Better hardware for a lower price
The Pixel 6a has the same chip inside it as the Pixel 6 Pro, and that gives this budget phone a leg up over the competition for both performance and camera processing. Intangibles like haptics and faster updates make this a solid choice if you can get past the display's shortcomings.
- Vastly superior cameras
- Google Tensor gives performance boost
- Faster updates, one extra year of security
- IP67 protection
- Comfortable one-handed design
- Better haptics
- Dimmer 60Hz display
- No wireless, reverse wireless charging
- Shorter battery life
Not even today's flagships can hit 144Hz, and other budget phones that try for smooth scrolling don't have the performance to keep up. The MediaTek chip has enough power to handle its capacity but also the efficiency to help the Edge last for up to two days.
- Fantastic 144Hz display
- Two-day battery life
- Three OS updates!
- Thinner, lighter than 6a
- Faster charging, wireless charging
- Only IP52 resistance
- Camera processing isn't great
- Only average performance, esp. for gaming
- Terrible haptics
Both Google and Motorola are among the best in the business at mid-range phones. Google ekes out great performance and cameras from budget-priced hardware, while Motorola gives its Edge phones useful tools that its cheaper phones lack. The Pixel 6a is more affordable now that the Edge (2022) no longer has its $100 launch discount, but does the Edge have perks that make it more attractive regardless?
We'll compare both phones to help you make the right purchase. Our phones editor reviewed both the Pixel 6a and Edge (2022) in quick succession and closely compared the two's performance and quality given their similar prices.
Motorola Edge (2022) vs Google Pixel 6a: Design and displays
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The Pixel 6a's biggest weakness is the Motorola Edge (2022)'s biggest strength: the display. Though this doesn't necessarily mean the Pixel 6a display is bad.
Both displays are flat with FHD+ resolution and reasonably thin bezels, and the 6.1-inch Pixel 6a has more pixels per inch (429 vs. 399) than the 6.6-inch Motorola Edge (2022). And both use the older Gorilla Glass 3 standard for screen protection, which pretty much means you'll want a screen protector for either phone.
But aside from the fact that the Edge gives you more screen space, the Pixel 6a is locked at a 60Hz refresh rate, while the Edge jumps to an industry-leading 144Hz with a 360Hz touch sampling rate.
The Edge jumps between 48, 60, 90, 120Hz, and 144Hz refresh rates depending on the context, and our reviewer found it "incredibly fluid during everyday tasks" and "a feast for the eyes." Keep in mind that the display won't always live up to its capacity, as we found some Android games struggled to hit the max refresh rate due to either app or chip limitations; but for the most part, this is an awesome perk for a mid-range phone.
Then you have the Pixel 6a, which attracted a decent amount of criticism for this limitation. Other cheap Android phones in its range have 90Hz or 120Hz displays nowadays, and Google very clearly sacrificed a smoother scroll to push other hardware improvements instead. However, our reviewer found that "there's little to be concerned about" because Tensor's performance gives it a sleek scroll that belies the 60Hz limitation. You won't find it distracting unless you're already used to something better, in other words.
The Motorola Edge (2022) display is also slightly brighter than the Pixel 6a for everyday use and also gets far brighter for outdoor use with adaptive brightness.
In terms of the overall design and hardware, however, the Pixel 6a is a far better phone in looks and quality. Instead of the boring look of past Pixels, it adopted the same look as the Pixel 6, complete with the attractive camera bar that keeps your phone from wobbling on a desk when you tap it. At 6.1-inches, it's the perfect size for one-handed use and has a "Goldilocks weight: not too heavy to feel obnoxious, but also not too light so as to feel cheap."
With the Motorola Edge (2022), it looks similar to most other Motorola phones, which is to say somewhat "bland" in our reviewer's estimate, especially as it only comes in one Mineral Gray finish. Worse, it feels cheaply built, as though Motorola put excellent hardware inside of a phone meant to sell for half the price. Both phones use plastic instead of glass, but at least the Pixel 6a has an IP67 dust/water resistance rating, while the IP52 Edge can let dust in and can't handle more than a light drizzle without taking damage.
Still, despite its greater size and larger battery, the Motorola Edge weighs 8g less and measures 0.7mm thinner than the Pixel 6a. It's not a natural one-handed phone, but it's not uncomfortable to hold, at least.
One of the Pixel 6a's greatest strengths is the "amazing Google haptics built in, which just feel so much better...than any other Android phone on the market." And then you have the Motorola Edge (2022), which our reviewer said had "some of the worst haptics [he's] used on a phone" because "the vibration motors are so slow and bad they couldn't keep up with [his] two-thumb typing speed."
Motorola Edge (2022) vs Google Pixel 6a: Hardware, performance, and battery life
What made the Google Pixel 6a such a breakthrough budget device was that it used the same Google Tensor chip as the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro that came before it — though only paired with 6GB of RAM. Geekbench 5 benchmarks from Future Labs put the Pixel 6a at 1057/2918 for single-/multi-core performance, which does handily beat most mid-range Android phones in this price range.
Benchmarks aren't foolproof, but our reviewer claimed the 6a performed "every bit as fast as the Pixel 6 or 6 Pro" and had "no issue even playing games like Fortnite or Minecraft at full-tilt graphics."
The Motorola Edge (2022) comes with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM, though only the 8GB model appears to be widely available in the U.S. Benchmarking that phone with its MediaTek Dimensity 1050 chip, it hits 751/2193 for Geekbench 5 single-core and multi-core, and fell significantly short in most 3DMark graphical tests behind the Pixel 6a, especially at "Extreme" levels.
Our reviewer found that the Edge had consistent performance and could play most Android titles but specifically noted that "while it does perform worse than the Google Tensor found in the comparably-priced Google Pixel 6a, the phone only struggled while playing graphics-intensive games."
Motorola couldn't help that Google changed the game for budget Android performance this year; it does perfectly well against the rest of the pack.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Google Pixel 6a||Motorola Edge (2022)|
|Chipset||Google Tensor||MediaTek Dimensity 1050|
|Storage||128GB UFS 3.1||128GB/256GB|
|Display||6.1-inch AMOLED, 2400x1080 resolution (429 ppi), 60Hz, HDR10+, Gorilla Glass 3||6.6-inch OLED, 2400 x 1080 resolution (399ppi), 144Hz, HDR10+, Gorilla Glass 3|
|Rear Camera 1||12MP, ƒ/1.7, 1.4μm pixel size, OIS, 4K video @ 30/60FPS, 240FPS super slow-mo video||50MP wide-angle, f/1.8, 2.0μm, OIS, Quad Pixel, Omni-directional PDAF|
|Rear Camera 2||12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.25μm pixel size, 114-degree FoV, OIS, 4K video @ 30/60FPS||13MP ultrawide, 120° FOV, Macro Vision|
|Front Camera||8MP, ƒ/2.0, 1.12μm pixel size, 85-degree FoV, 1080p video @ 30FPS||32MP, f/2.45, 1.4μm, Quad Pixel|
|Charging||18W wired charging, no wireless||TurboPower 30W wired, 15W wireless, 5W reverse wireless|
|Dimensions||152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9mm||160.9 x 74.2 x 8.2mm|
|Security||Titan M2 Security Chip, In-screen fingerprint sensor||In-screen fingerprint sensor|
|Colors||Sage, Chalk, Charcoal||Mineral Gray|
|OS / Updates||Android 13; two more OS updates to Android 15, five years of security updates||Android 12; three OS updates to Android 15, four years of security updates|
While the Dimensity 1050 isn't as powerful as the Google Tensor, in this context, it's far more energy-efficient. Despite the more demanding 144Hz display, the Edge (2022) can last up to two days with light use. That's something the Pixel 5a could often do as well, but the Pixel 6a can last across all-day use but isn't quite the marathoner it used to be.
Once your phone runs out of juice, the Motorola Edge (2022) can fill up faster with a 30W charger, while the Pixel 6a remains stuck at 18W. And only the Edge can work with your wireless charger or can reverse-charge your devices; the Pixel 6a has no wireless charging capabilities.
We're also bigger fans of the Motorola Edge in-display fingerprint scanner, which lets you drag a notification icon into the fingerprint icon, so it opens that app upon unlock. It's both fast to unlock and intuitive to use. Contrast that with the Pixel 6a, which dealt with months of security issues before the sensor was patched in the September 2022 update. It's more reliable now, but it still isn't our favorite.
Lastly, we'll note that both phones will get three Android OS updates, though the 6a will get one extra year of security updates through 2027. The Pixel 6a has already updated to Android 13, while the Motorola Edge will remain on Android 12 for some time.
We've complained in the past at length about Motorola's slow Android updates, and you should keep in mind that you'll have to wait months and months longer for new Motorola software features while the 6a gets them on day one. But the brand does at least deserve credit for promising those three OS updates, as past models only gave you two.
Motorola Edge (2022) vs Google Pixel 6a: Cameras
Through the magic of Google Tensor, Google made the cameras on the Pixel 6a as good as they were on the Pixel 6. It's the best Android brand for a point-and-snap camera that gets tons of improvements in the back end — even if it's not quite as advanced as the new Pixel 7 with its advanced Tensor G2 chip. From Magic Eraser to Face Unblur, Night Sight to Real Tone, the Pixel 6a is probably the best budget camera phone out there, with the main, ultrawide, and selfie sensors all impressing us. We've included a gallery of shots below.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Motorola Edge (2022) is a decidedly average camera phone, despite the fact that Motorola improved the primary sensor, macro mode, and low-light photography over the Edge (2021) phone.
"Motorola's processing often still creates a photo that looks worse than the competition," our reviewer said. "Colors are extremely muted and unrealistic, and the HDR algorithm often turns small details into watercolor paintings when zooming in." The color balance is off, the ultrawide sensor "isn't very good," and shutter lag was a consistent problem. We've included a few sample photos below.
Motorola Edge (2022) vs Google Pixel 6a: Which should you buy?
At current pricing, the Google Pixel 6a will save you $150, give you much better performance with the promise of faster updates with new features every year, and ensure you'll always capture the best possible photos. It makes more of a fashion statement and is more likely to survive bad weather or home accidents. It's the phone we recommend and one of the best Android phones, regardless of price.
That being said, there are specific reasons that some buyers should choose the Motorola Edge (2022) instead. It gives you an extra 0.5 inches of screen space with much smoother scrolling and can last up to a day longer per charge. For people who need consistent battery life and can settle for industry-average performance, the Edge is the better option. And while we're fine with the 60Hz Pixel 6a and its smaller screen, other people just want a bigger screen for gaming and streaming, which we can respect.
Choose the Pixel 6a to get a petite, powerful mid-range phone that'll last you for years to come. If you dislike the refresh rate but like everything else, consider upgrading to the 90Hz Pixel 7 instead for the same price as the Edge.
While it's more expensive than most of Motorola's offerings, the 2022 Edge model is a solid option for its price, without falling short of expectations like the Edge+. It has its drawbacks, but some buyers will accept them just to get that display.
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Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.