Google's A-series Pixel phones have routinely ranked among the most popular devices from the company, with affordable prices, intelligent features, and long software support lifespans. And based on what we learned about the Pixel 6a at Google I/O 2022, the newest Google budget phone could be its best yet.
The Pixel 5a impressed us with its two-day battery life, snappy mid-range performance, and decent cameras; but when the Pixel 6 arrived a couple of months later with major upgrades for just $150 more, it made the 5a feel a bit superfluous — especially as it only launched in just two countries.
By contrast, the Google Pixel 6a feels like a vital game-changer that'll challenge the best budget Android phones. It will use the same Google Tensor hardware and distinctive camera bump as the Pixel 6, trumping the Snapdragon 765G and ultra-boring design of the Pixel 5a. Despite some key downgrades, the Pixel 6a will offer tools and speed you'd typically only find on a more expensive phone.
From exclusive features to battery life, performance to cameras, here's everything we know about the Google Pixel 6a.
Pixel 6a: Release date, price, and colors
During Google I/O 2022, the company announced that the Pixel 6a would cost $449, the same as the Pixel 5a before it. Considering it shares many features and specs with the $599 Pixel 6, the Pixel 6a is arguably a steal at that price. However, the Verizon version of the phone will cost $499 thanks to mmWave, according to 9to5Google.
The Pixel 6a will ship in three colors: Charcoal, Chalk, and Sage. Compared to the Pixel 5a, which only shipped in Mostly Black, you have more of a chance to show your personality with these colors. All three models have a matte black camera bar, whereas the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 have unique camera bar colors.
Google will open Pixel 6a pre-orders on July 21, with phones shipping on July 28 in twelve countries (and later in 2022 for India):
- United States
- United Kingdom
The Pixel 6a borrows heavily from the Pixel 6 in its design, particularly its wide camera bar housing two lenses and a flash LED. It'll make the cool Pixel design more widespread, given the Pixel A series has traditionally sold in much higher numbers than the flagship Pixels.
One negative of the shift to the Pixel 6 design is that the 6a abandoned the 3.5mm headphone jack found on the Pixel 5a, which is a genuine shame.
Unlike the 6.4-inch Pixel 6, the Pixel 6a will have a 6.134-inch display and will measure 2.8 x 6.0 x 0.35in. This will hit a compact sweet spot for people that prioritize one-handed scrolling over a large display. The display will also feature Gorilla Glass 6 for solid scratch protection.
Like its predecessor, the Pixel 6a has an IP67 rating, just slightly below the IP68 found on the Pixel 6.
Specs and Google Tensor
As leakers predicted for month, the Google Pixel 6a will use the same Google Tensor chipset as the Pixel 6, paired with 6GB/128GB memory. The latter spec matches the Pixel 5a and many mid-range phones, but the addition of Google Tensor will ensure that RAM is put to much better use.
A recent Pixel 6a Geekbench score appeared to show that the budget phone performed on par with the Pixel 6 in both single- and multi-core performance. While benchmarks aren't always reliable for real-world results, it's possible the Pixel 6a will feel like a steal for this price range, comparable to the iPhone SE (2022). We'll know more when we can test it for ourselves.
In terms of overall Pixel 6a specs, we've collected them in the table below:
|2 Cortex-X1 cores (2.80GHz), 2 Cortex-A76 (2.25GHz, 4 Cortex-A55 (1.80GHz)|
|ARM Mali-G78 GPU; Titan M2 security|
|Display||6.1-inch, 20:9 aspect ratio, 60Hz|
|FHD+ (1080 x 2400) OLED at 429 ppi|
|Memory||6GB LPDDR5 RAM|
|Storage||128 GB UFS 3.1|
|Rear Camera 1||12.2MP / 1.4 μm / ƒ/1.7 / 77º FOV|
|Rear Camera 2||12MP / 1.25 μm / ƒ/2.2 / 114º FOV|
|Front Camera||8MP / 1.12 μm / ƒ/2.0 / 84º FOV|
|Video||4K or 1080p at 60FPS (Rear); 1080p at 30FPS (Front)|
|Security||In-display fingerprint sensor|
|Connectivity||WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, 5G Sub-6, 5G mmWave|
|Updates||3 OS updates / 5 years of security updates|
|Battery||4,306 minimum / 4,410 typical|
|Charging||18W wired; no wireless|
|Protection||Corning Gorilla Glass 3; IP67|
|Dimensions||6 x 2.8 x 0.35in. (152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9mm)|
|Weight||6.3oz / 178g|
|Colors||Sage, Chalk, Charcoal|
As for real-life upgrades, the Pixel 6a will support camera AI tools like Magic Eraser for removing unwanted people and objects from photos; Face Unblur for clearer shots when a subject is moving; Real Tone machine learning tools for better lighting quality for photo subjects with darker skin tones; and Night Sight for better photography in low light.
The only Pixel 6 feature the 6a lacks is Motion Mode, the awesome computational tool for taking fast-moving photos. But that's likely due to limitations with the camera hardware, whereas the other AI-backed tools work perfectly well thanks to Tensor.
Google gave the Pixel 6a a 12.2MP ƒ/1.7 main sensor and 12MP ƒ/2.2 ultrawide sensor with 114º FOV, plus an 8 MP ƒ/2.0 front-facing camera. Those numbers don't appear to offer much upside over the Pixel 5a, so it's clear Google Tensor will do all of the heavy lifting for the new camera features.
Outside of camera tools, Google promised the Pixel 6a can handle Live Translate and fast speech-to-text transcription, as well. And the company made sure to note that Tensor's Titan M2 security chip made the 6a "more resilient to attacks" than the 5a.
In terms of display quality, the Pixel 6a will have a 6.1-inch AMOLED with FHD resolution and an in-display fingerprint sensor. Unfortunately, it will stick to a 60Hz refresh rate, while other similarly priced budget Android phones like the Galaxy A53 5G jump up to 120Hz.
On the subject of the Pixel 6a fingerprint sensor, Google confirmed to us that it uses a different sensor than the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro did. Considering poor fingerprint recognition was one of the worst Pixel 6 bugs people encountered, we're inclined to hope this will be an upgrade over last year's phones, rather than a downgrade.
For battery life, the Pixel 6a apparently will fall to 4,410mAh typical or 4,306mAh minimum. That, combined with Tensor, will certainly cause the 6a battery life to dip compared to the two-day Pixel 5a.
Google itself claims the Pixel 6a lasts an average of 29 hours in testing "across a mix of talk, data, standby, and use of other features" while running on a sub-6 GHz 5G network. The mmWave variant will likely have a shorter battery life.
The 6a will recharge at just 18W and doesn't include wireless charging. For connectivity, it'll support Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2.
Thanks to Google Tensor, the Pixel 6a is likely to receive three OS updates to Android 15 and security updates through the summer of 2027, giving it a ridiculously long shelf life for a budget phone.
Alex is global Executive Editor for Android Central, and is usually found in the UK. He has been blogging since before it was called that, and currently most of his time is spent leading video for AC, which involves pointing a camera at phones and speaking words at a microphone. He would just love to hear your thoughts at email@example.com, or on the social things at @alexdobie.
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