Google Pixel 6A review – This could be the new mid-range king of phones

The Pixel 6A landed with me on the first day of the COVID isolation, which meant I was able to get some serious work done. This is the third of the Pixel 6 devices, following the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro late last year. During the epidemic, an affordable, good-looking and well-performing phone is perhaps more important than ever.

Given the much more affordable tiers of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, it was no surprise that the 6a landed at a rather aggressive AU$749.00. But don’t bother with the comments yet, I’m not saying it’s cheap, I’m saying it’s good value for what you get. Now I have to sell you…

What’s in the box?

Over time, the experience of unwrapping has become less exciting and ceremonial and closer to the mundane and not much to note. The contents of the box, at least for the market leaders, are pretty standard: an early look at your phone, an insert to remove and access the USB-C charging cable, and USB-A to USB. -C adapter, instructions and SIM PIN code.

The packaging contains almost no plastic at all, which shows that Google also pays attention to the sustainability of its devices and packaging. It also means a lot less shipping, when the package arrived I double checked how small it was.

Design and implementation

We discussed the specs in our first impressions post, and it’s a 6.1-inch screen, locked to a 60Hz refresh rate, not the 6.5-inch or larger we thought was “normal,” but honestly, I dig it. I especially like that the Pixel 6a is easily mistaken for the Pixel 6 at a glance. Google has done an excellent job of making the presentation match that of the “full” Pixel line.

Unfortunately the Gorilla Glass 3, while offering some impact protection, gives the Pixel 6a a vaguely slippery feel, I’d 100% recommend getting a decent case or you’ll drop this phone. Thankfully, though, Google saw sense and built IP67 resistance into the Pixel 6a’s build, so a splash at the bar or by the pool won’t turn the phone into a paperweight.

The fingerprint sensor is an under-screen option and is much better than the Pixel 6 Pro in the early going. It’s fairly fast, responsive, and rarely read. I’m not sure if that means it’s a false reading or not, or if it’s simply that technology has advanced a lot in the last 9 months.

The main area of ​​the Pixel 6a that has been “left out” for users is the lack of wireless charging. For many buyers, this isn’t a big deal, but if you’re invested in the convenience of wireless charging, it’s enough to give this phone a wide berth.

The overall specs of the Pixel 6a, which we highlighted in our first impressions, are solid, especially for the price, and the phone doesn’t skimp on performance. In fact, it’s super fast, to the point where I don’t feel it’s a downgrade to the Pixel 6 Pro (performance-wise). The Tensor chip won’t keep up with Qualcomm, but it’s still very capable of providing a really good user experience.

Battery life: Not great, but not bad for a phone in this price range

Perhaps the weakness of the device is that the Pixel 6a offers a 4410 mAh battery, which is about right. But the battery life seems to decrease a bit depending on the running apps.

I streamed videos over Wi-Fi or mobile data for several hours throughout the day, had continuous screenshots, and ended the day with more than 30% battery left. It’s almost on par with the Pixel 6, but not as good as the Pixel 6 Pro, which is honestly pretty much what you’d expect.

In our testing, most days represent a full day of use, but some apps use up quite a bit of battery. In fact, if you’re a very heavy phone user, you’ll be looking for something with a bigger battery. But for many users, the software’s capacity and optimization will get the job done for all-day use.

Software Features and AI

While I understand the reasons for this, and the software has gotten a lot better, I still feel that the stock Android experience (or close to it) is the best Android experience out there. Of course, Google’s own phones provide the clean experience with the software as it was intended for end users.

Already since the launch of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, Google has sold the AI ​​capabilities of the Tensor platform. Some AI functions no longer “phone home” but are completed on board the device. This is obvious when you use the built-in language features.

The translation feature has been working for a while via Google Translate, but it’s impressive without a real-time, active internet connection. The other is the speech-to-text function, which is sensitive and – most of the time – very accurate. You can simply speak naturally

to your own, it transcribes it for you and even adds punctuation marks.

The camera: Wallet-friendly brightness level

Without spending really big bucks on your cell phone, this is one of, if not the best camera you can get on a phone under $1,000. Whether it’s a scenic panorama, night capture, portrait or family happiness, the images are sharp and have great color reproduction.

Love the portrait mode @Google #Pixel6a @googledownunder

Review coming @Ausdroid this week!

— Phil Tann (@prymal81) August 1, 2022

Among the photos taken during testing, the biggest problems I found were:

The camera’s ability to focus on a fast-moving object or person
While good, night vision photos can look oversaturated or have some glare

For a phone of this level, portrait mode is truly impressive. This goes back to the AI ​​I mentioned earlier, which does a good job of handling some of the conditions required for a good portrait. You get a really nice focused presentation with a nice soft bokeh (softened background focus) that brings the target to the fore. It also handles some of the imperfections in your photos, such as lighting, reflections, and flyaways.

There’s so much going on with the camera and background AI, maybe it’s best to let the pictures do the talking.

What’s not to like?

It’s really being picky, but I feel like – while there’s a lot of good stuff going on – the lack of wireless charging is a missed opportunity to differentiate it from the chasing pack. If we add this deficiency, charging is not very fast; I have to say that if you are a very heavy phone user, this is probably not the phone for you. The charging capacity is a little disappointing when you have phones like the Find X5 lite with 65W in the same price range.

Final Thoughts: The Pixel 6a ticks almost all the boxes

The Pixel 6a is a strong contender in the very crowded mid-range space. At $749.00, this is a very tempting option with a great camera and impressive daily performance.

You can definitely save or spend $50-100 and get a vastly different experience than other devices, but in the world of Android, having 3 full OSes and 5 years of security updates at this level is a major bonus.

Yes, the battery could and maybe should be a little better, but I think that’s by design. In the world of electronics and telecommunications, devices are configured so that the next step is available. The Pixel 6 is often sold for $800-$850.00 and at that price I’d buy it over the Pixel 6a.

This is in no way a criticism of the Pixel 6a, I recommend it without hesitation. Whether you’re looking for a powerful, good-looking device, a camera, or a bargain, the Pixel 6a does everything you’d expect from a $749.00 phone, and you’ll be really happy with your purchase.

Disclosure statement

Google did not ask for the hardware to be returned

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