less RAM. And the 12.2MP main sensor will probably still be capable of producing good enough photos for Instagram.
The biggest difference between the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6a is the screen. At 6.1in, the Pixel 6a is a small device – as we’ve learned from handsets like the iPhone 13 Mini, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But unlike Apple’s smaller smartphones, the Pixel 6a also lags in refresh rate. While this may make it more efficient, it also makes the viewing experience a tough sell.
So the real competition of the Pixel 6a is certainly not the Pixel 6, but the legacy of the mighty mid-range Android mobile. Like the Pixel 6a, many of these are feature-packed, fast but not flawless—which only makes the competition faster. We’ll have to wait a long time to see how the Pixel 6a compares to them review,