At Google I/O 2022, alongside the information related to Android 13 and its many new features, the Google Pixel 6a received its official announcement along with availability details and pricing. At $449, it directly replaces the Pixel 5a in the lineup and offers a pretty well-rounded package. So if you were planning on getting a budget Google phone, this article goes over everything new and different with this generation to help you possibly make a better decision.
The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro brought a breath of fresh air to the design language Google was using for its phones, and Pixel 6a picks up the recipe and applies it one for one, only introducing a reduction in screen size plus a change in choice of materials. This means the standout camera bar will be present to tell people you have one of the newer Pixel phones.
The Pixel 5 series also shared similarities, sporting a squircle camera housing and curves on the chassis that is more rounded than what we've seen on the Pixel 6 series. The back of this phone also went around the entire device, creating a unibody, effectively making a shell with the display acting as its lid. The unibody body is marketed by Google as a premium metal one, though it is covered entirely in a bio-resin, which you will touch and feel.
The Pixel 6a uses the more common sandwich design with an aluminum frame, glass display, and a "thermoformed" composite back. Fortunately, the new design still allows the Pixel 6a to maintain its IP67 rating.
If you look at the button and port placements, the USB C port can still be found on the bottom of Pixel 6a, though the headphone jack is gone, and the power button and volume rockers have switched positions. On Pixel 5a, you can find the headphone jack along the top, while the power button is ridged and located below the volume rockers.
Both phones feature a flat 60Hz OLED FHD+ panel on the front, though there are a few changes with the latest Pixel A series device. Pixel 6a has a 6.1-inch display with a centered punch-hole cutout, while the Pixel 5a has a slightly larger 6.34-inch panel with its hole-punch cutout pushed to the left.
The Pixel 6a has a higher contrast ratio, meaning it does stand to look more punchy and has the advantage of a high-brightness mode and Google's At a Glance feature.
But this is where the differences end and the only similarity these displays share comes up, as both phones have their front protected by Gorilla Glass 3.
Speaking of processors, the Pixel 6a continues Google's shift to its unique hardware as it ships with the first-generation Google Tensor. While some may have described it as limp for the flagship smartphones, at $449, the Tensor comes with performance that's more than adequate.
The Pixel 5a featured the Snapdragon 765 5G, which, while no slouch, is behind the Snapdragon 860, a direct competitor to the Tensor. Regardless, day-to-day usage on the newer Pixel will be similar to or marginally better than what was on offer with the 5a.
Apart from these changes, the Pixel 6a features other improvements with its inclusion of the Titan M2 security coprocessor — the Titan M is found on the 5a — and faster LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 internal storage. The latter two aspects remain the same in terms of capacity, as both phones have 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage onboard.
While the camera housings on the two devices are vastly different, the setup of lenses that they carry is quite similar.
The primary wide camera is an identical 12.2 MP sensor with an ƒ/1.7 aperture, dual pixel phase detection, optical plus electronic stabilization, and a 77-degree field of view. But the ultrawide camera on the Pixel 6a sees a change as it is now a 12 MP unit — 16 MP on Pixel 5a — with more pixel width and lens correction. These changes mean more light capture and lesser distortion along the edges.
The front camera on both devices is most likely the same as they have a similar resolution (8 MP), aperture (ƒ/2.0), pixel width (1.12 μm), and fixed focus. There is a difference in the field of view, but it is likely to be insignificant, as the camera on Pixel 6a has an 84-degree angle while 5a has an 83-degree angle.
The only differences apart from the ultrawide camera are present in the post-processing and the number of software features that Google can offer because of the Tensor SoC.
Pixel 6a comes with Magic Eraser, RealTone, and Face Unblur, to name a few. These features are marketed as exclusives but can work on older Pixels with custom APKs. Although, we don't know how long this ability will remain and whether Google will officially enable them at a later date.
With the Pixel 6a being smaller than the 5a, it is only fair to expect a trim in battery capacity. And that is the case as the new generation ships with a 4410 mAh cell compared to the 4680 mAh cell on the previous one. Apart from this, the phones share the ability to charge at 18W when using a USB C PPS compatible adapter or Google's 18W or 30W options.
Note: Both devices do not support wireless charging.
Now, all-day use has been possible on the Pixel 5a, and the Pixel 6a is bound to be similar. An advantage the new device will hold over the last will be its greater efficiency and ability to make better use of the Extreme Battery Saver mode.
The Pixel 6a is a clear upgrade over the previous generation and the device to get if you're planning on buying a budget Google phone. Its display is reasonably sized, the processor packaged is highly-capable, and the camera hardware is known to compete with the best. We recommend waiting until the device is available if your budget is going to be under $500.
The Pixel 5a is a great device but only worth buying if waiting until the end of July isn't an option.
Google Pixel 6a
Google Pixel 6a offers best-in-class features and specifications, shipping with Google Tensor, highly-capable camera hardware, and a refreshed design, worth the asking price of $449.
Google Pixel 5a
The Pixel 5a is Google's budget option from 2021. It ships with the Snapdragon 765, a respectable camera setup, and a simplistic design making for a great package.
|Category||Google Pixel 6a||Google Pixel 5a|
|Dimensions||152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9 mm||156.2 x 73.2 x 8.8 mm|
|Display||6.1-inch FHD+ OLED, 60Hz |
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
High brightness mode
>1,000,000:1 Contrast Ratio
|6.34-inch FHD+ OLED, 60Hz |
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
>100,000:1 Contrast Ratio
|Processor||Google Tensor |
Titan M2 security
|Snapdragon 765 5G |
Titan M Module
|Memory||6GB LPDDR5||6GB LPDDR4x|
|Storage||128GB UFS 3.1||128GB UFS 2.1|
|Rear Cameras||Wide: 12.2 MP, ƒ/1.7, 1.4 μm |
Ultrawide: 12 MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.25 μm, 114-degree FoV
|Wide: 12.2 MP, ƒ/1.7, 1.4 μm |
Ultrawide: 16 MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.0 μm, 118.7-degree FoV
|Front Camera||8 MP, 1.12 μm pixel width, ƒ/2.0, Fixed focus, 84-degree FoV||8 MP, 1.12 μm pixel width, ƒ/2.0, Fixed focus, 83-degree FoV|
|Video||Rear Camera: 4K @ 30/60 fps, 1080p HD @ 30/60/120/240 fps |
Front Camera: 1080p @ 30 fps
|Rear Camera: 4K @ 30/60 fps, 1080p HD @ 30/60/120/240 fps |
Front Camera: 1080p @ 30 fps
|Connectivity||5G, LTE, WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2||5G, LTE, WiFi|
|Ports||USB-C 3.1 Gen 1||USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 |
|Battery||4410 mAh||4680 mAh|
|Wired Charging||18W (Adapter Not Included)||18W (Adapter Included)|
|Operating System||Android 12 (launched with Android 12)||Android 12 (launched with Android 11)|
|Colors||Charcoal, Chalk, Sage||Mostly Black|